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The head of the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee came to the defense of a commission eliminated in the state budget whose official function was to preserve the northeast Queens shoreline as the group faced claims that it was a patronage tool of state Sen. Frank Padavan (R−Bellerose).
Walter Mugdan, president of the Udalls Cove group, said the Northeast Queens Nature and Historical Preservation Commission “has been pretty helpful for many, many years.”
“It provides some very helpful oversight, a watchdog sort of role that will be missed,” he said. “We have benefitted very directly from (the commission) being a state agency.”
The commission was created in 1973 through legislation drafted by Padavan.
But a northeast Queens activist said the commission has not served a useful purpose in recent years.
“I didn’t even realize there was still a commission,” said the activist, who noted that the group was active when it was first created.
“In 1973, it was a big thing. They sounded the alarm against dumping and misuse and pollution of the waterways,” the activist said.
Mugdan said state and city agencies were obligated to give the commission information about development by the shoreline and other issues while his group was notified “as a matter of courtesy.”
“By having been a state agency, it had a level of standing and stature that volunteer organizations don’t have,” he said, noting that the commission was able to obtain information on proposed development projects or if certain permits were filed.
State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D−Whitestone) claimed in a statement earlier this month that the state was “spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to perpetuate Frank Padavan’s political patronage jobs” by allocating the commission $120,000 a year.
The activist sided with Stavisky.
“These are people who were very close to Padavan,” the activist said of the commission members. “I see no reason for them to be funded.”
Padavan dismissed Stavisky’s claims that he uses the group to reward his supporters, saying that most of the commission members are Democrats.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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