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March 20, 2014- By Steven E. Greer
The Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) board convened a meeting today and the topic of charitable donations was discussed. The board approved new guidelines on how to decide which philanthropy or community organization was worthy of funding. However, no specific group was announced to be regaining the funds that were cut off cold-turkey last year.
Recall, after BatteryPark.TV began reporting on large sums of money, approximately $250,000 per year, being given as grants to a Tribeca community center not affiliated with the BPCA, those grants were halted. In addition, dozens of other small grants were also cut off in the process. Since many of those grants seemed to be pure pork given to organizations in distant states in some cases, the impact to the community was negligible.
The Tribeca community center that lost its funding was Bob Townley’s Manhattan Youth. Since late 2013, he has been aggressively lobbying the BPCA to have those $250,000 annual grants restored. He even placed himself on the BPC subcommittee of the Community Board in October, and hosted the BPC Block Party.
In January of 2014, a whistleblower approached BP.TV with allegations that he, as Mr. Townley’s former inn-keeper of his Upstate New York hotel, an entity personally owned by Mr. Townley and not part of the non-profit Manhattan Youth, was told by Mr. Townley that the BPCA grants were being used to pay his salary. When the BPCA stopped the grants, Mr. Townley used that as an excuse to fire inn-keeper. The New York Attorney General is investigating those allegations.
Mr. Townley’s strongest support in New York politics is State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. However, Mr. Silver is also under investigation by the State of New York, as Governor Cuomo’s Moreland Commission looks into multiple scandals.
Given the vote today by the BPCA to form official guidelines on dolling out charitable gift cash, and the allegations that Mr. Townley misused pervious BPCA grants, it seems that Mr. Townley has an uphill battle to regain any form of monetary help from the BPCA.