Mr. Abbruzzese at left, testifying before Congress 12-04-01

Mr. Abbruzzese at left, testifying before Congress 12-04-01

Press Release....
*****State Senate Scandal Hits Randall's Island Plans****

Investigations into State Senate leader Frank Bruno's spending allocations have included the leader of the controversial no bid proposal to give away and alienate 26 acres of public parkland on Randall's Island for the development of a costly private beach club and waterpark.

As indicated in today's (December 8th) NY Daily News editorial (
State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno funneled $500,000 in state funds to a private, profit-making business, Evident, run by friends whose investors are Bruno campaign contributors. One former director, Jared Abbruzzese, is under investigation for allegedly treating Bruno to free jet travel.

The Albany based Mr. Abbruzzese became an investor in Aquatic Development Group (ADG) and rescued it from bankruptcy. ADG was awarded the no bid deal to develop the private beach club and waterpark on Randall's Island.

Mr. Abbruzese was a major backer of former Sen. Al D'Amato and has long been a major Republican Party contributor. In 2004 and 2005, he and his wife gave $100,000 to the National Republican Party Committee.

In 1999 and 2000 - around the time Aquatic Development was being chosen for the water park - Abbruzzese and members of his family contributed $6,000 to Mayor Giuliani's aborted U.S. Senate campaign and $30,000 to the state Republican Party.

In 1999 Henry Stern was head of the Parks Department when the controversial proposal for Randall's Island was first floated. Two years later, Aquatic Development was chosen without going through a formal bid process. Stern recently said he had doubts that such a facility could succeed financially.

"But Jerry Abbruzzese and his friends in Albany had a plan and it sounded good," Stern recalled.

(from Juan Gonzalez in the NY Daily News )

Community groups again called on the Parks Commissioner to terminate this no bid Contract. "How much more damaging information to we have to piece together before they sink this no bid deal that would take away 26 acres of park land for the public?" Harry Bubbins, a local resident said.

In addition, they asked that all ongoing and future investigations include all the entities and individuals involved with Aquatic Development Group. "We look forward to Attorney General Cuomo's probe into the various wrongdoings that obviously occurred in this matter. It never seemed fair and square, which is why the City Comptroller voted against it. Now we are digging deeper into the miasma of corruption that allows campaign contributors to be awarded public land and contracts without sufficient oversight from our elected officials. Any official that voted to support any aspect of this deal without moderating their course of action will be held accountable." Robert Jereski, a policy analyst against the theme site stated.

In 2001 the project was just 15 acres - and with an estimated cost of only $45 million. Now, it would include 26 acres of green space, ball fields and protected wetlands and estimates put it at $215,000,000.

"This project has certainly changed a great deal since we worked on it," said Henry Stern, Giuliani's former parks commissioner. (