Poloncarz addresses allegations of parks money errors

Jul 24, 2019

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz is pushing back against allegations his office has been mismanaging money borrowed for the Department of Parks. The Buffalo News released a report Wednesday detailing a lack of renovations to pavilions, roads and bathrooms within the parks system, most notably at Chestnut Ridge Park in Orchard Park.

Shelter 8 at Chestnut Ridge
Credit Thomas O'Neil-White

Speaking under a brand new shelter at Chestnut Ridge, Poloncarz said the county has invested over $14 million in the parks system since he took over in 2012.

“We continue to invest in the parks because I know parks matter,” Poloncarz said.

Poloncarz said his office continues to increase full-time and part-time staff at Chestnut Ridge, which he says is one of the largest county parks in the country.

The Buffalo News was not the only entity examining the books of the county executive’s office. Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw also released a report Wednesday morning alleging dereliction of money the county borrowed. This report says almost a one-third of the money borrowed between 2015 and 2018 has not been used, while conditions in the parks continue to deteriorate and pose safety risks.

The inside of Shelter 8
Credit Thomas O'Neil-White

Poloncarz said there has been an issue with bookkeeping which will be taken care of.

“A number of projects, including in this park, have already been completed yet it’s not identified as being spent on our county’s accounting system,” he said. “That’s wrong. I’ve talked to the parks deputy commissioner about it, he’s talked to the civil servants that actually monitor and input that information. We’re going to make certain that it’s always accurate.”

County Executive Mark Poloncarz speaking with reporters at Chestnut Ridge.
Credit Thomas O'Neil-White

Poloncarz says the money is being spent on the parks, and all one would need to do is to simply visit the parks.