Mayor Eric Adams said Tuesday that Randall’s Island was originally the preferred location for his controversial migrant tent city — arguing that moving there from the Bronx would actually save taxpayers money.
But Hizzoner repeatedly refused to say how much money he had already wasted by scrapping the original project after 10 days of construction.
And critics called the apparent blunder the result of “poor planning”.
“It’s not about lost money — it’s about spending our dollars smartly,” he said during an unrelated event at the City College of New York’s main campus in Harlem.
“Once we get the exact price, we’ll give it to you. We don’t do anything too early so you can say, ‘Eric lied about the cost.’ So we’ll give it when we get it.”
Just hours after announcing the unexpected change in plans, Adams said that “we could have mitigated the pooling of water” in the flood-prone Orchard Beach parking lot, but that “we made the decision to move to Randall’s Island — and that was what we did.”
“There’s a lot of twisting and turning that’s going to take place,” Adams said.
Growing defensive, Hizzoner insisted, “This is a humanitarian crisis!”
“A lot of people have never dealt with humanitarian crises before. Realize that you have to make the right decision.”
Peter Warren, director of research for the conservative Empire Center for Public Policy in Albany, later told The Post, “It sounds like bad planning.”
“I don’t know why they didn’t just wait,” he said.
“If it’s such an emergency, couldn’t they have suspended some of the seasonal activity on Randall’s Island? They’re certainly not in a position to waste money at this time if it can be avoided.”
Warren alluded to a recent exclusive about Adams asking President Biden for at least $500 million in relief, saying, “They’re betting on this federal relief right now.”
The US Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) said, “It’s sickening to see how the city and the federal government are wasting taxpayer dollars dealing with problems they created that are completely avoidable.
“It is frustrating to see how money is being thrown away by city, state and federal governments at a time when we are dealing with budget problems, a $31 trillion debt and an economy where New Yorkers and Americans are struggling to cope,” she said. added.
During Tuesday’s news conference, Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol said that “one of the reasons we didn’t originally put the camp on Randall’s Island was because of seasonal use, and that ends after Monday.”
This weekend, Randall’s Island will host the two-day celebration of “Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” according to the website powwows.com.
Both Adams and Iscol also argued that it would be “more cost effective” to use Randall’s Island than Orchard Beach, with Iscol saying, “We’re actually saving money by moving to Randall’s Island at this point.”
Neither elaborated on those claims, but when Adams announced the change Monday night, Adams said the Randall’s Island tent city would accommodate only 500 migrants, half the 1,000-person capacity planned for Orchard Beach.
Adams also would not commit to an opening date for the delayed and yet-to-be-moved tent city when asked by The Post.
“The day I say it opens,” he replied.
Also in response to a question from The Post, Adams said he had spoken with Gov. Hochul and local officials upstate about housing some of the city’s migrant population, which on Monday was officially estimated to have grown to 16,600 since May.
“Yes, we have been in communication with our counterparts in the state,” the mayor said, before quickly switching to another topic.
Last month, The Post exclusively reported that U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) was looking to send some migrants to upstate cities that could use the extra population to qualify for pork barrel funding from the federal Department of Housing and urban development.
Neither City Hall nor Hochul’s office immediately returned requests for additional information.