Thruway addition leaves last minute questions for lawmakers

New York News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Phase one renovations of rest stops along the New York State Thruway begin in about two weeks. But before ground is broken, there are questions and concerns some lawmakers have about the details of the deal.

$450 million in private funds will be poured into a multi-phase rehab of 27 rest stops. New details about the addition of Chick-fil-A have drawn concerns from lawmakers like Assemblyman John McDonald. 

“[The renovation] is going to benefit many individuals, but at the same token we want to make sure the state taxpayers and residents are being served by also the use of public property,” McDonald said. 

The Thruway Authority plans to make a minimum of about $51.5 million dollars in rent over the 33-year lease agreement with the developer.

“Quite honestly, I didn’t think that the thruway recognized there would be this much attention paid to the RFP. It’s because of the vendor that’s been included in the development team,” McDonald said. 

Chick-fil-A’s CEO’s reported donations to an anti-LBGT charity have, in large part, drawn the ire of state lawmakers. McDonald adds the business is only open for six days, not making the rest stops where it will be located a 24/7 destination. 

In a statement, the New York State Thruway said every restaurant included “… Has a contractual responsibility, and is legally required, under New York state law … to adhere to the inclusive and non-discriminatory standards that New York state embraces.”   

Chick-fil-A writes in part, “We want to be clear that Chick-fil-A does not have a political or social agenda, and we welcome everyone in our restaurants.”

McDonald said he was one more lingering question he has when he meets with the Thruway Authority.

“The Chick-fil-A affiliation is an important issue and another important issue to me is what is the net financial benefit to the state of New York?”

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