Friday, September 30, 2005

Dred Scott Bird Sanctuary

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

How do you like the plans to renovate the Grand Concourse?

I like them, too, especially if there really IS a bike lane included, which I haven't actually seen in the drawings.

But did you know that there will be NO construction on the Concourse or the plaza on the days the Yankees host games in the Bronx? Too much of an inconvenience for those who drive in. So the eighty or so days that the Yankees are home, no construction. What does that do to extend the pain for the community?

The reconstruction of the Concourse will be a long, noisy, dusty process, but it will be worth it for sure. Kind of like going to the dentist.

Would you sit in the dentist's chair any longer than you had to?

Would you sit in it if the dentist couldn't work? Would you stay there strapped in while the dentist went home for the weekend?

Of course not. But waiting the days that the Yankees play ball so the construction could resume would be just like waiting for the dentist to come back from lunch (or vacation!) to finish the job.

And what about the expense? Don't you think the contractors are pricing the fact that they will have enforced days off into their bids?

All so Steinbrenner won't have to play ball at Shea for the time it takes to build/renovate a stadium.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Is your park next?

The issue at stake here is far more critical than first meets the eye. The attack on Macomb's Dam/Mullaly Parks is an attack on ALL parks in New York City. After all, Mr. Steinbrenner is a private developer in this case. If he succeeds in taking away these parks from the community, an important legal precedent will be established, i.e. with the cooperation of elected officials, any park becomes an open lot for private development. It is certain that lawyers for Wal-Mart and other big-box corporations who desire to open their stores in the outer boroughs are observing this with great interest.

Once the legal precedent of "Community Parks are open lots for private development" is established, a big-box could desire St. Mary's Park, so near to the 149th St. commercial district, for its store. Up north, Devoe and St. James parks, near Fordham Road, would be equally tempting.

Sounds incredible? Last year at this time, no one would imagine that Macomb's Dam and Mullaly parks would be the targeted sites for a new stadium development! In this light, the question "Is your park next?" becomes a critical one for every community. This is not an issue only for the people of Highbridge or even of the Bronx. It is an issue for every Community Board, every Friends of Parks organization, every environmental group and every New Yorker who cares about a community park. And, yes for the City Council which must have an open, well publicized debate.

The people of Highbridge are making a courageous and determined stand on behalf of all of the parks in New York City. We ask fellow New Yorkers to stand with us. Remember that by preventing the destruction of Macombs Dam/Mullaly Parks today, you are keeping the bulldozers out of your community parks tomorrow.

--posted by John Rozankowski, of the Ravens, Friends of Poe Park. The Ravens is based in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx, and stand in full support of Save Our Parks!

Facts about the New Yankee Stadium Plan

Did you know?

Our elected officials, both the NY State Assembly and the NYC Council have voted to give away our public parks for the private interest of the NY Yankees.

Promised replacement of parks represents an unequal exchange: One large park area will be replaced by several smaller scattered parcels. These parks will be located further away from the community and our children - some will be built on TOP of parking garages, while others will be located across a highway and railroad tracks. Construction of these “parks” is not slated to start until after the stadium is completed – five years from now! Money for the replacement parks has not been specifically allocated, thereby throwing in doubt in the minds of many that these "parks" will ever be built.

Initial environmental studies by the Federal and State governments indicate that this project will have a detrimental effect on the air quality and health of our community.

A multitude of large oak trees will be sacrificed to make room for the stadium and associated parking garages. This exchange of trees for parking spaces will further affect our air quality, negatively impacting asthma rates for our community and our visitors. In addition, an 800-car garage and large loading dock are scheduled to be built adjacent to the skateboard park, basketball courts, swimming pool, gymnasium and picnic areas, directly affecting the health of our children.

How will this plan impact local businesses if the fans are encouraged to shop within the stadium walls? Plans for the stadium include a host of retail establishments within the stadium walls, isolating fans from the neighborhood. Private souvenir stores are threatened by this plan.

Residents on both Jerome and River Avenues will face a monolithic 14-story wall enclosing the stadium, thereby destroying their peaceful view of parkland.

Construction jobs created will be temporary and will not necessarily go to locals.

Does any of this sound to you like a positive for our community?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Silver’s Stand on Atlantic Yards: Evolving

The Observer's blog has an interesting item today titled "Silver’s Stand on Atlantic Yards: Evolving"

The Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have indicated that they would not block the arena project.
--The New York Times, July 5, 2005

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver "is aware that there is support for the project from members of the Assembly, but before the speaker can make a decision he wants to see more details of the proposal," his spokesman said.
--The New York Post, September 15, 2005

Hmmm...maybe he'll have a change of heart on the new Yankee Stadium.

Hope springs eternal.

Click the headline to access the links.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Friends of the Parks Council meeting

JJ Brennan and I attended a meeting of the Friends of Parks Council at the office of Councilwoman Helen Diane Foster on Monday, September 6. This group usually meets the 1st Monday of each month, but was changed because of the holiday.

The guest speaker was Ms. Stacy Kennedy, Coordinator of the Tree Census of the Parks Department. This is the Trees for Public Health Program of mass planting of trees in the Morrisania area of the Bronx. This group has identified one area in each borough that it will target to plant trees to address the asthma health concerns of our citizens.

We urge you to get involved with this group by contacting Liza Rosen at 718-760-6895 or
Because this group addresses street tree planting only, we were unable to obtain a commitment of support for the “Save Our Parks” campaign to block the Yankees from removing trees and taking over Macomb’s Dam & Mullaly Parks. However, this does seem to be a viable organization and can certainly help in the beautification of our streets.

Additional items for your consideration:

The Sanitation Department will loan tools for a volunteer clean-up program (BX - Lot Cleaning Division 4401 3rd Avenue between 180th & 181st Streets – 718-295-1438 or 39).

The National Arbor Day Foundation ( will give away 10 free trees to anyone who joins with a $10.00 donation. These include Flowering Dogwoods, Crabapples, Redbuds, etc.

2005 Daffodil Project 5-Boro Bulb give-a-ways (Saturday, October 8 {10 a.m. – 1 p.m.} at Joyce Kilmer Park). Visit for more information.

The Dred Scott Bird Sanctuary & Park at 1294 Grant Avenue; Troy Lancaster - Director. E-mail for an appointment:

--posted by Joyce Hogi

The Dred Scott Bird Sanctuary and Park

The other evening, after one of the many meetings we have been attending, Joyce and Robert were kind enough to take me to see the future Grant Park. It is really going to be nice, it seems! Then I had the luck to be introduced to Troy Lancaster, the visionary behind the Dread Scott Bird Sanctuary which is adjacent to the park. It is such a wonderful place, and the people that I met there are so amazing that I thought I would share them with you.

Just what is this place? According to their Mission Statement:

The Dred Scott Bird Sanctuary and Park, Inc. offers a place of natural respite for the South Bronx community of youth to senior citizens against the stress of urban living. DSBS is committed to providing educational outreach programs and services to the community it serves to enlighten the community while educating the youth to the natural partnership of green spaces in urban areas. We will continually transform DSBS and the youthful community to creatively envision their active role as caring individuals committed to maintaining this historic natural respite for future generations.

If you get the chance some weekend you should really wander over there and say hello to Troy and his wife. They are good people, and they are open to visitors Saturday and Sunday from 4 to 6. Even better, if you can't make it on the weekend Troy welcomes you to email him at and tell him when you would like to visit. If someone is available to show you around, he'd be more than happy to accomodate you!

--posted by JJ

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Last week's Community Board 4 committee meeting

If you missed the CB4 meeting last Wednesday, you can read an excellent report given by the folks over at the Neighborhood Retail Alliance by clicking the title above or clicking "Neighborhood Retail Alliance" from the list at the right, and the scrolling down till you find the post titled "Community Board Hearing on the BTM".

Development and Public Advocate candidate Norman Siegel

The Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance met with Public Advocate candidate Norman Siegel yesterday. Although we are non-partisan and do not support or oppose candidates, we feel his reaction to our concerns and the statement he issued are so important that they should be widely shared. The statement is below:

Statement On Preservation and Development, Norman Siegel Candidate for Public Advocate

It is often said that New York City is a city of neighborhoods. I am a native New Yorker who grew up in Brooklyn. I know that when we are asked where we are from, we New Yorkers are just as likely to answer that we come from New York City as we are to answer with the particular borough or neighborhood that we grew up in.

I support the mission of the Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance. Our quality of life as New Yorkers can indeed be improved by, “promoting the preservation of neighborhood character, instituting smart planning initiatives and improving how City policy is made and the performance of its agencies.”

The Alliance has identified a number of problems associated with over development, careless development, or development which is simply not attuned to the surrounding community. If there is a common resolution to these problems, it is that responsive and appropriate oversight by New York City agencies can ensure that development can proceed
responsibly. I believe that the Public Advocate’s office should be the vehicle to achieve oversight and accountability in City government. I would be prepared to challenge City agencies where the agencies failed to provide sufficient transparency into their decision-making process, or failed to stop development which is ill advised or irresponsible.

As Public Advocate I would work with the Alliance in the following areas among others:

1. Transparency: Development decisions cannot be made in a vacuum. Responsible development calls for an open process of community review and input.

2. Development Attuned to its Surroundings: Development should be consistent with the neighborhood’s character and with the scope, scale and architecture of existing buildings.

3. Preservation: Buildings with historic, architectural, or cultural significance need to be better identified and, whenever practically possible, preserved.

4. Building Quality and Safety: Union labor should be used to ensure code and safety compliance and to avoid sub standard workmanship.

5. Code Enforcement: The Buildings Department must enforce the building code as written. Serious violations must be resolved or cured within the time frame mandated by law.

6 Waterfront Development: Waterfront development should not hamper access to the waterfront by the public. Any new buildings along the waterfront should be low-rise buildings and not impede sightlines to the shore.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Gateway and traffic

Matt Lipsky from Neighborhood Retail Alliance sent me the following. You may find it interesting:

I have uploaded to our website the State DOT’s final study of the Major Deegan and Cross Bronx. The full report can be found by clicking the title above or here: (it’s a very large file; 35 megabytes) under Bronx Terminal Market. The study, though released in 2004, relies on some old data from 1996-97 but essentially concludes that the Major Deegan needs serious upgrades due to high congestion and accident rates. Eight years later the problem is probably worse. Some pages to look at are:

44-45 – Congestion of the Deegan
50 – General Problems with the Deegan’s design
53 – Accident Rates on the Deegan
55 - Ranking of accidents, 161st Street is #1
57 – Problem with Bronx Bus Services, esp near major arterials, crossings (Related claims that many Mall patrons will take these busses)

Related’s EIS for the Terminal Market does not mention this study once and only states that the DOT is planning some changes that will not affect capacity or hamper traffic flow. I guess this will be the first time that construction won’t affect traffic. More generally, Related in terms of the Deegan, only looks at the exit direct before and after 149th street, never taking into account how the addition of thousands of vehicles coming to Gateway will impact on the entire, congested system. Brian Ketcham’s analysis that I sent you all earlier goes into more detail about the deficiencies of the developer’s traffic study.

Once again, for an area that already suffers from high asthma hospitalization and high accident rates, this data needs to be thoroughly and independently examined. The developer’s self-funded, self-serving analysis should not be the only information the community uses to analyze the projects impacts. Also, the Bronx Terminal Market information needs to be examined in conjunction with the potential for additional cars generated by a new Yankee Stadium.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

A message from a CB4 member

A message from a Community Board 4 member about the Wednesday, September 7th CB4 Municipal Service & Land Use Committee meeting:

"I know that the vote at the joint meeting of the Housing & Land Use and Municipal Services Committees was confusing. It was confusing to me, too. However, this vote is only the recommendations of the committees. The important vote will be at the general meeting (which is next Wednesday, September 14th--ed.) because that is the actual vote on the ULURP application. I was not able to ask questions during the vote last night because I am not a member of either committee. However, you can be sure that I will ask at the general meeting. This ULURP, by being rushed for approval, is sloppy as well as inaccurate; and many, many issues that will adversely effect this community have not been adequately addressed. The amendments are important in the final vote because they will have to be addressed by the Borough President and the City Council.

"This experience is also a good rehearsal for the Yankee ULURP which will be 100 times more difficult. What is important to remember is that CB4 is the representative of the community. That is why we must have as much community participation as possible at all of the meetings.

"I hope to see everyone at the CB4 General Meeting on Wednesday, September 14, 2005."

-- Anita Antonetty

Well, you heard her! She says she needs us at the CB4 General Meeting to give her your support, and I say she oughta have it!

--posted by JJ

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

After meeting conversation

After the CB4 meeting tonight, I spoke with Michael, Joyce, and Kitty. Several great ideas were brought up, which we should really pursue:

1. An organized walk around the areas of Macombs Dam and Mullaly parks to see what would be stolen from our community. It would give us all a chance to see what would we would be giving up. And we could tie ribbons around the oak trees to show our opposition.

2. We should meet with Councilmember Diane Foster and ask her to champion our cause.

3. We should contact NYPRG and NYRP to ask for their support.

Any additional ideas are welcome. Leave them by posting a comment (click the word comment, below)

--posted by JJ

Friday, September 02, 2005

Broken windows

A lot of people see the construction of a new stadium as a positive for the community, usually for economic reasons (jobs, etc.) We have discussed this in previous posts, for example "A question about jobs created by a new Yankee Stadium" which you can read by scrolling down.

While following links related to a COMPLETELY graver situation I found a perfect explanation of why the idea that building a new stadium is economically good for our community and city is hogwash:

"In Economics, this is referred to as the "Broken Windows fallacy". The fallacy states that destruction creates real growth.

"I'll not write a full article debunking the fallacy, but think like this. Suppose I don't like you, and so I completely destroy your car. You need to buy a new one, so you buy a new car (that someone has to produce).

"Is this new car considered "growth"? You had a car, now you have a car. The growth is zero. And worse, the person that produced your car could have produced something else, or maybe a car for another person that didn't have a car in the first place - your money could be used to buy a fancy telescope to watch the stars, for instance, and then you'd have both a car AND a telescope."

So, rather than destroying the real Yankee Stadium, only to build a Disney version on OUR parkland, we could use that money to renovate it, and still have money left over for things like, I don't know: housing, a new Metro North station, EDUCATION. You get the idea.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

It could happen to you!

If you think what is happening to our parks here in the Bronx could never happen to you because you live in Queens or Brooklyn or Manhattan, you need a reality check.

This is the first time (correct me if I am wrong by clicking the word 'comments' below) that the city has alienated public park land for a reason which doesn't directly affect the public. They alienated Van Cortland Park to build a water filtration plant. But when they finish they will restore the golfcourse above it. They have taken other parks temporarily to construct public facilities which were equally essential. And they allowed the construction of the US Open in Flushing Meadows. But the US Open is a not for profit which paid for its facilities and actually provides the city with a nice income.

But by giving the Yankees our park so that they can build a subsidized stadium which the Yankees will then own is unacceptable. And it sets a dangerous precedent for the taking of parkland by private for-profit enterprise. Can you say corporate welfare?