Thursday, November 03, 2005

DEIS: Parkland concerns; Waterfront esplanade and ballparks


Draft EIS states:

...existing Yankee Stadium Lots 13A and 13B located along the Harlem River would be repaired, restriped, and extended south to replace the spaces lost to create the esplanade.

Existing Yankee Stadium Parking Lots 13A and 13B are located west of Exterior Street between the Bronx Terminal Market and the Macombs Dam Bridge. The proposed project would repave and restripe these existing lots and create new surface parking, as a southern extension to existing Yankee Stadium Lot 13A.

New passive recreational open space and a pedestrian esplanade would surround these waterfront ballfields. A comfort station with restrooms would be constructed to the south of the ballfield.

...a new 0.71-acre esplanade that would extend from the northern end of the waterfront park, wrap around the waterfront to the existing ferry landing, and extend east to the pedestrian connection at Exterior Street beneath the Major Deegan Expressway. Although it would not be mapped as parkland,

The proposed recreational facilities on Exterior Street and proposed esplanade would create new open space and ballfields along the Harlem River and would represent an important new community amenity that would serve the surrounding neighborhood and provide new public waterfront access.

The 5.11 acres of proposed parkland along the waterfront would be an added benefit to existing workers and residents, but would not be immediately adjacent to the residential areas and therefore would not have a significant effect on residential property values.

• A 0.71-acre esplanade along the Harlem River waterfront (not currently parkland). It would attract the public and enliven a waterfront area that is currently composed of degraded piers.

The proposed project would also include a new esplanade that would extend north from the proposed ballfields. The esplanade would extend from the northern end of the proposed park, following the edges of the piers that contain the existing Yankee Stadium parking fields, to the existing ferry landing. At that point, it would veer east to Exterior Street to the existing pedestrian connection beneath the Major Deegan Expressway (see Figures 7-27 and 7-35). It is expected that this new esplanade would be 20 feet wide. It would be designed with such amenities as decorative paving, landscaping, and lighting.

Besides providing welcome greenery, it is expected that the new waterfront areas would encourage pedestrian activity that would enliven the streets in this area.


This waterfront esplanade would not connect to anything except the ball fields, and would be in essence a “path to nowhere”. To access it, you would have to go through the pedestrian bridge over the Metro-North tracks, walk under an elevated expressway and through a parking area surrounded with razor-wire fences. This is not an inviting atmosphere that will serve to “enliven the streets in this area”. The DEIS admits this by saying the esplanade “would not have a significant effect on residential property values”. This is because the esplanade is in the middle of nowhere and will not provide substantial benefit to anyone.

This is not to say a waterfront esplanade should not be put in this location. However, the City was going to do this anyway as part of an initiative to line the entire Harlem river with a pathway. So we don’t need this Yankee Stadium project as a way to get the esplanade. If anything, the Yankee Stadium project will make the esplanade worse in that it will add increased parking immediately next to the esplanade. What good is a waterfront walkway if it just goes through a parking lot?

The ballfields will also be isolated and out of the way. In order to play baseball or softball there, you’re going to have to carry your equipment over the pedestrian bridge, under the expressway and through a parking area surrounded with razor-wire fences. This is not equivalent in terms of access to the current ballfields, which you can see and access from the surrounding streets. These ballfields are in the shadow of the existing stadium, an iconic vision for youngsters to be in the presence of as they practice baseball. (What kid does not want to grow up to be a professional baseball player?) Instead, the new ballfields will be under the roar of an expressway.


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