Monday, December 12, 2005

New York Sun, 12/12/05: Carrion To Unveil Plan for Parkland Lost to Yankee Stadium Project

Carrion To Unveil Plan for Parkland Lost to Yankee Stadium Project

By DAVID LOMBINO - Staff Reporter of the Sun
December 12, 2005

The president of the Bronx, Adolfo Carrion, will detail his plans for replacing the parkland lost as a result of the new Yankee Stadium project at a public hearing tonight, a member of his staff, Eldin Villafane, told The New York Sun yesterday.

Mr. Carrion, who has been named as a potential Democratic mayoral candidate for 2009, has been an ardent supporter of the new stadium. Tonight, at a public hearing on the Yankees' pending land-use application for the project, Mr. Carrion may seek to appease the community opposition centered on the loss of park space and the inadequacy of the planned replacement parks. The local Community Board 4 recently rejected the stadium plan in an advisory vote.

The new ballpark complex will cover roughly 22 acres and displace about half of Macombs Dam and John Mullaly parks. In a plan made in conjunction with the city, the parkland will be replaced with a riverfront park on the site of the existing stadium, and on artificial recreation facilities on top of new parking garages.

A spokesman for Mr. Carrion, Mr. Villafane, said yesterday that five additional acres of park space would be located on the site of the existing stadium, most of which will be demolished once the new ballpark is constructed on an adjacent lot. But a city Parks Department official said that he was unaware of any new parkland being added to the existing land-use application, which calls for about 28 acres of new parkland.

The chairman of a neighborhood organization that opposes the plan, the Bronx Voices for Equal Inclusion, Gregory Bell, said yesterday that the Yankees' and the city's plan was crafted without community input. The replacement parks, he said, are farther away from their neighborhood, which already lacks open space and green grass.

"Nobody is saying no to economic development, or no to the Yankees. We are saying no to the way this project is designed, because it has no benefits for the community," Mr. Bell said.

Mr. Bell said the loss of parkland could aggravate the neighborhood's incidence of asthma. The Bronx has the highest incidence rates of asthma in the country. An official for the Yankees said yesterday that the area's already high asthma rates have nothing to do with their proposed plan, and that the Yankees will take environmental precautions during construction
to prevent further deterioration of air quality.

Yankee officials have called the project the "largest private investment in the history of the Bronx" and they say there is no other suitable location to build the new 51,800-seat stadium.

A spokesman for the Yankees, Howard Rubenstein, said yesterday that the stadium will deliver "thousands of new jobs" to the area, improved parking facilities for neighborhood use, and $120 million in new parks and waterfront facilities that include a new running track, baseball fields, handball courts, and an ice-skating rink.

Mr. Rubenstein said, "The Yankees are sensitive to the community's needs and will continue to work with all the elected officials in the Bronx and the community to satisfy reasonable concerns." The Yankees will pay about $800 million for the new stadium. The city and state will contribute about $300 million for the new parking facilities, parks, and infrastructure

Both the state Legislature and the City Council have already approved the transfer of parkland to the Yankees. The project's land-use application needs the approval of Mr. Carrion and the City Council, which is expected to review it next spring.


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