Thursday, January 12, 2006

01/12/06, amNew York: ¨Debate over new Yankee Stadium gets heated¨

Debate over new Yankee Stadium gets heated


January 12, 2006

After weeks of debate over a new Yankee Stadium, emotions erupted Wednesday before a hearing on the controversial plan even began.

Construction workers who hoped to get jobs building the new stadium disrupted a news conference held by the project's opponents -- residents and organizations that say the stadium will destroy valuable Bronx parkland and add to pollution.

As Bronx Community Board 4 member Lukas Herbert began to speak, the workers drowned him out, chanting "Build the stadium!" After a minute of confusion, Bronx residents against the plan began chanting "save our parks!"

"People from outside the neighborhood really have no place coming in and telling us what's good for our neighborhood," Herbert said.

The construction workers were rallied by Positive Work Force, an organization that tries to place blacks and Hispanics in construction jobs. Although some of the members of Positive Work Force were from the Bronx, others said they were from New Jersey and Manhattan.

The organization's co-director Alfonso Rivera said the plan was good for the neighborhood and that he was talking to the Yankees about providing jobs for his members. "I want the stadium, I want jobs for the kids hanging around the streets," he said.

Some exchanges got ugly. After the police separated the two groups with barriers, Rivera taunted the stadium opponents yelling, "They put you in cages!"

"We can see no justification from taking away public parkland from the poorest congressional district and handing it over to the richest sports franchise in the country," said Joyce Hogi, member of Save Our Parks, a Bronx organization that is fighting the plan.

At least 85 people signed up to give testimony before the City Planning Commission, which will decide whether to approve the rezoning of parkland by the end of next month. If the 13-member commission of political appointees approves the plan, it will go to the City Council.

The plan would build a new stadium on Macombs Dam and John Mullaly parks. The parks would be replaced by several scattered parks that includes an artificial-turf soccer field built on top of a parking garage. The new stadium would have fewer seats than the current stadium but more luxury boxes and better concessions.

"This project is going to be a landmark project, by far the largest private investment in the Bronx," said Yankees president Randy Levine, who maintained the project would be good for the South Bronx economy.

Levine said no other site would work and that building on the same site as the current stadium would deprive the team of a place to play for three years.

Although the Yankees will pay for the stadium, taxpayers will pay around $200 million for the parking spaces and replacement parkland.


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