Thursday, January 12, 2006

01/12/06, Metro New York: ¨Rage over Yankee plan¨

Rage over Yankee plan
South Bronx residents feel team, city using squeeze play to force stadium project

by patrick arden / metro new york
JAN 12, 2006

LOWER MANHATTAN — Wanda Smith is a wiry woman with curly hair, silver heart earrings and an animated manner. Outside Wednesday’s hearing of the city planning commission, she was speaking her mind about the proposed Yankee Stadium with a finger pointed in the face of City Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo.

“Why are you for this project?” Smith demanded.

“I have not taken a position,” Arroyo responded. “It’s not over yet.”

“Don’t tell me that,” Smith said.

Arroyo remained calm. “Listen, sweetie,” she said, “there are a lot of things to be worked out . . . “

“Excuse me, surveyors are already in Mullaly Park every day now,” Smith said. “They’re actually drilling as we speak. If it’s not over, why have they started construction?”

“We still have an opportunity to do what’s best for the community,” continued Arroyo. “This is not what . . . ”

“Why wasn’t the neighborhood included?” Smith asked. “They did it, and now we have to catch up. That’s disrespectful.”

Smith lives with her three children and three grandchildren, and they all use Mullaly Park, which is a block away from their apartment. “We go to the pool, we use the tennis courts,” she said, offering to show snapshots.

Instead, Arroyo invited Smith to make an appointment at her district office. In recent months, she’s heard a lot from the community.

“They have raised what I believe to be legitimate concerns,” Arroyo said afterward, “and these need to be addressed before this project can move forward. There is the inadequacy of the replacement parkland, the traffic concerns are serious, and there is no commitment that a new Metro-North station will be built.
“We should have been having this conversation two years ago,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that the timing is as short as it is, but a good plan can still come out of this.”

A flawed process

Lukas Herbert isn’t so sure.

“When this project broke, people were pretty upset that the community hadn’t been involved,” said the urban planner and a member of Community Board 4. “We learned about this from the newspaper. We should have been allowed to contribute to the formulation of the plan. Instead we were just told, here’s the plan — react to it.”

Herbert pestered the parks department for a copy of the project’s 700-page Environmental Impact Statement.

“They’re taking parkland to build their parking structures and their stadium,” he said. “They’re going to put parkland on top of the parking structures, and they’d put parkland on scrap parcels that have been discarded from other projects.”

One of those parcels had been part of the Gateway Mall project at the Bronx Terminal Market. “It’s on the waterfront, but to get to it you have to walk a mile, over a scary pedestrian bridge, down through a deserted parking lot, underneath an elevated expressway, and then through another parking lot,” Herbert said. “And when you’re there, the park is wedged between a freight rail line and an elevated expressway. Kids will be out there playing softball with diesel exhaust falling on them. That’s not a fair swap.”

Team’s pitch

Yankees President Randy Levine said the community will benefit from the ballpark.

“This project is going to be a landmark,” Levine said, “by far the largest private investment in the Bronx.”


At 2:44 PM, Blogger dittenheim said...

This plan is a travesty! Not only is precious parkland being taken, but the most historic sports venue in the country is going to be destroyed so that George Steinbrenner can build a monument to himself. Instead of the house that Ruth built it will be the house that George built.
i take particular umbrage in the fact that so little information has been made public and so little coverage has been given by the media. How is this possible?
Every bit of news about the proposed Westside stadium and the Giants-Jets stadium has been given full media coverage, but not this, much more significant project.
We need some high-profile champions to get on the bandwagon to save Yankee Stadium, which drew a record 4 million attendees last year. This is certainly not a stadium that nobody wants to visit!!


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