Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A rebuttal to Zimbalist's Op-Ed in the New York Times

According to Zimbalist: "The current plan is different than the one from last spring."

While the current plan is different in some ways from the one shown in the Draft Scope of Work and the DEIS, the fundamentals of the project have not changed - namely, adding 4000 parking spaces to our neighborhood where parks are now located. Also, the proposed stadium is still in the same, ill-chosen location. The only elements that have changed are the locations of the different types of replacement recreational amenities - and the fact that the old stadium will now be completely demolished.

According to Zimbalist: "...the parking lot that will have fields on top is underground and the fields will be at grade."

This is not accurate. Proposed parking garage A will be at grade only at the Macombs Dam Bridge approach - NOT anywhere else. Since nobody lives on a bridge approach, everybody who is going to walk to this park will not approach it from grade level. Rather, the "park" will be elevated, in some places higher than others. NYCDPR has been trying to minimize this through their presentations since they know how upset we are. However, if you look at the renderings carefully, you will see the elevation differences everywhere EXCEPT at the Macombs Dam bridge approach. It is easy to be deceived by their slick presentations.

According to Zimbalist: "...the fields and open space are linked."

This is completely inaccurate, unless you are looking at the parks from an aerial perspective - and even then, perhaps not. First, the proposed stadium will divide up the continuous swath of parkland that we already have, due to the fact that it will be located in the middle and will be 14 stories tall. Second, the waterfront park will be barrier separated by rail tracks from the rest of the community that you will have to walk over a pedestrian bridge (as well as through parking lots surrounded by razor wire fences) to get to. This waterfront park will not be easy to get to since nobody lives near there. Third, since much of the parkland will be grade separated, it's not as "linked" as you imply. What if the elevator is out of service? Or isn't maintained?

The prospect for a new Metro-North platform mentioned by Zimbalist.

It's not part of the project. While the Yankees don't object to it, they are not exactly hustling to get this thing built. In fact, the DEIS states that the goal is to facilitate easier auto trips simply because that's the preferred mode of transportation for Yankees fans. For now, the Yankees have taken it off the table - it is NOT in the proposal.

According to Zimbalist: "...the project will be a major facelift for the area and help gentrify the South Bronx."

The DEIS clearly states that property values would likely decline in the immediate vicinity of the proposed new stadium. How would this help gentrify this neighborhood? If anything gentrifies this neighborhood, it is the fact that real estate values are off-the-charts elsewhere, so more middle class folks start moving in. However, how can you expect buildings to become more valuable when the new stadium location and associated parking will place traffic, crowds and lights directly on the doorsteps of a large number of residential buildings? Look at the plans - the new stadium will be much, much closer to a higher number of residential dwelling units than the current one. The DEIS makes no bones about it - it will cause a decline in quality of life for these unlucky individuals, and thus will cause property values to decrease. Those are the Yankees words, we didn't make that up. If anything, this plan will stop gentrification in our neighborhood.

According to Zimbalist: "Those who want no disruption and the maintenance of the status quo need to think again."

All major investment projects, no matter how positive they may be for a community, disrupt the life of somebody. Undoubtedly, some residents will be made worse off. First of all - we are not saying keep the status quo. Most of us want a revised stadium project as opposed to keeping things the same. We have a right as citizens to ask for a better project. Why are you implying that we should just roll over and play dead and let this thing just move on through? Development should be an iterative process with both project applicants and the community establishing a vision. But the thing is, we were never asked to be a part of that vision. We were handed a project proposal, in near final form, and told "go ahead and react to it". We've been on defense the whole time - and we want a chance to impact the project to make it better. We DON'T want no project at all - just one that will work for all parties involved.


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