Monday, February 27, 2006

Position # 1 : Responsible Development: Restoration of the Role of the Community


At one point or another, both newspapers and politicians decry over the lack of civic involvement, and especially the lack of civic interest among young people. From the very outset, however, both parties have done everything to keep community involvement at a minimum and the democratic rights of communities have been violated at every stage of the project.

After the media announced that there was no opposition to the project, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Yankee Management and the City of New York was signed on June 15, 2005. This document required both parties to do frequent community outreach and seek public input on the project. Instead, the community and even Bronx Community Board #4 were kept in the dark. In spite of the applications to start the ULURP process were certified on September 26, 2005.

Unnoticed in the Memorandum Of Understanding was the fact that the City of New York signed on as an "advocate" and "supporter" of the project which meant that all city agencies and their employees have to support it. Even though local public schools hate the project, their hands are tied and the community’s right to a fair and impartial hearing at City Planning is severely if not fatally compromised.

The Public Lot Doctrine protects community parks on the state level. Anticipating a public outcry, elected officials on the state level simply voted to give the parks to Yankee management without meaningful community outreach, without announcing the vote and without accepting testimony from the community in what is tantamount to a secret vote.

Even though Bronx Community Board #4 voted to reject the project, Bronx Borough President Carrion a strong supporter of the project stacked the deck against the community. During the public hearing of December 12th, he had 150 community residents locked out of an open meeting in an apparent violation of the community’s right of free speech.

After declaring erroneously that there is no opposition, the media have ignored the community’s campaign against the project despite the flagrant violation of democratic principles. Only recently when the project came before City Planning did some stories appear many of them biased against the community.

Save Our Parks will seek stronger legislation banning the use of community parks for private development in the City Council and also the imposition of some restrictions on the power of the City of New York to "advocate" and to "support" private development projects.


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