Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"Bronx debates pact pols, Yankees made" in MetroNY 03/22/06

Bronx debates pact pols, Yankees made

by patrick arden / metro new york

MAR 22, 2006

BRONX — Borough President Adolfo Carrion was reticent yesterday to discuss a draft of the community benefits agreement he’s been negotiating with the New York Yankees for the last several months. The Yankees need 22 acres of parkland for a stadium, but Carrion believes the area will profit in return.

He explained the deal has been worked out with members of the City Council’s Bronx delegation, and the final contract would be ready by the time the Council votes on the stadium project April 5.

Investment of millions

“If you come into the Bronx, you need to do business with the Bronx, you need to engage the work force, you need to engage businesses in the development and help us to add value to the quality of life here,” he said.

More than 25 percent of construction jobs and contracts will go to Bronx residents and businesses, and Carrion seemed especially proud of a community benefits program that would give out $900,000 annually over the team’s 40-year lease.

“If you look at the investment in the community every year over 40 years, you’re talking about in excess of $50 million,” he said.

“It’s a slush fund — that’s all it is,” responded Geneva Causey, who’s lived across the street from Macombs Dam Park for 39 years. “If it was for the community, it would have been more — and it wouldn’t have been secret.”

After looking at the draft, Lukas Herbert, an urban planner on Community Board 4, said, the program’s administrator “will probably be a patronage appointment, and anybody who uses their organization to get votes for X, Y and Z Democratic Party machine members will end up getting money.”

Community wrath

When Community Board 4 rejected the stadium plan in November, 16 members voted no, 8 voted yes, and 7 abstained.

“There were an awful lot of people who abstained from voting because they run nonprofits that get city funding,” Herbert said. “They were worried if they voted against the project they’d incur the wrath of the people in charge.”

Last week at Borough Hall, members of Save Our Parks threatened to run candidates against their elected officials.

“The Bronx political machine has become an absolute embarrassment to the people they supposedly represent,” Causey said. “They are going to make billions off our public parks, and this is all we get? They should be ashamed of themselves. It is time for them to go.”


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