Sunday, March 26, 2006

“Bronx parkland puts Queens on notice” in Fresh Meadows Times 01/26/06

Bronx parkland puts Queens on notice

in Fresh Meadows Times 01/26/06

By Bob Harris

An e-mail from the Queens Civic Congress tells of the land grab of Macomb’s Dam Park and John Mullaly Park in the Highbridge Section of the Bronx by the New York Yankee baseball management. The writer of the message is John Rozankowski, Ph.D., who is a member of Save Our Parks and The Ravens, Friends of Poe Park.

He, and many other residents, are opposed to the Yankee management taking these two large, well-developed parks in exchange for the current Yankee Stadium land. It is felt that the Yankees are doing this as a cheap way to build a new stadium.
Rozankowski wrote that Community Board 4 in the Bronx opposed this land swap, but Bronx Borough President Alberto Carrion is for the deal, so he locked 150 community residents out of his public hearing in the freezing cold on Dec 12, thus preventing them from voicing their opposition. The proposal is currently at City Planning, in Manhattan and scheduled for a vote on Jan 11, 2006. It will then go to the City Council for a final vote.

Since the proponents must replace the two parks being taken over with equal parkland, the old Yankee Stadium would be taken down, and a parking garage would be built underneath the land. Also, a park would be built on the surface, leaving historic spots related to Yankee baseball.

Rozankowski says that the new 22-acre park- covered with artificial turf – will not be like the two old parks which now have 372 mature trees. Any new trees will be small compared to the old trees which will be cut down. He predicted that most of the new trees would probably die, since they will be over a cement garage. Some of the required park acreage will be across the highway from where the two parks are now located.

Rozankowski complained that there was no meaningful outreach, that the impending vote was not announced, the major media did not cover the story, and no testimony was taken from the community. He feels that there has been a virtual blackout about public opposition and that all this sets a bad precedent. This is like the building of a giant chemical water treatment plant in Van Courtland Park instead of just protecting the water in the upstate reservoirs from pollution.

We in Queens have had to fight for our open parks over the years. About 40 years ago, Mayor Lindsay wanted to build a large swimming pool in Cunningham Park, where now during the spring, summer and fall, baseball, soccer, football, and now cricket are played on the open spaces in the eastern areas of the park along 73rd Avenue.

The homeowners did not want a big pool in their park. A huge crowd filled PS 26 and the proposal was tabled. A few years ago there was a proposal to build an ice skating rink in the southern part of Cunningham Park. The community rallied and the area is still forever wild and more or less picturesque. The rink is being built in the northern part of Flushing Meadows Corona Park over or next to the sewage storage tank being built there away from all houses.

Flushing Meadows Corona Park has been under siege for years. There was a plan to build a Grand Prix race course in the park. It was stopped. Mayor Dinkins, a tennis buff, push through a tennis stadium. However, the displaced soccer fields were never replaced. The people who had used these soccer fields were displaced. So much for the little people! What does it cost to attend a tennis match in the stadium? Oh, the company which runs the Tennis Center moved out of Queens to Nassau. I don’t know if they give free tennis lessons to community children. I believe they were supposed to! Do you know?

Our parks are small or large open green spaces where people can picnic and play, respectful of the surrounding community. We have to fight to protect and improve our parks. They should be places for the people to relax and socialize and play and heal. They are not places where speculators can make lots of money with high-priced sporting events or other money-making activities. Have you ever visited one of our parks on a nice day? They are packed! We have to unite and support each other and protect our parks. I hope people notice what is happening in the Bronx and speak up.


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