Wednesday, March 29, 2006

"Parks law may trip up Yankee Stadium" in Metro NY, 3/28/6

Parks law may trip up Yankee Stadium

by patrick arden / metro new york

MAR 28, 2006

MANHATTAN — When the City Council holds its first public meeting today on the proposed new Yankee Stadium, a little-known federal law will hang over the proceedings. It could derail the project, or at least slow it down.

In May 1979, the National Park Service gave $422,650 for improvements at Macombs Dam Park, and this grant gives the agency final say over whether the Yankees can use 22 acres of parkland for a new stadium.

The Yankees want to build the new ballpark next to the current one because “there wouldn’t be revenues coming in” if the team moved to Shea Stadium, as it had during its 1970s renovation, team president Randy Levine has said.

But this reasoning may not meet the federal requirements set forth in the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965, which says a park receiving federal money can be converted to another use only if “all practical alternatives” have been evaluated. The converted parkland must also be replaced with parks of equal value, “usefulness and location.”

“There’s no way they can meet this criteria because elected officials made a deal that didn’t allow an exploration of alternatives,” said Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates.

City Parks Department spokes-man Warner Johnston said “a final determination is expected” by May 1.

“It’s entirely unlikely something will be approved by then,” said Jack Howard, LWCF manager at the National Park Service. Howard is still waiting on the state’s proposal.


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