Thursday, March 02, 2006

Position # 4: The Yankee Stadium Project and External Security Needs

It is recognized by the Department of Homeland Security that sports stadiums, especially a new one that is very likely to become the scene of future World Series’ games, constitute a major terrorist target. Likewise it is well known that similar homeland security concerns prompted an independent policy study of the Ground Zero rebuilding that resulted in major changes to plans for the Freedom Tower. Thus, it is surprising that no police study has been done comparing the external security needs of Yankee Stadium in its present location versus the new stadium in its future location.

Even a casual observation brings out a variety of security related issues:

1. The present stadium is in a wide open area where surveillance and control over access is very easy. In the proposed location, however, security coverage would be far more difficult considering all the structures present: buildings, parking garages, step streets, side streets, etc.

Even today, many Bronx organizations and precinct councils complain that their local precinct police officers are pulled away from their precincts for stadium duty. This point cannot be overemphasized. On game days, local precincts quickly become overwhelmed so that response time is far longer and there are many instances that the police simply don’t show up!

It is almost certain that if the new stadium is built in the proposed location, and especially if the new garages are built, that more police officers would be needed to provide the proper coverage. In addition, since some buildings in Highbridge (on top of a hill) would be almost level with the stadium top, some police officers would be needed on rooftops. Where would these extra police officers come from, how will it affect police overtime costs, and who would pay for this? Clearly, the project will simply make an already bad situation in Bronx precincts far worse. An independent police study would shed far more light on this issue by providing the numbers of police personnel needed for security at the new stadium. If the problem is ever to be addressed, such information is critical.

2. If the stadium is moved from the present to the proposed location, it will be moved from an uninhabited area to the doorsteps of community residents thereby, placing these people at risk. It must be noted that those going to the games know or should know about security risks and are taking such risks only when they go to the games. Community residents, on the other hand, are having this imposed upon them and face the risk well over eighty times a year! For most residents, simply moving is not a viable option.

3. It is a fact of life that no terrorist has to do anything in the Bronx for there to be major impacts. If the Terrorist Alert Status is elevated, the effects could be felt immediately in the form of concrete barriers, police checkpoints, closed streets, parking restrictions, vehicle searches, etc.

How would this affect traffic flow patterns and the free movement of local residents? Such information is critical to an accurate Environmental Impact Study.

4. The options available to terrorists are quite varied. A police study would provide the groundwork for understanding how best to protect both those attending the games as well as the local community. Many of the needed security measures will also have consequences for the EIS.

5. What if the unthinkable did happen? Is there an evacuation plan for the new stadium as well as for the surrounding community? Where would residents be re-located if necessary? Would Yankee Management cover some of the attendant costs?

6. Furthermore, if the unthinkable did happen, who would pay for cleaning up, rebuilding, and the medical bills of injured residents. It is unclear how the cost of Terrorism Insurance will be addressed when the current federal supports are withdrawn. The premiums, without a doubt, will be higher if the stadium is built in the proposed location. A police study would provide a clearer basis for understanding what this very significant, unacknowledged expense will be.

In conclusion, only an independent policy study would provide the answers and focus on the right questions. Without such a police study, the EIS is incomplete and misleading as to the consequences of the building of the new stadium.


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