Saturday, March 04, 2006

Position # 7: Asthma is Suffocating the South Bronx

According to the New York City Department of Mental Health & Hygiene Report on Asthma Facts, 2003, "17% of school-aged children have asthma, a rate that is twice the New York City average..."* The report blames outside air pollution caused by heavy traffic and the area merits the dubious distinction of being called "Asthma Alley."

Traffic and parking problems in the Yankee Stadium area are bad on normal days because of the Courthouses and reach gridlock status during Yankee home games. The exhaust from all this traffic is overwhelming and the only defense that the community has are its parks.

Two of these parks, Macomb’s Dam and John Mullaly with some 400 mature trees are slated for destruction if the new Yankee Stadium project gets approved. The heavily advertised "Central Park" is no replacement with artificial turf and saplings. Many of the saplings will die and it will takes decades for those which remain to achieve the air pollution fighting ability of the 371 trees slated for destruction.

This does not take into account all of the airborne dust which will be the inevitable result of heavy construction right in the middle of a residential neighborhood. The number of Asthma cases will undoubtedly rise and a number of people may die as a result. It must be noted that the host community is one of the poorest in the nation and many simply cannot afford the necessary attention that the disease required.

Likewise, Macomb’s Dam and John Mullaly parks serve as a vital recreational area for both children and the elderly. Places like the Bronx Zoo and the N.Y. Botanical Gardens which many take for granted are unaffordable to these residents! Not only would they have no place to go during construction but also, the new stadium would act as a barrier wall preventing many from going to the new "synthetic" parks.

It is also necessary to eliminate most of the new parking garages which would only induce more traffic and anchor the whole project in mass transit. This would be supported by a strict enforcement of traffic and parking regulations with the goal of bringing the percentage of those using cars to get to the stadium from 64%-68% to at least the low 50's.

* Cited in South Bronx Environmental Health and Policy Study.


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