Thursday, March 16, 2006

"Two Stadiums. No Waiting" Village Voice 03/14/06

Two Stadiums. No Waiting
Yanks and Mets plans leave little room for public debate

By Neil deMause in Village Voice, March 14th, 2006 11:27 AM

Compared with the long-running sagas of the West Side Jets stadium (born January 1999, died June 2005) and the Brooklyn Nets arena plan (unveiled December 2003, still not out of the starting blocks), Mayor Bloomberg's proposal to build new homes for the Mets and Yankees has whizzed by in a virtual blur. First announced during a whirlwind week last June as part of Bloomberg's last-ditch attempts to revive the city's flagging Olympic bid, the $1.8 billion twin-stadium plan is now scheduled to come up for a winner-take-all City Council vote on April 5.

Yet key details of the plans remain unresolved, leaving some neighborhood activists and good-government advocates wondering if the teams' rush to break ground is trampling on the need for open public debate. "The proposal to build a new Yankee Stadium is moving at warp speed, and nobody can get on this train," says Bettina Damiani of the subsidy-watch group Good Jobs New York. "The New York Stock Exchange subsidy deal didn't move this quickly; even some 9-11–related projects didn't move this quickly. It's disconcerting, to say the least, how quickly this project is moving, and at the same time completely excluding the input of local community members."

The Yankees plan, which would demolish the House That Ruth Built and build a new stadium across 161st Street to the north, leaped out to a quick start last summer. Just eight days after Bloomberg's stadium press conference, and before most Bronx residents had even learned the details of the plan, the state legislature moved to "alienate" Macombs Dam and Mullaly Parks, 21 acres of which would be obliterated to make way for the ballpark. Before this could happen, the city council had to sign off on a Home Rule message endorsing the legislature's land grab. This message, however, arrived in the council "preconsidered"—the city's version of the state legislature's infamous "messages of necessity" that allow lawmakers to dispense with debate.

As a result, there were no public hearings, and according to council minutes obtained by Good Jobs New York, councilmembers never even discussed the issue. Meanwhile, the council's finance division provided members with a "Fiscal Impact Statement" indicating "no impact on [city] expenditures resulting from the enactment of this legislation"—though by the city's own admission, it will be on the hook for more than $135 million in land and infrastructure costs. (Both a Good Jobs study and an analysis by the Voice put total public subsidies, including tax and rent breaks, at more than $400 million—with about half of that coming from the city.)

The council unanimously approved decommissioning the parks. (Brooklyn arena opponent Tish James abstained.) Three days later, the state legislature passed its alienation bill, and the Yankees had their land.

"No alienation has moved as fast as the Yankees'," says Christian DiPalermo, executive director of New Yorkers for Parks. Coming on the heels of a similarly fast-tracked alienation to place a water filtration plant in Van Cortlandt Park, DiPalermo worries, taking parkland for private uses might become a pattern, especially as new restrictions on eminent domain make it more difficult to take private property for public projects.

With this crucial state legislative hurdle cleared, the project dove straight into the city's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, put in place in the 1970s in response to the bad old days of Robert Moses's bulldozing of neighborhoods for "urban renewal." After a series of contentious public hearings—at one, stadium-backing Bronx borough president Adolfo Carrión was met with angry chants of "You work for us!"—Bronx Community Board 4 voted 16 to 8 in November to reject the Yankees plan. Under ULURP, though, community board votes are only advisory, and the City Planning Commission—which does have veto power—subsequently unanimously endorsed the project.

The city's draft environmental-impact statement, meanwhile—a 700-plus-page tome that, several Bronx residents have complained, is unreadable to the borough's many Spanish speakers—attracted a flood of citizen comments, which were mostly dismissed with a perfunctory wave of bureaucratese. (Sample text: "The commenter's assertion that the proposed project is 'laden with hidden public subsidies' is outside the scope of [this] analysis. . . . Neither the City nor the State will have any obligation to pay for construction of the new stadium. Thus, there are no hidden public subsidies.")

To some, this timeline points up the trouble with ULURP, which sets a strict seven-month window for public review before a council vote. "That may not be long enough to have a public debate about a major facility that's going to transform an entire area of the city," says Hunter College urban-affairs professor Tom Angotti.

It certainly hasn't been long enough to solidify the stadium plan itself, which remains in a state of flux. As just one example, the city Industrial Development Agency recently revealed that the cost of new parking garages has skyrocketed from $235 million to $320 million in the past four months. While $70 million of that will come out of the pockets of state taxpayers, the remainder is expected to be paid by as-yet-unidentified private developers. If no developer voluntarily comes forward—and the higher the price, the more it looks like a money-loser—the city could be left having to front this money itself.

Moreover, because Macombs Dam Park received funds under the federal Land and Water Conservation Program in the 1980s, the National Park Service still must certify that lost parkland is replaced by equivalent green space. In actuality, says Lukas Herbert, a Westchester city planner who lives near Yankee Stadium and serves on Community Board 4, "the replacement parkland that they're building is almost a mile away, and it's going to be difficult for senior citizens and kids to get there. Right now you walk out your front door, and the park is right there." Save Our Parks is considering a lawsuit over both the EIS failings and the federal park-replacement regs, but, says Herbert, "a lot of us are concerned that if the City Council approves it, they're going to go in and start tearing down trees."

The Mets project, meanwhile, virtually disappeared from the radar after Bloomberg's initial announcement last summer of a new 44,000-seat facility—about 25 percent smaller capacity than Shea Stadium, though roughly the same height—to be built in what's now the center field parking lot. Unlike the Yankees' series of ULURP hearings, the Mets plan has only a single public hearing to its credit so far: an Empire State Development Authority shindig that was held at four on a Monday afternoon, and drew all of six speakers.

"It was a farce," says Flushing community activist David Oats, who has long lobbied for an Olympic stadium in Queens. "Here's a huge, multimillion-dollar project that will affect New York City for generations, and they hold one hearing at four o'clock in the afternoon, and they don't even send out a press release?"

The city insists that the Mets plan doesn't need a fresh public review process because it already conducted an impact study back in 2001, when the project was set to sport a retractable roof and a different financing scheme. It's hard to say, though, since the Mets have still not released their designs for a new stadium, and official state documents indicate design schematics as "intentionally deleted."

The speed of the process has also left little time for the sort of intensive scrutiny that the Jets and Nets plans were subjected to, either by good-government groups or the press. The city Independent Budget Office hasn't weighed in on the fiscal impact of the baseball projects (the IBO's Doug Turetsky says "elected officials have not been coming asking about this"), and no public polls have been conducted, aside from one last July that found just 27 percent of New Yorkers would endorse a new Queens stadium if it cost $180 million in public funds. (The actual Mets subsidy, including tax breaks, would be closer to $400 million.)

The council itself mostly seems to be hoping the whole thing goes away without any tiresome public debate, especially after the tightly controlled Bronx Democratic machine lined up early behind the Yankees. Unlike with the Jets and Nets proposals, a local Bronx councilmember, Helen Foster, co-sponsored the Home Rule message OK'ing the parks grab. Foster recently declared she's not "ready to concede" to building a stadium in the park, while Maria del Carmen Arroyo, whose district actually includes the stadium site, is officially undecided; last Thursday's scheduled council hearing was abruptly postponed at the request of Bronx members, with Arroyo citing unspecified "concerns" that City Hall had yet to address. (Neither Foster nor Arroyo returned calls for this article.)

Jeremy Soffin of the Regional Plan Association, a veteran of the West Side wars, blames "stadium fatigue" after eight years and counting of sports facility squabbles, dating back to Rudy Giuliani's ill-fated gambit to move the Yankees to the West Side rail yards. Others insist that it's less about the timing of these stadium plans, and more about the color of their borough. "In no other community would they accept a stadium across the street from where people live, and accept parking garages to replace parkland," says Anita Antonetty, a Save Our Parks member and recording secretary for Bronx Community Board 4. "The process is just too fast, and the alternatives are not being explored at all."

The still larger concern, adds David Gratt of Friends of Yankee Stadium, is what sort of precedent this sets for future city projects. "The Bronx Terminal Market went through this way; the stadiums are going through this way," says Gratt, a former Department of City Planning staffer. "Developers now expect to finalize their deals by sitting down with the mayor's office, the borough president, and the council. And the process, which was originally designed to solicit public input, is being used to disregard the public."

1 Comments:

At 7:48 PM, Blogger pride-n-pinstripes said...

RALPH78YANKS@HOTMAIL.COM
Go forward by going back

FRIDAY, MARCH 17, 2006 Why cant articles like this be brought out in the NY papers so all can see that there was a plan to keep the Stadium and it was and still is feasible to keep history intact by refurbishing a " non-functional Stadium " as per RANDY "LET ME SUGARCOAT It" LEVINE that only has the capacity and structural integrity to accommodate almost 3 to 4 million fans a year, but looks as great as ever, I am sure the other owners would love to have a "non-functional stadium" just like that. Yes a winning team is going to bring fans but the same team that was only drawing 1.5 to 2 million people in the 80's and early 90's was still using the same Stadium . It's just then they were using other excuses to get a new Stadium ,there was no mention then that it was "Non-functional" could it of gotten that worse in 15 years ? I really don’t think so. ITS A SHAME BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT GOING TO REALIZE WHAT A MISTAKE THIS IS UNTILL THEY LOOK BACK AND FIND OUT HOW MUCH THIS STADIUM MEANS TO NOT ONLY THE TEAM BUT TO THE CITY ,THE REST OF THE COUNTRY AND TO THE GAME ITSELF WITH ALL ITS RICH HISTORY. I WOULD LUV FOR ALL THESE SMILING POLITICANS AND SO CALLED TRUE YANKEE FANS ,TO LOOK FOWARD TO THE DAY IN TEN YEARS WHEN THEY ARE ATTENDING A GAME AT THE
"NEW"YANKEE STADIUM AND ARE SITTING THERE WIYH THEIR SON OR GRANCHILDREN AND SAY
"THATS WHERE..., NOTHING ,WORDS OF SILENCE, OCCURE,AS HE FONDLY TRIES TO RECAPTURE A PICTURE OF THE STADIUM IN HIS MIND AND REALIZES HE CAN ONLY EXPLAIN WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO BE IN THAT "STADIUM,THE HOME OF BASEBALL HISTORY ,OF AMERICANA,OF ALL SO MANY STORIES OF LOVE AND PASSION ,
OF YEARS AND HEROES AND LEGENDS GONE BY.
BUT AFTER ALL WE KNOW GREED HAD TO BE A FACTOR AND ALL THAT COMES WITH IT ., AS THEY ARE JUST REALIZING IN SOME SITUATIONS LIKE TRYING TO RECREATE PENN STATION TO IT GRANDURE THAT ONCE WAS . IT’S WHY THEY SPEND SO MUCH MONEY TO PRESERVE CITY HALL OR GRACIE MANSION TO ITS ORIGINAL PRESENCE. DO YOU THINK IT WAS WORTH THE TIME AND MONEY TO PRESERVE THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE?

$800 MILLON ,$800 MILLION ,SO THEY SAY ,GEE PROBALLY WOULD ONLY COST HALF THAT TO RE-PRESERVE HISTORY THAT WAS ONLY REFURBISHED ONLY 30 YEARS AGO,30 YEARS AGO, NOT 50 NOT 75 .WASNT IT THEN TAKEN DOWN TO ITS BEAR FOUNDATIONS AND REBUILT TO LAST A LIFETIME.... PROBALLY $400 MILLON WOULD GET THE JOB DONE TO REVITALIZE IT TO ITS ORIGINAL PRESTEIGE APPERANCE OR CLOSE TO IT,AND THAT'S WITH ALL THE NEW ANEMETIES OF TODAYS MARKET WANTS .THEN WE CAN PROBALLY TAKE $100MILLION TO REVITALIZE ALL THE PARKS THAT WOULD OF BEEN ALL AFFECTED.MAYBE ANOTHER $10MILLION TO RELOCATE A LOCAL PACKING BUSINESS THAT I AM SURE CAN DO THEIR BUSINESS AT ANOTHER LOCATION WITHIN THE AREA.I AM SURE THAT THE CITY CAN FIND APARCEL OF LAND FOR THEM .THEY THEN CAN BUILD A NEW 3 TEIRED GARAGE AND TAKE DOWN THE OLD ONE.WHERE THEY THEN CAN CREATE A WHOLE PROMENAD FILLED WITH SHOPS AND EATERY'S JUST LIKE THEY WANT . HAVE TO HAVE A TICKET TO ENTER JUST LIKE IN BALTIMORE. THIS WAY YOU CAN HAVE IT THRIVE ALONG WITH THE MERCHANTS ON RIVER AVE THAT ARE AS MUCH APART OF THE FABRIC OF THE AREA AS THE YANKS.

I LUV GEORGE STEINBRENNER AND ALL HE HAS DONE FOR THE YANKS AND THE FANS AND THE CITY ,BUT I REALLY CAN NOT BELEIVE HE IS FULLY FOR THIS . DIDNT IT SEEMS ODD THAT HE DID NOT WANT TO GET UP AND MAKE A SPEECH OR A STRONG LENGHTLY COMMENT ABOUT THIS PROJECT ON THAT DAY LAST YEAR, YOU KNOW WHY? BECAUSE HE PROBALLY WOULD HAVE BROKEN DOWN AND RELIZED IN HIS HEART THIS IS NOT THE RIGHT THING TO DO.
I STRONGKLY BELEIVE IT IS PEOPLE LIKE LEVINE AND THE LIKES OF OTHERS THAT ARE BRAINWASHING WHAT IS SUCH A STRONG MINDED PERSON IN GEORGE, THINK OF WHAT THEY ARE GOING TO BE TAKEING
WASN'T IT STEINBRENER THAT MADE THE COMMENT THAT HE HATED THE FACT THAT THE YANKS HAD TO PLAY IN SHEA THOSE YEARS THE STADIUM WAS BEING REDONE OR UNDONE.
YES, IT WAS NOT THE SAME GRAND OLD STADIUM AS WE NEW IT BUT IT WAS STILL, 161ST AND RIVER AVE. AND THAT ORIGINAL PARCEL OF REAL ESTATE IS THE SAME AS ALWAYS, NO MATTER HOW MANY BULLDOZERS WERE ON THE CONSTRUCTION SITE.

IT IS NOT TO LATE TO STEP BACK AND RELLY TAKE A LONG LOOK AT THIS , HOW COME THROUGH THIS ALL MR LEVINE AND THE LIKES HAVE NOT COME OUT AND TOLD US EXACTLY "WHY"
THEY CANOT REBUILD WHAT ARE THE FAULTS ,IS IT SAFETY ? THEN WHY ARE WE STILL USING IF IT UNSAFE ,TO MUCH TO MAINTAIN IN ITS PRESENT STATE, WELL THIS IS 2006 AND I AM SURE WE HAVE THE CABABILITY TO REBUILD IT AQS GOOD AS NEW IF NOT BATTER AND I AM SURE WHATEVER INCONVIENECES THRE ARE THE FANS WOULD BARE WITH IT KNOWING THE END RESULTS.
SOMEBODY PLEASE PUT THEM ON THE SPOT WITH THAT QUESTION ,HOW MUCH WOULD IT COST TO REBUILD?AWAY FROM FUTURE GENERATIONS OF FANS AND BASEBALL.
EVEN IF WAS MORE THAN$800MILLION IS
IT NOT WORTH IT TO PRESERVE HISTORY INSTEAD OF TRYING TO DESTROY IT.
THE RED SOX HAVE REALIZED THIS AFTER YEARS OF DISCUSSING TAKEN FENWAY DOWN AND BUILDING A NEW ONE.THEY HAVE NOW DECIDED TO PRESERVE FENWAY PARK AND CONTINUE PLAYING THERE ,THATS WHAT THE PEOPLE WANTED AND THATS WHAT THEY ARE GETTING . WE DESERVE THE SAME.

"THE REAL CURSE OF THE BAMBINO"

THE FIRST TIME THE YANKS HAD PUBLICLY TALKED ABOUT PUTTING A NEW STADIUM ACROSS THE STREET WAS AT THE BEGING OF THE 2005 PLAYOFFS AGAINST THE SOX ,WELL GUESS WHAT HAPPEN !, THEN ON THE SAME DAY THE YAQNKS UNVEILED THEIR PLANS ALONG WITH THE CITY ABOUT THE NEW STADIUM
THE RED SOX WERE GETTING AN AWARD FROM THE U.S. NATIONAL TRUST FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino presented the owners of the Boston Red Sox with an award for the team's commitment to its historic home, Fenway Park. After making history last year by winning the World Series for the first time since 1918, the Red Sox chose to preserve history by restoring the beloved ballpark instead of demolishing it.

WELL YOU WANT TO SEE THE REAL CURSE OF THE BAMBINO TAKE PLACE JUST WAIT AND SEE.
DONT YOU THINK ALL THOSE TEAMS WOULD LOVE FOR ALL DOES GHOST AND DEMONS TO TO VANISH ALONG WITH THAT HOUSE THAT RUTH ONCE OCCUPIED?

ABOUT THE ONLY REAL WINNER IN ALL THIS WILL BE YANKEE-STEINER SPORTS
WITH THE SELLING OFF OF ALL THE MEMORIBILIA THAT WAS ONCE YANKEE STADIUM.
YOU REMEMBER THAT SCENE AT THE END OF THE FIRST PLANET OF THE APES WHEN CHARLESTON HESTON CAME ACROSS THE STATUE OF LIBERTY ON THE BEACH HALF BURIED IN THE SAND , WHEN HE SAID " LOOK WHAT THEV'E DONE" , WELL THATS WHAT THE FEELING WILL BE WHEN WE LOOK AT A HALF TORN DOWN STADIUM THEY INTEND TO LEAVE UP FOR HISTORY'S SAKE . IF THEY DON’T TAKE IT DOWN COMPLETLY .. DOESN’T GEORGE REALIZE WE MADE IT TO THE 21ST CAENTURY WITH THE STADIUM JUST THE WAY IT IS AND THAT NOBODY IS COMPLAINIG EXCEPT HIS LITTLE PUPPETS THAT ARE SUPPOSE TO TAKE US FORWARD INTO THE FUTURE ONCE GEORGE DECIDES TO PACK IT IN. HELP US ALL IF THIS IS THE DECISIONS THEY ARE GOING TO BE MAKING. NEXT THEY WILL TELL US THAT FOR THE BENEFIT FOR THE FANS THAT DON’T KNOW ALL THE PLAYERS, THAT THEY ARE GOING TO BE PUTTING NAMES ON THE BACK OF THE UNIFORMS !

I AM NOT LOOKING FOWARD TO THAT ,MY HEART WILL FOREVER HAVE A VOID IN IT FOR THE WAY THINGS ONCE WERE.
WE NEED TO SAVE THE STADIUM AND ALL THE THAT GOES WITH IT WITHIN ITS NEIGHBORHOOD !

A LIFELONG FAN ,30 YEAR TICKET HOLDER & FAN WHO BELIEVES BASEBALL WILL NOT BE ANY BETTER FOR THIS

 

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