Wednesday, April 19, 2006

"Council members may hold up Mets stadium vote" amNY 04/19/06

Council members may hold up Mets stadium vote
By Chuck Bennett

April 19, 2006

Angry City Council members may halt a crucial vote on financing for a new Mets stadium if their demands for investment in traffic alleviation, mass transit and other concerns aren't met.

"I think it would be imprudent to move on this vote until these issues are resolved," said Queens Councilman Hiram Monserrate. "We are still in the fourth inning we got five innings to go and at the end of the day we can go into extra innings. Politics is a lot like baseball."

The full council is scheduled to vote on April 26 on $91 million in infrastructure improvements in the area around the new $800 million Mets stadium, slated to be built in Shea Stadium's parking lot.

Ground is scheduled to be broken on the new ballpark this summer.

"It seems like the infrastructure they are talking about is the foundation of the stadium," said Councilman John Liu of Queens.

Council aides say the majority of the powerful 14-member Queens delegation in the Council want more investment to make sure game days don't make the already heavy traffic problems even worse.

Many members are looking at the $165 million commitment the Bronx received for a new Yankees Stadium.

"My vote is contingent on this and other issues, I'm not going to sell out my constituents to just say 'look we got a new stadium,'" said Councilman Tony Avella, also from Queens and self-described Mets fan.

The Queens council members are calling for commitments to expand service on the 7 train, a renovated Long Island Rail Road on the Port Washington line, better traffic control, new streets and sewers.

And if they don't get those commitments they could demand City Council Speaker Christine Quinn halt the vote next week.

"We still anticipate moving forward with the vote on the 26th as scheduled but we are going to continue to work to ensure the community concerns are addressed," said Maria Alvarado, Quinn's spokeswoman.

Council aides, however, say it will be tough for Quinn to resist the Queens delegation because it was instrumental in her election to the speaker's office.

When asked about the possible delay, Mayor Bloomberg's press office referred to comments he made earlier this month at the Mets Stadium this announcement.

"Every development project in this city is not just going to be a horn of plenty for everybody else that wants to grab something," he said. "We want to attract development here."


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