Thursday, April 06, 2006

"Dealing in late innings; Metro-North station, community benefits program play key role in approval" in Metro NY, 4/6/6

Dealing in late innings
Metro-North station, community benefits program play key role in approval

by patrick arden / metro new york

APR 6, 2006

CITY HALL — Before the City Council voted on the land-use portion of the proposed new Yankee Stadium plan yesterday, Councilman Dan Garodnick made an announcement.

“We are not voting on any community benefits agreements, or Metro-North stations, or anything else other than the specific land-use matter here today,” said Garodnick, D-Manhattan.

The plan under consideration included the use of existing parkland for a new 53,000-seat stadium and four parking garages as well as the promise of replacements parks.

But once the discussions were underway, the promise of a Metro-North station at the stadium and a community-benefits pact reached that morning figured prominently. In ticking off his own reasons for supporting the plan, Garodnick put the Metro-North station at number two.

Days before, Councilman Tony Avella, D-Queens, said he had decided to vote against the stadium. In a letter to Mayor Bloomberg, Avella said he was “increasingly disturbed” by the plan’s use of parkland and city tax-exempt bonds, as well as by a draft of the community benefits agreements, which gave Bronx politicians power over appointing a panel to dole out $700,000 a year in cash grants to nonprofits.

But yesterday he voted yes.

“The big change was the Metro-North station,” he said. “There’s also been a clarification of what the community benefits agreement is going to be — it’s going to replace the existing Yankee charitable foundation. They made enough changes for me to vote for it. Is it perfect? No, but it’s significantly better.”

Before the full Council vote, Councilwoman Helen Foster said, “The agreement’s not signed, but the commitment is in place.”
Majority Leader, Bronx Coucilman Joel Rivera, then explained he had signed the agreement that morning, along with Council members Maria del Carmen Arroyo and Maria Baez, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion and Yankee president Randy Levine.

The new agreement now included an additional $1 million to establish an apprenticeship program to train local people in the construction trades. A construction advisory committee would be appointed by the Yankees, the borough president and the Bronx delegation.

The city had also agreed to give local parks $6 million that had been earmarked for improvements to Macombs Dam Park, and it will be contributing another $2 million to area parks. “That’s an $8 million investment in parks directly in the community,” Rivera said.

But as for the structure of the panel handing out the grants, both Rivera and Carrion said they knew of no changes.
No copies of the agreement were available yet. “We appoint people all the time,” Carrion said. “Transparency will not be a problem.”

Council eyes shea deal

Now that the Yankees have inked a pact with Bronx politicians, another City Council delegation will pay a call on the Mets Friday morning to pursue a “community partnership agreement” of its own related the proposed new Shea Stadium.
“To date, the Mets have not presented anything to myself, the Council member who represents Shea Stadium, or to the Queens delegation,” said Councilman Hiram Monserrate yesterday.

“I have urged my colleagues that we must ensure that the Mets come to the table and are good neighbors to our community and to the borough of Queens. Hopefully they will do that in the very near future.”


At 8:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is so typical of the "brain dead" council. Voting on a Metro North station that is not a part of the project. Had these fools read the press release, they would have seen that the mayor & governor said they "support" a Metro North stop.
Well, hell, who doesn't? Everybody except the people designed to make it happen: The MTA!
How can anyone in their right minds vote to leave a community without parks? These people are in the same boat as the Bronx delegation. Self-serving; don't give a darn about the community.


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