Thursday, June 15, 2006

"Carrion: No payback for foes of stadium" Metro NY 06/15/06

Carrion: No payback for foes of stadium
Claims of revenge on Community Board 4 greatly exaggerated, Borough Pres. says

by patrick arden / metro new york

JUN 15, 2006

SOUTH BRONX — Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion yesterday dismissed the controversy over his removal of members on Community Board 4, which had voted down his new Yankee Stadium project last year by a two-to-one margin. Out of 19 members up for reappointment this month, only five people are staying on. At a raucous meeting last week, some board members said Carrion’s actions smacked of political payback.

“As borough president, I appoint members,” Carrion said. “My expectation is very clear. The community boards are there to unfold the vision for a new Bronx. I expect that they’re going to be very bullish about growth and opportunity, and when that doesn’t happen we change.”

Rubber stamp?

“He means we should have carried out his dictates,” replied stadium opponent Mary Blassingame, whose term on Community Board 4 doesn’t expire until next year but who nevertheless lost her spot as chair of the land-use committee, a position she’s held for 21 years. “You know, that stadium plan is a nightmare when you look at it. We have only a sliver of a park, and he wants to give it up, cut down 300 old-growth trees when we already have a high asthma rate. Plus it’s a sweetheart deal — he’s giving away the store.”

“The community board never said no to growth,” said remaining board member and urban planner Lukas Herbert. “We only said this project is garbage — give us another one. We would have preferred to see a new stadium on the same site or a renovation project. We only said no to giving the Yankees everything they want in return for a slush fund.”

Carrion had crafted a community partnership agreement with the Yankees that set up a panel to dole out $700,000 a year in grants to area nonprofits. The pact also reserved one-quarter of all stadium jobs for Bronx residents.

Mayor Carrion?

Blassingame guessed that Carrion now has his sights on higher office.

“The borough president did this to the community board because he hopes it will make him look stronger when he runs for mayor,” she speculated. “But he just lost a lot of votes. The board reflected the views of the majority of residents, and that’s why people are outraged. We’ve never had a borough president interfere with the community board so much. I don’t even know if his new slate is going to get approved by the remaining board members. It could be more embarrassing. He’s digging a hole for himself.”

Carrion said his motives were “simple.”

“People add all this mystery and intrigue, and there’s very little of it,” he said. “I’m looking for good people who will work hard and carry out a vision.”


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