Tuesday, June 06, 2006

"Stadium deal left bad taste with Community Board member who decides to quit" MetroNY 6/6/6

Stadium deal left bad taste with Community Board member who decides to quit
by patrick arden / metro new york

JUN 6, 2006

SOUTH BRONX — Pasquale Canale was cleaning up yesterday before closing his sandwich shop at Sheridan and 161st, like he’s done countless times for the last 25 years.

“A lot has changed around here,” reflected Canale, 62. “When I first came, I was closing my gate, and we had a shooting right in the middle of the street.”

That was another day, he said. Now the sidewalks are crowded, and the streets are getting repaved. Canale and his wife, Angela, raised their 12 kids in the northern reaches of the borough, but he’s always been involved in this South Bronx neighborhood, serving on its community board and founding the 161st Street Merchants Association. Yet his days of public service may be over.

“I worked on the community board for four years and did not miss one meeting — I was thinking we were working for the community,” he said. “Then we voted down the Yankee Stadium, and I read the borough president [Adolfo Carrion] in the paper the next day — he said the vote was only advisory, and he was going ahead with the stadium in the park.
“Once he said that, he stuck a knife into me,” said Canale. “I cannot let it go. Why do we have a community board if the vote means nothing? Why is he wasting our time?”

Early stadium plans

When former Bronx borough president Fernando Ferrer proposed building a new Yankee Stadium in 1990, Canale had been invited to participate in the discussions.

“Fernando brought in everybody to help come up with a design — the merchants, the police department. The design company came in and asked one-by-one, what would you like to see? And then they wrote it down on a board. When it came to me, I said, I would like someday to see the image of the South Bronx change to mean a great place to be. “One night they showed us nine designs,” Canale recalled. “None were good enough for Steinbrenner.”

Community benefits

Four years ago, Carrion’s office asked Canale to join Community Board 4, but his relationship with Carrion began to sour when he participated in the community benefits agreement being crafted over the Gateway Mall at the Bronx Terminal Market.

“He formed all of these committees where we were supposed to talk about community benefits,” Canale said. “We questioned, who’s going to supervise this? We found out it was all the borough president’s deal. We were just wasting time again.

“We were negotiating among ourselves, and he negotiated with Related by himself. When it came time to the finished agreement, nobody wanted to sign.” Out of 13 community representatives, only 4 ended up signing the deal.
Since then, Canale said, his shop has been visited by heath inspectors seven times. On March 1, 2006, he had two inspections on the same day. “That’s not normal,” Canale said.

“I was doing this for the interest of the community — I have nothing at stake about this park,” he said. “My interest is in the children. Why would you want to take away their park? To put that monster in the middle of this neighborhood, it’s the wrong thing to do. The Yankees can give nothing to the community worth as much as that park.”


BRONX — Last night Lukas Herbert attended a meeting of Community Board 4’s land-use and housing committee. An affordable housing forum was supposed to be the topic of discussion, but no one stuck to the agenda.

A list of the board’s 37 current members was passed around. “About half are up for re-appointment, and only five are being re-appointed,” he said. “ And they all voted for Yankee Stadium.”

Last November Community Board 4 shot down the Yankee project by a 16 to 8 vote.

“I think there is some retaliation going on here,” said Anita Antonetty, who voted against the stadium. Her term expires next May. “The borough president is the one who ultimately makes the appointments and the reappointments. He is going to bring in a new crop who will do whatever he says.”

Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion was unavailable for comment. His spokesperson, Anne Fenton, did not release numbers for re-appointments to the board, but she said in a statement, “The Borough President along with his fellow elected officials oftentimes appoints new people to serve on their community board in an effort to expand community involvement. The Borough President would like to thank all community board members for their service to the Bronx. He welcomes the reappointed members and looks forward to working with them to build a stronger Bronx.”


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