Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Arguments Against the Expansion of Yankee Stadium

A reader of the blog and supporter of SaveOurParks has sent us the comments they submitted to the government agencies regarding the theft of our parks:

Arguments Against the Expansion of Yankee Stadium

The baseball Yankees are such an integral part of New York City that, since 1958 it has been hard to imagine any other sport franchise representing the City. There are those individuals that feel "as go the Yankees, so goes New York City".

That is why the pending expansion of the Yankee Stadium must be rejected. There are too many aspects of this plan that make the expansion detrimental to the immediate area of the Bronx. It will disrupt the economic and transportation infrastructure such that the communities adjacent to the stadium will be adversely impacted. More importantly, the
residents of the area will be permanently denied a major facility of recreational and environmental open space that has strong tie-ins with the public and private schools of Bronx County.

Open Space and Recreational Area

The loss of Macomb's Dam Park and John Mullaly Park account for a loss of 84 acres of recreational open space that includes the destruction of over 400 mature trees of >12" caliper; the loss of an outdoor community swimming pool, tennis courts, benches and walking lanes, and the famous 1/4 mile oval track. Since its construction in the 1930's the track at
Macomb's Dam Park has been the venue of both public schools' and sectarian schools' track and field meets, pre-Olympic qualifying meets, civilian league football games, soccer games and the like. There is currently no other venue in Bronx County or southern Westchester that is more utilized or recognized than Macomb's Dam Park.

The claim that the new Yankee stadium will include a similar venue is false. There are no plans for the general public to have access to any of the grounds of the new stadium, nor was it the intent of the Yankee Organization to yield access to any part of the new facility without a fee. The alleged baseball diamonds to be included in the new stadium are not new! There are currently four, (4) baseball fields in the Macomb's Dam Park that are heavily used for baseball and other sports all
year round.

The loss of these 84 acres of heavily used park space is compounded by the loss of over 200 acres of Van Courtland Park in the Woodlawn area of the Bronx, about 2.5 miles north of Yankee Stadium. This acreage was lost by eminent domain to the NYSDEC and NYCDEP water treatment project that NYCDEP claimed could not locate anywhere else in the right-of-way
of the City's water supply network.

Economic Impacts

The economic impacts of the new stadium do not offer any new employment opportunities for the community. The proposed shopping mall to be part of the Yankee Walk will include exclusive high-end boutiques like FENDI, Hugo Boss, Tourneau, etc., much like the stores in the Mall at Short Hills,[NJ] or the Westchester Mall in White Plains, NY. The job opportunities for residents of Highbridge, Melrose and Concourse areas would be at minimum wage, and be more geared to grounds maintenance services at best. These types of jobs are seasonal, with few positions available. There will be no career path jobs available to anyone seeking such through the Yankee Organization. Career path jobs are screened and recommended through the offices of MLB in Manhattan. Thus the impact on the South Bronx would be the same as opening a

'Big Box' store in the area; minimal job potential but net resources drain from the community. The community is already taking a net negative impact with the development of the Bronx Terminal Market by private developers.

Transportation Impacts

The promise of this new stadium has given the MTA the incentive to build a new station on the Hudson River division of the Metro-North Railroad. This is a curious chain of events, considering the Railroad had to be threatened with litigation to maintain a station already in the area; Melrose Station. In the 1990's the Bronx Borough President, community groups led by Nos Quedamos, and several State Assembly persons implored the MTA to rehab and schedule trains at the Melrose station to
accommodate Bronx residents reverse commute to their jobs in Westchester and southern Connecticut. The station as reluctantly rehabbed, and the standing offer by the Bronx Borough President to incorporate a circulator bus service for the stadium and the Bronx Civic Center was ignored. This new station will skew service along the entire Hudson Division line,
and the Amtrak service that uses the same tracks north of Spuyten Duyvil station.

The most compelling impact of this new stadium is on the air quality in the immediate vicinity and the Ambient Air Quality for the entire NY Metro area in general. The primary purpose of this expanded stadium is to attract more customers with a higher disposable income. One critical aspect of such clientele is some type of exclusivity; in this instance, access by automobile. That especially includes limousines, excursion buses, and private cars. This means more vehicles in an area already saturated with vehicles of the working population of the Bronx Civic Center. During games, it is commonplace to witness limousines parked on the sidewalks, idling; excursion buses double parked and idling; and scores of more vehicles circling the streets for free spaces into the third inning. The Yankee Organization already has a monopoly on the parking
facilities in the area. Established parking lots or buildings do not open until a game, thus excluding the residents who own cars, and need parking space.

For example, an excursion bus idling during a game so that the driver can remain comfortably air conditioned. Let us assume that the first have of the game is before sunset, so it's hot outside; the bus sits idling for 90 minutes. The following is the results of that idling for air conditioning the driver:
CO = 0.132 Kg
NOx = 0.148 Kg
VOC = 0.018 Kg
PM2.5 = 0.0106 Kg
PM10 = 0.0097 Kg
Total Pollutants generated by Idling Bus *0.314 Kg

That's about 0.7 lbs per bus per game. Now multiply that value by about 15 buses per game, 0.7 x 15 x 82 = 861 lbs of pollutants per summer in the area! Note that the number of limousines were not included, nor the scores of cars cruising for that free parking space.

These are the most detrimental of aspects because this immediately impacts the health and well-being of the citizens who live and work in this area. The effects of asthma, chronic respiratory diseases, heart attacks and the like, are not conditions that should be considered 'normal' in any community; and it should not be so in the South Bronx.

In closing, the Yankee Organization may deserve a new stadium, and it may deserve all the amenities on the wish list of making their stadium a world class venue. But it should not be done at the expense of those who are it's neighbors! The owner, George Steinbrenner, spent several million dollars on design proposals and the media to make this seem like
a wonderful scheme for all the Yankee fans of the world.

What was left out was the true cost to the people who live and work in Bronx County all year 'round. There are alternative plans and methodologies for building a stadium that will give the Yankee Organization all of it's wish list items without sacrificing the general population. That is the option that should be used.


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