Thursday, August 10, 2006

"Last at-bat for Yanks foes" MetroNY 08/10/06

Last at-bat for Yanks foes
Team set to start new stadium as locals hope for restraining order

by patrick arden / metro new york

AUG 10, 2006

UPPER EAST SIDE — This week the Yankees pushed up the date to break ground for a new ballpark to Aug. 16, when construction crews will start tearing down trees in the southwest corner of Macombs Dam Park in the Bronx.

Most New Yorkers consider the $1.3 billion project a fait accompli, but a lawsuit by the Highbridge community group Save Our Parks will be heard this afternoon in Manhattan State Supreme Court.

Last night a dozen members of Save Our Parks picketed the Yankees Clubhouse Shop on 59th Street near Park Avenue.

“I live on Park Avenue in the Bronx,” said Velvet Ross, a 29-year-old actress who’s spent her life in the shadow of the Yankees. “This new stadium would never go up near Park Avenue in Manhattan.”

Macombs Dam Park is a personal landmark, she explained: “I won my first medal in that park, when I was in P.S. 156. Many of the schools in our area use that park. That’s our children’s Central Park. If Macombs Dam isn’t there, they won’t have any other place to go. The city says it’ll replace the park eventually, but it’s not the same. Would they replace Central Park? Should we tell the children in the Bronx that they don’t matter as much as the children near Central Park?

“It’s not fair, and it’s not right,” Ross said. “Because it’s the poorest Congressional district in the country, they felt they could do this. The park was alienated without even telling the community. They didn’t consult us, and we found out a little too late. That’s the difference between Park Avenue in the Bronx and Park Avenue in Manhattan.”

Ernesto Maldonado, a 48-year-old unemployed paralegal, lives five blocks away from Macombs Dam Park. His five children attend schools that use the track and ball fields there.

“It’s not over yet,” Maldonado said. “If we’re not successful in the state court, we still have an option of having a federal lawsuit. Our court date was pushed up so that it wouldn’t coincide with the groundbreaking on the 16th. As time goes on, everyone will see the inconvenience this would cause in the community. A lot of people believed this stadium wasn’t going to actually occur — people thought they couldn’t take the parkland. But if that groundbreaking happens, they’ll be angry.

“Unfortunately, the ones who will suffer the most are the children,” Maldonado said. “The city has no concern for our community. Is it acceptable to put a new park on the roof of a garage? The only one who’s going to benefit from all this is the Yankees.”


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