"Yanks break ground in Bronx" Metro NY 8/17/6
Yanks break ground in Bronx
by patrick arden / metro new york
AUG 17, 2006
SOUTH BRONX — An hour before yesterday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the new Yankee Stadium, about 50 people from the neighborhood gathered for a protest in front of the McDonald’s at the corner of 161st Street and River Avenue.
Lawrence Brandwein lives just off the Grand Concourse. A retired math teacher, he’s used Macombs Dam and Mullaly parks “all my life — that’s more than 60 years.”
Though he hated to see the community lose the parks, he didn’t intend to come for the protest. He wanted to attend the Yankees’ groundbreaking, but he didn’t have an invitation.
“They won’t let me in there,” Brandwein said. “Go see who’s walking in there: white men with expensive suits who have no regard for this neighborhood. They can go out to the Hamptons. Where do the people here go? Those men don’t care.”
He recalled a town hall meeting in the Bronx County Courthouse in December 2005. One month before, the community board had rejected the stadium plan, but the area’s elected officials remained unmoved. The hearing was supposed to give residents themselves a chance to weigh in.
“They filled up the hall with construction workers, and hundreds of people who actually live here were stuck outside in the cold,” he said. “It’s the same thing here. Look at the arrogance.”
Across the street in Macombs Dam Park, a calliope played “God Bless America,” while dignitaries lined up under the white tents around a green carpet emblazoned with the Yankees’ insignia. On the dais politicians exchanged pleasantries with baseball executives, former players and a TV comedian. They hailed the 3,600 construction jobs and the 900 “permanent” jobs that will be created by the project — 25 percent of which will be reserved for Bronx residents.
Moments before their shovels hit the dirt, the area’s assemblywoman, Carmen E. Arroyo, stepped up to the podium.
In the summer of 2005, Arroyo sponsored legislation that handed over the parkland to the Yankees without one public hearing or notice.
“It’s true there are people, some people that were not happy with what’s going on,” she said. “The children that are here are going to see, from 2009 on, a new Yankee Stadium. They are going to participate, they’re going to be there, and the Yankees are going to go all the way. The emotion I have today is not only for myself. I thank God, respectfully, that he gave me the opportunity that being in the South Bronx, and raising my children in the shadows of the Yankee Stadium, that today I have been part of this team.”
SOUTH BRONX — In defending government subsidies to pay for the new Yankee Stadium, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “If you take a look here, the city and the state are putting in very small amounts of money.”
That depends on what you consider small: The state is contributing $70 million for parking garages, while the city’s costs are considerably higher.
The Parks Dept. claims $160 million will replace lost parkland, but $87 million of that will actually fund “park improvements.”
Another $15 million is paying for new trees, and at least $58 million will fund “site infrastructure,” unspecified or “miscellaneous” costs, and the demolition of the current ballpark.
Then the city and the state are each giving the Yankees $4.7 million to fund maintenance costs. In 30 years, the city will give another $8.5 million.
The Yankees are also exempt from property taxes, mortgage recording taxes and sales taxes on construction materials. The city is helping the team to finance the stadium by issuing $955 million in bonds, which the Yankees will pay off. The Yankees have also been deducting “planning costs” for the new stadium from rent to the city.
Dan Steinberg, of the watchdog group Good Jobs New York, puts the value of government subsidies at more than $400 million.