Tuesday, September 26, 2006

This is part of our "interim parks"?!

A lot of our friends and neighbors have been commenting on the "temporary running course" that was supposed to compensate this community for the loss of the running track in Macombs Dam Park, which was demolished with the beginning of the Yankee Stadium construction.

This proposed "running course" is not adequate. Nor does it meet the description promised the community in the final environmental impact statement (FEIS). According to the FEIS, this community was supposed to receive a 15' wide cinder surfaced running path. Instead we have received pedestrian figures and arrows spray painted onto the sidewalks surrounding John Mullaly Park. See the photo above. As you can see, people who once used the track are now being directed to run around the block. Arrows have been placed to make sure you do not get lost along with "mile markers" telling you how far you have run (in 0.1 mile increments). In addition, the parks department has also placed motivational signs near each marker telling you to "keep it up" and directing you to a website where you can get more information about fitness.

Is this some kind of sick joke? Or is this "running course" for real?

We were promised a better facility. And quite frankly, we deserve better than this. To see a "facility" like this offered to us as a form of "mitigation" is nothing less than insulting.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

“Yankee soil’s foul, sez group” NY Daily News 09/21/06

Yankee soil’s foul, sez group

Tanks under stadium leak gas – lawsuit

Yankee Stadium a brownfield?

Parks advocates filed suit in federal court earlier this month alleging that the National Parks Service improperly signed off on the new Yankee Stadium plan because it would replace existing parks with parkland contaminated by the leaky gas tanks under the old stadium.

Save Our Parks, along with the Bronx Council for Environmental Quality, represented by a lawyer for the Urban Environmental Law Center, accused the NPS of skirting its required review in its haste to greenlight the project.

The NPS provided funding for a previous rehab of the parks on the new stadium site, thus requiring it to approve any plan to convert them to other uses.

"They were supposed to assure that the replacement parkland was of equal value and usefulness," said Save Our Parks spokeswoman Joyce Hogi, "but the replacement land under the existing stadium is contaminated, making it less valuable, to say the least, than the parks they're taking away."

The advocacy group alleges that two fuel oil tanks underneath the House that Ruth Built have leaked contaminants into the soil.

According to the Final Environmental Impact Study for the stadium project, two 15,000-gallon underground fuel oil storage tanks were identified at the southwestern corner of the existing stadium. The study noted there is an open state Department of Environmental Conservation spill number associated with piping for the tanks from a tank test failure in 1999.

But the FEIS goes on to state that "no evidence of petroleum contamination was found in soil or groundwater collected adjacent to the known/suspected [underground storage tanks] at the existing stadium."

There was some petroleum contamination found in soil borings under Parking Lots 5 and 6 - also set to be converted into replacement parkland - which were previously the site of a filling station and an auto repair shop. The study recommended that all contaminated soil in that area be removed and disposed of during construction of the new park.

And while the FEIS also found levels of other contaminants that slightly exceeded state cleanup standards at several points around the site, the levels were called normal for urban soil. The study said plans to cap these areas with building foundations or at least 2 feet of clean fill would solve the problem.

National Parks Northeast Region spokesman Phil Sheridan dismissed the allegation that the NPS had not properly fulfilled its oversight role.

"We believe that we did a good, fair and thorough job with our review," Sheridan said, "and that the courts will support us."

Originally published on September 21, 2006


Monday, September 18, 2006

"House that Greed will build" Newsday 08/16/06

House that Greed will build

by Wallace Matthews in Newsday, August 16, 2006

The Boss says his new ballpark will be "better for the fans."

This is not the biggest lie he has told concerning Yankee Stadium, his cash machine on the banks of the Harlem River, only the latest.

This morning, George Steinbrenner and a motley collection of as many politicians as he can fit into his bottomless pockets will wield shovels across the street from what they like to call "The Cathedral of Baseball" around here in a groundbreaking ceremony to kick off their latest scam, "Cathedral II."

Believe me, they will be shoveling more than just dirt.

The new Yankee Stadium, or whatever it winds up being called, will be better for George M. Steinbrenner III, former shipbuilder from Cleveland who 33 years ago pulled off the biggest heist in this town since Peter Minuit stole Manhattan from the Lenapes for a handful of beads.

But better for the fans?

Do you like the idea of paying even more for your seat than the already league-high ticket prices at Yankee Stadium? Do you not mind the prospect of being shut out of a game because the new park will have between 5,000 and 7,000 fewer seats? Are you OK with the idea of cozying up on the couch in front of the TV set because that is now the only seat for a Yankees game you can afford? Have you grown accustomed to seeing one precious bit of New York history after another fall to the wrecker's ball?

If you answered yes to any or all of those questions, then The Boss is right. The new Yankee Stadium will be better for you.

For the rest of us, the ones who live not on planet Earth but New York City, this deal is as dirty as anything ever found in a puddle of black water in the subway.

Forget that it got railroaded through the City Council without a public hearing, or that the project will cost New York taxpayers some $400 million. Forget that the Yankees will no longer pay rent nor real estate tax, that they will not pay to tear down the old ballpark, or that they will be able to deduct the construction cost from the revenue-sharing pool, thereby weakening their competition as they strengthen themselves.

What really makes this deal so distasteful is that it has been built on 15 years of ever-changing lies, each with the same purpose: to enrich the Yankees and rip off their fans.

First, the South Bronx was unsafe. That didn't work. Then there wasn't enough parking. That failed, too. Then, in 1998, an expansion bolt fell out of the upper deck while the Stadium was empty, which was great news for Steinbrenner. The Roman Colosseum has been standing more than 2,000 years but he and his toady, Rudy Giuliani, insisted that Yankee Stadium, reborn in 1976, could topple at any moment.

Now, the spin is that this is not the "real" Yankee Stadium anyway, that one having vanished in the reconstruction, and to demolish it would have no more historical significance than razing a 7-Eleven.

All of this, of course, was designed to obscure the real reason: The old House That Ruth Built doesn't drive enough revenue, in the current vernacular, or at least not as much as it should.

Never mind that last night, for an essentially meaningless game between the Yankees and Orioles, more than 52,000 jammed their way into the park, or that this year they will top 4 million in attendance for the second year running. At an average ticket price of $50 a game - the high is $115 - the live gate alone generates some $2.5 million a night, times 81 nights. Throw in concessions, merchandising and the $60-million rights fee from the YES network, and you've got quite a haul.

Ah, but the new Stadium will have 57 luxury boxes, costing upwards of $500,000 each, where the well-heeled can attend a cocktail party with their backs to the game. There will be a gourmet restaurant that will make you long for a $7 hot dog. There will be amenities you cannot imagine and only the most privileged will be able to afford.

And oh yeah, there will be naming rights. Which corporation will earn the privilege of paying $20 million a year or so to place its name alongside that of "the most celebrated franchise in sports history?"

Yet to be determined, but try this one on: Fort Knox at Yankee Stadium.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Press Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 16, 2006

Frances Tejada, President of SaveOurParks! 646-260-6713
Joyce Hogi Media Committee 917-743-0865
Karen Argenti (BCEQ) 646-529-1990




Today members of Save Our Parks announce outrage at the Yankee FanFest scheduled from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. will be held in Mullaly Park (164th Street and Jerome Avenue in the Bronx). This is the second taking of parkland, in as many months leaving the neighborhood people no where to go to recreate. WCBS radio will host the FanFest which reportedly supports local charities as it stomps on the rights of the community. Mullaly Park is adjacent to the current construction project in Macomb's Dam Park. Meanwhile, construction crews took over the site in mid-August before providing the replacement recreational facilities promised.

"We are watching the Yankees, get used to being north of 161st Street, as they take more and more of the community's parkland, stated Albertha Hunter, a resident along Jerome Avenue. "They now want to add insult to injury by hosting this event in Mullaly Park."

"This is another slap in the face to a community which has had its parks given away by the Bloomberg Parks Department, the Bronx Political Machine and the Bronx Bombers", stated Joyce Hogi, a member of Save Our Parks. "It shows that the Yankees, and all those affiliated with them, do not care about our community."

"I don't know what these people are thinking. If they want do something like this, it should be held in Yankee Stadium," said Karen Argenti of BCEQ, "This is a charity event the Yankees should welcome."

Last week, the group filed a suit in Federal Court to challenge the National Parks Service superficial review and fast approval to use a community park to build a new stadium. The Legal team believes that once the court agrees with this argument, the matter will be sent back to NPS to reconsider. Then the City can supplement the application to make it more approvable within the law, and more acceptable to the community's concerns for neighborhood parks.

Save Our Parks (www.saveourparks.info) is a local community group formed to join together residents who live in and around the Yankee Stadium area of the Bronx in order to protect their inalienable rights to clean air, clean water, as well as appropriate levels of traffic, light and noise. The Bronx Council for Environmental Quality (BCEQ), a 501c.3 organization founded in 1971, joined as plaintiffs. BCEQ (www.bceq.org) is a county-wide group of volunteers working for all Bronxites.

Friday, September 15, 2006

"John Mullaly, Park Founder, To Be Honored” NY Herald Tribune, 10/20/29

New York Herald Tribune, Sunday, October 20, 1929

Petition Asks Memorial to Reporter Whose Labors Realized Bronx System
_ _ _

He Dies Almost Penniless
_ _ _

Envisioned Vast Tract as ‘Newport’ to City Toilers
_ _ _

The Board of Alderman has before it a petition from Joseph P. Hennessy, Commissioner of Parks in the Bronx, asking that the city change the name of the park between River and Jerome Avenues and 161st and 167th Streets, the Bronx, now known as Macomb’s Dam Extension, to John Mullaly Park.

To most persons the name of John Mullaly will mean only that its possessor was one of the army of Irishmen who have always been prominent in New York City. There might seem, too, no good reason to name a park after him.

John Mullaly was found dead in a Second Avenue hall bedroom on a bitter day in 1914. he had just 15 cents in his pockets. At the time he was, according to available figures, about seventy-two years old.

Conceived Park System Idea

But there is a very definite appropriateness about the proposal to name a new small park in the Bronx after him. For John Mullaly, more than any one man, was responsible for the city’s lone example of a true park system – Van Cortlandt, Bronx, and Pelham Bay Parks, with the parkways that link them together.

John Mullaly was a reporter on the old “New York Herald” under the younger James Gordon Bennett. He was a philanthropist in his own small way, and his dreams went far beyond what he could do. The paucity of space in the rapidly growing city was his obsession. He saw thousands of persons living under the terrible conditions that prevailed in the tenement districts before the laws came to make the lower East Side safe for ordinary living. And he saw that there was no place for these thousands to walk and sit and lie and breathe fresh air.

For Central Park, which was then slowly approaching completion after a fifteen-year period of transition from waste land to a recreation ground, he had a great contempt. It was no park at all, he said, hemmed in by houses on all sides.

Mullaly was intimately acquainted with the Bronx, which was then a largely unsettled tract of land, known only to New Yorkers as “north of the Harlem River.” Here, he felt, lay the future of the city’s park system.

Some time in 1881 Mullaly quit his job on “The Herald.” Heart and soul, he dedicated himself to the task of creating some new parks through his newspaper experience he had the ear of prominent citizens. On the evening of November 14, 1881, he gathered at a dinner at the Fifth Avenue Hotel a small company of men who afterward fought as ardently in the park campaign as he.

Mullaly explained his project. He pointed out how disproportionate to the city’s population was its park space. De Witt Clinton had planned the New York parks in 1807 he said, with one acre of park land to every 160 inhabitants. Paris had an acre for every thirteen citizens; other European cities, and even such American communities as Chicago and Boston, offered an acre for each group of 100 residents. New York’s proportion was nearer an acre to every 1,500, he complained.

Of the 400-acre system planned by Clinton south of Fortieth Street, only the tiny plot of Madison Square remained. Central Park, he said, would be a joke if it were not a disgrace. There in the middle of town were some bad lands, some of which had been used for dumping not long before. The city paid nearly $7,000,000 for the lands, “just for room for a park.” The land had no adaptability for its purpose and $20,000 an acre had been spent over fifteen years to hammer a kind of artificial park out of its crudenes.

The Bronx, he said, was where they should look. He pointed out the wealth of land available north of the Harlem River which was admirably suited for parks. Particularly he dwelt upon the beauties of the tract on the shore of Long Island Sound just south of New Rochelle.

“If we make a park out of this land,” he wrote to his old paper, “The Herald,” a few days after the dinner at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, “it will be the favorite suburban resort of the mass of the population, the toilers of the city: it will be their Newport.”

Action taken in 1881

Mullaly proposed a park area of 5,000 acres beyond the Harlem, distributed among half a dozen separate parks, with boulevards connecting them. Gradually he won more adherents, and on November 26, 1881, the New York Park Association was organized, pledged to the realization of this dream.

Waldo Hutchins accepted the presidency of this body, and Luther R. Marsh, who became its most valiant member in the legal battles that followed, was vice-president. W.W. Niles was made treasurer, and Mullaly himself secretary. The roll of membership included the names of many prominent New Yorkers, among them Charles L. Tiffany, Henry L. Hoguet, Jordan L. Mott and Joseph F. Wood.

It was decided to draft two bills, one calling for an immediate appropriation to buy the land now occupied by Van Cortlandt Park, and the other giving power to a commission to investigate with a view to purchasing other lands in the Bronx.

Largely through the agencies of State Senator Treanor and Assemblyman Breen the bill was brought before the Legislature but after a discussion was postponed until the session the following year. Breen, however, was committed to the fight, and got through a resolution creating a committee of the Mayor, the Commissioner of Public Works, the President of the Board o Aldermen and the President of the Tax Department, to investigate the advisability of adding parks to the city’s expense and report on the matter within thirty days. This was, of course, an absurdly short time and after a few perfunctory meetings in the Mayor’s office the committee reported that it had reached no decision.

Early in 1883 Assemblyman Leroy B. Crane, of the Twenty-third District, passed a bill through the Legislature which became a law on April 18 and empowered the Mayor to appoint a committee of seven citizens to select and locate landing the Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth Wards in the Bronx to be set apart for parks.

The committee was duly appointed and Mullaly was its secretary. Its members took a week off between May 26 and June 1 and followed Mullaly over all the ground he had chosen for his scheme. They drove up Broadway to the Van Cortlandt mansion and inspected the grounds around it. Out over the road that is now Mosholu Parkway through the wilderness of Bronx Park and from there to the shore of the Sound they went, and were won. When they disbanded for the summer, Mullaly settled down to correspond with park commissions in foreign capitals.

The committee gathered in the fall of 1883 and fashioned a 217-page illustrated report, which was forwarded to the Legislature of 1884. Then, while members of the committee sat down in the Capital lobby to be sure that the fire was kept burning the volleys of criticism began.

The shock to te adherents of the parks came when Mayor Edson, who had been sufficiently favorable toward the plan to appoint that committee and listen to their recommendations, turned and led the opposition.

Many and various objections were brought against the plan, but at first most of them were of a practical nature. The proposed parks were too far from New York, it was said. Again, the cost to the city would be enormous. Later came more unsavory charges, familiar enough but hard to face.

Mullaly was the man who stuck to the guns and answered every charge. The Bronx was rural then, he agreed but he argued that the expansion of the city would eventually embrace all the proposed territory. His prophecies of population increase were astonishingly accurate.

The argument of the expense he answered by pointing to the experience of other cities where the rise in the assessed value of taxable property adjoining the parks more than made up for the initial expense of acquisition and preparation. And the charges of graft he met with flat denials, showing that no interested member of the Park Association owned property affected in any way by the transfer of the proposed park lands.

A comparison of the Bronx lands with Central Park and Riverside and Morningside Parks, the two tiny ribbons of ground acquired by the city at $60,000 an acre, mere bare ribs of rock with no value as parks, proved to the people of the city that Mullaly was right. A series of petitions with every signature valid, was rushed to Albany.

The press took up the struggle and bombarded Mayor Edson from every quarter. The consensus of the committee, embodied in a letter to “The Herald,” was that it was “better for the city to but grass lots now then lots with improvements on them hereafter.”

The bill giving the city power to designate and buy for park uses certain tracts in the Bronx passed the Legislature and was signed by the Governor on June 14, 1884. Luther B. Marsh, George W. Quintard and J. Seaver Page were appointed commissioners of estimate and appraisal to handle the purchase.

Impeachment of Law Sought

Even then, after the bill had become a law, the opposition was not discouraged. An attempt to impeach the constitutionality of the law was made by Mayor Willioam R. Grace. Mr. Edson’s successor. He told the Board of Aldermen that the cost of the new parks would be more than $20,000,000. the top price set by Mullaly was $8,000,000.

Mayor Grace conferred with Mullaly. Mullaly was adamant. Grace wanted to enforce a plan of his own, whereby the city should add to its park area at the rate of $1,000,000 a year. Mullaly dismissed this by saying that in a few years that sum would buy very little, and the lone million would be ten or fifteen millions a year before long to keep the same proportion.

Mayor Grace and his followers organized “an immense mass meeting” at Chickering Hall on March 23, 1885. Agents went around to tenement districts and told taxpayers that the cost of the land would be met by direct taxation, and that rents would rise until it was all paid for. It might cost $50,000,000, they said.

The Chickering Hall meeting was a dud. Mayor Grace and his adherents were defeated and discredited. The proposal became an accomplished fact, and before he died John Mullaly had the satisfaction of seeing his dream fulfilled. Not only were Van Cortlandt, Bronx and Pelham Bay Parks, with their linking parkways, finished, but Crotona, St. Mary’s and Claremont Parks also planned by Mullaly, came into being.

For seven years the former reporter worked without sparing himself. The testimony of men who worked with him paid tribute to his indefatigable courage. Alone of all his committee, he had to divide his time and energy with no other work, and his undeviating purpose was a constant spur to his associates.

Now one of the Bronx parks, with which he had nothing to do, may bear his name in honor of his achievement. The Park Association of New York, the organization that is carrying on Mullaly’s purpose of extending the park system today, has started a subscription fund to erect a monument to his memory.

Nathan Straus Pays Tribute

Nathan Straus, president of the Park Association speaking of Mullaly and his work said:

“The best incentive to civic service is public appreciation. A city that neglects to reward faithful public service is discouraging like service by others in the future. Therefore it is the more regrettable that such a distinguished and unusual record as that of John Mullaly has hitherto not been recognized by the people of New York City.

“The park system of the Borough of Bronx is the only adequate park system of any borough in the greater city. That distinction is due almost wholly to the unselfish fight made by John Mullaly in the face of well-nigh insurmountable obstacles. He had a fine dream, and the courage and tenacity of purpose to make it a reality. We of the Park Association hope that his services may be fittingly recognized by naming in his memory one of that great system of parks, which will constitute a perpetual reminder of his services to the people of the City of New York.”

Thursday, September 14, 2006

"Park Turf Toxic?" MetroNY 07/10/06

Park Turf Toxic?
Study suggests “plastic grass” may be harmful to health.

Reprinted by Patrick Arden in Metro NY July 10, 2006

UPPER WEST SIDE- For two years Bill Crain has been fighting the use of synthetic turf in Riverside Park, joining a growing number of New Yorkers who fear the city is buying into an easy solution to its lack of funds for regular park maintenance.

Crain, a developmental psychologist at CUNY, had tried to make the case that children benefit from nature. Now he’s paid for a toxicology test that hints the so-called “plastic grass” may have even more serious health effects. “It suggests the rubber pellets are toxic,” he said.

In April, he inspected four acres near 107th Street that received the fake turf at a cost of $3.9 million. He discovered the green plastic strips were interspersed among loose rubber crumbs.

“You could pick them up with your hands,” he said. “One child said he found the crumbs in his shoes when he went home.”

Crain sent a sample of the rubber pellets for a chemical analysis at a Rutgers University laboratory.

A preliminary test last week concluded that concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were at levels considered hazardous by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. “If they found those concentrations in soil, they’d say it was contaminated,” Crain said.

“PAHs, if you breathe them, have been associated with lung cancer,” noted Dr. Patrick L. Kinney, a professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University, who hasn’t read the toxicology test. “ It’s worth knowing more. The compounds themselves are dangerous if they get in the body, but I don’t know if they can get in the body through the rubber.”

In a July 5 letter to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Crain outlined his concerns with a chart showing PAH levels.

“We cannot comment on the findings of this particular study as the study itself has not been shared with us,” said Parks Dept. spokesman Warner Johnston, who insisted the turf is safe.

Crain wonders why the Parks Dept. hasn’t asked to see the full report. Rather than belittle his findings, he said, “They should respond, “Thank you - we’ll do more study.” It’s preliminary, but it is definitely a red flag.”

"Plastic Parks" MetroNY 04/17/06

Plastic parks
Is synthetic turf a wise move?

by patrick arden / metro new york

APR 17, 2006

UPPER WEST SIDE Four acres of new athletic fields opened in Riverside Park last week. From a distance yesterday the $3.9 million project looked lush and green, but a closer inspection of one of the soccer fields at 107th Street revealed thin plastic strips poking out of loose rubber crumbs.

Bill Crain holds the rubber crumbs that serve as “soil” in one of the new synthetic-turf fields in Riverside Park yesterday. (Photo: Bill Lyons/metro)

Deborah Peretz’s children liked to run on the springy surface, but she was concerned about the acrid scent. “You can smell the rubber,” she noted.

Two years ago Bill Crain tried to stop the Parks Dept. from using synthetic turf. The director of Citizens for a Green Riverside Park collected 600 signatures and brought the petition to the office of Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, where he came upon a display case dedicated to what he calls plastic grass. “It was like an altar,” Crain said.

“When we can grow real grass, we much prefer to,” explained Amy Freitag, the department’s deputy commissioner for capital projects, who said synthetic turf has mostly replaced asphalt and football and soccer fields. “We find the amount of demand in the city far exceeds what the grass fields can take.”

Crain said the real problem is maintenance — the fields in Riverside Park were last refurbished 12 years ago. He’s worried that the use of synthetic turf will grow, as the city buys into an easy solution to its lack of funds for regular park maintenance.

While Freitag was “not aware of any additional plans to add synthetic turf in Riverside,” Crain has attended meetings of community boards 7 and 9 when two separate plans for synthetic turf were discussed, including a spot near 63rd Street where “people simply sit and relax.” Synthetic turf is also slated for Yankee Stadium’s replacement parks and the Brooklyn War Memorial in Cadman Plaza Park.

“It’s like ‘the Blob’ — the thing that keeps expanding unless we stop it,” Crain said. “We want to preserve what little nature is left in the city.”

Fake grass saves money, parks, city says

UPPER WEST SIDE For his fight against the city’s use of synthetic turf in Riverside Park, Bill Crain located an environmental lawyer who happened to live in his neighborhood.

“I initially didn’t think the problem was that serious, but I got involved because it was my community,” said Joel Kupferman, executive director of the New York Environmental Law & Justice Project. “Then as I researched more and more I became more and more upset. Rubber is a dirty business with bad chemicals. When kids slide into this turf, the rubber crumbs come up, and they ingest it.

“We should be looking at the whole life-cycle of the product. There is a disposal problem, so they’ll have to send it somewhere and make that someone else’s problem forever. Also, if this stuff catches on fire, it’s toxic — there are noxious fumes.”

That makes him worried about drainage, too, as the Riverside Park playing fields overlook the Hudson River.

The Parks Dept. thinks these problems are overstated. Out of its 800 athletic fields, only 67 have been slated for synthetic turf.

“Where we now have asphalt or dirt fields, we’re putting synthetic turf that people love,” said Keith Kerman, the Parks Dept.’s chief of operations, who notes that synthetic-turf athletic fields in Manhattan get 50 percent more requests for play than natural-turf fields. While the synthetic turf will get hotter in the summer, he said, “It’s certainly cooler than asphalt.”

Kerman said the average synthetic-turf field will last for 10 years, compared to five years “at best” for grass. “A synthetic-turf football field costs about $1.4 million to install, while a natural grass field costs $700,000,” he explained. “Since to really maintain the quality you have to do the grass twice, from a capital standpoint over a ten-year period they more or less cost the same. But there is very little maintenance cost for a synthetic-turf field.

“These fields are alleviating maintenance concerns and letting us dedicate maintenance costs elsewhere,” Kerman said. “They’re less expensive in total and most of the cost is capital. The truth is, if we got additional resources, why wouldn’t you want to put them elsewhere anyway?”

“They always say they have to redo things because there’s not enough budget for maintenance,” said Kupferman. “They build something with a great capital outlay, and what happens in five years? They won’t maintain it, so it will look horrible.”

"Hazardous Chemicals in Synthetic Turf" Rachel.org 09/07/06


By William Crain and Junfeng Zhang** in Rachel's Democracy & Health News in Rachel.org

A new generation of synthetic turf is becoming popular in the U.S.
Brands such as FieldTurf are springier than the old AstroTurf and feel
more like real grass. They also promise low maintenance costs. New
York City is so attracted to the new synthetic turf that it is
installing it in 79 parks, often substituting it for natural soil and

However, the new artificial grass raises health concerns. In
particular, the base of FieldTurf and similar brands includes recycled
rubber pellets that could contain harmful chemicals. What's more, we
have observed that on many New York City fields, the rubber pellets
are also present on the surface. When one of us (William Crain) was
picking up some pellets by hand, a boy told him that after playing in
the park, he finds the pellets in his shoes at home at night. Because
the rubber pellets are much more accessible to children and athletes
than we had supposed, we decided to analyze a sample for two possible
sets of toxicants -- polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and toxic

We collected our first sample from a new FieldTurf surface in
Manhattan's Riverside Park in May, 2006. To gain information on the
reliability of our results, we gathered a second sample in June, 2006
from a different part of the park.

The PAHs were extracted in a Soxhlet apparatus with organic solvents.
The metals were extracted by means of nitric acid with the aid of a
high-efficiency microwave oven (Marsx Microwave). Both methods were
used to estimate the maximum amounts of the chemicals contained in the
bulk material (rubber pellets). The analyses were conducted at the
Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute of Rutgers

The PAH results for our first sample are listed as Sample 1 in Table
1, below. As the table shows, six PAHs were above the concentration
levels that the New York State Department of Environmental
Conservation (DEC) considers sufficiently hazardous to public health
to require their removal from contaminated soil sites (2). It is
highly likely that all six PAHs are carcinogenic to humans.

The PAH results for Sample 2 are also listed in the table. Although
the concentration levels in Samples 1 and 2 varied somewhat, the
results for Sample 2 replicated the finding that the concentration
levels of the six PAHs are above the DEC's tolerable levels for soil.


Table 1. Concentrations of PAHs (ppm*)

.................... Sample 1 ......... Sample 2 ....... DEC
.................... FieldTurf ........ FieldTurf ...... Contaminated
.................... Rubber Pellets.... Rubber Pellets . Soil Limits

Benzo(a)anthracene.... 1.23 ............ 1.26 ........... 1.0
Chrysene ............. 1.32 ............ 7.55 ........... 1.0
Benzo(b)fluoranthene.. 3.39 ............ 2.19 ........... 1.0
Benzo(a)pyrene ....... 8.58 ............ 3.56 ........... 1.0
Benzo(k)fluoranthene.. 7.29 ............ 1.78 ........... 0.8
Dibenzo(a,h)anthracene 3.52 ............ 1.55 ........... 0.33

* ppm = parts per million


The analyses also revealed levels of zinc in both samples that exceed
the DEC's tolerable levels. Lead and arsenic also were present, and
many scientists believe that these metals should not be introduced
into the environment at all.

We want to emphasize that the findings are preliminary. PAHs in rubber
might not act the same way as in soil, and we do not yet have
information on the ease with which the PAHs in these rubber particles
might be absorbed by children or adults -- by ingestion, inhalation,
or absorption through the skin. However, the findings are worrisome.
Until more is known, it wouldn't be prudent to install the synthetic
turf in any more parks.

We have informed the New York City Parks Department of our findings,
but as far as we know, the Parks Department has not altered its plans
to continue the installation of FieldTurf in numerous parks.

** William Crain, Ph.D., is professor of psychology at The City
College of New York and president of Citizens for a Green Riverside
Park. Junfeng (Jim) Zhang, Ph.D. is professor and acting chair,
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, the School of
Public Health, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
and Rutgers University.


(1) New Yorkers for Parks. A New Turf War: Synthetic Turf in New York
City's Parks -- Special Report, Spring 2006. www.NY4P.org

(2) 6 NYCRR Part 375, Environmental Remediation Program, Draft
Revised June 14, 2006, Department of Environmental Conservation,
Table 375-6.8 (a) and (b).

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

"City has money for park cleanup, but not sure how much" MetroNY 09/12/06

City has money for park cleanup, but not sure how much

by patrick arden / metro new york

SEP 12, 2006

BRONX — Critics of the new Yankee Stadium have long complained that the project resembled a shell game.

The $160 million promised for replacement parks, for instance, will cover the demolition of the current stadium, the building of site infrastructure, including new sewers and water mains, and the planting of 8,000 saplings in various locations. Now it’s known that kitty will have to pay for the cleanup of the polluted replacement parkland too. How much that will ultimately cost taxpayers remains unknown.

“We always knew that there was going to be some remediation cost,” said Parks Dept. planner Joshua Laird last week. “We established a healthy contingency budget to deal with unknowns, and the remediation costs will be coming out of that budget.”

How much?

“We still don’t have a number, because the site is still being investigated,” he said. “It’s partly what’s on the site, and partly how we design the site that dictates how much it’s going to cost us to clean it. If we’re going to areas that are going to be covered with paving, they don’t need to be remediated to the same level as a site that will be used as a lawn kids may be playing on.”

Will the cleanup affect the schedule to replace the parks, beginning in 2010?

“We don’t know yet,” Laird said. “Until we have permits or are further down the pike with [the state’s Dept. of Environmental Conservation] in terms of what they’re going to require, we don’t know how we’re going to fix it. But for the moment, we’ve not changed our delivery date.”

Some critics are troubled by this uncertainty. The cost of the 1970s stadium renovation was put at $24 million, but the tab came in above $100 million. What about this plan?

Dan Steinberg of Good Jobs New York has projected taxpayer subsidies for the stadium will exceed $400 million.

“Considering this project was rushed through on the Yankees’ terms, it’s not surprising the city doesn’t have all the information yet,” he said. “There could be significant cost overruns.”

Friday, September 08, 2006

"Carrion...stresses education, No New Stadiums" Norwood News January 17-30, 2002

Yo, Carrion, got memory?

Carrion Sworn In as Borough President
Stresses Education, No New Stadiums

By JORDAN MOSS in Norwood News Jan. 17 - 30, 2002

The transfer of power at the Bronx County Building's Memorial Hall hasn't occurred in 14 years, so it was with greater than usual pomp and circumstance that Adolfo Carrion Jr. was inaugurated as the borough's 12th president on Jan. 6.

Carrion, a Democrat, who takes over from political ally Fernando Ferrer (who received a standing ovation as he passed the torch to his successor), used the opportunity somewhat unusually by emphasizing education and only a few other issues, rather than the laundry list of initiatives usually ticked off in such addresses.

The 40-year-old former councilman and city planner made headlines with a clear message to the city's new mayor, Michael Bloomberg, regarding using city money to finance new stadiums for the Mets and Yankees.

"We can't afford it," said Carrion, who hobbled up to the podium on crutches because he broke his leg playing soccer during the transition period. "There is a need far more urgent. New Yorkers need schools and not stadiums, and I will never abandon that fight."

Bloomberg, in his inaugural address the previous week, said new stadiums were desirable but only when the city can afford them. Coincidentally or not, the day after Carrion's address, Bloomberg officially put plans for new stadiums on ice.

"I'd like to see great stadiums like anybody else," Bloomberg told reporters. "But you have to set priorities, and the priorities at the moment do not this year allow for the construction of new sports stadiums."

Carrion also called for "radical reform" of the city's school system, and, breaking with many of his Democratic colleagues, suggested he might support taking responsibility for education from the Board of Education and giving it to the mayor.

"We must look at all options ... including the creation of a New York City Department of Education," said Carrion, who lives in Kingsbridge Heights with his wife, Linda Baldwin, and their four children. "Too much is at stake for us to be dogmatic. Every option must be on the table."

Other issues Carrion listed as priorities were improving traffic safety, developing the borough's waterfront for housing and recreation use, creating affordable housing, and protecting residential communities from overdevelopment and pollution.

Carrion's hand-picked deputy borough president, Earl Brown, was also sworn in. Brown, a former official at the New York City School Construction Authority, will leave his current post at The New York Botanical Garden to become Carrion's second in command on Feb. 4.

Carrion's first official address as borough president had a powerful audience. The state's three top elected officials - Governor George Pataki, a Republican, and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and state Comptroller H. Carl McCall - all spoke at the event, as did the city's new comptroller, William Thompson. Former Mayor Ed Koch and the Rev. Al Sharpton sat next to each other in the front row of the audience. And Bloomberg and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer attended the reception at The New York Botanical Garden following the inaugural.

Perhaps it was not just Carrion's present political wattage that drew the heavyweight crowd, but also a prediction of how brightly the officials expect Carrion's star to shine in the future. Most of the speakers said Carrion would go places beyond the borough presidency. Thompson recounted visiting with Carrion a couple of years ago in his Bronx office where they discussed politics. As he left, he remembers saying to his aide, "I just saw the future."

"Somewhere down the road," Thompson continued, "we're looking at another citywide elected official."

Nevertheless, Carrion said he wanted to be judged for his accomplishments, not his potential.

"Leadership is about outcomes," he said. "That is how you should judge me and every elected official when we stand before you the next time and ask for your vote."

Thursday, September 07, 2006

"New ballpark makes Yanks even richer" Daily Courier 9/7/6

New ballpark makes Yanks even richer

Courier columnist

The rich get richer. If that axiom applies in life, it's even truer in sports.

Last month, the New York Yankees broke ground on a new $1.2 billion ballpark across the street from Yankee Stadium. The "new" Yankee Stadium, so-named until a corporation with mega-bucks to spare coughs up a minimum of $20 million per year to slap its name and logo on the new edifice, is a testament to revenue sharing in baseball.

Originally intended to level the playing field between the haves and the have-nots, revenue sharing has worked more or less as intended. A number of teams have used their revenue sharing funds to become more competitive. The fact that the Yankees haven't won the World Series during the past five years, after winning four titles in five years is a sign to many that a semblance of competitive balance exists in baseball.

Teams are required to contribute 34 percent of local revenues to a pool that is divided equally among the 30 clubs. The Yankees are the biggest "net" contributor, having paid a record $77 million to the system last year alone.

In an accounting quirk that would make the financial stewards of Enron blush, the Yankees will be allowed to deduct the operating costs of the new ballpark from their local revenue, thereby reducing their contribution to the revenue sharing pool. If you're a fan of capitalism, you're probably cheering in the background. If you believe in competitive balance in sports, it's not too early to start crying in your beverage of choice.

The reduced contribution to revenue sharing isn't the only financial benefit the Yankees will derive from the new stadium. Seating capacity will be several thousand less than the old stadium, increasing demand and prices for tickets that are already sold out. The number of luxury boxes will triple. And corporate sponsorship opportunities will be expanded, bringing in tens of millions in extra cash annually. Baseball's richest team, valued by Forbes magazine in excess of $1 billion, is about to get much richer.

Theoretically, the same stadium opportunity exists for all teams, but the reality is only the Yankees and the Mets, who are also building a new ballpark can benefit from the financial opportunities available in the New York market.

Can anything be done to stem the money grab? Baseball's owners could attempt to change the revenue sharing formula. But under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, any change would require the approval of the Players' Association, an unlikely event considering the drag such a move would have on player salaries.

Fortunately for the have-nots, baseball games are won and lost on the field. There, the rich play by the same rules as everyone else.

(Jordan Kobritz can be reached at jkobritz@mindspring.com)

Press Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 7, 2006

Contact: Frances Tejada, President of SaveOurParks! – 646-260-6713
Joyce Hogi – Media committee – 917-743-0865
Karen Argenti (BCEQ) 646-529-1990


Today Save Our Parks filed a suit in Federal Court to challenge the National Parks Service superficial review and fast approval to use a community park to build a new stadium. Save Our Parks HYPERLINK "http://www.saveourparks.info" www.saveourparks.info is a local community group formed to join together residents who live in and around the Yankee Stadium area of the Bronx in order to protect their inalienable rights to clean air, clean water, as well as appropriate levels of traffic, light and noise,

Even though the plan -- to build a new Yankee Stadium that would destroy two parks, hundreds of trees and Yankee Stadium itself -- was announced on June 15, 2005, the National Park Service staff was involved long before that time. According to the city, all approvals, including the ‘final’ federal approvals were issued by mid-July 2006 in what is described by many as an expedited process. Construction crews took over the site in mid-August before providing the replacement recreational facilities promised. Hidden information is now starting to be revealed as the result of Freedom of Information requests.

“This is not a NIMBY argument. To allow this process to continue unabated casts a threatening precedent which will harm not only our neighborhood, but others throughout the city,” stated J.J. Brennan of Save Our Parks. “This decision was made hastily without adequate public review, did not examine all the alternatives as required by law, and made assumptions that were just ridiculous.”

The National Park Service did not consider practical alternatives, such as reconstructing and enlarging the stadium on the current site; they failed to establish equivalent fair market value of the replacement properties by means of a federal type appraisal; they did not evaluate a reasonably equivalent usefulness and location of the plan that was finally adopted, and that a delay in providing the substituted properties would have no effect on the determination. In the final analysis, the National Park Service failed to explain the eligibility requirements of the Land and Wildlife Conservation Fund program (LWCF) for the properties proposed for substitution. There is no discussion of any of these criterion in the City’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).

Bronx Council for Environmental Quality (BCEQ), a 501c.3 organization founded in 1971, agreed to join as plaintiffs. BCEQ statement of purpose “seeks to establish — as an Inherent Human Right — a sound, forward-looking environmental policy regarding an aesthetic, unpolluted, environment protecting a natural and historic heritage.” BCEQ is a county-wide group of volunteers working for all Bronxites. “The Department of Building permits were not posted adequately, and the Art Commission had not approved the design, but the Yankees saw fit to take away the community’s park in the middle of the summer for some unknown reason,” stated Karen Argenti of BCEQ, “You don’t have to live in the community to feel cheated and be disheartened.”

saveourparks.blogspot.com and www.saveourparks.info

bcqe.org" www.bcqe.org

"Your next mayor?" MetroNY 09/07/06

..and now here's some humor about that clueless joker....

Your next mayor?
Carrion wants to be the ‘big fish’ in city pond

by patrick arden / metro new york

SEP 7, 2006

GRAND CONCOURSE — Adolfo Carrion sounded like he’s running for mayor. The topic came up six times in an hour this week, though the Bronx borough president refused to make it official.

Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion chatted with Metro this week in his office on the third floor of the Bronx County Courthouse. Although he won’t make it official, he talks as if he’s running for mayor. Oh, and he’s raised $275,950 as of July 17.

“At the right time, I will present a plan for New York,” Carrion said. The son of a preacher then launched into a sermon on economic development, education and the role of government.

Months ago he extended an invitation to discuss his vision for the borough, saying he’d been misunderstood in the media. “It has to bother you,” he admitted, “but you say, look, if only I had a chance to talk to that one person directly, they would see.”

Making a list

Carrion’s fond of counting the days he has left in office. On Tuesday it was three years, three months and 27 days. “You can’t wait for things to come to you,” he said. “If you’re elected and you don’t push an agenda, you’re not doing your job.”

But the borough president’s powers are limited, so Carrion’s focused on what he calls “setting the agenda, and getting this administration to dance to the tune of the Bronx.”

He proudly points to a collection of big development projects, achieved with the backing of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other local elected officials. Yet the largest pair are marked as much by controversy as ambition: the $400 million Gateway Mall at the Bronx Terminal Market and the $1.3 billion Yankee Stadium project. That doesn’t stop Carrion from taking credit for them.

“I wanted to build a new Yankee Stadium,” he said. “I told [Yankees owner] George [Steinbrenner] and [team president] Randy [Levine] at the beginning: You have the best location in the whole world — you’re not going. Let’s talk about you staying. I invited them: Let’s get started. What do you need, what do I need?”

Reminded of his inaugural speech in 2002, Carrion picked out the relevant quote: “Build schools, not stadiums.” Just blocks from his office, the Yankees’ construction crews have now taken over the neighborhood’s park, with none of the promised interim park facilities.

“I said in that same speech, ‘The Bronx is open for business,” Carrion recalled.

The right way

Community opposition, he said, couldn’t derail the best interests of the Bronx. After neighborhood reps refused to sign on to the community benefits agreement he had negotiated with the Gateway Mall’s developer, he decided to leave them out of talks with the Yankees, instead turning to local electeds for support. After Community Board 4 voted down the stadium plan, he didn’t reappoint veteran members who had disagreed with him. Opponents pointed to his past problems with community boards 7 and 12.

“I have a very clear thought process about the role of government,” Carrion said. “It’s to create a set of conditions to allow people to excel. We have an office that doles out opportunity to local businesses that will hire local people.”

His trophy projects were subsidized by the city and, in the case of the Yankees, by the state and feds as well. Critics said government subsidies shouldn’t be used to create low-wage jobs, but Carrion responds by reciting his own beginnings as a lifeguard, a busboy and a limo driver. “I challenge any of these academics to a debate on a good job, because it’s a bunch of bull,” he said. “You start to chip away at apparently intractable unemployment.”

Bloomberg now has big plans for the Bronx, but Carrion wants to make sure people know he invited the mayor in.

“The big fish wins, and that’s fine,” Carrion said. “That’s why I want to be the big fish. Not because I want to squash the little guy, but because I know that there’s a tremendous responsibility and an awesome power in the office, to do good and to create an agenda, to force and cajole people to move the city in a certain direction. We elect leaders to lead.”

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

"Most Yankee/Shea Stadium Fans Come from Outside New York City" Independent Budget Office 09/28/98


IBO study finds only one-third of Yankee attendees, 4 in 10 Shea fans, live in five boroughs.

Report argues for regional contribution if public subsidies needed
for stadiums, especially since suburban incomes are higher.

The clear majority of attendees at Yankee and Shea stadiums come from outside New York City, according to a study by the New York City Independent Budget Office (IBO).

The study, the results of a survey of nearly 4,000 fans at weeknight, weekday, and weekend games, showed that 33 percent of Yankee Stadium attendees came from the five boroughs, as did 39 percent of attendees at Shea Stadium.

New Jersey fans, with 22 percent, made up the largest single block of attendees at Yankee Stadium other than city residents. New Yorkers from Westchester and Rockland counties were the next largest group, with 11 percent.

At Shea Stadium, the largest contingent of fans other than city residents were from Long Island, accounting for 26 percent of attendees. New Jersey fans were the next largest group, representing 13 percent.

"Besides the teams, the fans attending the games are the biggest beneficiaries of new stadiums regardless of where they live," said Douglas A. Criscitello, IBO Director. "Because the majority of fans come from outside the city, it would be unfair if city residents are forced to pay a disproportionate share of stadium construction costs. Moreover, suburban fans tend to have substantially higher incomes than city residents."

The study suggests that if public subsidies are called for, they should be raised on a regional basis as has been done in Maryland for Camden Yards and in Colorado for Coors Field, or by targeting taxes on stadium-related activities such as ticket sales and concessions.

The IBO study also indicates that in general higher income households are most likely to attend major league baseball games. The average household income in the zips codes reported by Yankees fans was $58,627 or 40 percent higher than the average New York City household income of $41,882. The Yankees fans visiting from the tri-state area came from zip codes where the average household income was $67,783 or 62 percent higher than the city resident average.

The zip codes reported by Mets fans have an average household income of $56,397, 35 percent higher than the city average income. Mets fans from the tri-state area outside the city came from zip codes with an average income of $66,688.

The City of New York

For Immediate Release
September 28, 1998 Contact: Vanessa Richards
(212) 442-0340

"New stadium report: Thee Yankees win!" NY Daily News 02/08/06

New stadium report: Thee Yankees win!


It's the Yankees' version of the hidden-ball trick: Get a new stadium and quietly pass the costs on to taxpayers.

That's the conclusion of a report issued yesterday by Good Jobs New York, which found that, even if the team picks up the stadium's construction costs, the public will face other expenses and lost revenue totaling nearly half a billion dollars.

Meanwhile, the total fiscal benefits - such as increased tax revenue and lease payments from the operation of new garages - were put at $290.3 million.

So, surprise, surprise: The Yankees win.

The report, released amid city and state support for the stadium as a boon to the South Bronx, was significant because its tally includes new calculations of the city's own consultant.

The city and the Yankees - which hope to start building the $800 million stadium, a block north of where it now plays, by May 1 - fired back.

Yankees president Randy Levine said Good Jobs New York should change its name to No Jobs for New York, calling the report "completely false and misleading."

He added, "The undisputed fact is that this project ... will be the largest private investment in any sports venue in the United States and the largest private investment in the history of the Bronx."

Yankees sources said the report failed to note that the city will no longer be responsible for structural and capital costs, which the team will now take on.

These costs were projected to run as high as $350 million over 30 years at the current stadium if it were not replaced, according to team sources and the city's Economic Development Corp.

Originally published on February 8, 2006

"Bronx cheer - baseball fans at Yankee Stadium" National Review 05/19/97

Bronx cheer - baseball fans at Yankee Stadium
Rich Lowry in National Review, May 19, 1997

LAST year, I was sitting in the lower deck of Yankee Stadium watching reliever Bob Wickman, an overweight sinker-baller, blow a Yankee lead. A couple of runs were already in and the air had left the game, prompting disappointed fans to head for the exits.

Except one sitting behind me who was abusing Wickman with a vehemence unusual even for Yankee Stadium: "You s - - - , Wickman! You're a fat bum! You s - - - " After some hesitation -- I wanted to be careful about catching the eye of some crazed thug -- I peeked over my shoulder to discover that the assailant was a ten-year-old kid.

This crazed-thug-in-the-making no doubt has many fine days at the Stadium ahead of him. After a fairy-tale 1996 season, the Yankees returned to the South Bronx in April to begin defending their World Series title in one of the most storied and unruly arenas in professional sports. For me, Yankee Stadium has always been a perfect distillation of its surroundings. The Stadium, like its city, has a legendary history. It also happens to be a bastion of ill man- ners edging into violence and criminality.

Then again, the excesses are part of a high-energy atmosphere that can be exhilarating, even magical; the Stadium, like New York, is an endless mix of the idiotic and the sublime.

It wasn't until 1993 -- when I briefly lived in Manhattan -- that I saw a game at the Stadium. The broadcaster Bob Costas tells a story of how when he was a kid his father, after one game, took him out to the monuments in center field commemorating Yankee greats. The boy was overcome by the thought of walking on the same field as Mickey Mantle. Then, as they looked at the monuments, he got the idea that Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and the others were actually buried there, and began to cry; Costas remembers it as one of the few tender moments he was ever able to share with his father.

Yankee Stadium, I confess, has never made me sob. But there is something breathtaking about it, as seen from the upper deck, a huge horseshoe stretching out to the white balustrade high above center field. The grass is a brilliant emerald green, running in huge expanses, especially in left-center field, to the bright blue padding of the outfield walls. It's an outfield that can make fly balls beautiful things, especially when it's the lean Yankee center-fielder Bernie Williams -- a flash of pin-striped white against the green -- chasing them down with his long, loping strides.

But it didn't take many visits to the Stadium to notice its seamier side. Most ballparks have a seventh-inning stretch; Yankee Stadium has improved on the tradition with a brawl every two or three innings which everyone in a given section stands up to watch. Black eyes are served like Cracker Jacks. I've been at games where play on the field has stopped so that the players could watch rows of bare-chested guys (presumably from Jersey) beat on each other.

Last year, I attended a double-header against the Orioles, which meant 18 innings of drinking instead of just 9. By the second game, almost every face around me in the upper deck was young, male, and drunk. It was like being plopped in the middle of a leering ringside crowd in one of George Bellows's prize-fight paintings. A black guy was trying to panhandle beers. At one point, a grizzled white guy, destined for a night in a gutter somewhere, stumbled down the steps, put both feet up on the railing of the upper deck, and flipped off the entire Stadium with both middle fingers. As he weaved there, nearby rows took up a chant: "JUMP! JUMP! JUMP!"

Needless to say, the Stadium is not hospitable territory for fans of visiting teams. A couple of years ago a few friends from Washington, D.C., came with me to watch another Orioles - Yankees game, wearing their black-and-orange Orioles hats and shirts. They got threatened and harassed the whole game; every time something went the Orioles' way someone would say in a stage whisper: "Gee, I could kick an Orioles fan's a -- right now." The funny thing is, one of my friends attended a Yankee game in Baltimore a couple of weeks later and was amazed to find that Yankee fans were bullying Oriole fans even there, outnumbered by a factor of thousands.

In fact, Baltimore's new home is compelling evidence for how a ballpark influences the character of its crowd. The Orioles used to play at the indifferent but rugged Memorial Stadium. The team's new home, Camden Yards, is a much prettier place, but rising ticket prices have pushed out working-class fans. Pricey micro-brews and gourmet food have replaced cans of the low-rent swill National Bohemian. And the crowds, full of lawyers, Washington lob- byists, and homemakers, often cheer as if they were at Wimbledon.

That's never a problem at Yankee Stadium. Which is why -- if you have a strong stomach, and if you don't have small children --there's no place like it to watch a game. Evelyn Waugh once wrote that people mistake the collective neurosis of New York for high energy. But there's really not a distinction -- the madness creates an energy. The unforgettable electricity of a moment like Don Mattingly hitting his first-ever post-season homer in 1995 --celebratory beer cascading down from the upper deck like rain --would be impossible without the nearly insane devotion and intensity of the fans.

Yankee Stadium crowds create the conditions for acts of greatness. Again in 1995, late one play-off game, half of Yankee Stadium taunted Seattle Mariner star Ken Griffey Jr. with the chant: "F --you, Junior." Griffey responded with a clutch homer that silenced the crowd into something like awe. For a Yankee fan, these moments are best, of course, when opponents just don't measure up. After the Yanks scored three early runs in the decisive game of last year's World Series, you could feel the high-powered Atlanta Braves wilting. Braves owner Ted Turner, the smug tycoon who personifies his self-impressed team, left his seat for a breather. The commemorative World Series video captures a New York voice calling out: "Hey Ted, how ya likin' it?"

Turner grimaces: "I'm not."

COPYRIGHT 1997 National Review, Inc.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

"Polluted parkland in Yankees’ trade" MetroNY 09/05/06

Polluted parkland in Yankees’ trade
Appraisals ignore facts contained in city documents

by patrick arden / metro new york

SEP 5, 2006

SOUTH BRONX — Now that the old-growth trees have been felled and the earth-moving machines have started to dig up Macombs Dam Park, what will the residents surrounding the $1.3 billion new Yankee Stadium project be left with for replacement parks?

Polluted land, according to city and federal documents.

Under the current stadium are two 15,000-gallon oil tanks, which were found to be leaking, and soil in all of the replacement parkland contains “semi-volatile compounds and/or metals at concentrations exceeding [New York State Department of Environmental Conservation] Cleanup Objectives,” noted National Park Service executive Jack Howard when he signed off on the city’s park-swap plan.

Though the contaminated land is cited in this NPS go-ahead as well as the city’s Final Environmental Impact Statement, it’s not mentioned in any of the appraisals performed to comply with federal and state laws.

Backroom deal

Under the Land and Water Conservation Act, proposals to convert federally funded parkland must be OK’d by the National Park Service. But after meeting with state, city and Yankee representatives, the NPS decided to rely on the city’s environmental impact statement instead of preparing its own assessment.

In an e-mail detailing an early June 3, 2005, conference call with the state’s office of parks, Howard wrote the city would be made “fully aware” of “the compliance responsibilities associated with the conversion process,” particularly “appraisal requirements.”

The state then insisted the city’s Parks Dept. go back twice to get new appraisals, though it never had to share them with the NPS.

Fine print

These appraisals ignored the contaminated land, in apparent violation of federal law.

According to Section D-3 of the federal Uniform Appraisal Standards, “It is improper ... to estimate the market value of a property assuming it is free of contamination when there is evidence, by the past use of the property or by the appraiser’s inspection thereof, that contamination may exist.” Appraisers can’t “make an assumption that corrupts the validity of the value estimate.”

In putting a price tag on the replacement parkland under the current Yankee Stadium and on the Harlem River, the final appraisals use the same language: “We are not aware of any environmentally hazardous or toxic substances on or near the subject site.”

That’s boilerplate language, explained Michael H. Evans, a fellow of the American Society of Appraisers, but it is misleading when the contaminants had their own chapter in the city’s project statement.

“These factors absolutely have an effect on the land’s value, and if the appraiser doesn’t mention them, that’s not right,” he said. “If it’s a known thing, and there’s been any report saying the property is tainted, appraisers must identify it’s there. The appraisal is made subject to that land being cleaned up. It can get very, very expensive.”

The state’s parks office accepted these appraisals, but it did not return repeated calls seeking an explanation for why the contamination was not factored into the final value of the land.

The replacement parcels are priced at $4.5 million more than Macombs Dam Park. “But they’re clearly not the same value,” said Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates. “We knew they didn’t have the same usefulness or location. The city is swapping tennis courts surrounded by trees for a polluted area far removed from the community.”

Monday, September 04, 2006

Where will he go now? Where are those promised "interim" parks?

Please contribute to our legal fund!

To make a tax-deductible contribution please make your check payable to our fiscal agent, Bronx Council for Environmental Quality (of BCEQ for short), with “SaveOurParks” mentioned in the memo field.

Mail it to:

Bronx Council for Environmental Quality (BCEQ)
Post Office Box 265
Bronx, NY 10464-0265

Or you can contribute via credit card or Paypal at BCEQ's website by clicking the title for this post. Click the Paypal button next to "Save Our Parks Campaign".

And thank you.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

"New Yankee Stadium Benefits Yankees, But Not Bronx" Blogcritics.Org website 08/18/06

New Yankee Stadium Benefits Yankees, But Not Bronx
August 18, 2006
B.C. Lorio

Today is a sad day in the Bronx.

True, the New York Yankees did win — and that result alone brought many smiles to the Boogie Down. But today, the true losers are those who live in the Concourse Village area. They are the ones who are going to be displaced by one of the richest professional sports organizations in the world, the New York Yankees

In a ceremony production that "television voice of the Yankees" (and ESPN 1050 radio host) Michael Kay estimated to cost over one billion dollars, Thursday morning the Bronx Bombers broke ground for their new stadium. Planned for 2009, the new Yankee Stadium is projected to be a first class facility that will seat 51,000 fans. The development calls for lucrative sky boxes to line the new edifice, making even more money for an organization noted for their excesses. And don't be fooled, Yankee fans: With the capacity reduced, tickets will be at a premium, making ducats for a game even more expensive when tied into the amenities of a new ballpark.

As usual, the Yankees trotted out the obligatory Hall of Famers, broadcasters, local politicians wanting their face on television, a governor with presidential aspirations, and a Hollywood actor who reminisced about going to Yankee games while wearing a Mets cap (Billy Crystal).

Just another day in the Bronx.

It appears that the local Bronx politicians (including borough president and aspiring mayoral candidate Aldolfo Carrion) literally sold his constituents out for the almighty dollar. Instead of being a leader and making demands from the Yankees to provide for one of the nation's poorest counties, he allowed the organization to run roughshod over the people. You want to take away the vital park space? Sure. Want to make traffic congestion and air quality even worse for those who live in the area. Not a problem. Want to erect a billion dollar edifice that your neighbors will have little chance to attend? Do what you have to do. And when the people who live in the Concourse Village area attempted to assert their power, they were beaten back by not obtaining the right legal counsel and by the Yankees playing politics - "helping" the politicians who would "help" them.

Those who defend the stadium being built will be quick to cite that Yankees are "giving back" to area through the redevelopment of park spaces and how Bronxites will have the first opportunity at employment in the stadium construction. And these are the same people who either called the Bronx home 40 years ago or merely visit for the borough for a game.

The Bronx is my home. While I may not live in the immediate area, two of my very close friends live within walking distance of the ballpark. I'm well aware of what they go through 81 days a year. In a community that desperately needs improvements in education, housing, medicine, and quality of life, I am certain that these same politicians could do a little more to make the residents feel better about their home than to toss millions in tax subsidies towards a major league baseball franchise.

As evident from census projections released two days ago, Gotham is quickly becoming a city of haves and have-nots. The projects discussed the "Manhattanization" of Brooklyn. Don't be too fooled that with lack of affordable housing — those who "have" will be looking near the stadium with its upgraded transportation facilities, proximity to downtown, and spacious apartments. Concourse Village will undergo the same gentrification faced by those who live in Williamsburg, Harlem, and Washington Heights. It may not be immediate, but it looks like that it won't be inevitable. Yet as long as a few politicians were able to attach their name to the project, I guess it was worth it for them.

I am a baseball fan and a lover of sports. I understand the value of a new stadium to a team (and their community's) psyche. In fact, the creation of such stadiums has lead to a rebirth of neighborhoods in Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Diego, and Pittsburgh. But those areas were different. Most of them were warehouse districts where the number of people displaced and lives interrupted was minimal. It wasn't Concourse Village, where green space is at a minimum in the greenest borough in New York City, the rate of HIV is a dangerously high level, and the median income at a standstill. It wasn't where a shining new stadium will stand against declining schools.

I guess these issues are of little consequence for an organization that claims that it's proud to call the Bronx home.

These issues are also of little consequence to leaders who can't find enough money to pay its civil servants, maintain decent subway service, keep taxes low, and improve the quality of lives for Bronxites. If you don't believe me, listen to organization officials who discuss the stadium in interviews. Listen how often they cite the economic benefits to the immediate Bronx community. And make that their contributions are genuine. I bet it never happens!

George Steinbrenner claimed that the stadium was built for the fans. In reality it was built to boost his ego and his fortunes.

As the insufferable radio voice of the Yankees John Sterling would bellow, "Tha-a-a-a Yankees win!"

But the Bronx loses.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

1959 photo of buildings surrounding our soon to be demolished park in BronxBoard website

The Highbridge Indians taking the field at Macombs Dam Park baseball field. This picture was taken in 1959. You can see the Jerome Avenue El in the background and all the huge apartment buildings running along Jerome Avenue.

--Steve Barry, Lawrenceville, Georgia

(BronxBoard) Editor's Note: the structure in the background appears to be the shuttle that connected the IRT 167th Street Station with the 155th Street-Polo Grounds Station in Manhattan. It extended from River Avenue and continued under the apartment buildings on Jerome, Anderson, and Ogden Avenues before crossing the Harlem River. The field in the picture is probably in John Mullaly Park, which was just north of 161st Street, and not Macombs Dam Park, which was directly behind Yankee Stadium and south of 161st Street.

SaveOurParks CORRECTION to above BronxBoard statement:
Actually Macombs Dam Park is located both north and south of 161st Street. The open-lot parking lot that the Yankees use south of 161st is actually parkland and part of the Macombs Dam Park dimensions as per Park Dept maps. The park north of 161st which includes the racing track and several baseball fields is the area that we oppose for the site of any taxpayer-subsidized stadium which would kill almost 400 trees. North of 162nd is the adjacent John Mullaly park.

These areas north of 161st are where most of the residents live unlike the current Yankee Stadium location where there is plenty of space to the south and west to build another stadium. Nowhere else in America are new stadiums being built smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood! This will blight the area and along with the extra garages for 4,500 cars, traffic will be paralyzed on the Major Deegan, Bruckner and local community streets.

We can just imagine all the finger-pointing articles in 2009 if this travesty ever gets built. Hey Carrion and Arroyo, we're talking about you Bronx traitors.

Friday, September 01, 2006

"Yankee move hits locals out of park" NY Daily News 08/29/06

Yankee move hits locals out of park

reprint from Bronx edition of NY Daily News, Tuesday, August 29, 2006, page BW 8

By Patrice O’Shaughnessy’s column “Around the Bronx”

The first thing you notice when you walk into John Mullaly Park from the north end on McClellan St. is the picturesque canopy of big, thick oak trees with powerful limbs so leafy that they almost hide the el on River Ave. It’s cooler in here because there’s a breeze and relief from the sun beating down outside the park.

The stately trees line either side of the water-sprouting retro dolphins, creating a tranquil, verdant space. Under one of them, on a pink quilt in a large circle of shade, sat Heidi Lopez, feeding her 4-month-old son, Alexander, from a bottle. They’ve been coming here all spring and summer.

It’s just how Mullaly himself pictured it: the people who live in the brick buildings, in the congested neighborhoods, “the toilers of the city,” enjoying “their Newport.”

But they’re going to tear down hundreds of these trees in the process of eliminating most of Mullaly and neighboring Macombs Dam Park to make way for the new Yankee Stadium.

The issue has been hotly debated. The city says it will replace the parkland elsewhere; opponents say the new areas will be no match for these cherished, established spaces.

Another tragic aspect is the desecration of what was supposed to be a memorial to the man the Parks Department considers the “father of the Bronx parks system.”

If it weren’t for Mullaly, the Bronx would not be the Borough of Parks. There would be no Bronx Zoo, Pelham Bay Park, Botanical Garden, Van Cortlandt Park.

“There is a very definite appropriateness about the proposal to name a new small park in the Bronx after him. For Mullaly, more than any other man, was responsible for the city’s lone example of a true park system….with the parkways that link them together,” read a 1929 article from the New York Herald Tribune posted by Tony Costa on the Web site of the Bronx Council for Environmental Quality (www.bceq.net).

Mullaly died in his 70s around 1911, with 15 cents in his pocket, an ignominious end for a man who gave so much pleasure to millions.

Mullaly was an Irish-born reporter for the New York Herald who “saw thousands of persons living under the terrible conditions that prevailed in the tenement districts…And he saw that there was no place for these thousands to walk and sit and lie and breathe fresh air,” the 1929 article reads.

Mullaly advocated taking some 4,000 acres of land in the Bronx for public parks that he said would “be the favorite suburban resort of the mass of the population, the toilers of the city: it will be their Newport.”

Two mayors opposed the plan, but he fought on, and before his death Mullaly saw the completion of the major borough parks with their linking parkways, and Crotona, St. Mary’s and Claremont parks.

The Parks Department hailed his foresight for helping to ensure the borough, whose population is now more than 10 times what it was at the turn of the century, “would be a land of greener pastures.”

These days Mullaly must be spinning in his grave.

When they broke ground for the new stadium on 162nd St. and River Ave., tractor trailers and TV satellite trucks were parked in Macombs, the street was closed off, hordes of cops stood guard and wooden barriers were set up, harbingers of the disruptions to come in Highbridge.

As summer winds down, people enjoy the park while they still can.

Lopez, 17, said she grew up in Mullaly, splashing in the pool, having picnics and attending birthday parties. But little Alexander won’t be able to continue the tradition.

“I’ll miss it,” she said.

The Herald Tribune article quoted the president of the Park Association as saying the Bronx park system is “due almost wholly to the unselfish fight made by John Mullaly in the face of well-nigh insurmountable obstacles. We hope that his services may be fittingly recognized by naming in his memory one of that great system of parks, which will constitute a perpetual reminder of his services to the people of the City of New York.”

The park was opened in 1929, six years after Yankee Stadium.

In the Bronx, it seems, perpetuity lasts less than eight decades.