Tuesday, December 12, 2006

"Parks Dept. plan off track" Daily News (Bronx Boro News section) 12/12/6

Parks Dept. plan off track
Jogging path scrapped for now

(Sorry, no electronic version to link to)

By Bill Egbert

When it comes to a controversial jogging track, Bronx Borough President Adolfp Carrion is running out of patience--with everyone.

He abrubptly walked out of a TV interview last week when a reporter asked him if he had been lied to by Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe over the issue of an interim running track near the new Yankee Stadium project.

The borough president's snit came after a local community board member accused the Parks Department of perjury concerning its failure to provide a promised running course to replace the one closed to make way for the new stadium.

Last Tuesday, the Bronx Boro News reported that the department had not provided an interim running track as promised after the Macombs Dam Park track was closed for construction of the new stadium. The News cited a state court decisionstating that a "running course is to be available at all times during construction."

Community Board 4 member Lukas Herbert took issue with the Parks Department's assertion that it didn't need to provide a track until next spring.

"Adrian Benepe doesn't have his facts straight," says Herbert. "Either that, or his agency lied to a judge."

While Carrion fumed that Parks has not been quick enough in providing the interim facilities promised, he bristled last Thursday when News 12 cable-TV reporter Jessica Kumari asked him if Benepe had lied to him.

"Did I ask if he lied?" a clearly annoyed Carrion could be heard saying as he stormed off camera, grim-faced. "No, I didn't ask him if he lied."

"A reporter asked me to call a colleague of mine - who I respect and have worked well with - a liar," Carrion said later. "A principled individual doesn't say that about another individual to satisfy a two-minute news clip on a television station."

The new stadium project has caused controversy because of the plan to build the massive new complex on top of two popular parks - one of which had a running track - and replace the parkland and facilities after construction.

Before the city approved the plan, Carrion said his support was contingent upon Parks' assurance that interim facilities would be available to the community throughout construction.

The Parks Department's Environmental Impact Study promised a cinder track would be built in place of two nearby baseball fields for runners to use until a new rubberized track was ready nearby next spring.

Park's Assistant Commisioner for Planning Joshua Laird said those plans were scrapped when a change in the construction schedule allowed the ballfields to remain open for another season.



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