Thursday, December 14, 2006

"Parks Dept. plan off track" Daily News 12/14/6

Parks Dept. plan off track


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

He abruptly 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 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 decision stating 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," said Herbert. "Either that, or his agency lied to a judge."

While Carrión 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 him if he lied?" a clearly annoyed Carrión 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," Carrión 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 local parks - one of which had a running track - and replace the parkland and facilities after construction.

Before the city approved the plan, Carrión 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.

Parks' Assistant Commissioner 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.

Originally published on December 14, 2006


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