Sunday, January 28, 2007

"Next Steps at Stadium" Norwood News 01/11/07

"Next Steps at Stadium"

reprinted from the Letters to the Editor in the Norwood News, January 11-24, 2007 edition, page 8

The new Yankee Stadium project has been approved, construction has already started and Macomb’s Dam Park has ceased to exist. The main question facing community residents and organizations is “what can be done within the parameters of the Project to achieve the best possible results for the community?” Here are three related ideas which residents should pursue:

Work with the Parks’ Department: First of all community residents and organizations in the area must actively work with the Parks’ Department. The time for heckling, naysaying, etc. is over and these tactics simply won’t accomplish anything. New Yorkers for Parks have already urged the Parks to streamline and coordinate construction among different agencies and to improve their outreach to the community. Specifically, the Parks should designate a liaison with community residents, attend meetings of various organizations and be willing to bring constructive ideas from residents to planners. There are many benefits which would arise from such an exchange. Here are some:

1. While a Stadium is already rising in the center of the community, there is absolutely no need for any parking garages in its immediate vicinity and it’s not too late to propose some reasonable and doable changes. Of all the replacement parks, the one planned for the riverfront evokes the greatest community opposition. It is far away from the community, difficult and dangerous to access and in addition, abandoned petroleum tanks have been found on the site. This site, however, would be the ideal location of the equivalent of Parking Garage “B.” Secondly, the present “Municipal Parking Garage” on River Avenue should be demolished and the site used to create a new Macomb’s Dam Park which would be safe, accessible and right in the middle of the community where neighborhood residents want it. The Yankees would have their desired parking garages and a larger part of John Mullaly Park would be saved.

2. The parts of Mullaly Park which are unaffected by the Project are scheduled to be rebuilt. Yet exactly what will be done is uncertain. If the community participates in the planning stage, the final product will be far more community-friendly than if the Parks Department makes unilateral decisions on what is best for the community.

3. Franz Siegel Park and Nelson Avenue Park will definitely be used as alternate parks. The community can make certain that enough funding is allocated to both parks so that they can meet community needs effectively during construction and have desirable features after construction is complete.

4. Since the Project involves destroying some 400 trees, the residents should demand that as many trees be planted as possible on the every street in the affected community.

Support Mass Transit Initiatives: Just about every elected official, many prominent organizations, such as Tri-State Transportation Campaign and Transportation Alternatives, and a multitude of newspapers proclaim their devotion to mass transit. Here is an opportunity for them to demonstrate their commitment! There are four mass transit ideas which will dramatically reduce traffic congestion around the stadium. The first, of course, is the Metro North Station about which there is a great deal of talk and no action.

Second, the recently renovated Melrose station should become the official Yankee Stadium station of Metro North East. There have already been many suggestions: fare discounts, park ‘n’ ride lots in Westchester, a shuttle bus from the station to the stadium. In addition, if the little park around this station were to be improved, this proposal could spearhead an economic revival in Melrose, which is one of the most neglected and dilapidated areas in the south Bronx.

Third, the MTA could easily commence a direct subway link between Penn Station, the Port Authority bus terminal, and the Bronx with the 8th Avenue Local-Express. This extra train would be a local in the Bronx and express in Manhattan following the route of the “A” train. The present need to transfer from the “A” and “C” to the “B” and “D” trains would be eliminated and all Bronx riders south of Tremont Avenue would benefit.

Finally if Garage “B” is moved and the Municipal Garage is demolished, the area from the river to Gerard Avenue and 161st to 165th Streets could be placed under congestion pricing! What an opportunity to try this exciting concept and to demonstrate how well it works. Congestion pricing would assure that the parking garages built south of 161st Street would actually be used. Why should drivers pay a fortune to use parking garages when they can park in the community for free? Community residents who would be exempt would get a neighborhood free of traffic congestion, less air pollution and have a place to park their own cars.

Protest the Community Benefits Agreement: The Community Benefits Agreement for Yankee Stadium approved in the spring defines the entire Bronx as the affected community and pledges money to Bronx organizations and neighborhoods which are absolutely unaffected by the Project!

At the present time, residents in the western part of the south Bronx who are inhaling dust and diesel fumes in the air, whose tap water is running brown, whose lights are flickering and whose buildings are shaking from construction blasts---deserve all of the money from the CBA which could be used to fund items necessary to anchor the Project in mass transit, to fund improvements to present parks and to build a new park on the site of the Municipal Garage.

This Project has been imposed on a community that didn’t want it but changes such as those listed above will at least make it more palatable.

John Rozankowski, Ph.D.
The writer lives in Bedford Park.


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