Thursday, April 12, 2007

Tri-State Transportation's perspective on Yankees parking issues

This is from and article titled "Parking Boom Will Sustain NYC Motoring" in the latest issue of Mobilizing the Region (a hat tip to The Real Estate). Click the title above to read it at their site.

"The huge parking expansion associated with new Yankee Stadium construction has failed to attract any bids from private operators. The city has apparently scaled the seemingly uneconomic plan back by one 900-car garage, but instead of reducing it further, it is adding more public money to ensure that the new, smaller stadium has thousands of additional parking spaces around it.

"The city’s Economic Development Corp. wants to award $186 million in triple tax-exempt bonds for parking garage construction, significantly upping public subsidies for the project. Housing advocates say the shortage of such “private activity” tax-exempt bonding is one reason affordable housing construction in the city lags so badly. Meanwhile, news reports say the MTA is having trouble funding the Yankee Stadium Metro-North station that was added to the stadium project after criticism last year."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Lukas Herbert's perspective on Yankees parking issues

To My Fellow Community Residents:

Last Friday I opened up the Daily News to find the attached advertisement from the MTA. It seems the New York Mets are offering a promotion in conjunction with the MTA to give transit customers discounts to select Mets games. Then, in today’s Daily News an article about the Mets by Bill Hutchinson has the following quote “Transit bosses are pleading with fans to take public transportation and will give away $2 MetroCards at Grand Central Terminal between 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. to get people on the trains.”

While I was really pleased to see such a pro-transit attitude being taken with respect to Mets games, that feeling immediately changed to dismay as soon as I thought about our neighbors – the New York Yankees. There have been no articles about them promoting transit in the last few weeks. In fact, the press about them has been just the opposite: negative stories about parking and traffic.

I want to know why this is still going on. The Yankees should be doing more to take advantage of their location near mass transit, but instead all we hear about is parking. We have to give up our parks for parking. We have to subsidize some out-from-nowhere non-profit organization with triple-tax-exempt bonds for parking. Traffic is a mess because of parking and all the people driving to the games with the construction in the neighborhood. It’s all cars, cars, cars and parking, parking, parking. Where is the transit in this equation? Why aren’t the Yankees doing more to get people to take transit?

The Yankees ought to make good on their commitments to this neighborhood by promoting transit usage to their games. From now on, we ought to see transit promotions similar to what the Mets are doing – or better. The Yankees should be work ing with Metro-North more closely and offering One-Day-Getaway type promotions. But they aren’t. I am still disappointed that the Melrose station isn’t mentioned on either the Yankees website or the Metro-North website as a way for people to get to Yankees games. It’s like nobody wants to admit it is there. But let me tell you, some fans have figured it out. Every game day I always see them on my way home from work : Westchesterites wearing Yankees hats getting off at Melrose at 6:43. They get to their seats in time for the game. Why does this have to be a secret that only a few know about?

When I see this lack of sensible action on behalf of the Yankees and/or the MTA, I get the sense that nobody really cares about the issues that I always have to listen to people gripe about at community meetings: traffic congestion, pollution and asthma. This is such a no-brainer, it bothers me that I even have to bring it up. Maybe if our local politicians had done a better job negotiating that *stellar* Community Benefits Agreement, they could have work ed something like this into the plan.

Thanks for your time. If you can forward this message to someone who you think can help make a difference, I would appreciate it.

Lukas Herbert

An open letter to SaveOurParks! members

The following letter was sent in March, asking members to vote to disband the organization.

Greetings fellow SaveOurParks! members

Together we formed SaveOurParks! as a community-based, grass roots group to save Macombs Dam and Mullaly Parks from development by the Yankees organization. After well more than a year of strenuous effort on all our part, we were defeated in all of the political and judicial arenas. This was a heavy blow to the community. We made all the arguments that were applicable to this project and had documentation to back up those arguments. However, as we discovered during the process, "the cards were stacked against us", so to speak.

The National Parks Service, who we had counted on to protect our parks, was complicit with the City of New York and the New York Yankees before we were ever made aware of the plans to take the parks. This strikes a blow and shows us, in the brightest light possible, the fact that our elected officials let us down. We should never forget this and should never miss the opportunity to let them know how the community was neglected. The promised "interim parks" are not ready as promised. However, the groundbreaking on parking lot #1 to develop these parks has taken place and the parks are expected to be ready for our use in the spring of 2007. Let us continue to monitor the situation and call our electeds, or better yet, the media, when we see that the deadlines are not being met.

The purpose of this letter, as two of the original members of SaveOurParks!, is to ask; "Where do we go from here?" Mary Blassingame, Chauncy Young and Francis Tejada have all resigned from the Board of Directors, so we are left with only 6 board members. This may change soon as we believe other board members may follow suit.

Why are they leaving? They are all still committed to monitoring the actions of the City and The Yankee organization in the construction of the stadium and the replacement parks. Their reasons for leaving are best expressed by them, but suffice to say that after being hindered in their actions to fulfill their responsibilities as boards of directors of SaveOurParks! by a few radicals from outside the community, they feel their efforts are more productive outside the organization rather than inside.

At this point we no longer have a meeting place. We can no longer meet at Hope of Isreal or at Highbridge Community Life Center. The Board of Director meetings have recently been meeting at Crown Donuts, which is not a suitable venue. It requires attendees to purchase food, and the few meetings that have been held are usually loud and raucous.

As we understand it, we have negotiated with the lawyers to accept what funds we had available as payment for legal fees, although it doesn't come close to what we owe. We know many members were not entirely happy with the representation that we received, but if any of you attended the hearings you know that we didn't stand a chance, regardless of the representation. Both judges came predisposed to denying our suits against the NY Yankees, the Department of NYC Parks & Recreation and the National Parks Service. That said, we have some thoughts about the direction of the organization and wanted to share them with you.

BCEQ has been our fiscal agent but agreed to serve only through the end of our lawsuit. As this is now over, BCEQ will cease its role as our agent. SaveOurParks! does not have a bank account and appears not to qualify for one in its current status. No donations are expected as without a fiscal agent we can no longer issue tax-deductible receipts and so cannot effectively raise funds for a cause. All moneys have been dispursed to the lawyers, except for approximately $120 in petty cash.

Betty Robinson has been paying for the mailbox for these many months. We will ask her to submit a bill for that. Joyce has paid for the telephone service since its inception and had not asked for reimbursement, but will do so now in the event there are funds in petty cash to cover this. She plans to end her support as of May 2007. JJ intends to end his involvment with SaveOurParks! as soon as the group can be disbanded.

According to the Articles of Association that were adopted for the group, we have the option of disbanding the group after our original mission was completed and any money left over be given to a non-profit group in the South Bronx. Since there is nothing to disburse, disbanding the group becomes even easier.

You may use this letter to let the Board of Directors know how you would vote: to keep the organization or to disband. Please keep in mind that your attendance and financial contribution to the organization will be required if you choose to keep the organization. This will mean organizing; setting up a bank account and the associated tax & business filings.

There are many ways to stay involved in the community and to monitor the ongoing development in the area and the parks. We can provide a list if you care to be involved.

It was a pleasure to meet and work with you in our fight against the establishment. Let's stay in touch to work for the best interest of our community.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Joyce Hogi

JJ Brennan

Monday, April 09, 2007

Streetsblog focuses on the parking garage subsidies

Click the title to read their excellent post, with hyperlinks.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

"Mayor Criticizes Yankee Stadium Construction" WNBC 4/6/7

Mayor Criticizes Yankee Stadium Construction
Says Men Being Paid By Yankees Have "Criminal Problems"

POSTED: 9:34 pm EDT April 5, 2007
UPDATED: 10:14 am EDT April 6, 2007

NEW YORK -- Mayor Bloomberg says his office called to complain to the Yankee organization about the team's decision to use a construction firm accused of having ties to the mafia. Bloomberg said the construction firm, Interstate Industrial, "clearly is not a firm the city would contract with."

Interstate Industrial has been hired by the Yankees, and its main construction firm Turner Construction Corp., to lay the foundation for the new Yankee Stadium. But Interstate's owners, Frank and Peter DiTommaso, were indicted on perjury charges back in July. Officials accuse the brothers of lying to a Bronx grand jury about $165,000 in illegal payments to given to Rudy Giuliani's former police and correction commissioner Bernard Kerik.

Court and city documents show the City's Department of Investigation, New Jersey state investigators and the FBI have also linked the DiTommasos, and their firm, to members of the Gambino crime family. Part of that evidence is from mafia turncoats who testified in open court during cases like the trial of Peter Gotti.

The DiTommasos insist they are innocent, have been unfairly smeared and have done nothing wrong. "The city maintains, and has maintained documents that totally contradict every derogatory statement made by these informants at those trials," Frank DiTommaso said. He went on to say he would welcome a public city hearing to clear his name.

As for the Yankees, the team again declined comment or provide an official explanation as to why Interstate was hired. Turner Construction has said the Interstate has done great work in the past and submitted a qualified bid. Turner also said monitors are in place at the site to try to prevent any wrongdoing. But sources say the monitor was hired only after Interstate was hired by Turner for the job.

The mayor said it appears "there is nothing legally that the city can do I think to prevent them from working. Obviously I would prefer if (the Yankees) only dealt with reputable firms that didn't have criminal problems."

Turner says Interstate is not being paid with taxpayer money, only Yankee organization money. Critics point out the team is building on city-owned parkland and was given $250 million in taxpayer dollars to help fund the $1.2 billion dollar project.
"Any project that has public dollars supporting it should be done 'high road'," said Bettina Damiani of the group 'Good Jobs New York.' The stadium project "should have best practices and there should be opportunities for transparentness and for more public involvement," she said.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Fewer Fans, More Parking at New Yankee Park

Click the title above to read the excellent coverage by The Real Estate of the Yankee Stadium parking controversy.

We would like to point out that according to the the Yankee Stadium Environmental Impact Statement the garages surrounding the stadium were never filled to capacity, even during the playoffs. Now, with a stadium that seats fewer fans there is even less of a need to build these parking facilities.

This is from the post at The Real Estate:

"So why are the Yankees and the city--which included the new garages in the agreement for the new stadium--insisting on new garages, especially when the city will have to temporarily occupy current parkland in order to do so?

"Convenience. The new garages will be right across the street from the new ballpark, while the old ones are farther away. It's apparently worth $25 for the ticket-holder, and $22 million for the city, to not have to walk three or four blocks after a game."

That's right, folks! Your tax dollars at work!

"Mike: Pinch-hit for 'Mob'" New York Post 4/6/7


April 6, 2007 -- An allegedly mobbed-up contractor linked to indicted former Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik probably shouldn't be working on the new Yankee Stadium project, Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday.

"Obviously, I would prefer if they only dealt with reputable firms that didn't have criminal problems," Bloomberg said.

While the Yankees are paying $800,000 for the $1.2 billion stadium, it's going up on city parkland, and the city and state governments are building some of the ball yard's infrastructure.

"Whether we have any say or not, I don't know," the mayor said, "but clearly this is not a firm that the city would contract with."
The company, Interstate Industrial, of Clifton, N.J., was hired by the project's general contractor, Turner Construction, to carry out excavation and foundation work.

Turner, in a statement, cited its "positive experiences" with Interstate and the firm's "good performance on large public- and private-sector work in the tristate area."

"City throws S. Bronx curveball on parking" Daily News 4/6/7

City throws S. Bronx curveball on parking
Nabe vies with Yankee fans for spots

Friday, April 6th 2007, 4:00 AM

Jacob Bellve sat on the stoop of his brownstone on Walton Ave. in the South Bronx and glared at the stream of Yankees fans moving slowly down the block inside their cars.

Four hours before the start of last night's contest with the Devil Rays, the bitter pregame ritual was already on - furious street skirmishes between local residents and fans over precious few parking spaces.

"We're fed up with these fans coming in our neighborhood and taking all the spots," Bellve said. "A man comes home from work, then he has to sit in his car double-parked or he has to drive around the neighborhood till 10 p.m. when the game ends. Nobody listens to our complaints."

Hours earlier in a meeting in downtown Manhattan, City Hall officials were claiming they understood.

At a meeting of the city Industrial Development Agency, officials unveiled a financing plan for several thousand more parking spaces that will be built around the new Yankee Stadium, which is under construction.

The new garages alone will cost an astonishing $280 million. About a third of that - $91 million - is to come from the state and the city. That's part of $400 million in subsidies the city already gave to George Steinbrenner's stadium project last year.
But now we learn of yet another public subsidy: $190 million in additional tax-exempt bonds for the garages. Just by approving the tax-exempt financing, city and state officials are giving up as much as $4 million in taxes, says the watchdog group Good Jobs New York.

Even worse, the city currently gets $3 million annually as a share of parking revenues at the stadium. Under the proposed plan, the city no longer gets a share of those revenues.

Instead, the city will charge the group chosen to build the garages, an upstate organization called the Bronx Community Initiatives Development Corp., an annual rent as well as payments in lieu of taxes.

Officials at the city Economic Development Corp. claim the plan will make more money for the city than the current deal, but have yet to release details.

Several civic groups that oppose the plan say creating more parking spaces will only bring more people with cars into the South Bronx, which already has an epidemic of asthma.

"Why are we putting so much emphasis in creating a better environment for drivers," said Bettina Damiani of Good Jobs New York. "What about the social and health impacts on the community?"

Bellve, who has lived with the same game-day parking frustrations for more than 40 years on Walton Ave., knows one thing for sure - he won't be using those new Yankees garages.

"Who can afford to pay $20 or $25 to park for a few hours?" he said.

And there will be plenty of Yankees fans who will try to save money and park on the streets around the Stadium, fighting with Bellve for the same spots.

At least until cops enforce the law evenhandedly.

The fact is, game nights in the South Bronx transform the streets around the stadium in a huge illegal parking operation - and too often those illegally parked cars have police or other official decals displayed on their dashboards.

"This week, one of those fans parked right up on the sidewalk and he never got a ticket throughout the whole game," Bellve said. "But if one of us who lives here double parks for five minutes outside his house, we get a ticket right away. Now that ain't right, and everybody knows it."

Thursday, April 05, 2007

"Yankees Using Firm With Alleged Mob Ties To Help Build New Stadium" WNBC 4/5/7

Yankees Using Firm With Alleged Mob Ties To Help Build New Stadium

POSTED: 10:51 pm EDT April 4, 2007
UPDATED: 2:05 am EDT April 5, 2007

NEW YORK -- A construction firm accused of having mob ties is helping build the new Yankee Stadium, officials said.

And its owners are under indictment in the Bronx in connection with former New York City police Commissioner Bernard Kerik's legal issues.

Interstate Industrial's owners Frank and Peter DiTommaso -- accused of having ties to the mafia -- were indicted in July on perjury charges.

The brothers are accused of lying to a Bronx grand jury about $165,000 in free construction work given to Bernard Kerik, Rudy Giuliani's former correction and police commissioner.

In an interview Wednesday, the company's owners insisted they will be cleared of criminal wrongdoing, and that their company, Interstate Industrial, is not linked to the Gambino Crime Family.

But investigators said they had banned Interstate from public contracts in New York City and Atlantic City.

The question at hand: Why is the New York Yankees organization using Interstate to help build the team's new $1.2 billion stadium?

From their offices in Clifton, the DiTommaso brothers noted while inspecting the new Yankee Stadium blueprints that they are innocent and that their firm was chosen because it is best for the job.

After an NewsChannel4 inquiry to city hall and to investigators, officials seemed surprised and we are told city officials began voicing strong objections directly to the Yankees about their choice of contractors.

A spokesman for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg pointed out that Interstate Industrial cannot do business with the city.

"Although because of their history, Interstate would not qualify for a city contract due to procurement regulations, there is nothing to prevent a private company from using them as a subcontractor," said a spokesman for Bloomberg.

The Yankees, a private organization, declined to comment, referring our inquiries instead to Turner Construction, the lead construction firm that hired Interstate to do the excavation and foundation work.

Turner said the DiTommasos submitted a qualified bid and have done good work on many other projects in the tri-state area, including the Goldman Sachs building in New Jersey and terminals at Kennedy Airport among others.

The DiTommasos said they and their firm have been unfairly smeared.

While charged with perjury the DiTomassos have never been criminally charged in connection with the mafia.

But investigators point to the co-operation of five mafia turncoats including Dominick "Big Dom" Borghese, Anthony Capo, Frank "Frankie Frap" Frappiano, Anthony Rotundo and Michael "Mickey Scars" DiLeonardo - all who make allegations against the DiTommasos.

In sworn testimony during the trial of Peter Gotti, DiLeonardo said the DiTommasos agreed to pay $100,000 to the Gambino crime family.

New Jersey's attorney general said that for years now he has tried to ban Interstate from doing work with Atlantic City casinos but in 2004, after a lengthy hearing, the casino commission ruled in the DiTomassos favor, saying the brothers "have demonstrated their good character, honesty and integrity."

But after their perjury indictment and the testimony from the Gotti trial, Interstate has been temporarily prohibited from doing casino work.

Peter Harvey is New Jersey's former state attorney general who tried to ban the group from doing work in Atlantic City.

While taxpayers have given $250 million to the overall $1.2 billion stadium project, Turner Construction said Interstate is being paid only with the Yankees' private money.

But Harvey notes that there are other capable construction companies who could have taken on the job.

The DiTommasos said they will continue their work on the stadium and other projects as they try to clear their name.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

"Yanks’ garages in park" Metro NY 4/4/7

Yanks’ garages in park

by patrick arden / metro new york
APR 4, 2007

MANHATTAN. While the Yankees dashed into Macombs Dam Park last August to break ground on a new stadium ahead of a community group’s lawsuit, the team’s plan for four large parking garages has lagged far behind schedule.

An initial request for proposals was pulled in 2005, and when the RFP resurfaced last June its deadline had to be extended. Few believed a private developer could actually make money from a project that would require a $250 million investment and be fully used for just 80 games a year. Now the city has turned to a not-for-profit to complete the deal, minus one garage.

Community Initiatives Development Corp. is a not-for-profit formed in 1992 to help private firms and local governments secure tax-exempt financing. For the Yankees’ garages, CIDC set up a local entity in February to act as the tax-exempt borrower for the city, which could have been liable for the full tab.

“We’re the 501(c)(3) corporation, which is the pass-through to give the parking garages tax-exempt financing,” explained CIDC senior vice president Joseph Seymour, the former executive director of the Port Authority. “Instead of the city taking on the debt, and having that put under consolidated debt, it goes through Community Initiatives Development Corp.”

He said a private garage operator and developer have already been enlisted for the project, though Janel Patterson, a spokeswoman for the city’s Industrial Development Agency, said details were still being negotiated. An executive for Central Parking, the current operator of the Yankees’ garages, told Metro the company would be retained to run both the new and restored garages.

“We’re only providing the tax-exempt status,” said Seymour. “We get a fee, which hasn’t been negotiated yet. We don’t get the revenue — there’s a trustee that gets the revenue and disburses it to the bondholders and pays off the development.”

Currently the city collects 80 percent of the revenue from the Yankees’ parking facilities. Last year that equaled $4 million, according to Parks Dept. spokesman Warner Johnston.

The three new garages — plus the renovation of existing parking facilities — will cost $281 million, which includes $21 million for replacement parkland on top of one garage. The state is kicking in $70 million. Within three years, the project is expected to create 20 full-time and 70 part-time jobs.

Dan Steinberg of Good Jobs New York, is raising his initial estimate of public subsidies going to the project, which he had pegged above $400 million. He thinks the garage money would be better spent on the planned Metro-North station, considering the garages were vehemently opposed in the neighborhood, which suffers from a high asthma rate.

“Unfortunately the Yankees’ wish list seems to count more than the public interest,” Steinberg said.

Bond hearing

Tomorrow morning, the city’s Industrial Development Agency will hold a public hearing on issuing $190 million in triple tax-exempt bonds to the not-for-profit Bronx Community Initiatives Development Company.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Surprise! More subsidies!

The Real Estate has some information on the parking garages for you. Click the title above.

In a nutshell, the New York City Industrial Development Agency (IDA) is proposing to offer additional subsidies for the construction of the three new garages and the renovation of existing garages and surface lots in the area. The IDA is proposing to offer the garage developers $190 million in triple tax-exempt bonds to finance the development of the parking facilities, which the city estimates will mean over $2 million in forgone city income taxes (not to mention millions more on the state and federal level). In addition, the city will no longer collect a percentage of the revenues earned at the garages.

Scammy! And who will use these garages? The vast majority will be suburbanites who do not pay city taxes. So WE are building THEM the garages.

"Bronx School: Stadium Construction Causing Major Traffic Problems" NY1 4/3/7

Bronx School: Stadium Construction Causing Major Traffic Problems

April 03, 2007

Construction of the new Yankee Stadium has fans excited about the future, but officials at a nearby school say the work caused big problems for teachers and students on Opening Day, and they're concerned about what the rest of the season might bring. NY1’s Lindley Pless filed the following report.

“There's a new stadium being built. There's a little bit of constriction as far as getting in as a result of that,” said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. “We added some additional traffic enforcement agents to facilitate the flow of traffic. Other than that, it's the same way we've handled Opening Day the last five years.”

The principal at All Hallows high school on 164th Street in Highbridge says that is not the case. He says this year’s Opening Day caused headaches for him and other teachers.

“It was a major inconvenience,” said principal Sean Sullivan. “I’ve been here for 30 plus years; that’s 30 opening days. And we’ve never had a situation like we had this morning.

School officials say when police put blockades at the intersection of 164th Street and Grand Concourse, teachers and students couldn't get to the school or the parking lot behind it.

“It was not a matter of just losing the seven parking spaces that we have in front of school,” said the school’s president Paul Krebbs. “We also were not going to have access to get anybody, by any stretch of the imagination, into our driveway.”

Krebbs says he hopes construction on the new stadium, and other home games this season don't mean they'll face the same mayhem in the future.

“We know that many of the businesses here depend on the Yankees,” he said. “But we also know that the 600 kids here are deserving of a good education, and we should be able to do that without interruption.”

All Hallows isn't the only place where people are complaining. Anthony Rice says he feels the new stadium isn't doing anything good for those living in the area.

“I really don't know anyone that lives in this area that wanted the stadium over there,” said Rice.

As far as Rice is concerned, the Bronx was doing just fine before the Yankees started building the new stadium. He says it has really been an inconvenience for those living in the area.

“It's not a good thing for the neighborhood. The aesthetic value, I feel, has gone downhill. I feel it is going to present a lot of traffic, pollution,” said Rice. “People say that it is going to produce a lot of jobs, but I see most of them being seasonal. I’ve been in the Bronx for about fifteen years, and I don’t know anyone that works out at the stadium.”

- Lindley Pless

"With Yanks in the Bronx, home teams hit the road" Metro NY 4/3/7

With Yanks in the Bronx, home teams hit the road

by patrick arden / metro new york
APR 3, 2007

SOUTH BRONX. Hideki Matsui went down swinging to end the fifth inning of the Yankees’ opener yesterday against the Devil Rays. Four blocks away Brother Jim Hamilton was plotting strategy on his cell phone, herding junior varsity baseball players onto a bus parked in front of All Hallows High School.

All Hallows occupies a four-story brown brick building at Walton Avenue and 164th Street, near Grand Concourse. A banner in front proclaims it “One of the Top Fifty Catholic High Schools in the U.S.” The 590-student school had always used the track and athletic fields at Macombs Dam Park, before the Yankees began to build a new stadium there. Now it has to drive teams 20 minutes or more to play “home” games at another city park.

“With the new stadium going up, we lost our fields — they’re gone — and we’re still waiting for the fields that were supposed to be in place before the stadium broke ground,” said Hamilton.

He couldn’t say how many of the neighborhood’s 18 other schools also relied on the park, but he had noticed “lots of schools” still use the two remaining public fields next to the stadium. Those baseball fields — as well as the adjacent basketball and handball courts — will soon be gone to make way for an underground parking garage.

On Opening Day, Hamilton looked on the bright side: “We wouldn’t have been able to practice today anyhow, because the baseball field was always turned into a parking lot for the big games.”

All Hallows Principal Sean Sullivan said his day “began with an argument,” when police blocked off 164th to traffic and wouldn’t allow faculty in. The school has “zero” relationship with the Yankees, Sullivan said, and the Parks Dept. hasn’t been helpful in locating new athletic fields. The current strategy of putting the soccer, track and baseball teams on buses and “searching for a field” has become too expensive.

“We’re a small little school — there’s not too much money around here — and we have to pour money into the buses every time we take the teams out,” he said. “We’re a bunch of gypsies running around the city looking for a field.”

Parks Dept. spokesman Warner Johnston explained an interim track and field have been delayed by weather — the final layer of the track’s artificial surface can be applied only when temperatures climb above 55 degrees for a full week. “We are aiming to have it open by the end of the month,” he said.

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” scoffed Sullivan.

Field day

All Hallows High School Principal Sean Sullivan brought members of the track team to a city ceremony in December to mark the groundbreaking for an interim track and athletic field on 161st Street. The students complained to Metro about the unorthodox configuration of the track. “You’d have to have a great imagination to put a track in there,” Sullivan said. But the facility will still bring relief to the school’s teams.

"Ms. Hogi goes to Washington" Metro NY 3/29/7

Ms. Hogi goes to Washington
Veteran from Bronx ballpark battle to testify to Congress

by patrick arden / metro new york
MAR 29, 2007

BRONX. Grand Concourse resident Joyce Hogi was at the forefront of the fight to stop the Yankees from building a new stadium on 22 acres of parkland. Today she’ll testify about her neighborhood’s struggle in Washington, D.C., at a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee hearing on taxpayer-financed stadiums, overseen by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio.

“I’m going to stress the role of the feds in allowing this to happen,” said Hogi.

She was referring to the the IRS decision to grant a special dispensation for the team to use tax-exempt financing to build the stadium, as well as to the National Park Service’s pre-approval of the city’s park replacement plan.

As reported exclusively by Metro last August, the National Park Service had played a crucial role in helping to convert the federally funded parkland for private use, meeting with the city and the team before the stadium was announced and becoming an active partner in pushing the plan forward before seeing any environmental reviews or land appraisals. Even as NPS officials insisted they were waiting to rule on final documentation under the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act, e-mails obtained by Metro showed they had already been coaching the city, state and Yankees for 14 months prior to the ballpark’s groundbreaking. The Park Service decided to rely on the city’s environmental impact statement instead of preparing its own assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act. When the community later sued in federal court, lawyer Antonia Bryson claimed the Park Service failed to act according to the law because it had colluded in the parkland conversion. Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald refused to hear the argument.

While the stadium is now going up, Hogi’s neighbors are still waiting for replacement park facilities. She went to a scoping meeting last week for a planned playground on parking lots at 157th Street and River Avenue.

“The borough president [Adolfo Carrion] had a lot of representation there,” she said. “We came up with ideas, and we’ll see a design in about three months. The one problem we recognized right away is that the trains are so noisy — it’s going to be an awful place for anyone to play.”

Monday, April 02, 2007

Finally, some reporting from The New York Times

This piece of information was quietly left out of reports of a new Yankee Stadium, but now it's too late to do any good, it is safe for The Times to come out with the truth:

"The future for many shop owners on River Avenue is uncertain, with the new Yankee Stadium to open for the 2009 season. The new stadium, to be built next door, is expected to have a bolstered commercial space inside.

"Many business owners fear that that commercial space will greatly hurt their ability to attract customers and that this season may be one of their last good ones.

"The subway riders they have snagged for decades walking past the shops to the stadium will soon be dropped off right at the new stadium. And there will be bigger souvenir shops and places to eat inside."

Click the title above to read the entire article ("Pre-Opening Day Jitters for Establishments That Live in Yankee Stadium’s Shadow" NY Times, 4/2/7).