"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.”