Wednesday, April 11, 2007

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


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