Tuesday, September 04, 2007

"Fumble in the Bronx" Metro 9/4/7

Fumble in the Bronx
No payday yet in Yanks’ pact
by patrick arden / metro new york

SEP 4, 2007
BRONX. Bronx politicians liked to tout the community partnership agreement they hatched with the New York Yankees 17 months ago, especially when they had to respond to criticism over the team’s taking of public parkland for a new stadium.

Central to that deal was the promise of an annual $800,000 for Bronx nonprofits over the next 40 years. Critics labeled this a “slush fund,” because the money would be doled out by a new not-for-profit staffed by representatives of Bronx elected officials, and it didn’t have to be spent in the affected community. The funds were to start flowing, the agreement said, “upon the commencement of the construction.”

So imagine the surprise of Geoffrey Croft last week, when he discovered — one full year after the stadium’s groundbreaking — no such not-for-profit has been registered with the state yet, and no funds have been disbursed.

“The parks were taken in eight days without one public hearing,” complained Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates. “The Yankees wasted no time in seizing the public’s land, but they’re in no hurry when it’s time to pay up.”

Croft charged the promised payoff was actually a “pittance,” considering the neighborhood, which is plagued by asthma, lost “70 percent of their trees.”

A spokesperson for Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion responded that the not-for-profit has just been set up and now “this process is moving forward.” He said he was not prepared to name the panel’s members. The agreement is legally binding.

The Yankees did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.

The agreement also stipulated the panel would produce an annual report every April. No report was issued this year.


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