Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"Yankee Stadium garage vote off amid document debate" Daily News 9/12/7

Yankee Stadium garage vote off amid document debate
Wednesday, September 12th 2007, 4:00 AM

A vote to approve a controversial $225 million taxpayer subsidy on parking garages for the new Yankee Stadium was suddenly parked yesterday.

The city's Industrial Development Agency postponed the vote after Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion's office complained the agency was withholding critical information on the project - which would leave taxpayers holding the bag if the project failed to generate enough income to repay the triple tax-exempt bonds.

Carrion's office - which has an appointee on the IDA panel - complained at a public hearing last week that despite repeated requests, it had "not received vital information regarding the details of the Bronx Parking Development Co. financing."

Specifically, it was denied a copy of the draft lease agreement, a copy of the feasibility study, and an explanation of why the deal ballooned from $190 million to $225 million.

Other concerned government agencies also have seen requests for the documents ignored by the IDA, according to sources.
A spokesman for the city Economic Development Corp., which oversees the IDA, said the requested documents are simply not finished yet and downplayed the delay of the vote.

"We hope to hold a vote within a month," said EDC spokeswoman Yonit Gooub, "and we'll be announcing the meeting as soon as it's scheduled."

The $225 million in city-guaranteed bonds would benefit the Bronx Parking Development Co., a shell corporation set up by an upstate not-for-profit company called Community Initiatives Development Corp. specifically to receive the city taxpayer subsidy.

It would pay off the bonds using income from the garages it plans to develop and run. The garages, some built on former city parkland, will be open for only about 80 games a year.

If revenue is below expectations, Bronx Parking Development Co. could walk away at any time, leaving the city stuck with $225 million in debt and thousands of parking spaces critics say the neighborhood doesn't need.

The new stadium will have about 5,000 fewer seats than the current one, but Bronx Parking Development Co plans to create 2,500 additional parking spaces.

With a new MetroNorth station in the works and traffic already snarling the asthma-choked neighborhood, taxpayer advocates question why the city is subsidizing the parking garages at all for the richest franchise in sports.

"This is not a project for taxpayer dollars," said Bettina Damiani of Good Jobs New York, a group harshly critical of the stadium deal's lack of readily available information.


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