Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"New Yankee stadium gobbles up last bit of parkland" Daily News 11/13/7

New Yankee stadium gobbles up last bit of parkland

Tuesday, November 13th 2007, 4:00 AM

Going from Park to parking, the last patch of parkland to be taken for the new Yankee Stadium project was fenced off last week, so construction of a parking garage could begin.

That part of Macombs Dam Park - bounded by the Macombs Dam Bridge approach to the north, Ruppert Place to the east and 157th St. and the Major Deegan Expressway to the west - will be the site of Garage A.

When completed, the two-story garage also will have a rooftop park with regulation soccer/football field, a 400-meter running track, 10 handball courts, four basketball courts, children's play equipment and a comfort station.

The rooftop park is one of several being built in the neighborhood - though some are far away from - in order to replace more than 25 acres of parkland being used for the stadium project.

Under Parks Department regulations, whenever parkland is given up for development, the city is required to replace each acre with comparable facilities in the same neighborhood.

But parks advocates and local opponents of the stadium project suspect the city is shortchanging the area.

When the Yankees dug up John Mullaly and Macombs Dam parks, the neighborhood lost 25 acres of open green space and 400 mature oak trees, while the "replacement parks" are largely artificial turf rooftop fields and concrete esplanades.

Ruppert Plaza, for example, is a paved pedestrian walkway next to the existing stadium that will be counted, largely unchanged, as park acreage in the replacement plan.

Joshua Laird, the Parks Department's assistant commissioner for planning and natural resources, said the function of the plaza will change once replacement parks are finished.

"In its current form, it's just a way for people to circulate around the stadium," he said. "But when the work is complete, it will be the link between Heritage Field and the park on top of Garage A."

Heritage Field, current site of the House that Ruth Built, will become the core of the new community park, with three ball fields.

But even by the Parks Department's own numbers, the replacement package is a bit light.

While 25.31 acres were taken for the project, the replacement plan gives back only 24.15 acres.


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