Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"Bronx Awaits Community Benefits From New Yankee Stadium Construction" NY1 3/26/8

Bronx Awaits Community Benefits From New Yankee Stadium Construction

Bronx locals claim that the Yankees have still not given the borough about $1 million of community benefits in return for building a new Yankee Stadium. NY1’s Bronx reporter Dean Meminger filed the following report.

The Yankees still owe the Bronx about $1 million of community benefits in return for building a new Yankee Stadium, according to outraged attendants of Tuesday night’s Community Board 4 meeting, held in the Murray Cohen Auditorium of the Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center.

"This is important to the community and you allow only three questions from the community, that is not fair," said a local resident.

But residents around the stadium say that even though the new Yankee Stadium is well under construction, the community has yet to see any benefits.

The Yankee Stadium community benefits agreement agreed for the Bronx Bombers to give each year $800,000, as well as $100,000 in sports equipment and 15,000 tickets to games – for the next 40 years.

"The community benefits agreement was carved and said that when the shovel went in the ground, when they took over the park,” said Gregory Bell, an advocate for the disabled. “That is when the $800,000 was supposed to start to flow."

The head of the volunteer advisory panel for the benefits agreement attended Tuesday’s meeting to say the money is on the way.

"During April we will have started that process and organizations will start to see that money," said Serafin Mariel of the benefits advisory panel.

"We know that people wonder if we exist - and if we exist what is our function,” said Michael Drezin of the benefits advisory panel. “So the first thing we want people to do is know that we exist. We hear them and we want to be responsive to them."

Some locals are not satisfied with promises for payment that they consider already delayed.

"Mr. Mariel said what they did is that they shifted it, so you still have the 40 years of benefits but it now starts as of the date of the first check. That holds the community hostage," said Bell.

The building of the new Yankee Stadium already created controversy within Community Board 4. Most of the board members who voted against the new Yankee Stadium plan were eventually removed.

"My fear is that the people in need, the community in need the most - like Highbridge - will not get their fair share,” said resident Mary Blassingame. “Maybe a few political favorites may get all the benefits."

The benefits advisory panel said the money will be spread around the Bronx, but there will be special attention given to Community Boards 1 and 4 – the areas that are most impacted by the construction.

- Dean Meminger


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