Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"Locals unsold on park; Bloomberg’s first ‘redevelopment park’ far from Yankee Stadium" Metro 4/21/8

Locals unsold on park
Bloomberg’s first ‘redevelopment park’ far from Yankee Stadium
by patrick arden / metro new york

APR 21, 2008
MELROSE. On Friday, the Bloomberg administration opened a new artificial-turf ballfield on an old schoolyard here and billed it as “the first Yankee redevelopment park.”

The city had promised to create replacement parks in the South Bronx to make up for the 25 acres of parkland lost to the new Yankee Stadium project.

But the replacement scheme has yet to show an actual gain of open space. A hodgepodge of parcels, the plan relies on 12.5 acres that were already mapped as parkland or were asphalt playgrounds like the lot here at P.S. 29, which was built 45 years ago.

The city spent $2.4 million to put down the fake turf in this schoolyard and to build bleachers, dugouts and a handball court. But the new park is one mile away from the parks that were taken away — it’s in an entirely different neighborhood, overseen by a different community board.

Joyce Hogi walked 15 blocks to attend Friday’s ceremony. “They were long blocks, too,” she said. Last year Hogi testified before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee about the community’s opposition to the Yankees’ stadium project.
“If they had asked us where we wanted replacement parks, guaranteed no one would have said, let’s come all the way over here,” Hogi said.

Artificial turf under fire in other states

The new artificial turf field at P.S. 29 was unveiled just as the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced it’s looking into the possible health hazards of artificial turf.

Last week, two artificial turf fields were closed by New Jersey health officials after detecting high levels of lead. Lead can cause brain damage and other illnesses.

While the concerns arose from surface coloring and airborne dust, many turf fields use crumbled tire rubber, which has also been found to contain lead.

The city’s Health Department is currently compiling its own report.

“There’s no doubt in my mind it’s safe,” said Parks Department Commissioner Adrian Benepe.

The city is spending $190 million on the new replacement park facilities, upgrading existing spaces and cleaning up some land by the Harlem River.


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