Sunday, July 20, 2008

"Rip-Off In The Bronx" WNBC 7/10/8

Rip-Off In The Bronx
By Gabe Pressman, Senior Correspondent

POSTED: 12:12 pm EDT July 10, 2008
UPDATED: 12:51 pm EDT July 10, 2008

NEW YORK -- If the people who live near Yankee Stadium believed what they were told about new parkland being built, they were deluded. That promise was a scam in a city with a rich history of scams.

This one is particularly atrocious because it hurts a neighborhood that can ill afford to lose any recreational facilities.

The Yankees made a deal with the city back in 2006 to take 25 acres of parkland to build their new stadium. The Bloomberg administration, then Gov. George Pataki and the New York Yankees promised that not only would the parkland be replaced. More land for parks would be provided. That turns out to be a false promise.

The group known as NYC Park Advocates has put out a report showing that only 21.78 acres of park land are being replaced -- meaning that the community is actually losing about four acres. The Yankees are the richest team in baseball and the Bronx neighborhood where it’s located is one of the poorest in the country.

The city and the Yankees seem to be playing a three-card monte game with the people affected.

The people have lost much of Macombs Dam and John Mullaly parks. Hundreds of trees, many at least 80 years old, have been cut down to make way for the new stadium.

That’s hardly a good thing for a community with a high asthma rate. On top of that, replacement facilities are being built over smaller plots of land and on the roof of a parking garage.

That doesn’t sound like anyone is truly interested in giving the folks in this neighborhood anything like what they lost.

City Hall says that construction costs have risen astronomically, from the $95.5 million estimated in 2006 to the current price tag, $174 million. The Yankees are also paying about 60 percent more to build the new stadium but they are getting help from taxpayer subsidies.

It’s been estimated that it will take two years to complete the so-called replacement parks. Don’t bet on it. Nor should anyone be convinced that the new parks are really new parkland. Some of it may have been listed as mapped parkland in years past.
There’s a park near the stadium named after Joyce Kilmer. He wrote the poem that begins: ‘’I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree….’’

Now they’ve torn the trees down nearby---and done it in the name of progress. As a kid I played in Macombs Dam Park. It was an oasis for young people in the neighborhood then ---and in the decades since.

Today, the kids and the neighborhood people who use the parks for recreation seem to be ignored as the city moves ahead with its grandiose plans to help the Yankees---no matter whom it hurts.


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