Friday, August 15, 2008

"Something seems fishy at Bronx park" NY Metro 8/15/8

Something seems fishy at Bronx park
by patrick arden / metro new york

AUG 15, 2008
Why does the city want to elevate a new riverfront park by five feet?

That was the question this month at a public meeting on replacing parkland lost to the new Yankee Stadium. By raising this parcel, the city replied, people would be able to see over an elevated freight track.

To the crowd in the South Bronx, that explanation sounded like spin. After some had complained about getting a park next to the elevated track, the stadium’s 2006 environmental review simply responded the “rail line is not elevated.”

The land had always been the most peculiar piece of the city’s park replacement scheme. Located next to the Deegan Expressway, it was a mile away from the parkland it’s replacing.

Anger greeted last month’s news that cleaning up this site would cost taxpayers $56 million, three times the previous estimate. When questioned, the city claimed it had no idea the land was so polluted, though contamination had been found there in a stadium project review two years ago.

Capping polluted sites is so prevalent the practice has been derided as “pave and wave.” But why raise the land by five feet exactly?

The parcel was originally part of the Gateway Mall project being built by powerhouse developer the Related Cos. A slice later got pawned off on the city in former Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff’s failed bid for the Olympics. A 2005 City Planning document for the mall noted the site would have to be “elevated approximately five feet due to the flood plain requirements in this area.”


Before the flood

The flood plain was also mentioned in a 2006 appraisal, which remarkably overlooked the pollution. Land appraisals for the new Yankee Stadium project are now the focus of a Congressional inquiry.


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