Friday, July 31, 2009

"NY judge rejects Yankee Stadium funding subpoena" Newsday 7/30/9

NY judge rejects Yankee Stadium funding subpoena
July 30, 2009 By The Associated Press MICHAEL VIRTANEN (Associated Press Writer)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A judge has quashed a subpoena from lawmakers literally seeking a truckload of documents from the New York Yankees about construction and financing of the team's new Bronx stadium.

State Supreme Court Justice John Egan Jr. said the Yankees already have made a good faith effort to comply with the January subpoena from two Assembly committees, a request he ruled Thursday was unreasonably broad.

Democratic Assemblymen Richard Brodsky of Westchester and James Brennan of Brooklyn sued to have the court further enforce their legislative subpoena. They said questions remain about the return to taxpayers for public financing of the team's stadium project.

Brodsky wouldn't immediately say Thursday if he will appeal the ruling or revise his subpoena. "We remain committed to the conclusion of our investigation," he said.

Yankees' attorneys Jonathan Schiller and George Carpinello noted the judge's warning that subpoena power should not be used for harassment or as a fishing expedition. In a joint statement, they said millions of fans already have enjoyed the new stadium and the season is in full swing.

"It is time to move on," the statement said.

The Yankees had argued that meeting the subpoena's demands would be an unreasonable task involving millions of documents and e-mails. They said the roughly $1.5 billion stadium project has been fully vetted in 23 public hearings before various government agencies. Yankees executives appeared at Assembly committee hearings earlier this year.

Egan noted the growing national trend of using public money to help build sports stadiums for privately owned teams. He said the Yankees didn't invent the practice, and instead only joined a long line of teams to apply for publicly backed stadium financing.

"The propriety of using tax dollars for such purposes or granting 'tax breaks' is certainly debatable, and Mr. Brodsky is right to bring this issue to the floor of the Legislature for public debate," Egan wrote. But he said requiring the team to produce "hundreds of thousands of pages, load them literally into a tractor-trailer and deliver them to the Legislature is neither reasonable nor productive of this goal."

The New York City Economic Development Corp. has said the stadium cost $1.4 billion, and the agency issued $1.2 billion in mostly tax-exempt bonds. The Yankees write a monthly check to the investors who bought the bonds. They are payments in lieu of taxes.

The agency's analysis shows a $60 million net benefit to taxpayers over the 30-year life of the lease, which considered mortgage and sales tax forgiveness among other public costs. Another document cites the Yankees' projection of 1,000 new permanent jobs.

By Brodsky's accounting, the funding package is worth $4 billion to the Yankees, including the face value of the bonds, the interest offset by their in-lieu-of-tax payments, direct cash payments and mortgage and sales tax relief. Brodsky said Yankees' documents show a net increase of only 50 permanent jobs.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

"Replacement of parks in (slow) motion" NY Daily News 7/1/9

Replacement of parks in (slow) motion

Wednesday, July 1st 2009, 10:44 AM
Locals still waiting for the replacement parks promised when construction of the new Yankee Stadium destroyed the old ones got a dog-and-pony show last week, but not a lot of good news.

While the new Stadium was completed on schedule, locals are still waiting for completion of all the promised replacement parkland.

"The period keeps getting dragged out," certified city planner and stadium critic Lukas Herbert told city officials at a community briefing meeting on Wednesday.

"In the meantime, kids have no place to play."

Bronx Parks Commissioner Hector Aponte said the city was doing everything it could to complete the parks as soon as possible.

Aponte estimated the parks would be completed by either the fall or end of 2010.

He and officials from the city Economic Development Corp. presented slides showing what the finished green spaces would look like.

The New Macombs Dam Park, being built on the roof of a parking garage, is now partially open. A synthetic turf field has been laid down, along with a synthetic running track.

Aponte said the department hoped to have the planned tennis courts and permanent running track completed later this year.
The community has been eagerly awaiting the approximately 22 acres of new parks for the last three years.

In the city's original plans, most of the replacement parks were scheduled to be open by now. But construction has gone through several delays and none of the parks - most being built on the roofs of stadium parking garages - have been completed.

All the seats in the old Yankee Stadium have now been removed, and are being sold by the Yankees, Aponte said, while demolition is scheduled to begin soon on the side of the stadium running along 157th St.

The design for Heritage Field, to be built once the old stadium is plowed under, is now 50% completed.

To better feature the stadium's history, two pieces of the frieze - the decorative wooden grating that rings the House that Ruth Built - will be incorporated as a part of the future field's Little League ballfield.