Yankee Stadium and the Replacement Parks – Time and Cost Rise(Recycled Entry)

I’ve wanted to write more about Yankee Stadium (and I will). For the moment, here’s a still-relevant recycled post from May 25th: Time and Cost Rise for Yankee Stadium Parks in the South Bronx.

Excerpt:

The Bronx lost part of John Mullaly Park (18.5 acres) and ALL of Macombs Dam Park(28.4 acres). Yes. ALL. of. this. park. (and part of another) was given away in the Bronx so that the Yankees, a private corporation, could build their new stadium there. It tells you something about the climate in our city under CEO Mayor Bloomberg that this idea was initiated – and achieved.

As the [New York Times] article notes, “The stadium is being financed by the Yankees with city subsidies, while the eight new parks for the South Bronx, which range in size from .24 acre to 8.9 acres, are being paid for by the city.” (We give away 2 parks to a private corporation and the City pays to rebuild them.) The cost is now projected to be $174 million; the original estimate was $95.5 million.

[Timothy] Williams writes: “Some residents have been critical of the trade-off. While Macombs Dam and Mullaly Parks were almost contiguous stretches of grass and trees amid the concrete topography of the South Bronx, the replacement parks are small parcels scattered around the area. The sites include sports fields atop a planned stadium parking garage and a park along the Harlem River, which is on the opposite side of the Major Deegan Expressway.”

Read the full entry here.

Today’s Daily News on Yankee Stadium “Replacement Parks”: South Bronx Residents cry foul as parks get Yanked

The tragedy that is the destruction of two Bronx parks for Yankee Stadium, a corporate entity, continues to make news.

It’s almost inconceivable to fathom that more than 22 acres of parkland in the Bronx and over 400 trees were destroyed for the Yankees to build a new stadium. When their last stadium was built, the team played at Shea Stadium for two seasons. But such is the political climate we live in today in Mayor Bloomberg’s New York that such a thing was not even considered and corporations were given favor over people as well as nature, our parks and public spaces.

Sports writer Ian Begley writes in today’s New York Daily News article, “South Bronx residents cry foul as parks get Yanked for Stadium construction:”

[Community residents] remember when they could just walk over to Macombs Dam Park and play for as long as they pleased. They were never interrupted in the large expanse across the street from Yankee Stadium, which included tennis courts, soccer and baseball fields and a running track.

But the park closed two years ago when workers broke ground for the new Yankee Stadium. …

“Before, it was good because (Macombs Dam Park) was a big field and there was room for everyone,” Villadares said. “This [replacement area] isn’t as big and it’s usually crowded. It’s not the same as the other park.”

South Bronx residents lost 22 acres of parkland, in Macombs Dam and Mullaly Parks, when new Yankee Stadium construction began two years ago.

In accordance with state and federal law, the Parks Department plans to replace the acreage with new recreational sites in the area. But soaring costs, construction delays and what some have described as questionable planning have caused residents to cry foul, castigating city officials and the Yankees for taking away some of the most popular parkland in the community.

See the full article here.

Yankee Stadium Parks update: Parks Dept is “inexperienced” in building parks on top of parking garages.

The New York City Council Parks & Recreation Committee called the NYC Parks Department forward to ask a few questions yesterday about the delays (2 years) and skyrocketing costs (from budgeted $99.5 million to now $174 million) of replacing parkland in the South Bronx taken away to create the new Yankee Stadium. Remember how NYC government took away 40 acres from 2 parks (destroyed one entirely) in their quest to give the Yankees Corporation whatever they wanted for their expensive, high tech building? The Parks Committee decided it was time to offer some oversight.

Timothy Williams reports in today’s New York Times: “On Tuesday, council members asked Liam Kavanagh, the parks department’s first deputy commissioner, a series of pointed questions, including whether the agency had been dishonest about its original cost estimates.”

Kavanagh was sent forth by Parks Commissioner Benepe to explain the situation. He asserted that “the department’s inexperience with such complex projects was partly to blame.”

City Council Parks & Recreation Committee Chair Helen Foster asked about the largely increased costs, ““Is there a possibility the numbers were watered down or made less to make the package more appealing?” (Was it ever appealing?)

Mr. Kavanagh responded, “I can assure you there was no attempt to underplay the cost of the replacement program.” (Would they admit that?)

Finally, Parks representative Kavanagh explained the real problem was the “unusual locations” chosen for the replacement parks, “including one atop a stadium parking garage.” “It is not something we are fully familiar with,” he commented.

Imagine that they decide to take over some of the parkland at Central Park for, say, a new DisneyLand and, by way of explanation, the Parks Department says, “You know that public space you ran on, where you rode your bike, and walked your dog? We’re going to replace it and it’ll be even better. Trust us. We’ll be cutting down 400 mature trees but … we’ll plant more! And, yes, your new space will be on top of a parking garage blocks away and you’ll have to cross the West Side Highway to get there. But, don’t worry, you’ll adapt.”

That is the equivalent of what happened to the people in the South Bronx who watched their parks destroyed all in the interest of privatization for Mayors Bloomberg & Guiliani‘s “vision” for our city.

In the News… Parks in Bronx…NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe: artificial turf is “safe”

Metro NY reporter Patrick Arden’s consistent reporting on the NYC Parks Department is a welcome presence.

In today’s edition of Metro, Arden reports that there’s some news about the Yankee Stadium “replacement parkland” in the Bronx.

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.

Unfortunately, as Arden reports, the new Park is one mile away from the previous parks (Macombs and Mullaly Parks) and in a another neighborhood.

(Didn’t Mayor Bloomberg announce as part of “PlaNYC 2030” that everyone in New York City should be within ten minutes of a park? … Unless, I gather, they want to build a corporate ballpark there.)

It seems artificial turf is questionable to everyone except for Parks Commissioner Benepe. The Metro article also states:

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.

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To read more, previous entries covered the Yankee Stadium situation in the Bronx (“Play Ball: How New York City Destroyed Two Bronx Parks”) and also the City Council initiative to end use of artificial turf in our city Parks.

Play Ball: How New York City destroyed two Bronx parks


hawk, squirrel & tree-Wash Sq Pk

Baseball season starts today!
(Or, so I’ve been told.)

I thought I’d take a look at Yankee Stadium and what happened there when New York City’s government paved the way (literally) for 400 40 year-old trees to be cut down and sliced away TWO parks in the Bronx to accommodate a private corporation.

At Washington Square Park, what transpired over the last few years is definitely complex. I’ve been busy researching the maneuvers the city employed to get its redesign “plan” approved — via lack of transparency or outright lies. However, the taking of two parks in the Bronx, which has “some of the highest rates of asthma and obesity in the city, yet the lowest ratios of parkland to 1,000 residents,” also strikes me as particularly outrageous. (Gotham Gazette, “Yankee Stadium Parkland Swap,” March 21st, 2006)

It is also yet another lesson in how the Bloomberg administration uses maneuvers, manipulations, lack of community input/awareness, and the New York City Council’s bad decisions, lack of oversight and/or looking the other way to put forth its agenda.

As Anne Schwartz outlined in the Gotham Gazette:

What if the city decided to put a stadium in the middle of your local park?

Don’t worry though. The city would rebuild most of the displaced athletic facilities in several other places.

But instead of being set inside a large, green space surrounded by hundreds of mature trees, the fields would be scattered on separate parcels, including the tops of parking garages. The new recreational spaces would be closer to the highway and train tracks and an additional five-minute to half-hour walk from where people live. Most of the trees would be cut down. The new stadium would go smack in the middle of the community’s current park, next to a residential area.

Seems hard to even imagine, doesn’t it? Yet it all happened to accommodate the Yankee’s “vision” for their new stadium.

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe stated proudly before the City Council that he had 8000 trees lined up for planting in the Bronx to “mitigate” the loss of the 400 mature trees destroyed to build Yankee Stadium.

Mayor Bloomberg’s “Million Trees” initiative is “greenwashing” at its most manipulative. A true tree boosting initiative would work to save existing trees, not just haphazardly plant new ones.

And where do the wildlife live once their territory is destroyed? Wouldn’t a true “Parks” Department be advocating for wildlife, trees and open space? Shouldn’t paving over a city park and cutting down mature trees be the very very VERY last resort or – I’d argue – something we don’t even contemplate? This should be territory non grata for a private corporation.

I understand the Yankees opening game today (their last at the old Stadium) is delayed because of rain.

Update : Yankees Opening Day game postponed until tomorrow.