Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"Yankees Si, Highbridge No"

In what amounts to little surprise to us, the NY Times reported over the weekend that the plan to replace the community parks demolished to make way for the new Yankee Stadium, was way behind schedule-and way over budget as well: "The cost of replacing two popular parks where the new Yankee Stadium is being built has nearly doubled. At the same time, several of the eight new parks, which were supposed to be completed before the new stadium opens next spring, have been delayed by as much as two years, according to city documents."

This is, of course, an outrage-one that adds insult to injury while compounding them both. Mullaly Park was a grand refuge, but no more. And the so-called compensation for the damage is laughable: "None of the replacement parks have been completed, and construction on several has not yet started; however, the parks department has built a temporary replacement park on a parking lot in the area, opened a ball field this spring at a school almost a mile to the east, and is building a sports field at a recreation center about a mile to the north."

Here's what the law says about compensation: "State and federal law dictated that a similar amount of parkland nearby of equal or greater fair market value be built to replace the parks that would be lost." If so, what the city and the Yankees have done here makes a mockery of this: "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"

This park replacement charade could not have been done anywhere else but in the Bronx, where a faux CBA negotiated by BP Carrion has yet to bear any fruit after misfeasance by the crack committee set up to manage it: "Under a community benefits program agreement between the Yankees and Bronx elected officials, intended to help mitigate the effects of the stadium construction, Bronx charities were to receive $800,000 annually once construction started. But only $11,500 of that money has been distributed so far, according to the group that administers the fund."

And now the delays are accompanied by cost over-runs that will really sock it to-not the Yankees-but New York's tax payers: "In March, Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner, told the City Council parks committee that the figure had climbed to $190 million. Last week, Jama Adams, a department spokeswoman, put the cost estimate for the replacement parks at $174 million — about $16 million less than Mr. Benepe’s figure — but said that it might continue to grow. She said Mr. Benepe had spoken “off the top of his head.”

The estimated cost of the replacement parks now almost matches the amount the parks department has spent building and refurbishing parks and recreation centers throughout the Bronx over the past six years. Since 2002, the agency has spent $178 million on parks and recreation centers in the borough, according to department figures."

This affront to the public good was led by Adolfo Carrion, who now wants the people of New York to support his bid to be come comptroller, the person in charge of all of the city's money. Some chutzpah, heh? We'll give the advocates the last word-and a Bronx cheer for all of this mischief: "“The real emphasis was on building a stadium for the Yankees, and the community and the parks were an inconvenient afterthought,” said Christian DiPalermo, executive director of New Yorkers for Parks, an advocacy group. “The Yankees couldn’t miss a season, but it was O.K. for the community to miss five years of parkland and be shut out of a community benefits agreement.”