Friday, August 12, 2005

Bronx Community Board 4 Piqued

As part of the ULURP process, Bronx Community Board 4 is charged with reviewing both the Terminal Market redevelopment as well as the plans for a new Yankee Stadium.
After attending an emergency session of the board’s Land Use/Housing committee we learned one thing: they are very, very upset.

Their first major concern is the way that the development process is moving forward. Committee chairwoman Mary Blassingame bluntly remarked that the Related Companies and the City were purposely circumventing the community by certifying the Gateway project certified in July. As a wan representative from the Department of City planning looked on, Ms. Blassingame and a number of people present pointed out the inherent injustice in trying to review in only a few weeks a project whose EIS is hundreds of pages long. Each respondent remarked that this time frame wasn’t an accident but the City's and the Related Companies’ way of skirting public review. A similar sentiment was echoed with the Yankee Stadium proposal due to the fact that the scoping hearing was so poorly advertised that even local elected officials and community board members did not even know it was taking place.

The lack of a true public process was not the only concern expressed at the meeting. Board members and community residents also had a number of specific issues with each project. There was a tremendous worry about the traffic impact of these two projects especially because each encouraged a drastic increase in the number of cars coming into the neighborhood. Considering that the South Bronx is known as “Asthma Alley” community members questioned the affect of this increased congestion on already dangerous air quality levels. With both Gateway and Yankee Stadium, people also questioned the developers’ traffic data and called for an independent review that reflected more than a corporation's self interest.

Other issues of concern were the loss of park land to the Yankee stadium project, the displacement of small businesses at the Terminal Market and around the stadium as well as the possibility that residents will be displaced either directly or indirectly through increased rents. All of these concerns have gone unanswered by the developers and for this reason it looks likely that the committee will vote down the Gateway project (which is up for review first) at their full meeting in September.