Monday, November 28, 2005

Unaccountable Development

While we're on the subject of accountable development it is useful to contrast the Atlantic Yards project with what's going on in the Bronx. Unlike FCRC's effort the two Bronx developments that are now going through ULURP – Gateway Mall and the Yankee Stadium redevelopment – are moving forward with scant regard for any community concern.

In particular, while Bruce Ratner is being accused of purchasing community support, Related and the Yankees are shopping in an alternative venue: politicians. The community has simply been seen as an afterthought and it has been left to the BP and various councilmembers to "engage" the impacted neighborhoods.

All of this is underscored by the uproar that has been created by the plan to alienate Mullaly and McCombs Dam parks. At the meeting of Community Board #4 (which voted 16-8 against the plan) there was only one person out of 36 who testified in favor of the Yankees' scheme to steal neighborhood green space.

What is being missed in all this controversy, however, is the fact that the Yankee and the Bronx Terminal Market projects are being evaluated separately. What this means, aside from the typical self-serving nature of much of what passes for environmental analysis, is that the cumulative impact of the two largest developments in the history of the Bronx is not being properly studied.

This is crucial precisely because of the fact that the impacted neighborhoods are part of what is known as "asthma alley." It is hard to credit elected officials for the seriousness of their concern about this situation when they remain quiescent when it comes to the influx of hundreds of thousands of additional car and truck trips through the community every week.

It seems that Councilmember Helen Foster and Assemblyman Michael Benjamin are the only local electeds without a case of lockjaw when it comes to what is going down here. In yesterday's Daily News piece, Foster said that George Steinbrenner ought to be ashamed, "This is the richest team in baseball taking parks from one of the poorest communities in the country...The Yankees are not perceived as friends of this community." It does appear that the Yankees, and Related as well, are undeterred by such criticism, since they feel that they have all the friends they're ever going to need.