Monday, January 16, 2006

A Place to Go

Recently, as we’ve mentioned, discussions have begun concerning whether the “Velodrome” – the parcel that would have housed an Olympic cycling facility – could be the site of a new Bronx Terminal Market. Though this land is a feasible spot for the merchants’ relocation one large obstacle is that the city current wants to see it become parkland.

One possible explanation for this decision is that the contiguous Yankee Stadium proposal would lead to the alienation of the nearby McCombs Dam and Mullaly parks and, according to State and Federal law, if parkland is destroyed it must be replaced with comparable greenspace. Therefore, the reasoning goes, the Velodrome site is needed to balance out the loss of parkland from the Yankee project. However, after speaking with Community Board 4 member and urban planner Lukas Herbert we’ve learned that, according to the Yankee EIS, all the proposed replacement parkland is north of the Gateway Mall.

This means that there is no reason why the BTM merchants cannot be moved to the Velodrome site. We have heard that Related still retains some control over the parcel but, considering the developer’s professed desire to equitably relocate the merchants, doesn’t it make sense to assist these tenants? And as for the argument that the South Bronx needs more parkland/access to its waterfront there are two responses: 1) a standalone park across railroad tracks and right by the Major Deagan isn’t going to attract many neighborhood residents and 2) Irwin Cohn’s vision for a new Terminal Market at the Velodrome does contain a riverfront esplanade as well as other aesthetic improvements.

We are urging all councilmembers who have expressed their support for the merchants’ relocation to support this Velodrome plan. This is a win-win situation for both the city and the minority wholesalers who have dedicated their entire lives to serving the South Bronx.