Friday, March 10, 2006

The Yankee’s Bogus Community Agreement

As we have mentioned, the extremely flawed “Community Benefits Agreement” adopted for Related’s Gateway Mall project is now being used as a model for the controversial proposed new Yankee Stadium. Patrick Arden of Metro reports that despite promises no agreement is even ready yet:

In January, New York Yankees president Randy Levine made a promise to people who live near his team’s current ballpark and who were upset that the Yankees’ proposed new stadium and parking garages would claim 22 acres of parkland.

“We will enter into a community benefits agreement,” he told a luncheon of the New Bronx Chamber of Commerce. “It will be a very good, fair one — and we intend to be long-term, good-standing neighbors in the Bronx. I promise that on behalf of the Yankees and George Steinbrenner. We care about the quality of life for residents in the Bronx.”

But after almost two months, there’s still no sign of any community benefits agreement.
Arden interviews Majora Carter, executive director of Sustainable South Bronx, who was involved in the Related negotiations and the removed herself when she realized it was problematic and that her critiques weren’t welcome:

“I took part in it until they determined that we should no longer be a part of it,” Carter said. “We weren’t exactly kicked out, but it became very well known that our assistance was not required.”
Like with the Bronx Terminal Market, the Yankee CBA process is extremely problematic at least according to the nation’s foremost experts on these deals:

“This is pretty late in the game to still be negotiating an agreement,” said Roxana Tynan of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, the group that pioneered the idea of CBAs. “The more votes that have been taken on the project the less leverage local folks have, unless they have a legal angle and can buy time.

“CBAs don’t work when they’re top-down, because then people don’t trust the process — you have a lot of trust issues to overcome about whose interests the CBA is really going to serve.”