"Group's study blasts city for park construction lags" NY Daily News 5/19/9
Group's study blasts city for park construction lags
BY BILL EGBERT
Tuesday, May 19th 2009, 4:00 AM
While the Yankees scoop teaspoonfuls of dirt from their old stadium to sell for upwards of $80 each, the community that lost its parks to the new stadium are still waiting for a ballfield of their own.
With the demolition of the House that Ruth Built expected to take nearly a year and a half, it will be late 2010 before work can even begin on Heritage Field, the park to replace most of the ballfields swallowed up three years ago to make way for the $1.5 billion new Yankee Stadium.
None of the replacement parks have yet been completed, despite city promises most would be done by now.
A new report from NYC Park Advocates blasts the city as putting the interests of the wealthiest team in sports before the needs of one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country.
"This administration did everything possible to service the Yankees, including ignoring the law and treating the community's replacement parks as an afterthought," said Geoff Croft, head of NYC Park Advocates.
The Parks Department countered that the replacement parks are being built as quickly as laws and regulations allow.
Most of the replacement parkland is being built atop new parking garages still not completed.
New Macombs Dam Park, being built on a garage still under construction, was supposed to be finished before Opening Day, according to the stadium project's Final Environmental Impact Study. It now will not be completed until next year.
Even parks that didn't have to wait for garages to be built or a stadium to be torn down are years behind schedule.
In May 2008, Community Board 4 was told construction would begin that June on two small replacement parks across River Ave. from the old stadium, and would be complete by this spring.
But in February, the Parks Department revealed it had found a large fuel tank under one of the park sites - a former gas station. The removal will delay the start of work until the fall.
Croft blames the flawed impact study and cites testimony by Assistant Commissioner Liam Kavanagh at a City Council hearing last June: "The project was not funded or approved, and we didn't have resources to do that kind of in-depth investigation analysis testing that one would do for a fully funded project."Parks responded that the testimony was "referring to Yankee park projects, not specifically to River Ave. parks."