News & Politics

Park Service Okays Yanks’ Park Demolition

by

One of the slim threads of red tape holding back the Yankees’ plan to
build a new stadium atop Macombs Dam Park has been snipped, as the
National Park Service has okayed the use of federally funded parkland for
the project. Though no official announcement has been made, Micaela
Birmingham of New Yorkers for Parks stumbled upon news of the vote through
a chance contact through a Park Service employee, posting it to NY4P’s
blog
last night. “He assured me that the vote had happened at the end
of last week,” she told the Voice this morning. “I’m still waiting to get
written confirmation.”

Park Service approval had been considered
uncertain
, given that the agency’s regulations require that
replacement parkland be of “at least equal fair market value” and
“reasonably equivalent usefulness and location” to the parks being paved
over, and that “all practical alternatives” have been explored. Bronx
residents have complained bitterly that building scattered-site parks,
including a string of tennis courts on the far side of the Major Deegan,
is no substitute for a centrally located neighborhood park.

Now the last agency standing between George Steinbrenner and Fred Wilpon
and their stadium dreams is the Internal Revenue Service, which must sign
off on the city’s complex
tax-exempt bond financing
scheme before the money can actually be
raised to pay for construction. (The IRS, like the Park Service, doesn’t
tell mere mortals when rulings will be forthcoming, but later this summer
is a good guess.) The Mets in recent weeks have already created a staging
area of construction equipment in the Shea Stadium parking lot, to be
ready to put shovels in the ground the moment the feds give the word.

In the Bronx, matters could be a bit stickier, as the Bronx group Save Our
Parks readies a lawsuit to challenge the Park Service ruling. Grand
Concourse resident Joyce Hogi says her group will be meeting with lawyers
from the Urban Environmental Law Center tomorrow, with a request for a
court order to forestall construction likely in the coming weeks.