Turning Parks into Parking Is Poor Planning
The Bloomberg administration’s admirable PlaNYC initiative to make our city more sustainable in the face of its tremendous growth may have a fatal flaw in it if land use policies don’t change to include more community input. Under the plan, New Yorkers should hope to have a seat at the development table as part of a more democratic planning process, an opportunity that has been lacking under this administration. The seizure of public parkland for the construction of a new Yankee Stadium and its plentitude of parking facilities provides a recent example.
As summarized in Monday’s post, Your Gift to the Yankees Keeps Going, Going, Going..., two years ago, the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Empire State Development Corporation quietly planned to work with the Yankees to quickly seek state legislation that would hand over 22 acres of Macombs and Mullaly parks to the Yankees. With no public hearings, or even notice, the city and state had both approved the largest hurdle to the land grab – the parks were “alienated.” Subsequent community attempts to have officials reconsider the project’s impact on the community were largely unsuccessful.
How can NYC’s future development projects enable residents to play a role in sustaining (and hopefully improving) our quality of life? Here are three suggestions:
1. Shed Light on the Park Alienation Process
The plan for the new Yankee Stadium and garages should have taken a different form. Atrocious as it is, it’s legal for New York City and the state to turn over public parkland for private uses without any public input, or even an environmental review. In response to this problem, park advocates recently formed PARC, the Parkland Alienation Reform Coalition, lead by New Yorkers for Parks. The coalition wants to make sure that New York City residents are informed of future parkland alienation proposals and are allowed to participate in public review processes before public parkland is seized. Contact Micaela Birmingham at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
2. Stop slighting community boards
With the taking of the parkland approved, the plan to build a new stadium and parking garages in its place needed to go through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Process. ULURP is – on paper – inclusive of communities affected by proposed land use changes. The local community board and the Bronx Borough President held hearings on the Yankee Stadium proposal. Citing health concerns associated with increased traffic, lack of community input, and the dangerous precedent of turning over public parkland for private use (all points that seem to grossly violate the key goals for PlaNYC) the community board voted against the proposal. Despite community opposition, the Borough President approved it and because the community board vote is only advisory, the project was ultimately approved. (As described in our recent report, the Bronx borough president later removed members of the board who voted against the project).
3. Bring on Good Jobs
PlaNYC has a number of lofty goals that will require many workers in the public and private sectors to implement solutions to our environmental, infrastructure and housing problems. The jobs associated with the development and maintenance of these projects should be sustainable too, especially if a private firm receives subsidies. It’s time for New York City to catch up to what many cities across the country already do – tie job quality standards to subsidies.
Here’s your chance to get involved!
Public financing for the new Yankee stadium has been approved, but the city is still proposing $219 million in tax-exempt bonds for parking facilities. There will be a public hearing on this proposal on Thursday, September 6th at 10:00 am at 110 William St. in lower Manhattan.
Let the city know what you think about using millions of your tax dollars to build a parking garage for the nation’s wealthiest sports team.
See http://www.goodjobsny.org/yankeestadium_garages_news.htm for more information.