Play Ball: How New York City destroyed two Bronx parks


hawk, squirrel & tree-Wash Sq Pk

Baseball season starts today!
(Or, so I’ve been told.)

I thought I’d take a look at Yankee Stadium and what happened there when New York City’s government paved the way (literally) for 400 40 year-old trees to be cut down and sliced away TWO parks in the Bronx to accommodate a private corporation.

At Washington Square Park, what transpired over the last few years is definitely complex. I’ve been busy researching the maneuvers the city employed to get its redesign “plan” approved — via lack of transparency or outright lies. However, the taking of two parks in the Bronx, which has “some of the highest rates of asthma and obesity in the city, yet the lowest ratios of parkland to 1,000 residents,” also strikes me as particularly outrageous. (Gotham Gazette, “Yankee Stadium Parkland Swap,” March 21st, 2006)

It is also yet another lesson in how the Bloomberg administration uses maneuvers, manipulations, lack of community input/awareness, and the New York City Council’s bad decisions, lack of oversight and/or looking the other way to put forth its agenda.

As Anne Schwartz outlined in the Gotham Gazette:

What if the city decided to put a stadium in the middle of your local park?

Don’t worry though. The city would rebuild most of the displaced athletic facilities in several other places.

But instead of being set inside a large, green space surrounded by hundreds of mature trees, the fields would be scattered on separate parcels, including the tops of parking garages. The new recreational spaces would be closer to the highway and train tracks and an additional five-minute to half-hour walk from where people live. Most of the trees would be cut down. The new stadium would go smack in the middle of the community’s current park, next to a residential area.

Seems hard to even imagine, doesn’t it? Yet it all happened to accommodate the Yankee’s “vision” for their new stadium.

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe stated proudly before the City Council that he had 8000 trees lined up for planting in the Bronx to “mitigate” the loss of the 400 mature trees destroyed to build Yankee Stadium.

Mayor Bloomberg’s “Million Trees” initiative is “greenwashing” at its most manipulative. A true tree boosting initiative would work to save existing trees, not just haphazardly plant new ones.

And where do the wildlife live once their territory is destroyed? Wouldn’t a true “Parks” Department be advocating for wildlife, trees and open space? Shouldn’t paving over a city park and cutting down mature trees be the very very VERY last resort or – I’d argue – something we don’t even contemplate? This should be territory non grata for a private corporation.

I understand the Yankees opening game today (their last at the old Stadium) is delayed because of rain.

Update : Yankees Opening Day game postponed until tomorrow.