Updated 03/19/2009 10:46 AM
Lack Of Parks Surround New Stadium, For Now
When the Yankees take the field in their new stadium, city residents who live in the surrounding neighborhood say they will still be waiting for theirs. NY1's Shazia Kahn filed the following report.
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The Bronx Bombers' new stadium is ready for opening day, but it's coming at a cost to its neighbors. The stadium was built on parts of two parks, and local residents are waiting for that green space to be replaced. On Wednesday, the Parks Department showed NY1 the steps it's taking to do that, by creating several replacement parks in the area.
"The whole thing will be a park and then two stories of parking," said Stadia Program Manager Frank McCue.
The rooftop park will include a track and multipurpose athletic field, but it won't be completed until next year. In the meantime, a temporary track and field will open next month, to give residents a place to play.
The redevelopment also includes tennis courts and parkland overlooking the Harlem River, which are scheduled for completion in December, but residents will have to travel farther to get there.
Other renovations include a new interactive playground in Mullaly Park, north of the new stadium. It's due to open next month.
The old Yankee Stadium will be transformed into Heritage Field Park. Demolition is slated to start next month and construction of the park is expected to be completed by spring 2011.
Critics, however, say that's not soon enough.
"It's completely outrageous that elected officials and this administration have allowed this Yankee Stadium to still stand," said New York City Park Advocates President Geoffrey Croft. "The New York Mets, the day after their season ended started demotion, they started taking down their field. This community deserves much better than that and this community is desperate for recreation facilities."
The city says it wants to take every precaution before tearing the stadium down and adds that putting in early bids was not an option.
"You can't put bids out too far before you're actually ready to do the work because the construction market is very dynamic. If we bid this job six month ago the price would been significantly different than what it is now," said Andrew Winters, Mayor's Office of Capital Development Projects.
Opponents also cite environment concerns over the redevelopment.
"This is the asthma capital of the United States and we are removing parkland from communities surrounded by trees and also building parkland on top of parking garages and putting artificial turf down," said Croft.
The Parks Department says trees are definitely part of the picture, once that picture is fully developed.