Last night, after a three-and-a-half-hour public meeting in which just one out of 36 speakers spoke in favor of the project, Bronx Community Board 4 voted 16 to 8, with five abstentions, to oppose the New York Yankees‘ proposed new stadium. As the vote was announced, the meeting room at the Bronx Museum, packed with more than 200 local residents, broke into a sustained whoop of applause.
Though it was just an advisory vote – the real power comes with the city council, which is expected to take up the stadium plan in the spring – it was clear that the Yankees and City Hall badly wanted to win this one, judging from the heavy hitters who were in attendance: Yankees president Randy Levine and COO Lonn Trost, NYC Economic Development Corporation VP Hardy Adasko, several top parks department officials, and various stadium contractors and consultants. Without the CB’s stamp of approval, the plan now moves on to the next stage of the process with one strike against it – next up, yet another public hearing, this one called by Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion for December 12 at 6 pm.
Though most board members did not speak at the meeting, both land use committee chair Mary Blasingame and fellow board member (and professional urban planner) Lukas Herbert spoke out strongly against the stadium plan, with Herbert delivering some of the evening’s most pointed words:
“[Environmental impact statements] are intended to state the facts of the impact, so that decision-makers like the community board can take a hard look at the facts and make the right decision. Well, in this case, the [Draft] EIS is mainly an advocacy piece that’s been put together by planners like myself, who have been paid to spin the facts however the applicant wants them. As a planner, I know that’s your job, but I know a lot of you working on this know better. So I’m sorry you’re put in this position where you’re having to push a document that’s a sham.”
Afterwards, one community organizer was heard exulting in a local diner, “We beat the Bronx machine!” For one night, at least. This series still looks likely to go seven games.