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February 17, 2010

Yankee Stadium demolition, new park construction creep along

It's almost time for the New York Yankees to begin their second season at their new stadium, and Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez notes that the new parks to replace the ones buried under the team's new home in 2006 are still nowhere to be found:

Back in late 2006, when U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald rejected a challenge to the stadium plan by local residents, she noted that the city was replacing all parkland with new permanent park facilities.
"Nearly all [of those facilities] will be operational by the time the new Yankee Stadium opens in 2009," the judge said in her decision, "and the remaining three ballparks to be located on the existing Yankee Stadium fields will become accessible by 2010." ...
Portions of a new park and outdoor tennis courts were inaugurated along the Harlem River in November - just in time for winter. But a huge new tennis clubhouse, cafe and community facility have not been finished. Nor has a toddler park, a skateboarding park, a full esplanade for the public, and a sand beach along the river - all of which were promised.

None of this is really new news, since the delayed openings have been acknowledged by the Parks Department since May 2008. And demolition of the original Yankee Stadium does seem to be creeping along — the latest photos show that the left-field upper deck has started to come down, after the lower levels were gutted earlier this winter. The city's claim is currently that the old stadium will be gone (and new park construction started) by June, which certainly looks plausible.

Still, with the city's original promises going unmet, Bronx community activists Joyce Hogi and Karen Argenti have dashed off a letter to the National Park Service calling on the agency to live up to its promise to "take remedial and disciplinary steps to ensure that state compliance occurs," namely by cutting off federal funds unless the parks are built ASAP.

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