George Steinbrenner kicks children out of Macombs Dam & Mullaly parks in the South Bronx (2006). The image appeared on a community group's postcard addressed to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who ended up supporting the Yankees' land grab. Thousands of residents sent these cards imploring Quinn to save the parks. (Image Courtesy of BROKEN PROMISES: THE CITY’S REPLACEMENT PARK SCHEME FOR THE NEW YANKEE STADIUM PROJECT
TIME FOR A QUICK MID-COLUMN Q&A
As the founder and president of the New York City Park Advocates, Geoffrey Croft has often been a pain in the neck for City Hall, because of his willingess to closely examine plans for projects like the Yankee Stadium redevelopment. I spoke with Croft recently about the Yankee Stadium demolition and the replacement parks, a condensed version of our Q & A follows: From Bronx News Network.
Bronx News Network: When all is said and done, how are the new parks going to compare to the old parks, in terms of green space?
Geoffrey Croft: Well, there’s no comparison. The community is losing three acres of parkland. They’re losing two ball fields, which of course is ironic. It’s just a sham. You know, the Yankees are having Bar Mitzvahs up there, and prize fights, and they’re doing Victoria’s Secret shows, and that’s what it is. It’s an event space, which the public were forced to give over to them for free. It’s the poorest congressional district in the United States, and you know, when Bloomberg was asked — at least he was honest about this — “would this ever happen in Central Park,” he said “no.
BNN: Shea was demolished in a few months and Giants Stadium has a similar timetable, what do you think makes Yankee Stadium different?
GC: Well, the politics. This administration has bent over backwards to serve the Yankees. Shea Stadium, the day after the season ended they started demolition. With Yankee stadium, we found out they had a deal to allow them to stay in the stadium for up to two years. These kinds of behind-close-doors deals are just so abhorrent.
BNN: What did you think when you saw all the coverage last year of Steiner Collectibles collecting tokens of stadium soil and cubes of turf — as someone who has advocated for speedy replacement of parks?
GC: When they were taking up the issue at City Council, only six seconds were spent talking about the actual parkland. So, it’s not about the parks, it’s not about the people, it’s about servicing the New York Yankees. So when Steiner has this deal, the City bends over backwards. There’s so little transparency in the fact that they’re taking their sweet time to remove all that while the public wasn’t getting their parkland.
Bronx News Network - April 3, 2010 - Graham Kates