Monday, September 16, 2013

The real-life impact of a new ballpark absent the unsustainable promises

A woman who has lived in the South Bronx for 35 years (the last 9 of which have been near the new Yankee Stadium) shares her experiences, and we fail to take heed of her view at our own peril:

There was no significant community input into how our neighborhood could co-exist with the new stadium. Our voices were silenced by elected officials who accused us of not wanting any development.

As a resident I have witnessed and indeed lived in the snarling traffic that consumes our neighborhood. As a taxpayer I strongly object to subsidizing garages to bring more traffic to an area that is trying to rebound as a good place to bring up children.

We were told the new stadium would bring economic development and a resurgence to our community.

I invite you to take a walk around the neighborhood and see for yourself if that has happened. Businesses have closed and the remaining ones are hurting as the Yankee organization has moved many of the services inside the stadium.

The NYPD has become super-aggressive on game days by blocking streets with no prior warning and posting police officers all around the neighborhood. Streets with posted signs of “no parking on game day” are closed off to the community while fans are charged to park on these same streets where parking is normally legal and free.

The sanitation trucks circle all day, emptying trash (this would be a wonderful service for residents!). The community is host to numerous parking garages and lots that are open only on game day and of no use to us otherwise.

Mayor Dean has already said that neighborhood input on Sulphur Dell will take a backseat to his own interests. Ballpark boosters already falsely throw charges at ballpark realists like me about how we just do not want development in our backyard ("NIMBY"). Some of us have been raising red flags about potential traffic and parking problems in our dense urban neighborhoods.

But I should underscore her observations that businesses are closing due to services provided inside the stadium development. We have not talked enough about the potential negative economic impact on area stores and restaurants due to the self-enclosed, self-sufficient organization of contemporary ballparks. They are more amusement parks and mixed-use retail than they are sports venues. Hence, they try to be all and end all for customers. Hence, they may pull customers away from Jefferson Street and away from Germantown. Local business owners should not be lulled or deceived into believing that more fans at a new ballpark will translate into a wave of patrons for them. This will not be like Oktoberfest (or Germantown Street Festival).

Salemtown and Germantown better start counting of the costs of the Mayor's plan as well as embracing its benefits. We better start paying attention to neighborhoods elsewhere who have these new sports venues in their midst. If we fail to vet the impact fully we will only be hurting ourselves in the long run.

1 comment:

  1. "...Yankee organization has moved many of the services inside the stadium..."

    Look no further than LP Field. Has that sparked any business development on the East Bank? Bud Adams wants people in the stadium not at outside businesses spending "his" money. Anything positive that has developed on the East Bank in the last 10 years of LP existence has been funded by tax money (see Cumberland Park and that's about it and the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge before that). It's the casino mentality. Go down to Gulfport MS and check out the "beaches" there. It becomes very obvious that the powers that be want you in a windowless casino and nowhere else. Wonder how many locals (that didn't have a stake in the new venture) knew that would happen beofore they moved in?