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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Field of Nightmares - The Yankees Taketh and The Yankees Do Not Giveth

The City of New York and the New York Yankees gladly took away our parks to build their new stadium, with big promises of great new parks to replace those taken away but now, 18 months after the Old Yankee Stadium closed its doors to the public, we are left with an old relic which still stands in the way of what is the proposed Heritage Park which was reported by Juan Gonzalez of the New York Daily News in greater detail.  New estimates are now talking about perhaps the park will be open in late 2011.  

On Thursday, February 18th between 6pm and 8pm at 198 E 161st Street, 3rd Floor, we the people of Melrose, the Concourse and the communities that for almost a century have lived under the shadow of the famed New York Yankees have an opportunity to voice our anger, disappointment and concern over the lack of sympathy from city officials about the snail pace of construction of the new parks.  At the center of this delay is a small yet vocal community group proposing to save Gate 2 of the original stadium.  There are enough elements of the original stadium which will be preserved.  

Below is a letter written to Adrian Benepe, Commissioner, NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation by local resident, William Casari to which a number of local residents, including myself attached our names for emphasis on this matter:      

Adrian Benepe
Commissioner, NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation

The Arsenal, Central Park 
830 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY 10065  
Dear Commissioner Benepe:  
        I’m writing to let you know that I don’t support the saving of Gate 2 as part of the Heritage Field design at the Old Yankee Stadium site.  I have had many conversations with friends and neighbors who live near the stadium and on the Grand Concourse—I have added their names and addresses to this letter indicating that they are against saving Gate 2 as well.  All of us who live in the community are anxious to have Heritage Field finished as soon as possible and will live with the design of the park forever, unlike the “Save Gate 2” folks who are all from outside the neighborhood.  We don’t need a towering piece of concrete to remind us of the history of Yankee Stadium.  Plenty of other reminders are already part of the new park’s design.   
      The arguments to save Gate 2 don’t make sense as many elements from the old stadium are being preserved.  And the New Yankee Stadium with many architectural elements inspired by the old stadium is right across 161st Street! 
      From local resident Killian Jordan’s December 2009 letter to you: “Proponents [of Save Gate 2] say that we will lose the distinctive visual features of the old Stadium. Actually, community residents (many of whom are also fans) have been very pleased by the clear and distinctive features that will remain to celebrate the old stadium. Two huge multi-ton segments of the single most recognizable feature—the frieze—of the old stadium will stand at the north side of the park.  They're an unmistakable visual emblem of the entire stadium, both the new one and the old one.  Another visual emblem that will be preserved is "the bat"—the smokestack-like structure that can be seen from miles away.  The enormous sections of the frieze, with its sentimental import and imposing physical presence, will be accessible to everyone—to see, to touch, to lean on.  The main new ball field will maintain the geographic orientation of the old field, with clear markers of that relationship. A number of plaques in the neighboring walkway will call attention not only to Yankees history, but also to other significant events that took place here. 
      I believe that you yourself have wondered aloud why we can’t “create a great new park that acknowledges” the proud history of the stadium. Local residents would like to note that the frieze and plaques and bat and the field’s footprint will all do that—there is absolutely NO danger of the site’s origins disappearing into history.”  [Killian Jordan letter to Adrian Benepe, December 18, 2009]. 
      I am concerned about the attention being paid to the “Save Gate 2” and the meetings supporters have had with local officials including yourself.  What the community needs now is for the Old Yankee Stadium to be demolished ASAP and construction of Heritage Field to begin without Gate 2.   
      I would appreciate your feedback on the status of the demolition of the Old Yankee Stadium and the start of construction of Heritage Field.  I will be in attendance at the February 18th Community Meeting.  Thank you for your consideration.

William Casari, et al.
Everyone interested should try their best to come to this meeting because there is strength in numbers.  To RSVP, or for more information please contact Michele Lignore-Diaz at 718-430-4617 or 

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