Yankees Groundbreaking Gets Bronx Cheers (Both Kinds)

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Yankee Stadium, the Bronx home to dreams, memories and legendary baseball greats, is facing its demise. The white tents are up for today's groundbreaking ceremony that will herald the launch of a new $800 million, state-of-the-art stadium. But as WNYC's Elaine Rivera reports, not everyone in the community is happy.

REPORTER: Businessmen and politicians say it is the real beginning of a Renaissance in the South Bronx. Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, whose borough was once a symbol of urban blight, says more jobs, businesses and new parks will follow.

CARRION: This is a coming of the age of the Bronx in its economy, in its relationship with the New York Yankees. It really is just more about a stadium. It's the redevelopment of an entire community.

REPORTER: Yet many residents who live near the site say the project will create a 14-story monstrosity. Joyce Hogi, of the grass roots organization Save Our Parks, say hundreds of families along Jerome Avenue will be adversely affected. More than 20 acres of parkland will disappear. Neighbors now face rerouted traffic and construction noise.

HOGI : That's the most egregious part of this project is that it's being done and nobody seems to care. Nobody seems to think there's anything wrong with plopping this stadium in somebody's front yard.

REPORTER: Althea Hunter is an 81-year-old resident who lives in a classic art deco building right across the street from the site. On Sunday she went for her daily exercise in the park. On Monday she was turned away.

HUNTER: I was stopped by the officer and the staff who said you can't go through there - that's private property now as of 12 o clock last night. I asked who could I get permission from to go and walk and they said there will not be anymore walking in that park.

REPORTER: Residents feel like the the stadium was always a done deal and they really didn't have a say. Angry, divided feelings remain. Some business owners like Joey Bastone says the new stadium will bring other benefits to the neighborhood. Bastone is the owner of Yankee Tavern a longtime fixture where locals intermingle with Yankee fans during baseball season.

BASTONE: That means there will be more stores for people to shop in our neighborhood, which should bring more traffic to our neighborhood, better restaurants, better maybe retail stores. You know, an up for the neighborhood.

REPORTER: But Joyce Hogi says it's not the creation of a new stadium but it's where they are placing it.

HOGI: None of us in this community are opposed to change. Actually, we welcome it. But to take away public parkland from the community is just egregious. It's an absolute kick in the teeth to the people who live here.

REPORTER: Carrion says that community residents should be patient. New parks will eventually be constructed.

CARRION: In the end when we get to the other side of the construction, they and we have a new park, they will be the immediate beneficiaries of a much, much better system of parks.

REPORTER: Residents say it will not make up for the loss of their current beloved landscape, the destruction of hundreds of trees and a quiet way of life that will now vanish.

HUNTER: I am 81 years old and I can enjoy a park right now If I have to wait until 09 or thereafter who knows what condition I'll be in I may not be able to enjoy a park I may be so senile that I don't even know what a park is. Now you get with that."

REPORTER: Groundbreaking begins today at 10 a.m.


Save Our Parks

Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion on new Yankees Stadium