Two stories from the Bronx - Good news about a river and a fish not so good news about fishy dealings.
First, the good news:
San Juan Capistrano in California may look forward to its famous swallows returning every year, but now the Bronx has its herring.
The swallows returned to San Juan Capistrano on Sunday, March 19th and the herring, to the Bronx River on Tuesday, March 21st - after a herring-less 350 years.
As a testament to those who have worked tirelessly - and successfully - to clean up the Bronx River -- most notably the people from the Bronx River Alliance and the Natural Resources Group of the Parks Department - the Wildlife Conservation Society , the organization that runs the Bronx Zoo, was able to host the re-introduction of a kind of herring called the alewife to the Bronx River this past Tuesday. The herring used to be abundant in the River 350 years ago but, because the Bronck family (from whence the name "the Bronx") dammed up the river in various places, the fish couldn't spawn and they simply died out.
It was a beautiful way to spend a great sunny day in the Spring, watching those fish slide down a chute attached to a large "fish vat" and into the river. Many of the people who attended were the ones who helped "fish" for other things in the Bronx River years ago - tires, cars, etc. The River has made a spectacular comeback due to their efforts and it was a great reminder to all of us that, in the end, sometimes consistent effort in the right direction actually yields remarkable and fabulous results. It caused Congressmember Jose Serrano to joke," It's herring today, gefilte fish tomorrow." The Congressmember Serrano had a nice chat about this on NPR this past weekend.
Meanwhile, however, the lessons of the restoration of the Bronx River appear to be lost elsewhere in the Bronx, as far fishier things are afoot when it comes to the proposed new Yankee Stadium plan.
No one wants to stop the Yankees from playing in the Bronx. Many, many individuals and groups in the South Bronx community and throughout the City feel, however, that the deal that's being cut for a new stadium is rotten, so much so that the local community board actually turned down the current plan.
One of the major complaints: Parkland will be destroyed to make way for parking garages. Although the Yankees will be compelled to replace the parkland, they don't have to put it back exactly as it was - it can be as much as a mile away, and in little parcels. As a matter of fact, part of the replacement parkland will sit atop one of the parking garages. What?? Picture this: suppose Yankee Stadium was actually located in the far wealthier and tonier Upper East Side of Manhattan. Now let's say the Yankees said they were going to tear up the surrounding parkland and put some of it back on top of a parking garage. Can you imagine the outrage, the lawsuits, etc.? It would be unthinkable. It wouldn't even happen.
In addition, many people, including the Yankees organization, have said that they support a MetroNorth Yankee stadium stop. It's estimated that anywhere from 4,000 - 10,000 people would use that mode of transportation on Yankee game days. It's absolutely nowhere in the proposed new stadium plan. The Bronx has one of the highest asthma rates in the country and the EPA just released a reporting that makes NYC the most air polluted City in the country. This makes the building of a parking garage -- inviting even more cars and pollution - seem even more out of whack.
Sustainable South Bronx , the Tri-State Transportation Campaign New Yorkers for Parks, Good Jobs NY and others will be attending a City Council hearing today - supposedly the last public hearing on this matter - to express their concern and to lay out ideas for a better stadium plan.
The NY Daily News' Errol Louis, fast becoming one of this City's premier champions of the community and of justice in general, wrote a scathing column about the Yankee Stadium deal in last Wednesday's edition: Read it here.
You can take action on both these tales:
On the Yankee Stadium deal: Right now, call or email New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Tell her that the community needs to be heard on the Yankee Stadium plan and needs a much better deal: phone: 212.788.7210; fax: 212.788.7207; email
Support the Bronx River: You and yours can actually take a canoe trip down the Bronx River - really. The Bronx River Alliance will be sponsoring its annual Flotilla on April 29th - you can register to canoe during the Flotilla, or any time throughout the late Spring and Summer. Log on, call them: 718.430.4665 or email them