Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Proposed Bronx CBA offers interesting contrasts to Brooklyn CBA

A proposed Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) regarding a new Yankees stadium offers some interesting contrasts to the CBA negotiated for Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, notably a local trust fund offering $700,000 a year, and a closer focus on benefits to the borough. Still, local residents critical of the plan have hardly embraced it. (And see more criticism here from Richard Lipsky of the Neighborhood Retail Alliance, who just happens to support the Atlantic Yards project.)

A New York Times article published today, headlined $28 Million for the Bronx in the Yankees' Stadium Plan, reports:
As part of the Yankees' proposal to build a new stadium, the team will contribute $28 million to a trust fund and distribute 15,000 free tickets each season to Bronx groups, according to the draft plan of a community benefits program.
The proposal also calls for the team to pay $100,000 a year to maintain parks around the stadium and distribute $100,000 a year in "equipment and promotional merchandise" to schools and youth groups in New York City. There was no requirement, however, that the $28 million, which would be distributed over a 40-year period, be spent in the South Bronx, the site of the stadium and its replacement.
Stadium opponents observed yesterday that the proposal for a 53,000-seat stadium calls for the trust fund to be administered by "an individual of prominence" appointed by an advisory group that would be selected by elected Bronx officials — who are nearly unanimous in their support of the stadium despite intense neighborhood opposition.
"It would be like the fox guarding the henhouse," said City Councilwoman Helen Diane Foster, one of the few Bronx officials opposing the new stadium.
The proposals, which include a pledge that a quarter of stadium construction jobs would go to Bronx residents, are part of the draft benefits program negotiated between the Yankees and Bronx officials.
The agreement is expected to be completed in a few days and will be part of the stadium package presented to the City Council before it votes on the stadium on April 5.

...It also calls for the Yankees to reserve at least 25 percent of the construction contracts for Bronx-based companies, at least half of which would be run by women or members of minorities. At least 25 percent of the construction and post-construction jobs would also go to Bronx residents. An administrator hired by the Yankees will monitor the team to ensure it is compliant, according to the draft agreement.

Contrasts with Brooklyn

The Atlantic Yards CBA, signed with eight groups, includes job training, a school for construction trades, and a goal to assign 35% of construction jobs to minorities and 10% to women. It also has a goal to assign 15% of retail space to community-based businesses, and specified percentages of preconstruction, construction, and professional services work to minority/women-owned enterprises.

The groups include ACORN, the New York State Association of Minority Contractors, and six smaller, Brooklyn-based groups. The CBA also incorporates the affordable housing agreement signed with ACORN. It also promises a community health center, a senior center, open space, and arena access, among other things.

Despite an emphasis on minority and community-based businesses and hiring, it does not require that jobs go to Brooklyn residents or that contracts go to Brooklyn companies. (The latter, at least might be more logistically difficult.) It does require reporting in which community board workers reside. It does not offer a trust fund. (It's not immediately clear that the signatories to the Bronx agreement represent broader-based groups than those in Brooklyn, but they elected officials are apparently involved.)

Press coverage

And when the Brooklyn CBA was under discussion in June, the New York Times did not emphasize the community opposition as prominently. When the CBA was signed 6/27/05, it got a brief in the Times, which gave one sentence to project critics: Some residents have expressed opposition to the project, saying it would raise rents. Somewhat more extensive coverage elsewhere included a Daily News article that included criticism from an expert on CBAs: But Bettina Damiani of Good Jobs New York, a watchdog group that monitors how government subsidies are spent, said the eight groups that signed off on the deal don't fully represent the community.

A followup Times article in October concerning Forest City Ratner's community outreach also missed some important angles. The Times did cover the housing agreement, signed in May, more prominently.

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