Macombs Dam Park
Macombs Dam Park is a park in the New York City borough of the Bronx. The park lay in the shadow of the old Yankee Stadium when it stood, between Jerome Avenue and the Major Deegan Expressway, near the Harlem River and the Macombs Dam Bridge. The park is administered and maintained by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. The majority of Macombs Dam Park has not been open to the public since August 2006, when construction began on the new Yankee Stadium.
The 28.425-acre (115,032 m2) park, prior to the stadium construction, featured baseball and softball diamonds, basketball courts, and football and soccer fields. Portions of the park are often used during New York Yankees home games to provide overspill parking for vehicles in an area underserved by garages and other parking facilities.
Macombs Dam Park opened in 1899, when the Bronx was mostly farmland. As was typical for urban planning at that time, a large, central greenspace was set aside to ensure that the developing neighborhood would be livable and sustainable. This same type of development had already been thriving around Manhattan's Central Park and Brooklyn's Prospect Park, among several other New York locations. Parks advocates contend that Macombs Dam Park is no less valuable than Central Park or Prospect Park, which are both in much wealthier neighborhoods. Macombs Dam Park is in New York's 16th congressional district, the poorest in the United States.
Yankee Stadium opened in 1923 and the Bronx County Courthouse, two blocks east on Grand Concourse, opened in 1934. Most of the neighborhood's apartment buildings opened in the 1920s and 1930s, including many Art Deco landmarks that line the perimeter of what had been Macombs Dam Park.
New Yankee Stadium's impact on the park
Bronx officials had promised that replacement parks would be built before the stadium project began. When the stadium construction began with no new parks in place, city officials then said they would be completed by 2007. When the $1.6 billion stadium is completed, in 2009, residents will have several new recreation areas. Some of the recreation areas will be ballfields on the Harlem River waterfront, about a half-mile from where Macombs Dam and Mullaly Parks had been. Currently, accessing the waterfront requires walking under the Major Deegan Expressway and over railroad tracks from Metro-North's Hudson Line. Other recreation areas will be built on top of parking garages where the parks had been; these will be closed on game days, which make up 81 days of the 183 days between April and September, to accommodate fans' cars. The roofs of the garages will be lined with artificial surface and counted as replacement parkland by New York City. Other replacement recreation areas will be atop the 9-acre (36,000 m2) site of the old Yankee Stadium. The above ground structure of the ballpark, built in 1923, will be completely torn down, with the underground clubhouses remaining in use for the new parkland.
The new recreation areas will cost at least $150 million, paid for entirely by New York City taxpayers. (There is no cap on public spending for the Yankees' stadium.) City officials say the neighborhood will benefit from the new recreation areas. Residents say they prefer a park of central, continuous greenspace to the smaller, scattered ballfields. Renovating Macombs Dam and John Mullaly parks would have cost about $25 million. The city's parks department will retain ownership of the land where the Yankees' new stadium will be, but will not charge the Yankees rent or property taxes.
Residents and parks advocates had criticized the Yankees' changes to the neighborhood, which included cutting down 377 mature oak trees. They said state and federal laws designed to protect parkland from private development made this project unfair and possibly illegal. Community advocates said at the time they still planned to fight the project in court, even as construction crews have blocked off their parkland and begun tearing down its trees. According to the city's Environmental Impact Statement for the Yankees' stadium project, several buildings surrounding Macombs Dam Park may become blighted when the project is completed. Opponents to the construction of the new Stadium were defeated and the Stadium officially opened on April 3, 2009, for an exhibition game against the Chicago Cubs.
Dog Friendly Park
The entire park is an off-leash designated dog park. Certain areas, like the running track are labelled as No Dogs Allowed.