Bloomberg Wants Stim Funds for More Bronx Parking

bilde.jpgImage via Crain’s

Someone in the Bloomberg administration needs to sit the mayor down and explain to him the relationship between parking and driving.

Streetsblog has followed Bloomberg’s parking escapades on the West Side of Manhattan and in the South Bronx. Now, the man behind PlaNYC wants federal stimulus funds to finish a new six-story parking garage for the New York Botanical Garden.

Crain’s reports:

The garden started the project over the summer, paying $13 million to design the facility and acquire the site at the intersection of Webster Avenue and Bedford Park Blvd. in the Bronx. Since then, everything was put on hold, leaving a big hole in the ground.

To complete the parking garage, executives at the garden have set their hopes on the stimulus plan expected soon from Washington. They are asking for $20 million—the remaining amount needed—and have been put on Mayor Bloomberg’s list for federal stimulus money.

Though more people are visiting the garden, revenues are down. Apparently management believes more parking will bring more money. So why not take that $20 mil and instead use it to improve the streetscape from nearby bus and subway hubs, making for a more pleasant walking

Instead of taking a transit-oriented approach to boosting the garden’s bottom line, the new garage will bring more cars, which will lead to more air pollution and other attendant dangers for people in the Bronx. And once again, if the mayor has his way, taxpayers will help foot the bill.

  • Anon

    And what about the Bronx Zoo’s proposed garage (“intermodal center”) at their Bronx River Parkway entrance? The same solution to the problem of “how can we encourage even more people to cram into our grounds on peak days?” They are already signed up for federal money for this due to its supposed “intermodal” aspect.

  • Sam

    “Now, the man behind PlaNYC wants federal stimulus funds to finish a new six-story parking garage for the New York Botanical Garden, a stone’s throw from Yankee Stadium.”

    Obviously you don’t get to the Bronx very much. According to Google maps they’re 4 1/2 miles apart.

  • rex

    Subsidies encouraging private auto use within the five boroughs should be illegal. The city council and Albany should enact this legislation immediately. If you are going drive, to detriment of us all, you should have to pay full price.

    Morally, how can Bloomberg not see this? It is wrong and it degrades our city.

  • Actually, Sam, I live very close to the Bronx and go there quite often.

    The point is that both the Bot Garden and Yankee Stadium are in the South Bronx, which has suffered disproportionately from the Bloomberg admin’s pro-parking policies.

  • Boris

    As city mayor, Bloomberg has little control over transit decisions. Parking is all he can build. He’d rather bring more business in now than try to convince the almost bankrupt MTA over some potential additional transit later. It’s this disconnect that hurts our city the most- local politicians have control over roads and parking but not over transit.

    Another reason behind the parking garage is that unlike Central Park, the NYBG isn’t considered the local community’s park. Many people come from far away, and most locals aren’t interested (or can’t even afford it).

  • J. Mork

    Obviously you don’t get to the Bronx very much. According to Google maps they’re 4 1/2 miles apart.

    A stone’s throw on steroids?

  • Lulu

    Brad, the Botanical Gardens are in a very different neighborhood than Yankee Stadium and lumping them both into the “South Bronx” does not give a useful understanding of the garage contexts. I don’t think most Bronxites would even consider the Gardens to be in the “South Bronx.” That said, I’m not defending public investment in parking facilities- the more important point is that both of these destinations have good subway access and Metro North stations nearby.

  • paulb

    The NYBG is not in the south Bronx and it’s nowhere near Yankee Stadium. “I live very close to the Bronx and go there quite often.” I’m not even sure what that means, never mind how it’s a defense against willfully asserting a geographical inaccuracy, apparently in order to obscure there’s little of real substance in the story.

    This is about the lamest thing I’ve ever read on Streetsblog.

  • The man behind not just PlaNYC, but Congestion Pricing too. Quite backwards.

    Treat this as an action alert, folks. Call Bloomberg, your house reps, and our Senators. Tell them “anything but parking.” Or, if you can specify the “anything,” even better. And for contacting the Mayor’s office, maybe there are some good relevant (angry?) quotes the Mayor himself on the subject of car pollution? And there’s lots of good stuff to quote from PlaNYC, here’s just a start:

    Of course, the idea really isn’t bad; I mean, we’ve treated the environment and people of the Bronx so well for so many decades that putting a new parking garage there is only fair.

  • Can’t they just sell it to a developer on condition that they build apartments instead?

  • James

    This story is bad journalism – I live in the Bronx and the Botanical Garden and Yankee Stadium are nowhere near one another. Someone didn’t check their facts beforehand. I know Streetsblog tends to be Manhattan and Brooklyn-centric but come on.

  • For clarification’s sake, I live in Inwood, just across the river from the Bronx. The Bot Garden is due east, give or take, of 207th Street. Yankee Stadium is just to the east of 155th Street, which is generally considered to be in Washington Heights.

    Just as Inwood and Washington Heights are very different neighborhoods that are both considered “Northern Manhattan,” I described these locations as being in the “South Bronx.” My mistake, obvs, but I think we can agree that this area of the Bronx, regardless of what you call it, or whether you call it anything, has seen its share of taxpayer-supported parking.

  • eLK

    Regardless of location, 20M for 6 floors of parking. If that’s 3,333,333.33
    per floor, if each floor holds 100 cars, the 33,333.33 per parking spot. That’s seems mighty expensive.

  • fdr

    “The man behind not just PlaNYC, but Congestion Pricing too.” When is the last time Bloomberg talked about PlaNYC? That is so last year. I think he lost interest when congestion pricing went down.

  • When is the last time Bloomberg talked about PlaNYC? That is so last year. I think he lost interest when congestion pricing went down.

    Maybe the media has lost interest, or maybe people aren’t paying attention. The city agencies still refer constantly to PlaNYC as proposals are presented or when funding priorities are debated. It’s still very much a guiding principle for city government – it’s just that planting thousands of trees or creating public plazas and parks or offering zoning text amendments for green roofs and bicycle parking doesn’t get on the 6:00 news when you have ball players drugging themselves and demanding hundred-million-dollar salaries so they can afford their call girls.

  • Ian, I think that was the ex-Governor with the call girls. 🙂

  • Felix

    Not the South Bronx, but definitely a stone’s throw from Fordham’s new parking garage and existing huge parking lot, the existing garden parking lot, the Metro North lot, the zoo’s lot, the lot by the old Sears on Fordham Rd., lots of smaller lots on Fordham Rd, and isn’t there a garage on the Concourse near Fordham?

  • We here at BoogieDowner are usually fans of StreetsBlog’s coverage. However, it was pretty clear to us that this post wasn’t written by someone who lives in and/or has a vested interest in (or even real understanding of) the Bronx, and more specifically, Bedford Park.
    We live “a stone’s throw away” from NYBG (meaning a 2 minute walk, not 4.5 miles), and here are our comments of this situation:
    1) NYBG is one of the great cultural attractions of the Bronx, and of New York City/State as a whole. We are in support of any reasonable capital improvement projects the Gardens undertake. NYBG is a stabilizing force in the neighborhood, and parking is most certainly an issue for them. Not only do the Gardens bring in a huge amount of tourists (especially during big exhibits), but they also host events at a few different locations around the facility. My thoughts are that this parking facility will also be extremely attractive to those looking to host a wedding/conference/etc. at NYBG. These are big money makers, and with the potential budget cuts to NY Living Musuems looming, NYBG must do anything they can to protect their revenue stream.
    2) As a Bedford Park resident, I can tell you parking is a HUGE HUGE HUGE community issue. Yes, we have tons of mass transportation options here, but (for better or worse), the Bronx is certainly a borough well entrenched in the car culture. I think anyone living in the area would agree with us when we say that any new parking is a welcome addition to Bedford Park. We are hoping that Bedford Park residents will have access to the parking facility as well, perhaps during off-peak hours. It would be wonderful to have a secured parking facility so closeby for nights when we’re out late. After 7/8pm, you simply cannot find a legal parking spot in Bedford Park.
    3) Anything is better than whatever waste-of-space facility was there before construction of the new lot began. It was some sort of poorly maintained warehouse.
    4) The parking lot will most likely mean an uptick in customers for local businesses. There are two coffee shops, a pizza place, and a deli right across the street from the lot.
    5) By no one’s definition is the New York Botanical Garden located in (or anywhere near) the South Bronx. Any comparisons to the Yankee Stadium deal are without merit. This lot was not built on a playground.

  • N Dorado

    Even the strongest arm in baseball would have a tough time throwing a stone from Yankee Stadium to the New York Botanical Garden. Mr. Aaron, I live in the Bronx, and support a lot of your arguments about the need for more investment in mass transit, etc. But as a Bronx resident, I also see the flaws in the public transportation infrastructure in the outer boroughs. A parking garage like the one the Garden is trying to build, believe it or not, would be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Have you been to the Garden or the Zoo or even Yankee Stadium on any peak day? A facility like this is part of the answer to solving the traffic mess. I disagree with your premise that it will make matters worse. I think it will be a step in the right direction.

  • christine

    People , can we mov efor the superficial issue ( the stone’s throw ) and focus on the deep issue: the fact that the city is funding parking spaces at yankees stadium, mets stadium and now at botanical garden with OUR tac dollars when it could have built affrodable housing or invested in a low rent business incubator to create 1000 jobs or something else that stimulates the economy.
    With all due respect, event space is a samll step above parking in economic outputt per square feet : it generates waiters jobs which are not permanent, very low paid and most of the catering companies bring their own staff.
    As a tax payer I do not want my tax dollars to be used for building parking.
    Not for the Yankees or the Mets or even for a botanical garden.
    For evey parking space we pay six times : first the land , second the building , third the congestion and honking, fourth the emissions and its climat impact, fifth the asthma and hospital costs, sixth all the smart job producing investments we could have done with that space.

  • christine

    Yesterday I attended a function where Mike Bloomberg made a very good speech. Amongst other fun lines he had this one: “Joe had the best parking spot in midtown..”

    I am telling you, Mike is obsessed with parking… so it makes you wonder if mass transit is just for the rest of us ?

  • I used to live almost exactly between Yankee Stadium and the NYBG, and it is far between them. The Botanic Garden is not in the South Bronx.

    That said, I think that BoogieDowner’s arguments are regressive, anti-urban and anti-environment. The Bronx does not need more people driving to the Botanic Garden. It would be bad for the air quality, and bad for safety.

    The Botanic Garden has an eponymous Metro-North stop right across the street, but the Garden doesn’t feel welcoming to pedestrians or train riders. In order to get into the Garden you have to walk through a parking lot, negotiating the space with cars. The most direct route from the Metro-North station is through another parking lot.

    If you’re coming from the subway, it’s either a long walk (hot and noisy during the summer) or a long wait for the Bx26 bus. Then you have to cross Webster Avenue, which is always an unpleasant experience. For $55 million the NYBG could have bought a fleet of comfortable jitneys and run them to every subway line. As Brad wrote, instead of asking for $20 million for the garage, they could have asked that it be spent on improving transit connections.

    Jose Rivera’s assembly district contains most of the area around the Garden. 71.9% of the households in the district were car-free in 2000 – and we don’t want to encourage anyone to add to that number, right? It’s the elite of the borough that’s “well entrenched in the car culture,” not the residents as a whole.

  • N Dorado

    I don’t think the “stone’s throw” and “South Bronx” references are superficial. It’s easy for any of us to voice our opinions on matters like this, but all of our arguments lose some validitiy if it sounds like we’re uninformed.

    Before “casting stones” at this plan or the efforts of the Garden and Masyor, we need to see the neighborhood with our own eyes. This project and other capital investments in the Bronx will be vast improvements compared to the empty warehouse that was in its place for years before, standing as a testament to the disregard to the area, and dare I say to the borough of the Bronx as a whole up until now.

    The Botanical Garden, with its neighbor-institutions Fordham University, the Bronx Zoo, and Montefiore, have joined together to propose solutions for the urban challenges. The mass transit system might serve Manhattan well, but they are severely flawed in the outer boroughs. Metro-North’s Harlem Line runs sporadically and is expensive, the subways are out of the way and inconvenient especially for the Garden’s elderly visitors, the buses are a labyrinthian nightmare. And investing to improve those transit “solutions” will require much more than 20 million dollars.

    The parking garage is not an effort to make more people drive their cars to the neighborhood — it seems to me that it’s a reasonable effort to address one of the many issues that have arisen in the neighborhood.


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