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March 26, 2005

WNYC's Brian Lehrer interview with Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields

C. Virginia Fields is a staunch opponent of the West Side Stadium. But what does she think about the "Prospect Heights' Stadium?" Fort Greene's tireless advocate, Lucy Koteen, called in to find out.

Brian Lehrer interview with Manhattan Borough Presidnet, C. Virginia Fields (excerpt) Click here listen online to the interview from The Brian Lehrer Show" archives.

C. Virginia Fields: I do not support a stadium on the West Side of Manhattan.

Brian Lehrer: Under any circumstances, even if it is entirely financed with private money?

Fields: I do not support a stadium; I think that it is an entirely inappropriate venue. I think that there are environmental issues, there are infrastructure issues, and that the idea of a stadium, even making it a part of the Javitz center, is totally unacceptable and inappropriate.

*Lehrer: * Let’s take another phone call. I think we’re going from one stadium to another here. Lucy in Brooklyn, you’re on WNYC.

Caller, Lucy from Brooklyn: Hi and thanks for taking my call. It’s great to hear Virginia Field’s voice. I am very interested in hearing her position on many issues.

I’m in Brooklyn where we have been screaming, look at us over here, there are many of the same issues here as in the WS Stadium, except it is worse, because here we are looking at eminent domain being used, there’s been the same lack of transparency, we face the same issues of mega stores vs. mom-and-pop stores, we’re looking at a massive giveaway of MTA land at a site that is solid-gold, it’s a very valuable site. And no one is taking a look at this from Manhattan, and we’ve been trying to reach out to the candidates, asking for their point of views. Take a position, come out and talk to us, we would love to talk with you.

It’s the same thing, the housing that they talk about, some people say, “well there’s going to be housing there, 50% percent affordable housing.” But if you look at the MOU, you see how bogus is that is. The MOU makes very little mention of the housing and it’s certainly nothing like the 50% affordable housing involved.

We’re saying to you, we in Brooklyn, (Mr. Ratner’s chopped liver, for him to just rip down our neighborhood, put up high rises in the middle of a thriving community), we would really like to hear the BP’s position on this.

Lehrer: OK, do you have a position on that stadium proposal?

Fields: We recently received a letter, my campaign recently received a letter, I think probably from the same group, and what I have said about that, I did not take a position on stadium proposal, but a position in terms of the process, which was one of the questions asked.

And given the magnitude of change, and the public dollars that will go into that project, (it appears that there is an amount of public dollars going there) that I support the same process in Brooklyn as I talk about in Manhattan. It should go through the public land use review process. We have a very defined land use review process in this city, and I called for that on the West Side of Manhattan, and the lessons learned there, I think, are relevant to call for the same thing in Brooklyn, because we see how we had gotten into a real bind, here it is now, with only three proposals being submitted for the West Side of Manhattan.

So, while I have not taken a position, stadium, no stadium, in Brooklyn, in the same way, as we are reviewing the entire project and we are doing that. I have said that I do think that one of the questions, which I have been asked, that it should do through the process of our public land use review. In that way, all of these issues that the caller just mentioned, eminent domain, loss of residential development, who would benefit from the housing development, as well as commercial, etc., will give the public a chance and elected officials in the larger community to weigh in.

Lehrer: But, are you saying to Lucy, in effect, after hearing your answer to the WS Stadium question and to her question, that you have more of an open mind on the Prospect Heights’ stadium than you do on the WS Stadium?

Fields: It’s not having more of an open mind. I mean, I’ve been engaged in the WS Stadium now for the last five, six, seven years.

Lehrer: I’m not calling you closed minded. I’m just saying that you’ve come to a conclusion on that. You don’t want a stadium there, publicly- or privately-financed, but you’re not saying that with respect to Prospect Heights.

Fields: What I am saying with respect to Prospect Heights is that we are engaged in looking at the proposal, but have not made a determination on the actual proposal. But the process is one that should be open, it should be transparent, and it should go though the land use review process.

Later in the interview Fields goes on to point out that she is working on Homeland Security issues for NYC as a co-chair of the the Homeland Security Task Force for the National League of Cities. The National League of Cities may be familiar to Brooklynites watching the arena issue as one of the groups who filed an amicus brief in support of the defendant (New London) in the US Supreme case of Kelo v. New London.

Posted by lumi at March 26, 2005 11:42 AM