From the Finch campaign:
Fact Check: Foster’s real record on small business and big box development
During her campaign for Mayor of Bridgeport, Mary-Jane Foster has presented herself as a small business advocate who is opposed to big box retail development. While attempting to bring baseball to Yonkers, however, she was a part of a plan to demolish small businesses and bring in a big box retail development. Which Mary-Jane Foster would Bridgeport see as Mayor?
Mary-Jane Foster and her husband spent nearly a decade (2000-2008) attempting to bring a baseball team to Yonkers, NY. Foster promised the people of Yonkers a baseball stadium, jobs and economic growth. She did not deliver on any of these promises.
The plan, spearheaded by Foster, who promises a “small business friendly environment” for Bridgeport as Mayor on her website (fosterforbridgeport.com/fosterformayor/issues/), called for the demolition of 19 small businesses located in the Getty Square neighborhood of Yonkers. The plan also called for 100,000 square feet of big box retail. Foster has also stated she would oppose big box development.
Foster pressed Yonkers City Council for a quick decision and when she did not get it, the former Bluefish owner threatened to take her plan to another city in Westchester County. (www.allbusiness.com/government/government-bodies-offices-regional/10606763-1.html)
Foster and her husband worked alongside then Mayor of Yonkers, Republican John D. Spencer to create the for-profit investor organization, Yonkers Baseball Development Inc. Mayor Spencer, who was easily defeated by Hilary Clinton in the 2006 New York Senate race, was appointed Chairman of the investor group and Deputy Mayor Phil Amicone was a member of its board. The corporation was allowed to pay its board members. (www.allbusiness.com/print/10607965-1-9a0bs.html)
Did Foster not see the conflict of interest in having the local politicians responsible for her new business venture also on her board? Which Foster will we see as Mayor: One who believes in big box retail and destroying small businesses, as she did in Yonkers? Or the Foster who claims to be a small business advocate?
Opponents also argued that the creation of Yonkers Baseball Development violated state law, and took transparency out of the equation. “The public would have no ability to have educated oversight as to what officials are doing,” said Debra S. Cohen of the Bronx law firm McLaughlin, Gouldborne & Cohen P.C., which represents Save Our Stores. www.allbusiness.com/government/government-bodies-offices-heads-state/10607965-1.html
Foster’s plan disregarded the neighborhood which was an “area surrounded by seniors and low income people,” says Cohen. “The noise and traffic and the loss of businesses are not going to enhance the quality of life for people who live in the area. How is a ballpark more important than supporting and maintaining businesses in the area who are willing to be a part of the revitalization?” www.preservationnation.org/magazine/story-of-the-week/2004/trouble-on-the-waterfront.html
In 2008, eight years after the City of Yonkers announced it would conduct a feasibility study for a stadium, Mary-Jane Foster was still optimistic about bringing baseball to Yonkers. During a speech she delivered on November 7, 2008 at Berkley College in White Plains, NY, the mayoral candidate was “seeking suggestions for the name of a new minor league baseball team.” www.allbusiness.com/11717433-1.html
Foster promised 455 temporary construction jobs, 140 full-time ballpark jobs, and 250 jobs in the 100,000 square feet of complementary retail space that will surround it. Fortunately for the 19 small business owners she was hoping to demolish and destroy, she delivered on none of these promises.