For Immediate Release
Contact: Kristin Hart, 718-977-9043; Karen Argenti, 646-529-1990
South Bronx Unite calls on Governor Cuomo to take a closer look
at BOEDC and the FreshDirect Deal
South Bronx Unite (SBU) is a group of Bronx community activists and neighbors that formed in response to the City and States’ announcement, in February 2012, that it planned to give the online grocer Fresh Direct upwards of $130 million in public subsidies to relocate its warehouse/trucking facility to the South Bronx waterfront from Queens, without community input or environmental review, after FreshDirect issued false, “race to the bottom”-type threats that it would move its business across the river from its customer base, to New Jersey. The South Bronx has among the nation’s highest asthma rates, and Fresh Direct would bring upwards of 2000 daily truck trips through its already clogged and overburdened streets, while blocking the community from the recreational type waterfront access increasingly enjoyed by the rest of the City. Over 40 community groups have signed on to SBU’s platform of environmental, economic, labor and food justice for South Bronxites and all New Yorkers.
SBU commends Governor Cuomo for vetoing the recent attempt by State Senator Jeff Klein to funnel $17,500 in “pork” payments to the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (BOEDC), and we call on him to go farther. As BOEDC is a key Bronx player in the FreshDirect deal – pledging $500,000 in capital funds and a $3 million subsidized loan – we ask the Governor to take a fresh look at the entire Fresh Direct deal of inappropriate land use, subsidies and tax credits and to join us in demanding a full Environmental Impact Statement of FreshDirect’s proposed relocation.
We Bronxites awake to fresh stories of public corruption almost daily. We request the Governor’s help in stopping the flow of our public coffers into questionable projects that create few benefits and often generate great harm in our communities. BOEDC (which was also censured for not filing its annual financial statement with the Authorities Budget Office) is often a driving force behind these projects, providing funding and political muscle to streamline massive projects with no public review.
Far too often, these massive public subsidies are issued with little scrutiny or public oversight, accompanied by vague promises of job creation. A March 2012 audit issued by New York City Comptroller John Liu found the New York City Economic Development Corporation was subsidizing largely “empty job promises”– essentially rolling the dice with public money and hoping for the best: “The EDC… has handed out huge taxpayer subsidies with alarmingly spotty results…. Corporate subsidies must be used more sparingly and only be granted after careful and thorough assessment that the job creation and retention will be real.” (http://www.comptroller.nyc.gov/press/2012_releases/pr12-03-025.shtm)
The FreshDirect proposed subsidy package and FreshDirect’s potential environmental impact on the South Bronx community need to be carefully reexamined. The people of the Bronx and New York taxpayers deserve and demand better.