Last week, Bloomberg told the citizens of the Bronx and particularly the South Bronx that we’re not good enough for other than being used as a dumping ground. Ok so he didn’t actually use those words but as the old adage goes; actions speak louder than words.
At the opposite end of the city, in the usual pomp and circumstances of groundbreaking ceremonies on major city projects, Mayor Mike Bloomberg broke ground on the New Stapleton Waterfront development project in Staten Island. As described on his website, it is,
“a major community-driven project that will create new housing, retail and a waterfront esplanade at the former Homeport site on Staten Island. Ironstate, which was selected in 2009 to lead the project after a competitive bid, will invest $150 million to construct approximately 900 units of residential housing, 20 percent of which will be affordable, as well as 30,000 square feet of ground floor retail, and 600 parking spaces. The City is committing $32 million towards the project for infrastructure improvements and the construction of a new waterfront esplanade providing the public with waterfront access.”
This plan sounds great and congratulations to the communities on Staten Island that made this happen. But what about the South Bronx? Oh that’s right. Our waterfront is only good for waste transfer stations and industry.
Our community has long been denied access to the waterfront with only a snippet here and there offered to us and the amount of publicly accessible waterfront in the Bronx is in stark contrast to the plethora available in all the other 4 boroughs. We suffer epidemic rates of asthma, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Would it not be prudent to help the population with least access to the waterfront and parks that suffers these ailments by building such an amenity?
Apparently the Bloomberg administration, along with our Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr, doesn’t think so. Instead a whopping 100 acres is set to be given over to FreshDirect along with over $127 MILLION SUBSIDY to move their operations over from Queens and onto our flood prone waterfront (as Superstorm Sandy proved). As with Stapleton, we have a coalition of over 40 community based organizations signed on to our platform for a vision of a healthier waterfront whereas those who want FreshDirect to move in have a paltry 6. Oh, they’re offering a 1,000 new jobs which are at slave wages considering the work to be done. Wages far below a living wage and close to being minimum. Where is the democracy in that?
Oh that’s right. This deal was a backroom deal without zero community input and was announced as a done deal before a public hearing was even held. What’s worse is that FreshDirect is relying on a 20 year old environmental impact statement to move in. When the the EIS was completed, the area in question as well as the neighborhood had a significantly smaller population. A few years later, the area was rezoned from manufacturing to residential which created a flood of new residents.
That initial rezoning was so successful that it was expanded by rezoning even more manufacturing zones to residential and that’s when the flood gates opened. A new waterfront residential development was constructed with over 400 units, artists and professionals priced out of Manhattan and Brooklyn began to move in and bringing I am desperately needed money and income to the area.
So why, can someone please explain, would you want to drop a 500,000 square foot warehouse in the middle of all this and add thousands of truck trips through a neighborhood clogged and congested already from the highways bisecting the area? Does this make any sense whatsoever? And furthermore, why would you rely on a severely outdated environmental impact statement that ONLY was designed for the neighborhood as it was then and never taking into account the thousands and thousands of new residents in the area? Oh that’s right. Because FreshDirect said that a new EIS would kill the deal.
Straight from the horses mouth, folks. FreshDirect admits this is not an environmentally friendly project by today’s standards so they would put our health and lives in jeopardy on a 20 year old report – A report that could not even forsee a superstorm Sandy type storm so soon in history.
Are you ready to fight for our land and for what is right? It is never to late to join the battle against corporate welfare and backroom deals designed to help corporate interests over human needs.