From the Bronx To Mayor de Blasio & New Administration: Time To Stop FreshDirect & Other Fiscally Irresponsible Deals

Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan

Happy New Year and congratulations on your inauguration today. It was a long road but you made it.

Now comes the hard part — living up to your promise of a progressive administration and making this a city for all.

The Bronx has been a neglected Borough in our great city on many levels for so many decades. Sure the last administration helped revive neighborhoods such as Melrose by constructing thousands of low and middle income housing for our working class.

But during the same time, our city squandered billions in tax funded projects in the Bronx. The New Yankee Stadium and the now defaulted parking lots, and the Croton Reservoir project at Van Courtland Park.

And just recently, right before the end of the Bloomberg administration, our former mayor along with our current Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr, made a backroom deal to build a $350 million, 28,000-seat soccer stadium in the South Bronx for the New York City Football Club. All funded by tax-payers with grants, subsidies and a vulgar 38 year RENT FREE LEASE.

Why should this be allowed on the backs of the taxpayers when the owners of the franchise are worth billions? Surely they can build such a stadium on their own.

We’re not saying no to a stadium, we’re saying no to backroom deals without community input as well as no to fiscally irresponsible deals to billion dollar corporations who can fund their own projects.

Speaking of fiscally irresponsible deals, myself and the people of the Bronx call on you to please stop the FreshDirect sweetheart deal which is overwhelmingly opposed by the community. We are overwhelmed with an asthma rate that is amongst the highest in the nation.

Mayor de Blasio, you as well as Public Advocate Letitia James were very vocal against such subsidies to FreshDirect. Even the honorable Congressman Serrano blocked a key part of funding to this sweetheart deal.

Instead, use this public land to create the waterfront park we sorely lack and deserve just as any other borough in the city of New York. The community has already banded together with their ideas of what the waterfront should look like.

The $130 million in tax subsidiaries that was thrown at FreshDirect —a very profitable corporation — should be provided to the lifeblood of our communities: our small businesses who need them. FreshDirect is opposed to living wages and many of their workers still need public assistance to survive. Should they really be rewarded with such monies?

With all these monies being thrown at corporations who do not need them we could instead use then for worthwhile projects that will contribute and strengthen our infrastructure and communities.

Thousands of residents are suffering in New York City Housing Apartments in dilapidated projects that desperately need repairs and upgrading — housing is a right, not a luxury.

We can help fast track Metro North access in the Eastern Bronx with the creation of 4 New stations which will directly impact 160,000 Bronxites in shortening commutes and easier access to other employment centers.

A small fraction of these subsidies could even help save a beloved Bronx landmarked building, PS 31 aka the Castle on the Concourse, that the city has left to rot and now faces demolition by the department of buildings. Once again, no where else in the City of New York would a landmark building be demolished and we must not allow this.

Money can be found to shore up the building in the interest of public safety while allowing it to be restored and renovated into apartments for artists including public art spaces. A viable plan has been proposed by SoBro with the backing of Goldman Sachs. Such projects can be found throughout the city but not the Bronx.

These are just but a few important issues that we as Bronx residents need resolution on. There are many more and I am confident that in your interest in making this a city for everyone —a city of five boroughs — that you and your administration along with other elected officials, will better listen to our voices.

Welcome, Mayor de Blasio, now let’s get to work!

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.