FreshDirect, Operation Move Along, And The South Bronx Waterfront: Yes, They Are Related

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This week, Mayor De Blasio’s ambitious plan to reduce pedestrian fatalities, Vision Zero, began in the Bronx with Operation Move Along on 138th Street (between Third and Jackson Avenues) by cracking down on double parking. Officers from the 40th precinct slapped educational flyers on double parked cars but on March 16th they will begin issuing summonses for illegally parked vehicles.

The East 138th Street corridor is one of the South Bronx’s busiest roads with trucks and traffic already roaring across it to get from one end of the borough to the other.

Now imagine thousands of more trucks running through those very streets, adding to the chaos in a residential neighborhood, if FreshDirect were allowed its way to take up our waterfront. An area that already has suffered from pedestrian fatalities due to the existing traffic on these overburdened streets.

FreshDirect’s proposed move to the Bronx has been overwhelmingly opposed by  Bronxites and with over 50 community based organizations against it, that’s nothing  our borough president, Ruben Diaz Jr should brush aside.

Only a handful of Bronx organizations have come forth in support of giving the company over $130 million in tax breaks and subsidies to take over our waterfront and pollute our air. That very corridor targeted by Operation Move Along already suffers from over 8x the national asthma rates for children.

Regardless of whether or not FreshDirect converts its fleet to electric, it will still add thousands of trucks to the area creating more traffic and more idling of cars spewing pollutants into the air.

2 years ago in February of 2012, the former Bloomberg administration announced the FreshDirect sweetheart deal as a done deal without having had community input. It was even later revealed that our borough president had met with lobbyists for the company months before this announcement.
The community was outraged that it took FreshDirect 16 months to come to them after the deal was announced further providing evidence of how little they cared about the community they planned on calling home.

In Ruben Diaz Jr’s State of the Borough address in 2012 and 2013, he proudly talked about how his administration was working to bring FreshDirect to the Bronx providing needed jobs for Bronx residents (always forgetting to disclose that these are low wage jobs and oftentimes many of their workers still qualify for government assistance).

It was very hypocritical of the Borough President to support FreshDirect and their non-living wage jobs when he defeated the original Kingsbridge Armory deal for NOT guaranteeing living wages.

Absent from his 2014 State of the Borough address was any mention of FreshDirect whatsoever. Perhaps it’s because we as residents have kept FreshDirect in court and delayed its move until a new administration took over in City Hall — an administration which has been vocal against such corporate subsidies.

Instead, we got a wonderful plan to create a waterfront district in the Lower Concourse from 149th Street down to 138th Street. I applaud the borough president for actually listening to the community’s plea for access to the waterfront but it does fall a little short.

It ends just a few blocks from where FreshDirect wants to plop down along the waterfront.

Mott Haven and Port Morris residents have diligently worked on a comprehensive waterfront plan that the residents want, need, and deserve and should be included within the Lower Concourse Waterfront District.

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Lincoln Avenue before and after

The South Bronx suffers from the ultimate irony in terms of open, green space and parks: Our borough has the highest percentage of parkland and one of the greenest urban counties in the nation, yet the South Bronx has amongst the least amount of park space per resident than most of the city.

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The battle against FreshDirect, our waterfront, and pedestrian safety is far from over. We must continue to rally against irresponsible corporate subsidies, access to our waterfront just like any other borough enjoys, and for pedestrian safety — something which will imperil the lives of our residents if we let this deal go through.

Join South Bronx Unite and community residents on March 22nd for ‘Green Beginnings For the South Bronx Waterfront‘:

Join South Bronx residents, faith leaders, local organizations and city-wide friends and allies for a community action on Harlem
River Yards against the proposed relocation of FreshDirect to the South Bronx.

Gather at Brook Park at noon to join in a
neighborhood march to Harlem River Yards for an interfaith reflection on the oversaturation of industrial facilities, waste transfer stations and trucking operations in the South Bronx causing asthma rates eight times the national average. Participants will then have the option to plant sunflowers, renowned for detoxifying soil, along the brownfield waterfront.

Brook Park | 12-1 pm

12:00 – Meet at Brook Park | 141st Street and Brook Avenue | Assemble and march to Harlem River Yards

Harlem River Yards | 1-2 pm

1:00 – Interfaith reflection on environmental injustice in the South Bronx and option to plant sunflowers to detoxify soil.
Join us and bring friends!

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Port Morris Gantries before and after
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