Monday, November 17, 2014

Press Release on Empire State Development Proposed Subsidies to FreshDirect

Over 100 Residents, Clergy, Labor Leaders and Health Professionals to Testify at Public Hearing in Opposition to Subsidies for Proposed FreshDirect Relocation to the South Bronx

Relocation Would Have Devastating Environmental and Health Impacts on Local Community

More than 100 residents, clergy, labor leaders and health professionals will testify on Monday evening in opposition to a proposed $10 million subsidy package to FreshDirect from the Empire State Development Corporation.  In total, FreshDirect is seeking over $140 million in taxpayer subsidies for a highly controversial project that would subject South Bronx residents to the pollution, noise, and traffic of over a thousand additional diesel truck trips every day. The project would have devastating environmental and health impacts on a neighborhood where one in four children already has asthma. The State subsidies would carry no mandate to create jobs. FreshDirect has thus far avoided local living wage requirements and posted openings that pay as little as $8.00 per hour.  Monday’s hearing in the South Bronx is the first local public hearing on the proposed subsidy package in the three years the community has been fighting against the deal, with litigation against the project ongoing.  Last December, Fresh Direct was forced to withdraw a $3.5 million Empowerment Zone (EZ) subsidy application when it became clear that the EZ Board of Directors , under the leadership of local Congressman Jose E. Serrano, would reject it.  In 2013, Mayor de Blasio campaigned heavily against the City subsidy while running for office but has not yet taken a decisive move since entering office.

“Today, the South Bronx community is proud to stand arm-in-arm with labor unions, faith leaders and medical professionals in opposition to the allocation of taxpayer money to subsidize FreshDirect and the 1,000 diesel trucks it would bring through our community every day.  The fact that FreshDirect and the City have attempted to push through this proposal by relying on a 21 year old environmental impact study is a particular slap in the face when 1 in 4 of our children has asthma.  We were particularly disappointed to learn that a few State representatives who don’t even represent our district are advocating for this diesel project to be cited in our community.  We remain confident that this community will prevail and that we will stop FreshDirect.” –Mychal Johnson, Co-founder, South Bronx Unite; Board of Directors, Bronx Council for Environmental Quality

“More than 15 primary care physicians and nurses working and living locally have submitted testimony against the subsidies for FreshDirect.  As a resident, physician and parent of a child with specials needs, I have seen firsthand the well-documented harms diesel truck emissions have on vulnerable communities and individuals, such as children and the elderly.  This subsidy package would allow FreshDirect to bring upwards of 1,000 diesel truck trips through my neighborhood every day and expose us to heightened levels of pollutants linked to cognitive and mental delays in our children as well as respiratory and cardiovascular disease.” –Dr. Melissa Barber, Resident

“"The health of our children and future generation is far more important than anything else FreshDirect can offer.  There is no trade-off.  We as faith leaders have stood, and will continue to stand together with South Bronx Unite until the powers that be fully understand what's at stake." –Rev. Que English, Co-founder Bronx Clergy Roundtable

“In my tradition to be saved is to be socially responsible and accountable for our actions. Today we stand with the South Bronx community as stewards of the earth God has given us to live in and to raise our children with. I have to denounce any action on the part of FreshDirect that will poison the only air our children have to breathe.” Minister Danny Diaz, Executive Board Member of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, Justice Fellow Latino Pastoral Action Fellow, Micah Justice Fellow New York Theological Seminary

“FreshDirect is bringing pollution and poverty to the South Bronx, two things we have plenty of already. The company has rejected calls to pay a living wage and is not required to create a single job to get this massive subsidy. We know how to create strong industries that breed prosperity, and this isn't it. Community members are standing up and the Teamsters are standing with them.” - Dan Kane, President, Teamsters Local 202

“FreshDirect has requested over $140 million in subsidies while their workers, many earning just $8.25 per hour, make wages that guarantee they will either have to find additional jobs to survive or require them to get additional subsidies for housing and food.” – Lily Kesselman Dunn, Director, South Bronx Farmers Market

“The FreshDirect relocation would significantly harm the health and quality of life of Mott Haven and Port Morris residents.  It is vehemently opposed by residents and community-based organizations in these neighborhoods and is unsupported by the elected officials that represent them. For these reasons, Empire State Development should reject FreshDirect’s subsidy application.” –Gavin Kearney, Director, Environmental Justice, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest

“FreshDirect is bad for the South Bronx on many counts: the environment, social justice, transportation and food sovereignty. It leaves food on the doorsteps of the privileged and nothing but noise and fumes for those who lack access to healthy food.” –Tom Angotti, Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning, Hunter College, Graduate Center, City University of New York; Director, Hunter College Center for Community Planning & Development

Media Alert

Over 100 Community Residents, Advocates, Clergy, Labor Leaders, and Health Professionals to Testify at Public Hearing in Opposition to Subsidies for Proposed FreshDirect Relocation to the South Bronx

Relocation Would Have Devastating Environmental and Health Impacts on Local Community

Monday, November 17, 2014 at 4:30 pm

What   |   Community advocates, clergy, health professionals and labor leaders will rally prior to giving testimony opposing a proposed $10 million FreshDirect subsidy package from the Empire State Development Corporation. In total, FreshDirect is seeking over $140 million in taxpayer subsidies for a highly controversial project that would subject South Bronx residents to the pollution, noise, and traffic of over a thousand diesel truck trips every day. The project would have devastating environmental and health impacts on a neighborhood where one in four children already has asthma. The State subsidies would carry no mandate to create jobs. FreshDirect has thus far avoided local living wage requirements and posted openings that pay as little as $8.00 per hour.  Monday’s hearing in the South Bronx is the first local public hearing on the proposed subsidy package and high turnout is expected.

When   |    Monday, November 17, 2014, 4:30 pm Press Conference, 5:00-9:00 pm Public Hearing

Where   |   Hostos Community College, 450 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY 10451

Who   |   Press Conference Speakers (in formation):
South Bronx Unite
Bronx Clergy Roundtable
Teamsters Local 202
New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI)
Resident Doctors
Land Use Experts
Contact   |   Stephanie Ramirez, 212-784-5704 or
Gigi Kwon, 212-784-5706 or

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Upcoming: Public Hearing Nov 17 to Stop Cuomo From Giving FreshDirect $10 Million to Cause Asthma in the Bronx

Mon, Nov 17th, 5-9 pm;
4:30 pm Press Conference
Hostos Community College, Gymnasium 
450 Grand Concourse, C Building

And bring 5 friends/neighbors! We need everyone to turn out!

Cut and paste the below into an email, then print and bring it with you to the hearing to read it into the record.

SUBJECT: I oppose the proposed ESD $10 million subsidy to FreshDirect

To Whom It May Concern:

I oppose the proposed Empire State Development subsidy package for FreshDirect because the project: (1) runs counter to the needs, desires and well-established development plans of the local community (with multiple residential rezonings and State open space proposed prioritization of the Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan), (2) would have devastating environmental and health impacts on a community where one in four children has asthma (as the company would bring upwards of 1,000 diesel truck trips through the neighborhood every day), (3) has no requirement to pay its workers a living wage (including for the more than half of its workforce that is not unionized), nor add any jobs despite promises made to the public, (4) violates the constitutional requirement that the state-owned land on which it is proposed to be sited provide a public benefit and reduce truck traffic, (5) is inconsistent with efforts to protect the South Bronx waterfront flood zone in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and (6) runs contrary to fair business practices - no analysis has been made of its impact on existing brick-and-mortar grocers nor on new entrants to the grocery delivery market; there is also no cost-benefit analysis regarding the potential loss of jobs of Queens residents, nor on the ability of FreshDirect to stay and expand in its already-subsidized Queens location, which it disclosed would be the most economical option.



CLICK HERE for More Detailed Draft Testimony

Additional facts to learn more, share and build more in-depth testimony against this project if you have the time!

Saturday, November 8, 2014



I. Legal Updates - The ongoing litigation to stop Fresh Direct’s move to the Harlem River Yards continues! Newly disclosed information provides us with the opportunity to request renewal of our claim that the State DOT violated the New York Constitution by allowing land at the Harlem River Yard to be leased to Fresh Direct. We'll keep you posted!

II. Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan - Our community's plan for the waterfront - which does not include FreshDirect's diesel truck warehouse - has received overwhelming support from City and State agencies, Speaker Mark-Viverito and more than 200 residents and organizations. If you have not already done so, please submit your comments today in support of the plan - LINK HERE.

III. Continued Pressure on the de Blasio Administration - Mayor de Blasio has the power to stop this deal! More than 400 phone calls and emails have been made to his office asking him to stop this deal. If you have not done so already, contact his team today - LINK HERE.

IV. Harder for Mayor de Blasio to Give $140M to One Company in a Market Flooded with Alternatives? - This proposed subsidy has long been fought by New York grocers who see significant unfair advantage being given to one company. Now the market is being flooded with additional alternative delivery providers.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

New York State Proposes Prioritization of the Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan!


The Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan was voted by overwhelming majority for inclusion on the draft list of priority projects of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Open Space Plan! Never before has our community had a priority project in the plan! The Open Space Plan serves as a blueprint for the state’s land conservation efforts, identifying priority open space projects for protection and guiding State Environmental Protection Fund investments. From now through December 17th, the public is being asked to provide comments on the plan via email (see below for draft text).  On October 22, a public hearing will also be held from 2:30-4:30 and from 7:00-9:00 at 47-40 21st Street, Long Island City.  After the public comment period is closed, DEC will review all comments on the proposed plan and issue a final plan of priority projects.

A: Bronx Kill Waterfront Park - site of Native American settlement and burial ground; last significant open green space on the Mott Haven-Port Morris waterfront; lines the Bronx Kill waterway; directly connects to the Randall’s Island Connector”   
B: Park Avenue Boat Launch and Waterfront Park - already green space; one of the few areas with actual water access not blocked by Oak Point Link rail; already being used as an ad hoc fishing and boat launch site
C: Lincoln Avenue Waterfront Park - easily accessible by pedestrians; already being used as an ad hoc fishing site; provides direct access to the waterfront; renderings have already been prepared by local architects; MIT produced a plan for this site in 2011
D: Alexander Avenue Extension of Lincoln Avenue Waterfront Park - easily accessible by pedestrians; vacant and unused site; community blocked by fence and guard; directly connected to Mott Haven antique district
E: East 132nd Street Pier - previously a pier here (and even a floating pool in 1902); in the 1980s, a ConEd explosion destroyed the pier, and the company never replaced it; currently residents crawling through holes in the fence to fish along the banks of the shore
F: Historic Port Morris Gantries -stands as a reminder of NYC’s rich nautical heritage; in 1902, the gantries fostered the development of a market, hotels and restaurants; recognized by the Historic Districts Council during its “Six to Celebrate” program on the basis of architectural and historic merit of the area; full reviatlization renderings have already been completed
G: Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Connecting Path - connecting West to East - Melrose to Hunts Point - the waterfront connecting path would weave through and around existing uses on the waterfront to connect the six interrelated projects, and also connecting to the "Randall's Island Connector" near completion now
*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *






SUBJECT: I support the Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan as a Priority Project for Region 2!
MESSAGE (draft): To Whom It May Concern:
I support inclusion of the Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan as a priority project for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Open Space Plan.  This community-developed plan would provide underserved residents access to a public waterfront that, for decades, has been inaccessible. The plan is consistent with three rezonings on adjacent land, provides a logical solution to climate change effects on significant maritime industrial areas (SMIAs) and gives the community open space to counteract severe health consequences caused by an oversaturation of highways and truck-intensive businesses in the South Bronx. These vacant coastal sites are located within a flood zone, and if properly designated as protected open space, could significantly mitigate dangerous effects on the community of storm surge flooding of existing power plants and waste transfer stations along the South Bronx waterfront.  Each site has also been included as an area of significance in the Vision 2020 NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, and several sites are currently proposed for elimination from SMIA designation.  These sites, all of which are government owned, are easily accessible by pedestrians, have recognized historical significance, are already being used as ad hoc fishing and canoeing sites and connect to bigger capital projects already funded and under development (like the Randall’s Island Connector).  



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

South Bronx Environmental Tour & Castastoria of the South Bronx Theatrical Performance

Saturday, September 20th, 12 - 3 PM
 Meet at Brook Park
E 141st St and Brook Ave, Bronx NY

South Bronx Unite, co-founded by one of the 38 civil society delegates selected to attend the UN Climate Summit, invites friends and allies of those on the front lines of climate justice to join the South Bronx Environmental Justice Waterfront Tour. 

This dynamic tour will bring participants to the frontlines of climate change and environmental justice, less than five miles from UN headquarters. The tour will highlight local organizing efforts against decades of policies that have caused a grave health crisis in the community, deteriorated nine miles of inaccessible coast line and perpetuated severe air quality degradation from the disproportionate citing of diesel trucking operations, fossil fuel power plants and waste transfer facilities that line its waterways. 

Hurricane Sandy hit this flood zone during low tide, causing 3.5 foot flooding in the area, with forceful waves that ripped a pier from its concrete foundation. Learn about innovative solutions, such as the Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan, which the community has developed to counter imminent climate change effects on the neighborhood. 

The tour will also focus on the community’s current fight against FreshDirect, a company trying to obtain since 2012 $140M in controversial corporate subsidies to move its diesel trucking operation to a waterfront floodzone documented with evidence of a Native American burial cite. 

Following the tour, South Bronx residents will perform The Cantastoria of the South Bronx, a theatrical performance written and developed in collaboration with Papel Machete about the needs, issues and experiences of the South Bronx.

All are welcome. Join us and bring friends!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Arthur Mychal Johnson of South Bronx Unite Selected to Attend United Nations Climate Summit

Arthur “Mychal” Johnson of South Bronx Unite Selected to Attend Historic United Nations Climate Summit with more than 100 Global Heads of State and 37 Civil Society Representatives

Brings International Attention to the Asthma-Plagued Neighborhood’s Ongoing Fight to Stop the Subsidized Relocation of FreshDirect’s Diesel Trucking Operation and Broadens Awareness of Climate Justice Movements in the Bronx and Other Urban Communities of Color

On Friday, August 29th, Mott Haven/Port Morris resident, co-founder of South Bronx Unite, and member of the Board of Directors of the Bronx Council for Environmental Quality, Mychal Johnson, was selected from among 544 civil society applicants from 115 countries to attend the historic United Nations Climate Summit, taking place on September 23 at the United Nations.  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon organized the Climate Summit to galvanize and catalyze climate action through bold decisions to reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement in 2015.

Mychal is one of 38 civil society delegates from 25 countries, and one of four delegates from the United States: the sole African American delegate and the only representative from the East Coast. With a long-standing resume of South Bronx environmental justice advocacy on city, state and international platforms, Mychal’s selection by the UN signals the importance of raising awareness about environmental conditions impacting marginalized urban areas of color across the United States, as well as the policies that create such conditions.

Since 2012, under the banner of South Bronx Unite, Mychal has helped lead a broad-based coalition of residents and organizations against a proposed $140+ million government subsidy to FreshDirect, which aims to relocate its diesel trucking operation to a South Bronx waterfront flood zone, documented with evidence of a Native American burial site. The company would bring 1,000 daily diesel truck trips through the predominantly African-American and Latino community, where one in five children suffer from asthma and where asthma hospitalization rates stand at 21 times higher than other NYC neighborhoods. The company is refusing to perform a meaningful environmental review and is instead relying on a 21 year old environmental impact statement.

Mayor de Blasio campaigned strongly against the deal while running for office in 2013 but has not yet acted to stop the relocation and pending transfer of subsidies. Over the last month, upwards of 400 emails and phone calls have been made to Mayor de Blasio and his team to stop the deal, but there has been no response from his office.  The FreshDirect issue is a test for the Mayor’s progressive agenda, especially in regard to environmental policy.  In the past, the city has placed a disproportionate volume of waste transfer stations and diesel truck intensive facilities in African American and Latino neighborhoods, tantamount to environmental racism.  This is a chance for the Mayor to show leadership on this issue as world leaders gather in NYC in less than three weeks.

The issue of FreshDirect has crystallized a series of environmental issues across the Bronx - such as “redlining green” (where the green economy bypass communities of color), the protection of climate migrants, food sovereignty, clean air, and climate education – issues often neglected in communities perceived to have crime, housing, employment and education issues.  Such environmental issues will be highlighted at several events taking place throughout the Bronx under the banner “Bronx Climate Justice” during the weeks leading up to and following the Climate Summit.

“I hope my presence at the Climate Summit not only brings recognition to the issues affecting the South Bronx but also builds bridges with communities of color, working communities and the global south who, like the people of the Bronx, are often on the frontlines of climate change,” stated Mychal Johnson.  “For decades we have fought top down policies that perpetuate disproportionate impacts of environmental harm and the resulting health crises in our communities.  Our presence at the Climate Summit is an important example of the need to bring the voices of the unrepresented to the table when developing strategies and solutions to combat climate change and environmental injustice.”