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
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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.”


Monday, August 18, 2014

18 Bronx Politicians Express Concern About FreshDirect's Unfair Wages & Anti-Union Activity. Residents Ask: What About Health?

18 Bronx Politicians Express Concern About FreshDirect's Unfair Wages & Anti-Union Activity

Now urge them to equally advocate for the health of our community. Please help put an end to decades of dumping diesel truck intensive businesses
in the South Bronx!

Last week, in response to UFCW Local 2013, eighteen Bronx politicians wrote a letter to FreshDirect to express concern about unfair wages and anti-union activity.  See letter here.

This week, South Bronx Unite responded with a letter thanking them for urging FreshDirect to engage in fair wage and labor practices.  We also asked them to equally consider the negative impact of FreshDirect's proposed move on the health of South Bronx residents, who have been forced to fight against bad policy (for decades) causing severe environmental degradation and an alarming health crisis.  See letter here.

Below are the Bronx politicians that signed the letter.  If you are in their district, please call them, email them or set up a meeting with them to urge them to equally advocate for an end to decades of dumping diesel truck intensive businesses in the South Bronx.

Bronx Elected Officials

Senator Adriano Espaillat
5030 Broadway, New York, NY10034

Senator Jeff Klein
1250 Waters Place, Suite 1202, Bronx, NY10461

Senator Ruth Hassel-Thompson
959 E. 233rd Street, Bronx, NY10466

Senator Gustavo Rivera
2432 Grand Concourse, Suite 506, Bronx, NY10458

Assemblymember Carmen Arroyo
384 East 149 Street, Suite 301, Bronx, NY 10455

Assemblymember Michael Benedetto
3602 E. Tremont Ave. Suite 201, Bronx, NY 10465

Assemblymember Marcos Crespo
1163 Manor Avenue, Bronx, NY 10472

Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz
3107 Kingsbridge Avenue, Bronx, NY 10463

Assemblymember Mark Gjonaj
1126 Pelham Parkway South, Bronx, NY 10461

Assemblymember Carl Heastie
1446 East Gun Hill Road, Bronx, NY 10469

Assemblymember Victor Pichardo
2175C Jerome Ave, Bronx, NY 10453

City Councilmember Maria del Carmen Arroyo
384 E. 149th St., 3rd Ave., #300 Bronx, NY 10455

City Councilmember Andrew Cohen
Riverdale: 3636 Waldo Avenue 10463
Norwood: 3450 Dekalb Avenue 10467
R: (718) 549-7300; N: (718) 882-4000 x 353

City Councilmember Andy King
940 East Gun Hill Road, Bronx, NY 10467

City Councilmember Annabel Palma
1041 Castle Hill Avenue Bronx, New York 10472

City Councilmember Ritchie Torres
573 East Fordham Road, Bronx, NY 10458

City Councilmember Vanessa Gibson
1377 Jerome Avenue Bronx, New 10452

City Councilmember James Vacca
3040 East Tremont Ave., #104, Bronx 10461

Friday, August 15, 2014

Tale of Two Cities Action Alert Update


On July 14th 2014, South Bronx Unite sent out an action alert to our email list.  In it we encouraged our members and allies to contact Mayor de Blasio, and ask him to put an end to the Bloomberg-era Tale of Two Cities FreshDirect deal that he campaigned against during his mayoral run.

It has been over one month and Mayor de Blasio has not yet responded to over 250 calls/emails asking him to stop the proposed $137M subsidy of 1,000+ daily diesel trucks trips through South Bronx Asthma Alley.

Instead, his office announced the monumental redesign of downtown Brooklyn - to include a 21 acre greenway connecting downtown to the Brooklyn waterfront.

The Tale of Two Cities will not change until we insist it changes.  If you have not yet contacted the Mayor, please do so today.  If you have not yet received a response, please call and email again (and ask 5 friends to do so as well.)

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Action Alert to Mayor de Blasio – End Tale of Two Cities FreshDirect Bad Deal!

 For two and a half years, together we prevented (then) Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo from giving FreshDirect a single dollar of a (then) promised $127 million subsidy to move its trucking operation to a South Bronx waterfront flood zone, bringing 1,000 daily diesel truck trips through an overburdened community already plagued with asthma rates 8 times the national average.  In 2013, we voted a progressive administration into office to change the tale of two cities and reverse course on decades of double standards and hazardous dumping on the South Bronx.  We have patiently waited more than six months for our newly elected leaders to deliver on their campaign promises, but our community’s health can no longer afford to be a back burner issue.  So today, we are asking all of you and everyone you know to call, email, tweet and facebook the Mayor and tell him to stop the FreshDirect deal.  Ask him to back his campaign for change with action!

EMAIL Mayor de Blasio & Team (gmail, hotmail, yahoo users)
EMAIL Mayor de Blasio & Team (outlook users)
CALL Mayor de Blasio via his Dir. of Intergovernmental Affairs Emma Wolfe at 212.788.2162 and/or via his Director of City Legislative Affairs Jon Paul Lupo at 212.788.2971

“Mr. de Blasio railed against the city's economic development subsidies, singling out a $130 million tax break for FreshDirect to support creating low wage jobs - a deal he called a 'mistake.'" -Crains

“Fresh Direct would never have gotten more than $100 million in government subsidies to stay in New York City if he ran City Hall, Bill de Blasio said.” –NYP

"The FreshDirect deal - giving away $130 million in taxpayer money to support low-wage jobs, all in response to the company's empty threats -- was a mistake.  And it's a symbol of how upside down our economic policies have been.  By reforming New York's incentive programs, we will free up resources to support entire industries and small businesses in all five boroughs - and begin to reinvest in real pathways to economic opportunity..."  -Speech as Public Advocate

Also remind Mayor de Blasio that the FreshDirect project has changed in size and scope as well as in amount and type of subsidies. Allowing FreshDirect to receive an undemocratic gift of (now) nearly $140 million in subsidies to move its trucking operation to a waterfront flood zone in the South Bronx would mean: 

  • 1,000+ additional truck trips every day through South Bronx "asthma alley" where the community already suffers asthma hospitalization rates 21 times higher than other NYC neighborhoods
  • Allowing a company to rely on a 21 year old environmental impact statement to build in a community globally known for environmental injustice and despite a well-documented asthma epidemic linked to the diesel truck-intensive industries and highways saturating and surrounding the South Bronx
  • No living wage requirements attached to one of the largest corporate subsidies to be given in NYC history.
  • Rewarding an anti-union, anti-immigrant employer that is not right for the South Bronx, with a record of discriminatory and unfair labor practices and a lawsuit by workers against the company for $50+ million in unpaid tips and overtime.
  • Perpetuating back room deals with no community input.
  • Subsidizing a business model that parks diesel truck refrigerated warehouses on city streets for 14 hours a day that act as grocery depots across the city, especially in UES, UWS and Tribeca (instead of paying taxes like all other brick and mortar grocers.)