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Borough president to hand out $$

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On his 100th day as borough president, Ruben Diaz Jr. announced plans to allocate $21 million to Bronx schools, parks, community facilities and institutions. Owen Dolen Recreation Center will receive $500,000 and Aspire Preparatory Middle School on Wallace Avenue $208,000.

Diaz Jr. committed $2.5 million towards the establishment of a Bronx Children’s Museum tennis center. Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club West Bronx Center is set to receive $1.5 million, SEBCO Development $1 million and Phipps Houses-Via Verde $1 million.

Diaz Jr. plans to allocate $1.2 million towards the installation of security cameras at the Edenwald Houses. Tenant association president Walter McNeil opposed the installation of security cameras years ago but changed his mind when there were six shootings and two deaths in 2008.

“I want the children to be safe,” McNeil said. “I think the cameras will work.”

The cameras will sit on poles and will be monitored by the police; Edenwald has five cameras already, thanks to the New York City Housing Authority. Police canceled the development’s 2008 Summer Family Day due to violence but its 2009 event went off without a hitch.

“It was the best Family Day in a long time,” McNeil said. “It was out of sight.”

Other notable Diaz Jr. commitments include $750,000 for computers at the Ghetto Film School, a new institution set to open in the south Bronx, and $500,000 for a library renovation at the Grace Dodge Career and Technical High School in Belmont.

Diaz Jr. plans to allocate $800,000 to Out2Play, an initiative that delivers renovated playgrounds to disadvantaged public schools in the Bronx. He also earmarked $500,000 for the Woodlawn Heights public library. Woodlawn residents are stuck with the second-smallest library in the city. Highbridge Voices, the award-winning children’s choir, will receive $750,000.

The borough president has set aside more than $1 million for the renovation of Charlton Garden, a dilapidated park in the south Bronx named for Korean War hero Sgt. Cornelius Charlton. The announcement was a surprise to Charlton Garden advocate Robert Gumbs. The park is already set to benefit from $1.5 million in City Council funds and $500,000 in federal stimulus funds, Gumbs said.

Since taking office, Diaz Jr. has hosted a public hearing on the future of the Kingsbridge Armory, managed negotiations between Kingsbridge residents and The Related Companies, issued a policy paper on the reform of mayoral control, planned a borough-wide business summit and established a public information desk on the main floor of the Bronx County Courthouse.

“In my inaugural speech, I put forward an agenda of ‘One Bronx,’ meaning that the problems of one neighborhood affect all neighborhoods, and that we would all work together to solve them,” the borough president said. “I am proud that Bronxites everywhere are embracing this message, and I will continue to work hard for every Bronx resident to realize the full potential of our wonderful hometown.”

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