Benedetto grant to enhance Westchester Square

Assemblyman Michael Benedetto presented $250,000 to the Bronx Business Alliance for the opening of a new satellite office for the organization. (L-r) Councilman Jimmy Vacca, BBA executive director Margaret Arrighi, John Bonizio of the Association of Merchants & Business Professionals of Westchester Square, and Benedetto at the check presentation. Photo by Patrick Rocchio

Assemblyman Michael Benedetto joined community and business leaders to present a grant that is expected to go a long way in the ongoing revitalization of Westchester Square.

On Saturday, April 2, Benedetto joined John Bonizio of the Association of Merchants & Business Professionals of Westchester Square and Margaret Arrighi, executive director of the Bronx Business Alliance to give $250,000. The grant will develop programs and make enhancements to Westchester Square.

“Revitalization of Westchester Square is vital to the community because it is such an important hub for business and transportation,” Benedetto said. “I hope that these funds help the businesses during these trying economic times.”

Benedetto’s grant, which came from capital funds available under last year’s budget, will be used to purchase video surveillance cameras and establish a BBA satellite office in Westchester Square.

“In particular, the funding will be used for camera surveillance on Westchester Square,” Bonizio said. “We will have cameras on the newly created ‘safety corridor’ from Lehman High School to the train station and the bus stops. There will also be capital improvements for Westchester Square in terms of street furniture: things like benches and garbage receptacles.”

In addition, Bonizio said the grant allows for the creation of a BBA office that could essentially serve as a clearinghouse for all of the graffiti removal programs put in place by elected officials.

“The BBA office will be a place where merchants can come to report graffiti damage,” Bonizio said. “The BBA staff will be available to document the graffiti and execute the removal. A lot of money is going to be used in a systematic attack on graffiti.”

Bonizio stated that the BBA’s Westchester Square office would run portions of its education series for businesses. The Westchester Square Zerega Improvement Organization will also have an area to host programs at 25 Westchester Square. WSZIO’s funding will come from a separate grant.

Arrighi said that the BBA having an office in Westchester Square would allow the organization to take a more hands-on approach as is fulfills its mandate of serving small businesses in Community Boards 9, 10, 11, and 12.

“Being on Westchester Square is a positive move for us and gives us the opportunity to be a little closer to the local business community and provide technical assistance for success,” Arrighi said.

Bonizio added: “This grant is a prelude to the establishment of the Business Improvement District and the Bronx Council of the Arts programs on Westchester Square.”

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