Column: We must hold our local politicians’ feet to the fire

From left, Fatou Cisse, Marianne Lardo, Virginia Strasser, Gail Cancelino, Julie Rizzo, Joanne Murphy, Dusha Nikprelaj, Miriam Martinez and Elizabeth Martinez.
Photo courtesy Mary Jane Mustano
I think we are very lucky to live in a community where residents will come together around a situation that threatens the quality of life of all who live here. Right now, the problem is here in Schuylerville but residents and civic leaders from every community have come out to help. They know that if this community is upzoned, it will be the start of the upzoning of our entire community. Our one- and two-family homes will disappear and very tall buildings will rise into the sky. It will be the end of our low density, quaint neighborhoods. This why we must all fight this together. There is strength in numbers and we can win if everyone gets involved.
Joe Bivona, owner of Foodtown, has proposed to upzone the area from his store, down to Gifford Avenue and into Tremont Avenue. The community quickly pushed back with petitions, rallies, letters, phone calls, media coverage and social media posts. We have garnered support from our community board and former Councilman Jimmy Vacca as well as the Throggs Neck BID. Aleksander Mici, a candidate for City Council, has publicly pledged his support to our community. He backed up his support by sending a legal document known as a “Cease and Desist” letter to the Throggs Neck Associates, LLC. Sammy Ravello, a candidate for borough president, has also publicly pledged his support. Both have attended our rallies and petition drives.
Now, we need every local politician to publicly say that they will support this community by helping us defeat the Bruckner upzoning and others that are sure to follow. If they have a vote in this proposal they must pledge to vote no and also to urge their colleagues to line up against this. With such a strong community outpouring against this project it would be political suicide to do anything else but throw their full support behind us. I urge you to vote for the politicians that commit to voting this proposal down. Right now, it is the most important issue because this proposal has the potential to change our lives forever.
Our civic association and other partners will be sending letters to all local politicians urging their support. We will report back the response we received from each. We ask that you do the same. Do not accept the soft responses that we have received so far. They must know that they are either with us or against us. If they are against us, they will feel our wrath at the ballot box.
As you see in the photo, many residents are hitting the streets with petitions. You can help by getting your friends and neighbors to sign. Petitions are available by emailing us at  You can also get petitions at John Cerini’s office, located at 3600 Tremont Ave.
We are planning to resume civic meetings in September, barring any COVID complications. We rely on your dues as we do not receive monetary help from our local elected officials. So many of you have sent an extra gift with your dues. Your generosity is very much appreciated. If you have not yet sent in your dues, please send your $10 yearly dues to Waterbury LaSalle Community Association, 1145 Hobart Ave., Bronx, NY 10461. We are a 501c3, which means that donations over and above dues are tax deductible.
Stay well and stay safe during this crisis. We will get through this together!

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