Ferry Point Community Advocates

Thank you Councilman James Vacca, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, and Senator Jeff Klein for attending the rally at 3030 Middletown Road on October 18.

You each spoke to us with passion. What is the next step? What can we do to make sure this is not just a photo op (to quote an observer in the crowd)? We are willing to help to keep our “Urban Sprawl” just the way it is. We do not want to give up our basic quality of life to the theory that the Bronx is the place to build. Bigger and higher buildings are surrounding us each year with little or no regard to the existing residential homes.

I understand that the higher the population of a city the more representation it gives our leaders, but does that mean expanding the city to a point of pushing the longtime homeowners and residents out to other states?.  If we have not left yet….then we have decided to stay the distance.

We want our leaders to function now! As we are, (actually…as we were). 3030 Middletown Road is an example of what we do not want and truly believe is detrimental to our community. The signs were held up proudly to signify that all the surrounding neighborhoods supported the quest to stop the continued destructive overdevelopment of our area.

I want to explain the PLANYC for the year 2030 that our Mayor has in store for us!

A description of “New-Urbanism” NYC City’s future sustainable development is as follows: urban sprawl (that’s us) versus New Urbanism (that’s the 3030 Middletown Road type building)

Urban Sprawl – In the past neighborhoods were developed with a haphazard and disorderly form of urban development:

• Developers often fill whole subdivisions with one type of residence—say, $300,000 ranch houses. (many of our blocks consist of R2,R3,R4 zoning)

• Zoning often outlaws apartments and single-family houses in the same development.

• Certain nationalities or economic levels may congregate in the development, and may not tolerate those outside their “type”.

• Scattered or “leapfrog” development that leaves large tracts of undeveloped land between developments

• Commercial strip development along major streets (ex: Tremont, Miles, Westchester Ave., Middletown Road etc.)

• Large expanses of low-density or single use development such as commercial centers with no office or residential uses, or residential areas with no nearby commercial centers

• Major form of transportation is the automobile Uninterrupted and contiguous low- to medium-density urban development

• Walled residential subdivisions that do not connect to adjacent residential development.

• Residences may be far removed from stores, parks, and other activity centers

New Urbanism – promotes the creation and restoration of diverse, walkable, compact, vibrant, mixed-use communities composed of the same components as conventional development, but assembled in a more integrated fashion, in the form of complete communities [newurbanism.org].

• Different housing types—apartments, row houses, detached homes—occupy the same neighborhood, sometimes the same block.

• People of different income levels mingle and may come to better understand each other.

• A family can “move up” without moving away—say, from a row house to a single-family home.

• Property values don’t necessarily suffer when housing types are mixed. New-urbanist neighborhoods are generally outselling neighboring subdivisions, and some of the United States’ most expensive older neighborhoods—Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown, Boston’s Beacon Hill, for example—are marvels of mixed housing.

We question the logic of expanding this theory of New Urbanism with High Density residential, as far from Manhattan as Pelham Bay. What do they expect the established homeowners to do? With no infrastructure dollars to keep up with the new urbanism we are destroying our communities. Schools, parking spaces, roads, trains, buses, are all gasping for help.

What is the plan? To let us live in a chaotic place with huge changes to our neighborhoods that will render the “suburban past of the Bronx” a memory in our children’s eyes? What about the unity in the word community? All the volunteer hours that our established “homeowners” put into their community.

The majority of the new urbanized tenants move from place to place with little or no substantial connection to the history of that community. Many new residents in the new homes of our areas move every three months. We cannot even get to know them, never mind ask them to help us with our civic and park groups’ plans for the next five years.

What about the small business owners that serviced the area for years? Dedicating their off hours and funds to children’s football, soccer teams, little leagues, community service etc.? Does the New Urbanism expect people who do not have a stake in the value of their homes to worry about the neighborhood parks and children’s sports teams?

Many of the urban development ideas that are being activated by the Manhattan city dwellers, have good designs behind them, ours do not. The infrastructure is being updated as they develop. The roof is green to absorb rain water from entering the combined sewers and forcing untreated waste into our waterways, there are gardens to absorb emitted heat and rain, there are recycled water systems that use “dirty water” to flush etc. There are wealthy corporations and individuals backing Central Park.

But Not In Our Area:

BJ’s was requested to put a green roof by Carrions office, but the Home Depot that built in the same place wasn’t.

The Pepsi project stripped away a 70 year old 6-acre forest, but that was OK.

The future golf course stripped away 226 acres of green space located near the poisonous fumes of the toll booths of the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, but that was OK.

Thousands of trucks destroyed our streets all around the future golf course, but that was OK.

Pepsi’s construction trucks continually abused a “not over 5 ton limit” street, But that was OK!

The huge proposed 31 story office building on Waters Place will overload our sewers even more and bring the poisonous raw sewage into the un-dredged Westchester Creek to the point of rendering this tidal water body dead.

By the way, “As of Right” is wrong. Fix it! To have a 25-year old ULURP still viable for development of an area (after so much has changed around the project) is simply ridiculous. Change it!

We the taxpayers of the community are not the elected officials. We are not empowered to hold our ground against the 2030 PLANYC of Mayor Bloomberg to stop urban sprawl (which is single family homes within NYC limits that depend on car transportation) and instead the Mayor’s office plan gives building incentives for the “New Urbanism” high density buildings (that encourage the use of public transportation).

The infrastructure that includes our parking, roads, schools, water quality, sewer/gas/electrical lines, street signs, graffiti removal are all under extreme stress already. Our small neighborhoods in this larger community of the NE Bronx are scrambling each budget year to try to get the important repairs done. There are tensions between the groups due to “favoritism” like sibling rivalry the groups have to tear pieces from the grants and budgets to get things done.

There is an unhealthy competition for the groups and special interests that are “In” with the elected officials and the groups that are not. This tears apart the entire community’s trust and ability to join together and demand from our mayor or federal officials the necessary repairs and maintenance that our community needs to keep attracting a financially secure group of homeowners, business owners and professionals that will actually live in the area instead of just work here and financially support their neighborhoods elsewhere. What we are emerging into are neighborhoods of people living off the state, city or credit. The foreclosures are intense and the homes for sale are everywhere.

We need to support each other in this fight to keep the community a vibrant growing area with a variety of age groups. This is not a place to “live out your golden years” to quote one of our elected officials, this is a special place to raise children that will be able to handle diversity and use their imaginations and have empathy for all types of nationalities and religions. The children raised in the Bronx will be the flexible leaders of tomorrow, but they will need the support of the elected officials to demand their rights from the mayor and other departments of the state and city to think ahead when they approve projects that jeopardize all our futures.

Send a letter of support to stop the overdevelopment in our area to North East Bronx Community Alliance (N.E.B.C.A.) C/O Dorothea Poggi, 724 Brush Avenue, Bronx, NY 10465.

We will copy it and send one to the proper authorities.

Let’s act now to keep what’s left of our well established and financially secure, Urban Sprawl.

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