Locals file suit to try to block Fresh Direct’s relocation to the Bronx

Fresh Direct may be more of a health hazard than a health option, a group of south Bronx residents and organizations are charging.

They’ve filed a suit against the residential fresh food deliverer trying to stop it from moving its operations to public waterfront at the Harlem River Yards will use about $130 million of public money.

The lawsuit filed June 13 in Bronx state Supreme Court, calls for FreshDirect to conduct a comprehensive analysis of how the move might negatively affect the environmental health and quality of life of south Bronx residents.

Representatives from New York Lawyers for the Public Interest said the move would add thousands of diesel truck and car trips daily to an already over-polluted community with high rates of asthma.

“We are not New York’s dumping ground,” said resident Mychal Johnson, a member of Community Board 1. “Our asthma rates are five times the national average. We need jobs, but we also need to breath.”

South Bronx native and already has enough trouble breathing with all of the pollution in the area.

“Every day I wake up and I have trouble breathing with all of the pollution and the trucks that come through here,” said local resident Daniel Chervoni, noted that he is asthmatic. “The last thing I need is more trucks coming through here.”

Attorneys also pointed out that the city’s Industrial Development Agency, New York City Economic Development Corporation, New York State Department of Transportation, Empire State Development Corporation, Harlem River Yard Ventures, UTF Trucking and FreshDirect failed to hold a public hearing before announcing the move.

FreshDirect said in a statement that “It’s unfortunate that this small but vocal group is trying to deny local residents the jobs and benefits FreshDirect will bring to the Bronx.”

“This facility is going to create 1,000 new jobs and expand access to healthy food in the Bronx.

“ A thorough environmental impact review was conducted that shows the new facility will generate far fewer truck trips and result in less traffic when compared to the 1993 approved uses of the Harlem River Yard. In addition, FreshDirect has repeatedly said it is moving to a 100 percent green fleet of trucks over the coming years, and the new facility will enable that transition by providing an infrastructure to deploy electric and natural gas vehicles.”

“We have too much pollution here,” said Harry Bubbins of Friends of Brook Park. “We need what other communities have: green space, waterfront access, mixed use development with affordable housing, local commercial enterprises, and green jobs.”

Christina Giorgio, attorney for New York Lawyers for the Public Interest charged that “The city excluded the community from its decision-making processes and systematically understated the Project’s environmental impacts in an effort to avoid public scrutiny of the harms this project will create.”

Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at ksanchez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394

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