The longtime chair of Community Board 1 and the spirit of the south Bronx passed away on Thursday, September 5. George Rodriguez was remembered fondly by his Mott Haven and Melrose communities where he served on the board for over 22 years before his passing at age 71.
“He was a good man and a very good chair,” said CB1’s district manager Cedric Lofton.
The last time Lofton interacted with Rodriguez was just before the board broke for its summer recess, when the duo discussed pushing for federal funding that would benefit the area’s residents.
“He made sure CB1 was not neglected,” Lofton said while mentioning Rodriguez’s dedication to bringing better quality of life to the board’s longtime residents.
“He would fight to get running fire hydrants repaired, for quicker police and FDNY response times. George did what he could to see that this district was not mistreated,” Lofton continued.
Rodriguez was also a major housing advocate for his community as well, serving as an instrumental component in the development of the affordable housing mega complex with an attached YMCA, La Central at 626 Bergen Avenue in Melrose.
He kept a tight watch on all areas of the district that could be developed as well, according to Lofton.
“He insured that the city cleaned up every single vacant lot in the district so that it could be developed into housing,” the district manager said mentioning that he wanted to see that residents could remain in the south Bronx while living in housing that was affordable.
He also worked along with Councilman Raphael Salamanca, Jr. on many mandatory inclusionary housing projects both while Salamanca was serving as CB2 district manager and even after he joined the council, since the council district overlapped into CB1.
The popular chair was also an advocate for quality healthcare throughout his life of service.
Rodriguez served on the advisory board for Lincoln Hospital for years. He lived only two blocks away from primary care center.
“George wanted to ensure that the health standards of our community were not being overlooked,” Lofton said.
Rodriguez even had an old fashioned, signature way of finding out what issues were arising in his community, too…he would walk around the neighborhood.
“George walked everywhere,” Lofton laughed.
“That’s how he would know there was a problem so quick, he’d just walk around Mott Haven and see what complex was having problems with that and who was having issues with whatever,” Lofton continued.
It was that beat walking that partially made Rodriguez into a major advocate for the cleanliness of his community.
“If he saw something was wrong George would call sanitation right away and he knew exactly where it was,” Lofton said.
Even Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. recognized Rodriguez for his work in the borough.
Rodriguez was previously given accolades by the beep’s office during past Bronx Week celebrations for the work he had done in Mott Haven and elsewhere.
“George served our borough in numerous capacities for decades and truly cared for the Bronx and the people he served. He will be missed. Rest in peace, Georgie,” Diaz said.