OP-ED: Borough President Diaz on his capital budget

Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.
File photo

When I first came to office in 2009, I came in with the goal of making this borough an even better place for the more than 1.4 million Bronx residents who call it home.

As Bronx Borough President, one of the most significant ways I can affect change is through my capital budget. By funding worthy projects in every corner of the borough, we can improve the quality of life for everyone in the community while also building upon our successes in education, in housing, economic development, in tourism and many other areas where our borough is seeing transformative, positive change.

This year, my office provided $28,800,000 for 93 worthy projects all over The Bronx. Since taking office in 2009, my office has allocated $195,280,000 to 573 projects of all kinds, from improving our schools, to restoring our parks, to building new housing of all types and everything in between.

In education, we have invested $50,000 towards adding upgrades at places such as P.S. 14 in Mott Haven, via UFT & Community Learning Schools, for improving their computer lab. We have also spent $500,000 to acquire a site for our new Van Cortlandt library branch, so that our students can have a place where they can continue quenching their thirst for knowledge.

We are making sure we get healthier as a borough, providing ways to facilitate a healthy lifestyle, such as enhancing our “#Not62” initiative, by investing in our playgrounds and parks.

For example, we allocated an additional $500,000 to an existing $1 million allocation towards improvements at Roberto Clemente State Park; which will soon be home to a baseball academy operated in conjunction with Major League Baseball (MLB), the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) and Harlem RBI; as well as $500,000 for the reconstruction of the basketball courts — including new fencing, backboards, benches, paving, landscaping, adult fitness equipment and general site work, at Bridge Playground in Highbridge.

We have also put $1 million into a new YMCA in Edenwald, in partnership with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and the de Blasio administration. With this funding, we are rehabilitating the grounds to give our kids a place where they can not only exercise their bodies but their minds, as well.

We also understand the importance of NYCHA to our borough, which is why we allocated $200,000 into the NYCHA Patterson Housing Community Center, which will be used to make much needed upgrades and improvements.

On housing, my office allocated more than $3 million in capital funds for seven housing developments across The Bronx this year, creating more than 800 new affordable units in neighborhoods across the borough. This includes $750,000 to construct 75 units of moderate- and low-income housing, in partnership with the Mt. Hope Housing Company on Walton Avenue. The funds will specifically support a new gymnasium in the cellar for the adjacent Mount Hope Community Center.

My office put $400,000 towards a 57 unit moderate-income co-op in the northeast Bronx, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, matching a previous $400,000 allocation. We have also spent $750,000, working alongside with Catholic Charities, on two different projects that create more than 350 units for low-income seniors, veterans and the formerly homeless.

Keeping in mind how vital the importance of infrastructure to maintain a thriving economy, we have made key allocations, such as investing $750,000 for the improvement of the Grand Concourse, a major road artery that is a lifeline for our great borough. The improvements made on the Grand Concourse which will ease moving, for both constituents and businesses alike, in and around The Bronx.

Considering how vital history and culture is to our borough, especially in light of the fact that The Bronx is the birth place of hip hop, salsa, and doo-wop, we have put money into expanding our presence in this area. We allocated $10 million in capital funding towards the renovation of the Orchard Beach pavilion renovation, which is not only a great historical amenity and economic engine, but also the home of our Salsa Summer Concert series, continuing our great tradition of adding a different flavor to the New York City cultural landscape.

We have also spent $250,000 on renovations for the South Wing Atrium of The Bronx Museum of the Arts; while The Bronx Historical Society has received $183,000 for exterior and interior rehabilitation, as well as technology upgrades.

We are even helping our local broadcast station, BronxNet, grow alongside us, having provided $500,000 to help with studio renovations. This will allow Bronxites who produce their own shows on the network to use the latest and best broadcast technology in the industry, while also expanding their skill-sets.

And we have allocated critical funding to so many more projects across the borough, too many to mention here. While we have much to be proud of – from investing in affordable housing to dropping our unemployment. We must continue our efforts to build an even greater Bronx.

Investing in worthy projects is a vital component of a revitalized, reinvigorated Bronx.

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