Op-ed: Deafening silence from Progressive leaders on massive new fulfillment center in the Bronx

No, that’s not a new NYCFC soccer stadium, it’s the largest multistory fulfillment center in the United States.

Our representatives in Congress talk a big game about wanting to improve the air quality and health outcomes of the Bronx, but seem unaware or uninterested about what is happening right here in their own districts that will make this problem worse.  Namely, the development of a massive new last-mile fulfillment center at 2505 Bruckner Blvd.

Billed as the largest multistory fulfillment center in the U.S., 2505 Bruckner Blvd. is poised to dump untold amounts of new truck traffic onto the Bruckner and the Cross Bronx expressways. The development is located in AOC’s 14th District and the truck traffic that it spits out will sit on the highways that cut through Ritchie Torres’ 15th District.

Our representative Ocasio-Cortez is unmatched in her ability to bring attention to social justice issues. Busy doing the bidding of the Justice Democrats, a political action committee, on projects like the Long Island City-Amazon deal, the “defund” movement and the U.S. southern border. And once again left to fend for ourselves here in the Bronx.

It’s a convenient arrangement that the Justice Democrats get to use the underdog story of an under-empowered population, slow to demand results from government, in order to push a national agenda formulated by media and political elites. It’s been called “Trickle-down social justice.”

These big ideas do not seem to be reaching the ground in the Bronx and improving the quality of life here for working families.  It is still very recognizable as the place her parents left to give her a better start in life.

Torres has been focused on the issue of poor air quality that plagues his district and pitched an extremely ambitious solution of “capping” the Cross Bronx with green space. His silence on this fulfillment center makes me question how serious he is about real progress and change on this dire local issue though.

In his own words as quoted in the Bronx Times, “Children who live near the Cross Bronx or who attend school nearby are – through no fault of their own – breathing in pollutants that cause the Bronx to have among the highest rates of childhood asthma in the nation. The diesel trucks that often congest the Cross Bronx have been a death sentence for the people of the south Bronx, shortening their life spans with chronic diseases that have grown lethal in the age of COVID. The Cross Bronx Expressway is, both literally and figuratively, a structure of environmental racism whose dismantling is long overdue.”

Not only is the fulfillment center a big step in the wrong direction on the issue of environmental justice; it is alarming to see that the Department of Transportation is using taxpayer money to completely replace the Union Port Bridge that will provide access to the highways from 2505 Bruckner Blvd. It has been a major inconvenience to local businesses and residents, and is set to benefit the fulfillment center the most. Essentially subsidizing more air pollution.

Tenants of the facility have not been announced, but it is some dark comedy to think that it could be Amazon. Chased out of someone else’s district in Queens by AOC only to continue their expansion in Manhattan while dumping more environmental burdens right here in her own district in the Bronx, the poorest of the five boroughs.

Jobs? No question there will be more economic activity compared to the abandoned Whitestone Cinemas, the former tenants of the site. But how many low-paying fulfillment center jobs — insecure in the face of automation — are worth the lifelong burden of asthma in our children?

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