The 43rd Precinct denied the party’s permit, citing transportation and safety concerns.
A meeting was held Saturday, May 10, when the festival was to take place, in which community members and representatives of councilmembers Annabelle Palma and Joel Rivera were on hand to speak of their concerns.
“We just wanted to have a one block event where they can come out of their homes and have a good time,” said Francisco Gonzalez, president of the Bronx Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc.
Local bands and entertainment, such as the K Company from the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club, were slated to attend the event. Food vendors and health organizations, such as Bronx Lebanon and Affinity Health Plus, were also scheduled as guests.
For the past two years, the festival took place on Southern Boulevard, between 163rd Street and Westchester Avenue. This year’s event was relocated to White Plains Road.
Gonzalez added that Robert Torres of the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit came to his CB 9 District Service Cabinet meeting on March 18 and “He said the application was done and completed.”
The Street Activity Permit Office regulations state that the SAPO director is to consider any recommendations or comments from the community boards or other city governing agencies while determining the fate of any given street activity.
The mayor’s office contends the permit’s denial was based on a letter received by 43rd Precinct Deputy Inspector Charles Ortiz.
“We cannot approve a permit that the precinct denied,” a spokesperson from the mayor’s office said. “We can’t ignore their concerns.”
In an April 22 letter to Gonzalez, Ortiz outlined three major concerns that lead him to deny the permit.
“This event is expected to draw upwards of 9,000 people that will create a dangerous overcrowding situation,” he said.
Ortiz explained the event would require street closings and bus re-routing, increasing the unsafe traffic conditions already existing on White Plains Road and the Bruckner Expressway.
He also cited the direct impact to local businesses on Mother’s Day Weekend.
“Community affairs personnel surveyed the two business districts that would be impacted regarding this function,” he said. “The majority of business owners disapproved of the function, citing that past events left the area dirty and negatively impacted on their individual businesses and trade.”
The Parade committee felt this statement implies a lack of management on their end and believes the opposite is true.
“The permit denial means a loss of revenue for local businesses and the loss of an activity that is meaningful to our community,” Gonzalez griped.
Despite the cancellation of the event and the fact that its scheduled date had come and gone, Gonzalez is still hopeful of bringing a Puerto Rican festival to the community.
“We are trying to arrange a meeting with the 43rd Precinct,” Gonzalez said. “We are still looking forward to bringing a Puerto Rican Festival to the Bronx.”
The Bronx Puerto Rican Day Parade is still scheduled to kick off on Sunday, May 18, with an 11 a.m start time, at E. 176th Street, before marching down the Grand Concourse to E. 167th Street.
For more information, see the organization’s website at www.bronxprparade.com.