Rally held to stop project

Protesters gathered on the sidewalk in front of the construction project at 3030 Middletown Road on Saturday, October 18 to protest over-development. Photo by Patrick Rocchio

Protesters from Ferry Point and Silver Beach to Morris Park and City Island gathered on Saturday, October 18 to protest a project they feel will have a negative impact on the greater northeast Bronx area.

Flanked by elected officials Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, and Councilman Jimmy Vacca, as well as Community Board 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns, members of the Waterbury-LaSalle Community Association lead the protest against a reputed slumlord’s new construction project with the full support of neighboring civic associations.

Jacob Selechnik, a partner in Westchester-based 2419 LLC, which is building a seven-story, 44-unit, apartment building at 3030 Middletown Road, was derided, as was the project, as being adverse for the overall welfare of the neighborhood.

“I called the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and they said his 100 buildings were sold, but whoever purchased them, accepted his violations,” said Tony Cannata, WLCA president. “[Selechnik] didn’t pay off any of the fines. The guy gets approval for a new building – but doesn’t anyone look into the other 100 he owned?”

“I think we are all on the same page – we want to fight overdevelopment – we just don’t have the city resources available, and to make matters worse, here is someone with a horrible track record,” said Senator Klein. “I stand here today to tell you that any kind of state tax exemptions he hopes to get, he will not get. He has already hurt other communities, and we have to stop him before he hurts our community.”

The meeting, was a public action designed to call attention to what many locals feel is a lack of consideration from agencies such as HPD, Department of Buildings, and City Planning Commission to the needs of low-density areas throughout the city.

Councilman Vacca, in response to mounting opposition in the community to what one protester described as a “raping of the neighborhood by greedy developers,” released for review a letter he has written to CPC commissioner Amanda Burden asking that further downzoning take place in Pelham Bay, despite the existence of many apartment buildings.

“Over the past five years, thanks in large part to your office, hundreds of blocks in my Council District have been down-zoned to guard against overdevelopment,” Vacca’s letter read. “However, in the past nine months, a new threat has emerged. Because several mixed-density corridors within these down-zoned areas retained their high-density zoning designation, we have seen a sudden and unexpected proliferation of large-scale residential projects.”

“They are not encouraging single-family homes,” said Dotti Poggi.”

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