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Hundreds march through South Bronx, meet with CBs 4, 5

Protesters march against Jerome Avenue rezoning

Two members of Laborers Local 79, and also neighborhood residents, Adgenis Aquino, left, and Armando Armanin, hold a sign saying “Unionize all buildings built in NYC” during a march by the Bronx Coalition For A Community Vision over the Jerome Avenue Neighborhood Plan on Wednesday, October 4.
Bronx Times
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Hundreds of Jerome Avenue residents and activists marched through the south Bronx to the joint community boards 4 and 5 hearing on the city’s proposed Jerome Avenue rezoning on Wednesday, October 4.

Members of the Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision oppose plans to rezone their neighborhood.

Throughout this almost three-year process, residents have called for community participation, housing affordability, tenant protections, and safe, career-track jobs.

The community board hearing again indicated the community’s overwhelming opposition to the plan.

NYC’s plan for the rezoning under consideration includes: over 3,000 units of new housing, 143 development sites (45 projected, 98 potential), population increase of 11,788 residents, and over 3,705 new construction jobs.

Without real community participation and meaningful changes to the plan, this rezoning will not uplift residents as Mayor de Blasio intends it to, according to a news release from the Bronx Coalition, adding that it would further exacerbate the tale of two cities and be a tool for gentrification and displacement in the south Bronx.

“This historic 92-block rezoning will forever change the south Bronx and in its current form will exacerbate displacement pressures on a community countless New Yorkers and businesses call home,” said Patrick Purcell, executive director of the Greater New York Laborers-Employers Cooperation & Education Trust.

Purcell said the plan includes 3,250 apartments which will add over 11,000 residents to the Jerome Avenue neighborhood and create 3,700 jobs in the process.

But it ignores the need for more deeply affordable housing in the neighborhood and contains little to no detail on construction standards or exactly who will build this housing and perform the much-needed infrastructure updates to accommodate the population increase, he charged.

“Moving forward with a plan of this magnitude that has so many unanswered questions would not only be irresponsible of the city, but also unfair to the residents that have called this neighborhood home for years,” Purcell said.

Unanswered questions include how housing affordability and labor standards for the workers building the new housing ignores the needs of Jerome Avenue residents and their opposition to the rezoning in its current form, according to Barrie Smith, president of 100 Black Construction Workers.

“While we are still at the start of the land-use process, tonight’s community board hearing again shows our overwhelming opposition to this rezoning,” Smith said. “I cannot urge the city enough to listen to local residents and learn about what the community really needs.”

The Jerome Avenue rezoning has the potential to positively impact the lives of community residents, yet the current proposal falls far short, according to Joseph Geiger, of NYC & Vicinity District Council of Carpenters.

“If the city truly cared about improving the lives of its residents, the plan would call for the creation of quality, career-track jobs and true affordable housing,” Geiger said. “We call on the administration to amend their proposal to reflect the real needs of the community.”

Also, the rezoning will bring drastic change according to Xochilt Herrera, a tenant leader of Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition.

“It will change lives and the environment,” Herrera said. “It will affect all the people currently living along Jerome Avenue and not benefit them.”

Reach Reporter Bob Guiliano at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at bguiliano@cnglocal.com.
Updated 5:12 pm, July 9, 2018
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