Every Saturday, The Week in Rewind spotlights a sampling of the wide-ranging editorial work of the Bronx Times.
East Bronx residents slap city with lawsuit over Bruckner Boulevard rezoning
Resistance against the Bruckner Boulevard rezoning has continued past its approval, with local residents filing a lawsuit against the city last month.
Buffalo-based environmental lawyer Richard Lippes is representing the Bronx Coalition Against Up Zoning Inc., an organization led by John Cerini, a 52-year-old accountant and insurance agent in Throggs Neck who was born and raised in the neighborhood. In the suit against New York City, the Department of City Planning and the City Council, Lippes argues that the city’s planning department did not properly conduct the necessary environmental review for the rezoning project. The lawsuit, which calls for the zoning to be invalidated, cites Article 78, a measure that allows for challenges of agency decisions.
The lawsuit was filed on Feb. 13 in Bronx Supreme Court and the city has not yet responded.
The rezoning was approved unanimously by the City Council in October 2022 with Mayor Eric Adams’ support after local Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez reversed her stance on the project. The plan is supposed to bring 348 units across four sites on Bruckner Boulevard with 192 designated as affordable, including 99 units for seniors and 25 for veterans. While the project area is adjacent to the Bruckner Expressway, it falls in a low density growth management area where residents against the proposal have clung to their suburban zoning.
Bronx Defenders hit city, NYPD with two separate police misconduct lawsuits
The Bronx Defenders have filed two separate lawsuits against the NYPD and New York City alleging a pattern of racist police misconduct toward Black and brown New Yorkers, including one lawsuit against the Bronx Narcotics Unit, a unit for which the city paid out roughly $23 million in misconduct claims over the last decade.
Both cases were filed on Feb. 28 in the U.S. Southern District Court, and according to the Bronx Defenders, are case in point of the NYPD and the city allowing “a brushfire of racist misconduct to continue to burn.” Each lawsuit is seeking punitive damages to be determined at a jury trial.
In 2022, the city paid out $121 million as a result of police misconduct cases, the most in five years. The amount is a result of a small group of very expensive cases, including a $26 million settlement with a man wrongly accused of assassinating Malcolm X in 1965. Police misconduct cases accounted for about 60% of the settlements the NYPD paid out last year, according to an analysis of city data released last month by the Legal Aid Society.
With one teen currently serving, young people encouraged to apply to community boards
Leona Teten is a 17-year-old senior at the Bronx High School of Science, the specialized school known as Bronx Science. The Spuyten Duyvil resident isn’t old enough to vote for president, or even her local councilmember, but she can vote on her local community board.
Teten is the youngest community board member currently serving in the Bronx, according to Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson’s office.
Gibson’s office is encouraging more youth ages 16 and older to apply for the borough’s community boards. Though the online application was originally due March 3, the deadline has been extended to March 15.
Teten first learned about the existence of community boards from a friend who serves on a Manhattan board. She started attending meetings in the fall of 2021 before joining the board the following September.
“I think that there would be a lot more people who would be interested if they were aware of it,” she said. “I think that a lot of people my age don’t know what the community boards are, which is a shame, because I think that they are a very interesting institution and they’re a very valuable resource.”
Bill to ban youth tackle football in New York state has been a decade in the making
For nearly a decade, state Assemblymember Michael Benedetto has embarked on a legislative effort to eliminate tackling in youth football for ages 12 and under, and shift toward non-contact flag football. Responses to the bill over that time — and the possibility of scaling back full-contact and tackling in youth football — have set off intense and sometimes visceral reactions. Benedetto told the Bronx Times he’s been accused of attempting to “wussify” the game of football, a sport that has long-revered playing through pain.
“Football is so ingrained in our culture that I’ve heard concerns about this bill that it’s un-American, and that I’m trying to get rid of football entirely,” said Benedetto. “This bill is to protect our young kids from possibly having long-term brain damage that will affect them for rest of their lives.”
The reasoning behind Benedetto’s bill is supported by the ever-expanding science on head trauma as a 2021 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study reported that youth tackle football athletes ages 6-14 sustained 15 times more head impacts than flag football athletes during a practice or game and sustained 23 times more high-magnitude head impacts.
For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes