Week in Rewind: Nonprofit to revamp Bronx skate parks, sale of local Jewish center raises concerns, BP calls for more community board applications and more

The public attends an in-person joint Community Board 5 & 6 meeting in Fordham on Monday, June 12, 2023.
The public attends an in-person joint meeting of community boards 5 and 6 in Fordham on Monday, June 12, 2023.
Photo Camille Botello

Skateboard legend Tony Hawk’s nonprofit to bring revamped skate parks to Allerton, Soundview Park

Two dilapidated skate parks in the Bronx will be undergoing a “180” in the near future, with plans to transform them into state-of-the-art skateboard venues in an effort to promote the sport in the borough.

City officials along with local skateboard advocates are behind the plan to overhaul the two existing skating areas via the construction of a skate park at Soundview Park, which will replace a defunct roller rink, and the revamp of the Allerton Skate Park located inside Bronx Park. Multiple city officials and skating enthusiasts are behind the plans, including Mayor Eric Adams, NYC Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks), NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), local council members and the non-profit skateboarding organization The Skatepark Project, along with other local skate advocates.

The total cost of the two new Bronx skate park projects has yet to be announced, as specific plans for each skatepark are in the design phase. It is also unclear when they will be completed.

The current state of the shuttered skatepark in Soundview Park will soon be revamped and reimagined as “Soundview Skatepark.” Photo Steven Goodstein

Looming sale of the Van Cortlandt Jewish Center raises concerns from neighbors

The fate of the 60-year-old Van Cortlandt Jewish Center (VCJC) could soon be in the hands of a real estate developer, defying the wishes of some neighbors who want more transparency from the Board of Trustees and for the building to remain designated for community services.

The VCJC board would not confirm potential buyers for this story, but neighbors who have known for some time about a possible deal say that Innovative Development Construction — which already bought two nearby private homes — is the potential buyer for the VCJC building at 3880 Sedgwick Ave. The developer declined to comment for this story.

A deal to sell the VCJC building has been slowly churning for some time. The Riverdale Press reported in August 2023 that the building was to be sold and the board chair at VCJC said the vote to sell was cast in 2019.

But since then, with no specific plans made public, residents fear that the VCJC building could be torn down and replaced with market-rate housing, which could signal the end of an era when generations upon generations stayed in the neighborhood because it was a great place to live and relatively affordable.

The Van Cortlandt Jewish Center, pictured on Feb. 20, 2024, has been a pillar of the community since the 1960s. Photo Emily Swanson

Bronx beep encouraging community board applications as looming March 1 deadline approaches

Last year, the Bronx Borough President’s Office was sifting through around 300 community board position applications. But as of Feb. 21, around 160 applications sit on BP Vanessa L. Gibson’s desk.

The approaching deadline and the fact that there are currently about half the number of applicants as the end of the application period last year has inspired Gibson to try to recruit more applicants during a day of action on Feb. 21.

“Our community board members play a crucial role in our democracy by advocating on behalf of their neighbors and by being the voice of their communities,” Gibson said in a statement when announcing the application period.

Community boards are bodies that serve as the local advisers for policymakers — including New York City Council members, state senators and assemblymembers — as well as local and state agencies. While they don’t have actual legislative voting power, they are permitted to vote on and issue opinions about community issues.

The BP’s office is specifically encouraging young people to apply to their local community boards — an initiative also set into action last application season. Last year the youngest community board member was Leona Teten, a then-17-year-old at Bronx High School of Science who said she brought perspective to Bronx Community Board 8’s Youth Committee and Parks and Recreation Committee.

Electric-powered affordable housing coming to Mott Haven

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) on Feb. 16 announced “electrifying” new plans for a city-owned parking lot between East 141st and 143rd streets near St. Mary’s Park.

351 Powers Ave. in Mott Haven will become the Powerhouse Apartments — named not only for its street address but because it will be a completely electric-powered building, furthering the city’s carbon neutrality goals.

In addition to creating “deeply affordable” housing, the mission of the project “helps reverse environmental injustices and moves the city closer to carbon neutrality healthier neighborhoods for generations to come,” HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión, Jr. said in a statement.

“High-quality, electric-powered affordable housing is the future our city needs and what this project aims to provide,” said City Council Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala, whose district includes Mott Haven.

The Powerhouse Apartments will be specially constructed to repel heat, using heat pumps, light-colored materials, solar panels, green roofs, recessed angled windows to deflect heat, and more.

A rendering of the forthcoming Powerhouse Apartments, a fully electric building to be constructed at 351 Powers Avenue in Mott Haven. Photo courtesy STAT Architecture

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