Year in Review: The Bronx’s biggest headlines of 2020

The winter of 2020 brought various highlights to the borough uptown. The Hells Angels bought a property in Throggs Neck, an actor passed away,  thousands lives were lost to COVID-19, a comedian took his own life and a group fought for an elephant at the Bronx Zoo.

Here are some major Bronx headlines from January through April.

January

Fight Over Bronx Zoo Elephant Nears Conclusion

A legal battle over whether an elephant has legal rights and if it should stay in the Bronx Zoo or be relocated to an elephant sanctuary concluded its arguments in January.

On Jan. 6, the nonprofit group Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) argued for a third time in the Bronx Supreme Court to free Happy the elephant from solitary confinement in the Bronx Zoo.

“The argument that the NhRP makes is that Happy is a person,” said NhRP President Steven Wise.

In total, they stated their case for 13 hours, which began in September. Wise, who has worked for decades as an animal protection attorney, explained that his organization and experts argued that Happy has rights and should live with other elephants.

Hells Angels buy former American Legion property on Longstreet

A notorious organization, often viewed in a poor light, purchased a Throggs Neck building recently to call their new home.

According to social media and two different sources, the Hells Angels, one of the oldest motorcycle clubs in America, has acquired 241 Longstreet Avenue, near the Throggs Neck Bridge.

The motorcycle enthusiast’s insignia is prominently displayed on the building.

“They have a sign on the property. I’m assuming they are using it in some way,” Community Board 10 district manager Matt Cruz said. “It looks like they will be using this as their meeting place.”

According to Hawkins Post 156 commander, Peter DelDebbio, the 6,000 square foot, 3-story brick building was originally the headquarters of the Theodore Korony American Legion Post.

Sopranos Actor and Country Club Resident Passes Away

Some knew him as Tony’s driver and for those who did not watch ‘The Sopranos,’ Anthony Ribustello was a man who impacted the Bronx Republican Party for many years.

Ribustello, of Country Club, passed away Dec. 28, 2019 at the age of 53.

Besides portraying Dante Greco on the renowned HBO series, he ran for borough president in 2009, served on Community Board 10, was a Republican Party district leader, county committeeman and former deputy chief of the Bronx Board of Elections.

Ribustello died while waiting for a kidney transplant. He is survived by his wife Rena and a son.

Steve DeMartis, who was friends with Ribustello since they were 15, spoke about his departed friend. While they grew up in different neighborhoods, Ribustello in Pelham Bay and DeMartis of Morris Park, they met in high school at Cardinal Spellman.

From a young age, he knew his friend would achieve big things.

“He always had an infatuation for the stage and acting,” he said.

First homicide of 2020 results in death of 29-year old:

A 29-year old man was discovered unconscious and unresponsive with gunshot wounds to the head and neck at 1609 E. 174th Street within the Bronx River Houses on New Year’s Day at around 10:30 a.m.

The individual, later identified as Raheem Jennings, was pronounced dead at the scene by EMS. Police say that Jennings’ girlfriend was taken into custody for questioning following the shooting. This was reportedly the first homicide of the year.

45 Restaurants Participated in Restaurant Week

January is typically a slow month for restaurants and often when people’s pockets are light due to holiday spending.

In order to fill stomachs and help eateries stay afloat, the Bronx Tourism Council hosted its ninth annual Savor the Bronx Restaurant Week Jan. 6 to Jan. 17.

On Jan. 6, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. held a media preview of the event at Seis Vecinos, 640 Prospect Ave., Longwood. There were samples from several places and food producers, including Ceetay, Bronx Brewery, Empanology, Bricks & Hops and the Bronx Night Market.

In total, 45 restaurants participated, more than doubling the amount from when it began nearly a decade ago. For more information, go to www.ilovethebronx.com/index.php/happenings/savor-the-bronx.

“Our borough’s culinary institutions are second to none,” Diaz Jr. said. “Not only do we have world famous epicurean destination on City Island and Arthur Avenue, but we have hidden gems like Seis Vecinos in neighborhoods across the borough. I encourage foodies from all over the region to check out the flavors of the Bronx during our annual restaurant week event.”

February

Major Drug Bust in Kingsbridge

Fentanyl found in the drug bustCourtesy of Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor For the City of New York

Seven million dollars worth of fentanyl was taken off the street in January during a west Bronx drug bust.

On Jan. 28, law enforcement, announced the arrests of six individuals in connection with a large-scale narcotics packaging and distribution network operating in Kingsbridge.

The long-term investigation culminated in the feds seizing approximately 750,000 glassine envelopes of suspected heroin/fentanyl from an apartment at 2559 Sedgwick Avenue during a court-authorized search.

“This enforcement operation shows that heroin is still the neighborhood stalker bringing danger and death to our doorsteps,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan.

“This seizure is incredibly significant because it has saved hundreds of thousands of people from starting a cycle of opioid addiction by removing three quarters of a million heroin filled glassines from a one-bedroom apartment in the Bronx. Great police work and a common goal go a long way in keeping our city safe from the dangers of illegal drugs,” he added.

From Jail to Owning a Barber Shop

Whether it was working multiple jobs or doing a stint in jail, there always seemed to be roadblocks in Eddie Torres’ path.

At 40, the lifelong south Bronx resident opened Etrednz Barber Studio at 3027 Middletown Road in December 2018.

“I was in shock,” Torres said. “I couldn’t really soak it in.”

Torres was raised by his mom, Awilda Santiago, in a two-bedroom apartment with his siblings, Luis and Angelica.

His mom couldn’t always afford to get him a haircut, so sometimes he would have to wait up to three months to get one. Eventually at the age of 13, he asked his mom for hair clippers and instantly fell in love with the trade.

“I wanted to start cutting my own hair and that’s how I started,” he recalled.

Meet the Gentlemen of the Y

Every morning at 4:30 a.m. Stephen Sloan arrives at the YMCA in Castle Hill. It’ll be a full day — there’s a pool, weight room, yoga and spinning classes.

But it won’t be complete until his buddies arrive — a handful of fellow retirees who trickle in as the sun comes up, an ad-hoc fraternal organization known as the Gentlemen of the Y.

You know the Gentlemen have arrived in numbers when the locker room gets loud, laughter snaps sharply, like a towel, and guffaws and backslaps fill the room, issued by men with nicknames like International Superstar, Ice, Mack Daddy and Frank Sinatra. The list goes on.

“It makes my life so much easier, said Sloan, aka International Superstar. “Everything’s accessible to give me plenty of help. And the Gentlemen of the Y has been very supportive and helpful to me — for me it’s a brotherhood, a family, we go through a lot of stuff, whether it’s good, bad or ugly.”

St. Theresa Church assures that incidents occurred outside feast

For 23 years St. Theresa’s festival has taken place in Pelham Bay, but now the event is event on life support.

In June 2019 there was turmoil after the feast, which resulted in vandalized vehicles, storefronts damaged and other property ruined due to unruly, rowdy teenagers that descended on the feast from other neighborhoods.

All of the incidents occurred beyond the perimeter of the feast, mostly along Westchester and Crosby avenues, just outside the Buhre Avenue #6 train station.

“We want to make it clear that there were no incidents at the feast itself last year,” said the church’s pastor Reverend Thomas B. Derivan. “The 45th Precinct did their usual excellent job in patrolling the feast. However, outside the barriers of the feast, the police were not able to do their job, unfortunately.”

Mega Million Project coming to the south Bronx

Community Board 1 residents fear that a mega project coming to the neighborhood in two years will slowly push everyone out.

On Jan. 30, representatives of the NYC Economic Development Corporation presented its plan to develop a riverfront park, ‘The Lower Concourse Park Project,’ which is part of a 2.3 acre $194 million investment in the south Bronx.

For context, the rezoning was approved in 2009 by the Department of City Planning and that the Community Board voted in favor of the overall rezoning. The park is just one aspect of the $194M investment, which will also include multiple blocks of new streetscape design, new water and sewer infrastructure, and Bronx Point (which also includes new open space). These are long-standing investments that have committed to the south Bronx in 2015.

Rev. John Udo Okon is worried the park can lead to more high priced homes, high rises and buildings that are out of character with the community.

People can barely afford to live here now and the city wants to put this monstrous project here, he noted.

March

Jacobi Launches Drive thru COVID-19 Testing

Nurses and doctors at the drive thru testing site for the coronavirus at Jacobi.Photo Courtesy Jacobi Hospital

On March 17, Jacobi Hospital launched a drive thru testing site for the coronavirus.

Dr. Elana Sydney, chief of ambulatory medicine at Jacobi, spoke with the Bronx Times about how the testing works and who should come for it. She stressed that people do not need a doctor’s note, but must call 311 in order to make an appointment and they cannot just show up at the site. Testing was available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“I think people are concerned, obviously anxious, but I think the overall atmosphere has been controlled,” Sydney said.

Upon arrival the patients were greeted by a few nurses and a doctor. The car pulled up, the nurse obtained their info; the doctor asked them what symptoms they were having and then swabbed their mouth. A diagnosis was received within 48 hours.

Corona forces Street Closures in the Bronx

In March COVID-19 forced the shuttering of streets citywide, including some in the Bronx.

The city closed Grand Concourse, between East Burnside Avenue and 184th Street from March 27 to March 30 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

This road closure was in Councilman Fernando Cabrera’s district. The councilman explained the purpose is to get people off the road and allow pedestrians to get exercise and do critical errands while maintaining the required six feet of distance to prevent spreading the COVID-19 virus.

“After coordination with the de Blasio administration, I’m proud to report that Grand Concourse, from E. Burnside Avenue to E. 184th Street in my district will be closed to vehicular traffic,” Cabrera said.

Cabrera told the Bronx Times that shuttering the road was important and more needed to be closed. The safety and health of citizens should come before anything, he said.

Local businesses temporarily close in response to Coronavirus scare

Many businesses in the Bronx, among most other places in the United States, have either limited service or closed down indefinitely due to COVID-19.

Bronx businesses and organizations that have shuttered or limited service included Wendy’s, T-Mobile, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Popeye’s, Botanical Garden and Bronx Zoo, among other local and borough establishments.

All schools, libraries and community boards were also closed temporarily. Nursing homes also restricted visitation to medical family members.

One Mom Does it all on Arthur Avenue

Maria Di Rende grew up in Belmont, but never in her wildest dreams imagined she would one day be operating her own restaurant.

Today, the mom of five daughters runs Enzo’s at 2339 Arthur Avenue in Little Italy.

With March being Women’s History Month, the Bronx Times convinced Di Rende to remove her apron and chat with us about her success.

She and her late husband, Enzo opened the eatery in 2005, as a café with 40 seats. But three years ago the husband and wife team expanded it and has now grown it to be one of the most popular restaurants on Arthur Avenue, seating 200 patrons.

Enzo’s is oftentimes listed in ‘Where to Dine’ guides for those visiting Little Italy in the Bronx.

“I definitely feel proud, especially proud for my husband because this was his vision,” Di Rende said.

Courtesy of Gov. Cuomo’s office, new testing site opens in Co-op City

On March 30, a COVID-19 testing site opened in the north east Bronx.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, Speaker Carl Heastie, Senator Jamaal Bailey and Assemblyman Michael Benedetto introduced the testing site at 2210 Bartow Ave, Co-op City.

“Our main strategy to slow the spread of this virus has been to increase testing and reduce density in every community across the state,” Cuomo said. “The multiple drive-through mobile testing facilities we have created are helping keep people out of hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they could potentially infect other people or get sick themselves, while increasing our testing capacity…”

The mobile testing center was located in the parking lot of the Bay Plaza AMC Theater at 2210 Bartow Ave. It prioritized tests for individuals that are among the highest risk population.

Residents who wanted to be tested had to make an appointment by calling 888-364-3065. Walk-ins were not allowed and all patients had to be in a vehicle.

April

Parkchester community loses local culinary legend

Joe Torres, owner of Joe’s Place Restaurant & Bar, who passed away April 12 from COVID-19Photo courtesy Joe Conzo

A man who served the likes of Derek Jeter and Jennifer Lopez and became known as an icon in the restaurant industry was taken from the Bronx in April.

On April 12, Joe Torres, owner of Joe’s Place Restaurant & Bar, 1841 Westchester Ave., passed away from COVID- 19. Torres, 73, had his eatery for two decades and spent the majority of his life in the kitchen.

For many years he was the chef at Jimmy’s Bronx Café on Fordham Road, which shuttered in 2004.

Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. expressed his condolences.

“Joe catered a lot of our events and sponsored our Orchard Beach Salsa summer concerts last year,” he said on Twitter. “More importantly, Joe was a friend. My heart goes out to Joe’s family during this difficult time.”

Giovanni’s in Pelham Bay to shutters

Brothers Luigi and Anthony Scargoni, who bought Giovanni’s in 1979.Photo courtesy Debbie Scargoni

For four decades, Giovanni’s was a staple in the Pelham Bay community. Sadly, it shuttered its doors in April.

Located at 3209 Westchester Ave., the restaurant closed April 26 after 40 years.

“Over the past 40 years every family member has worked there,” said Debbie Scargoni, who owned the eatery with her husband Luigi.

In 1979 Luigi and his brother Anthony bought Giovanni’s from the previous owner when it was formerly located at 3227 Westchester Ave.

The duo emigrated to American from Italy at ages 15 and 11. They worked various jobs in the food industry, including at a luncheonette owned by Debbie’s father, which is where he met his future wife.

While customers are grateful for their food, Scargoni knows it’s time for a new chapter.

Their goal is to sell the store once things return to normalcy.

Country Club landlord booked for murder in fatal baseball bat beating of tenant

A Bronx woman faced murder charges for her alleged role in the deadly beating of her tenant inside his apartment in April.

Marianna Cassara, 32, was arrested April 20 on charges of murder, manslaughter and assault in connection with the gruesome April 15 death of Mario Dissaro, 32, who rented an apartment at her home on Bayview Avenue in Country Club.

Officers from the 45th Precinct responded at 2:44 a.m. on April 15 to a 911 call regarding a man assaulted inside the second floor of the residence. Upon their arrival, cops found Dissaro unconscious and unresponsive, with severe head trauma.

Paramedics rushed Dissaro to NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi, where he was pronounced dead.

The New York Daily News reported that Cassara had initially called 911 claiming that an intruder had forced their way inside Dissaro’s apartment and attacked him. However, a police source could not confirm if that’s true.

Kingsbridge comedian tragically takes his own life

Comedian Brian Doney who took his life on April 1Schneps Media Jason Cohen

A young comedian whose career was on the rise and was poised to make it big in the Bronx tragically took his life in April.

According to an MTA spokesman, On April 1, 26-year-old Brian Doney of Kingsbridge lost his life when he was struck by a train at the Metro North Marble Hill Station. The MTA does not believe this was an accident or criminal.

Doney passed away the day after his birthday.

His younger brother, Kevin, lost his best friend that day. Kevin told the Bronx Times his brother cared about family and friends, was a good listener and almost always gave useful, pertinent advice and more importantly he treated everyone with respect.

Kevin knew Brian had something special in his comedy. He made people laugh and he would have made such an impact.

“Brian wasn’t perfect,” Doney said. “Nobody ever is. But he was a great brother, and he was always there for me. This moment doesn’t define him. He had dreams, goals and aspirations. He had so many projects planned for this year, and they all sounded really creative and worth hearing. He believed that his comedy was both funny and engaging, and that people deserved to hear it, even if they didn’t know it yet.

I loved Brian very much, and nothing in life will be quite the same as it was to crack jokes or just talk to him. I looked up to him as much as he looked up to me, for reasons I may never fully understand. He knew me better than anyone else.”
The summer of 2020 brought many various highlights to the borough uptown, from the New York Yankees playing a truncated, 60 game season with no fans, to Arthur Avenue leading New York City in finding innovative ways to dine amidst pandmeic restrictions, plus elections and other major stories, here some major Bronx headlines from May through August.

May

Two affordable mega housing developments coming to the south Bronx

A rendering oFile/Courtesy of Madd Equities

A developer revealed renderings for two huge affordable housing developments coming to the south Bronx.

This development comes on the heels of the Jerome Ave rezoning that the City Council approved in 2018.

Maddd Equities is building Rivercrest at 1164-1184 River Ave. in Concourse, which will be a two phased, mixed-use, 100 percent affordable housing.

They closed on financing on the Extremely-Low and Low -Income Affordability Program with the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the New York City Housing Development Corporation in June 2019.

Mayor opens streets in Morris Park, Mott Haven, Fordham, and elsewhere as New York motorists return

During these months, West 230th Street in Kingsbridge, 140th Street in Mott Haven, Rhinelander Avenue in Morris Park and Creston Avenue in Fordham Heights were opened up by Mayor Bill de Blasio along with others to pave way for creative approaches to keep small businesses open outdoors during warm weather.

Jadakiss sends over 250 pizzas to Bronx, Harlem and Yonkers medical centers: 

The iconic New York rapper who last year confessed a strong admiration for pizza crust has given much than just that to some uptown health systems today.

In the spirit of aiding front line medical workers and Friday, May 15 also being national pizza party day, Jadakiss donated 250 pizzas to medicals centers throughout in the Bronx, Harlem and Yonkers as part of the Pizza vs. Pandemic initiative.

Bronx resident receives $1,000 from Andrew Yang nonprofit organization: 

Former 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang’s nonprofit Humanity Forward announced it was was distributing $1 million in $1,000 cash payments to 1,000 working households in the Bronx.

Among the recipients was Ramona Ferreyra of the Mitchel Houses in the south Bronx. Ferreyra, 39, is a community activist and small business owner. From sourcing masks for essential workers to bringing medicine to sick neighbors, she has used her skills as a community organizer to help everyone around her ride out the COVID-19 crisis.

Federal judge dismisses nurses’ lawsuit against Montefiore Medical Center: 

On May 1, a federal judge threw out the New York State Nurses Association lawsuit against Montefiore Medical Center.

The lawsuit, which was filed, April 20, sought to address severe workplace hazards that are causing or are likely to cause a nurse’s death or serious physical harm.

According to the Hill, “U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman said he did not have the authority to rule on the disagreement, and he encouraged the parties to “continue their efforts to reach an amicable resolution of their disputes.”

June

Rash of shootings across three boroughs hours after NYPD cuts Anti-Crime Units: 

Police investigate a shooting in Brooklyn hours a shot time after the NYPD announced it was dismantling the Anti Crime Unit.(Photo by Lloyd Mitchell)

Major shootings throughout the Bronx and New York City happened just hours after NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea announced the disbanding of the controversial, plain-clothed Anti-Crime Units that compromise 600 officers in the city’s 77 precincts. The teams – which specialize in seeking out armed criminals — were disbanded in an effort to rebuild public confidence in the NYPD.

At the time, one which occurred at 1164 Franklin Ave. in the South Bronx — turned out to be deadly.

Cops from the 42nd Precinct, after receiving a 911 call about the shooting, found a 34-year-old man who was shot in the back and hip and lost consciousness. He later died of his injuries.

A second individual, also a 34-year-old man, took multiple bullets to his chest. He’s now in critical condition at Lincoln Hospital, police said.

That’s Amore! Arthur Avenue planning to close block for in-street dining on weekends: 

The Bronx’s Little Italy felt like an outdoor piazza from the homeland this summer.

The Belmont Business Improvement District cooked up a plan to close portions of Arthur Avenue to make way for in-street, outdoor dining on weekend evenings, according to the BID’s treasurer, Frank Franz.

Calling the concept one like that of an Italian mall, Franz says that many of the beloved, old world restaurants, delis, and stores on the avenue also will likely continue the the outdoor piazza for years to come.

The June 23 Democratic primary elections: 

This primary result saw the rise of elected progressive congressman Jamaal Bowman, a Yonkers educator oust longtime incumbent Eliot Engel for the 16th district of the north Bronx and Westchester.

It also resulted in city councilman Ritchie Torres earn the Bronx’s 15th Congressional district vote as the first gay Afro Latino person elected to such an office.

Residents in the Bronx’s Little Italy rally for looted pizza owner: 

Like many other small businesses during COVID-19, Joe’s Little Italy on East 187th St. has been working hard to stay afloat. However, after recently being looted last week, the Bronx community is rallying together to help the eatery “pick up the pizzas” with the hopes to help keep the business alive.

Knowing he is a big part of Belmont, a Go Fund Me page was launched to help him stay afloat and there is about $10,550 raised with a goal of $50,000.

A local graffiti artist Fernando Carlo is also creating a mural on his boarded up storefront to show him some more support and love from the neighborhood.

Fatal Cross Bronx Expressway accident claims driver’s life, injures others: 

It happened at about 1:47 a.m. on Saturday, May 30, when a blue 2014 BMW M5 sedan carrying two passengers and a driver  towards New Haven, allegedly tried cutting over to the Jerome Avenue exit 2A  according to police reports from the 44th Precinct incident.

The car then struck the median near the exit and collided into a pillar shortly after, the NYPD Highway District’s Collision Investigation Squad determined.

Upon arrival, officers discovered the 30-year-old male vehicle operator in an unconscious and unresponsive state with trauma about the body.

He was rushed to Bronx Health Care System where he was pronounced dead.

A 35-year-old male passenger was also to Saint Barnabas Hospital with complaint of bodily pain by EMS personnel in stable condition and a 21-year-old female passenger refused medical attention at the scene, police reported.

July 

New York Yankees play historic, fanless 60 game season:

Alex Mitchell

The 2020 Major League Baseball season was an odd one to say the least. Its 60-game stretch from late July until an ordinary October postseason start proved to be a challenge for the New York Yankees and other teams as a 10-day injury inadvertently meant missing a sixth of the season.

Although the Yankees fell short to the rivaled Tampa Bay Rays in a best-of-5- ALDS round, second baseman DJ LeMahieu made headlines in the Bronx after winning his second ever batting title and first in the American League

Six Bronx Catholic schools to shutter among a total 20 downstate due to COVID-19: 

The Archdiocese of New York announced that financial struggles brought on by coronavirus has pressed the closure of 20 Catholic schools downstate, with six of the schools located in the Bronx.

The Bronx’s Saints Philip & James School in Williamsbridge, St. Thomas Aquinas School in Crotona, St. Luke School in Mott Haven, St. John’s School in Kingsbridge, Nativity of Our Blessed Lady School in Edenwald, and Our Lady of the Assumption School in Pelham Bay will be shutting down its operations.

Engel sued NYC, Westchester BOE amid primary recount in which he significantly trailed Bowman: 

While trailing an estimated 10,000 votes behind political newcomer Jamaal Bowman, incumbent congressman Eliot Engel has sued both New York City and Westchester County’s Board of Elections during a recount that could take weeks to resolve.

That lawsuit was meant to entail “the court to rule on the validity of the casting or canvassing, or refusal to cast or canvass, any such ballots,” in efforts to modify the anticipated result of the ongoing recount, which began yesterday at the headquarters on the Bronx’s Grand Concourse.

It made little difference as Bowman was declared victorious shortly after.

“The Best of The Bronx Summer Concert Series” debuts via BronxNet: 

Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. in collaboration with the Bronx Tourism Council and BronxNet announced the debut of “The Best of The Bronx Concert Series,” which begins on Sunday, July 11 and runs every Sunday until the end of August. The series will feature performances from past iterations of The Bronx Summer Concert Series Salsa Fest.

Prior to COVID-19, the annual concert series was slated to take place from July through August at “The Bronx Riviera,” but was canceled due to social distancing regulations.

Suspect in custody after two more young people shot, one fatally in the west Bronx:

The NYPD brought up 39-year-old Joam Casado of Crotona Avenue on murder and weapon charges after the shooting death of Manhattanite Juancarlos Ortega and gunshot wound to another that took place near Grote Street and Prospect Avenue in the 48th Precinct.

Casado allegedly shot Ortega in the head and the 20-year-old victim in his groin, according to the NYPD.

Both gunshot victims were rushed to nearby St. Barnabas Hospital by EMS personnel where Ortega was pronounced dead.

The other man is now listed in stable condition, according to law enforcement sources.

August

Bronx charter hosts virtual Black Lives Matter protest and sing along: 

Students from Classical Charter Schools hosted a virtual Black Lives Matter protest for Juneteenth, which featured a sing along to Andra Day’s hit song, “Rise Up.”

The event, which was broadcast live on YouTube, was hosted by middle schoolers Adelaide and Amarachi, who answered questions on race and protests from other students. The full protest video can be viewed here and the sing along portion by students and faculty can be viewed here.

GRAPHIC IMAGES: Morris Park dog thrown in trash near supermarket:

A dog was left for dead as man’s best friend was found in a city trash can near the Community Board 11 office in front of Big Deal Food Market in Morris Park.

Anthony Logrippo, owner of The Reef Shoppe at 1741 Colden Ave., told the Bronx Times that he was alerted of a French bulldog in the garbage sometime late yesterday morning. As a dog owner himself, he rushed over to see what happened.

West Bronx community protests bank closure on Burnside Avenue: 

The west Bronx community is outraged at a bank for planning to close its doors on Burnside Avenue at the end of next month.

Led by the Jerome Avenue Revitalization Collaborative (JARC), residents and Bronx leaders protested Amalgamated Bank of 94 E. Burnside Ave. and Chase Bank at 5 West Burnside Ave. on Monday, criticizing its shuttering on account of the thousands of residents and over 100 small businesses that will be left without “accessible high quality financial services options at a time of great financial vulnerability.”

Bronx resident starts petition to remove Columbus statue in Belmont:

One Bronxite wants a statue taken down in the borough, following a slew of historical statues that have been vandalized or toppled due to racial tensions.

Castle Hill resident and activist, Felix Cepeda, 39, launched a petition calling for the Christopher Columbus statue on Arthur Avenue in Belmont to be taken down.

Man slashed outside clothing store on White Plains Road:

The summer spike in crime continued in the Bronx as a man was slashed outside of a clothing store on Pelham Parkway on August 6.

According to the NYPD, the incident occurred at 7:08 p.m. at 2132-21398 White Plains Rd. He was taken to Jacobi Hospital and is in stable condition.

Tortora told the Bronx Times the man that was attacked worked for the clothing store N Brand 26.

“We don’t see any police over here on White Plains Road,” he said. “He was just doing his job. We don’t feel secure here anymore.”

The fall and early winter of 2020 saw an unfortunate continuation of violent crime across the Bronx while other issues regarding education, the future of small businesses and restaurants also remained unclear. There were also major headlines regarding large scale real estate projects as well as quality of life issues which were ignited by the pandemic, some even before. Here are some top stories from September to December.

September

P Diddy opens Co-op City charter school on former college campus: 

Feb 4, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Recording artist P. Diddy a/k/a Sean Combs prior to the game between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium.Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The iconic rapper Sean Combs,’ best known as P Diddy announced the opening of a new Capital Preparatory Charter school on the former campus of the College of New Rochelle at 755 Co-op City Blvd.

Expected to educate up to 200 students between sixth and seventh grade and later growing to 650 students through 11th grade, the new Capital Prep location began opening under a remote model on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Demonstrators organize ‘All Lives Matter’ counter protest on Arthur Avenue: 

On Saturday, Sept. 19, an educational event took place at D’auria-Murphy Triangle, a park on Arthur Avenue about the history behind Christopher Columbus.

However, the small group of activists who organized the program encountered a large group of aggressive counter protesters who chanted things  like “all lives matter” and other more threatening, racist slogans. According to photojournalist, Sophia Guida, several of the original activists reported being personally threatened and at least one of the counter protesters had a baseball bat.

Columbus has been a polarizing figure for borough residents, with some even starting petitions to remove his statues from public places.

Bronx school closes due to positive COVID-19 cases: 

P.S. 811x The Academy for Career and Living Skills, a district 75 school in the Bronx, is the first public school to close after two staffers tested positive for COVID-19 in seven days, the Department of Education announced on Friday, September 11.

The department also confirmed that seventeen more Department of Education employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since school buildings reopened for teachers on Tuesday, officials said at the time.

Young transgender woman found dead on sands of Orchard Beach Monday morning, NYPD: 

A 23-year-old woman was found dead in the sand of Orchard Beach over the summer, police reported.

The body of a young transgender woman, who lived in upper Manhattan at 306 W. 139th St. was discovered by NYPD officers near the shore of the Long Island Sound.

NYC’s first Golden Corral open for business in Van Nest: 

One of America’s most iconic buffet chains chose the Bronx for its first New York City location, one that announced its outdoor opening on Monday, Sept. 14.

Golden Corral, now operating in the parking lot of Van Nest’s 2375 E. Tremont Ave. is open for outdoor dining and takeout, with delivery service added in the weeks ahead, according to the restaurant.

October 

Bronx men caught with over 25 pounds of cocaine, $125K in Morris Heights apartment: 

Photos courtesy of the DEA

Three Bronx men, who escaped from police earlier this month were finally cuffed after law enforcement discovered enough cocaine to overwhelm Scarface along with $125,000 in cash during the raid of a Morris Heights apartment, the DEA announced in the fall.

Cesar Chavez, Cristian Rodriguez Chavez, and Roberto Javier-Batista were all brought up on possession charges while Cesar was also arrested for allegedly overseeing the narcotics trafficking operation that came out of apartment 1G at 1500 Popham Ave.

Bronx clinic owner charged with stealing more than $4 million from New York taxpayers: 

A Bronx woman who allegedly offered fraudulent affordable housing to scam low-income New Yorkers into revealing their personal information bilked New Yorkers out of $ 4 million.

On Oct. 9, Attorney General Letitia James announced charges against Leslie Montgomery and her healthcare clinic, Healthy Living Community Center (Healthy Living), for defrauding the New York State Medicaid program by submitting false claims to Medicaid and to MetroPlus, a Medicaid-funded managed care organization (MCO), for customized back braces.

Bronx students create plan for Kingsbridge Armory revitalization: 

A group of students recently crafted a plan on how to revitalize the Kingsbridge Armory and make it a vibrant place for the community.

For years, people have been trying to convert the Armory into an ice hockey rink but nothing has come to fruition. So tge American Planning Association’s Diversity Committee and Mission Society paired up with students from English Language Learners & International Support (ELLIS) Preparatory Academy at 99 Terrace View Ave., to find a way to make the Armory serviceable.

Biaggi and City Island residents discuss water quality in Mount Vernon and its effects on the Bronx: 

As raw sewage continues to leak from pipes in Mount Vernon and polluting local waterways, the city has now been sued for the second time in two years for allegedly violating the Clean Water Act.

In 2018 the state filed a lawsuit against the city and the federal government followed suit in September.

Though Mount Vernon is part of Westchester County, the sewage from the pipes has heavily polluted the Hutchinson River, which flows into City Island, Eastchester Bay and other parts of the Bronx. In fact, regional nonprofit organization Save the Sound released results of its “2020 Long Island Sound Report Card,” where it gave the Eastchester Bay an F grade.

Residents express concern about quality of life on Villa Avenue in Bedford Park:

For many years, Villa Avenue in Bedford Park was a quiet Italian community. But years later, people have expressed concerns about how the neighborhood has changed.

Anthony Rivieccio, 59, a 35-year resident of Bedford Park, told the Bronx Times that the neighborhood was always considered “suburbia.”

“It had been that way until the last 20 years,” he said.

Now full of drugs, garbage and homeless people, he said that it seems the community has done a 180.

November

Cuomo puts two ‘self imposed’ Bronx areas in yellow zones as response to COVID-19 jumps: 

FILE PHOTO: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a daily briefing following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., July 13, 2020.REUTERS/Mike Segar

Following a recent rise in COVID-19 cases, Governor Andrew Cuomo has put two Bronx areas into precautionary ‘yellow zones,’ also placing “self imposed” blame on residents for the new restrictions.

The two separate Bronx regions are: the south-west beginning in Highbridge, spanning north to the Grand Concourse’s end at Mosholu Parkway while the other one starts in Mott Haven and reaches eastbound to Soundview.

That second, larger yellow zone touches other Bronx neighborhoods: Morrisania, Longwood, Hunts Point, Castle Hill, Parkchester, Van Nest, Bronx Park East and Unionport.

Cajun seafood joint Hook & Reel splashes into Concourse Plaza: 

The south Bronx has quite a catch coming to Concourse Plaza on E. 161st Street.

Maryland-based Cajun seafood restaurant Hook & Reel has agreed to a 15-year lease for 5,656 square feet of crawfish, lobster tail, snow crab, as well as catfish sliders, seafood po’ boys, hush puppies, paella and many more delectable marine bites.

Hook & Reel will be constructed on the plaza’s ground floor next to anchor tenant, Food Bazaar Supermarket over the upcoming few months, according to the shopping center’s owner and manager, The Feil Organization, which owns 24 million square feet of retail and commercial space and over 5,000 residential rental units.

Bronx’s Little Italy pizzeria honored for keeping front line workers fed:

One pizzeria in the Bronx’s Little Italy has been committed to keeping heroes fed in the midst of a global pandemic.

As many businesses have shuttered or struggled during COVID-19, Bella Pizza has not only stayed open but they’ve also provided food for first responders and many who cannot afford to put food on the table.

Infant boys found dead on Bronx patio may have been hurled from window: sources:

Police are still investigating the harrowing circumstances surrounding the death of twin, one-week-old infants who were found dead in the rear of a Bronx building Monday afternoon — and police believe they were thrown out a window to their death.

While many details remain unclear during the active investigation, the NYPD confirmed that two baby boys were found dead, wrapped in paper on a rear patio outside of 1460 College Ave. in Claremont.

The building’s superintendent reported the fatal situation to the NYPD, law enforcement sources said.

Bronx man stabbed to death during fight in apartment building:

Cops from the 48th Precinct were called to 1185 Lebanon St. in Van Nest at about 1:55 a.m. on Nov. 1 about reports of a physical fight.

Upon arriving at the scene, law enforcement sources said, they encountered the victim in a hallway, who had suffered a stab wound to his torso.

December

NYCHA finalizes deal to build 171 units of supportive and affordable housing in the Bronx: 

The Morrisania Air Rights NYCHA development Courtesy of NYCHA

An underutilized NYCHA waste facility in the south Bronx will be turned into nearly 200 units of supportive and affordable housing.

On Dec. 17, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) announced the closing of Melrose North, which will result in the creation of 171 units of supportive and affordable housing in Morrisania. Construction will begin in January.

The site is located at 925 Courtlandt Avenue between East 162nd Street and East 163rd Street, a vacant lot that housed a trash compactor.

Op-Ed: NY should follow Prop 22 model to help independent workers:

“Suddenly, so much of our world changed. My two sons began taking virtual classes, while my wife continued going to work at a private clinic from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week. Our family had to adjust quickly and one of the changes I made was to begin working as a delivery worker using the Uber Eats app in the Bronx,” Gary Talamone writes.

Two-month-old infant found dead inside Webster Avenue apartment: 

A two-month-old infant was discovered dead by police early Sunday morning inside of a west Bronx apartment building, the NYPD announced earlier this month.

The child, Jayde Laboriel, was found inside of a Webster Avenue residence, “unconscious and unresponsive, with no obvious signs of trauma observed” at about 5:50 a.m. She was rushed to Montefiore Hospital where the infant was pronounced dead.

A look at how much snow has fallen in the Bronx and the rest of NYC during the first storm of December:

Several inches of snow fell on New York City during mid-December’s Winter Snow Watch.

Areas of the Bronx have accumulated over 10 inches of snow —  part of the Woodlawn Heights neighborhood had 10.5 inches of snow. Other areas, such as the Riverdale neighborhood, only had 3 inches of snow as of 8 p.m.

Far from equal numbers in latest DOE data on NYC students returning to in-person learning:

Just over 160,000 students in 3K For All, Pre-K for All and elementary school grades (kindergarten through fifth grade), as well as the city’s children with special needs, enrolled in blended learning will began to trickle back into school on Monday, Dec. 7, after Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered a systemwide shut down two weeks prior.

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