Building a better Bronx

Welcome to the Bronx
Welcome to the Bronx
Kamira/Shutterstock

Building a better Bronx

Borough pols on their biggest priorities.
September 28, 2018

The trope that the Bronx is no longer “burning” has long been played out. From its bustling commercial centers to its blooming tourism industry, it’s hard not to see the progress in the Bronx as an unmitigated success.

But that doesn’t mean there’s not more work to be done.

We asked some of the Bronx’s top elected officials, such as Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr., county Democratic Party Chairman Marcos Crespo and state Sen. Gustavo Rivera, about the items on the top of their to-do lists. Here’s what they had to say.
 

Expanding Metro-North access

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The 125th St. Metro-North station in Manhattan.
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The 125th St. Metro-North station in Manhattan.
Title Text: 
The 125th St. Metro-North station in Manhattan.
Caption: 
The 125th St. Metro-North station in Manhattan.
Description: 
Suspended 125th Street Metro-North Railroad commuter rail hub station, in Harlem, New York City. Rush hour traffic leaves light trails on Broadway.
Image Credit: 
mandritoiu/Shutterstock

“It’s a game-changer,” said Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr., in reference to the $695 million project that will bring four new Metro-North stations to southern and eastern portions of the Bronx. Díaz hoped to see the four stations – in Hunts Point, Parkchester/Van Nest, Morris Park and Co-op City – open by 2022 at the latest, but the timeline depends on the redirection of Long Island Rail Road trains and ongoing negotiations with Amtrak, the current owner of the tracks. Read the full story here.
 

Improving Hunts Point highways

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New York rendering of the Arthur Sheridan Enhancement Project.
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New York rendering of the Arthur Sheridan Enhancement Project.
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New York rendering of the Arthur Sheridan Enhancement Project.
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The state's rendering of the Arthur Sheridan Enhancement Project.
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New York rendering of the Arthur Sheridan Enhancement Project.
Image Credit: 
Courtesy the Governors Office

A key stretch of highway in the South Bronx could undergo massive changes in the coming years, though there are still some uncertainties with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $1.8 billion plan to redesign the Sheridan Expressway. In 2017, Cuomo announced the plan to reduce diesel truck traffic on local roads in the Hunts Point neighborhood and increase pedestrian access to the Bronx River and its neighboring parks, but community groups have fought against parts of his proposal. Read the full story here.
 

Sealing Kingsbridge National Ice Center funds

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A rendering of what the Kingsbridge Armory Ice Center will look like.
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A rendering of what the Kingsbridge Armory Ice Center will look like.
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A rendering of what the Kingsbridge Armory Ice Center will look like.
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A rendering of what the Kingsbridge Armory Ice Center will look like.
Description: 
A rendering of what the Kingsbridge Armory Ice Center will look like.
Image Credit: 
Courtesy the Mayor's Office

The Kingsbridge National Ice Center, a project more than six years in the making, looks to be nearly ready to break ground as developer Kevin Parker closes in on the project’s first phase of financing. Located in the northwest Bronx, the Kingsbridge Armory has been vacant since 1996, and plans to repurpose the historic fortress into a 750,000-square-foot ice sports complex were first announced by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2013. Read the full story here.
 

Affordable housing at Bronx Point

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A rendering of what the Bronx Point development will look like.
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A rendering of what the Bronx Point development will look like.
Title Text: 
A rendering of what the Bronx Point development will look like.
Caption: 
A rendering of what the Bronx Point development will look like.
Description: 
Bronx Point will also include a home for the Universal Hip-Hop Museum, a new waterfront esplanade, a state-of-the-art multiplex theater, a food hall and incubator and more
Image Credit: 
Courtesy New York City Economic Development Corp.

If all goes according to plan, the opening of Bronx Point, a mixed-use development, would bring up to 1,045 units of housing to the South Bronx. The development will be delivered in two phases. The first phase is set to include 600 units of permanent affordable housing as well as public spaces for performances, food, education and museums, which is expected to be done by 2022. The project is expected to create 915 temporary jobs and 100 permanent jobs once the site opens. Read the full story here.
 

Siting a South Bronx jail

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An overhead view of Rikers Island
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An overhead view of Rikers Island
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Rikers Island
Caption: 
Rikers Island from the air
Description: 
Rikers Island
Image Credit: 
U.S. Geological Survey

On Aug. 15, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration announced its proposal for the locations of four community-based jails that would replace the Rikers Island jail complex. A jail is planned for each of the four largest boroughs, but the Bronx location at 320 Concord Ave. in Mott Haven has drawn the most criticism. Among those raising concerns are state Sen. José M. Serrano and Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. Although New York City Councilwoman Diana Ayala, whose district includes the site, has come out in support of the proposal, Diaz contests that the city failed to take local interests into consideration. Read the full story here.
 

Diverting offenders to drug court

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Bronx Criminal Courthouse
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Bronx Criminal Courthouse
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Bronx Criminal Courthouse
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Bronx Criminal Courthouse.
Description: 
Bronx Criminal Courthouse
Image Credit: 
Photo courtesy U.S. Courthouses

The first drug court of its kind in New York City may be part of the solution to the Bronx’s daunting drug overdose problem. In 2016, the Bronx had 308 documented overdose deaths – the most of any of the five boroughs – a toll that rivaled the number of murders in the entire city.

In an attempt to reduce such overdoses, a new pre-plea court in the borough offers nonviolent offenders the option of treatment in lieu of incarceration. Since December, more than 100 defendants charged with low-level drug possession have gone through the new Overdose Avoidance and Recovery Diversion Program, or OAR. Read the full story here.

Jordan Laird
is an editorial intern at City & State.
Annie McDonough
Annie McDonough
is a tech and policy reporter at City & State.
Christina Saint Louis
is an editorial intern at City & State.
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