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
“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
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
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
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
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
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.