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Thursday, June 28, 2007

$23 Million to Preserve Affordable Housing

Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation (FBHC) will acquire and renovate 283 apartments in six buildings, thanks to a $23 million loan from the city's new Acquisition Fund. It's the first major loan made through the $230 million initiative.

Commissioner Shaun Donovan of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, announced the loan yesterday in front of 2825 Webb Ave., one of the buildings acquired through the fund. He was joined by representatives of FBHC, Enterprise, and several banks and foundations that invested in the fund.

The Acquisition Fund was created to help non-profit developers compete with commercial developers, who can often move much faster to buy buildings because of the resources they have.

Here's coverage of the Acquisition Fund in Crain's New York Business. Readers can see more coverage in the July 12 issue of the Norwood News.

News Roundup for June 28

We learned from a Journal News blog that former Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams is returning to the Bronx August 18, this time wielding a guitar. Williams and Jose Feliciano will perform at "A Night of Unity and Hope," a benefit event at Utopia's Pardise Theater. Jim Layritz and Darryl Strawberry will also take the stage for a performance of "The Boy of Steel," a children's book by Ray Negron.

The police are questioning a suspect in the string of assaults on Kingsbridge Road. Channel 7 News online says the investigators think there may be as many as 10 attackers involved in the attacks.

The Black Star News recaps Bronx Week and interviews Adolfo Carrion about housing gains and development in the Bronx.

And there's lots of coverage of yesterday's blackout in the Bronx and Upper East Side, which disrupted subway service and traffic during the evening rush.

Not a day too soon

Roberto Clemente State Park's swimming pools - one small, one Olympic size - open for the summer today. Kids shorter than 42 inches go free (according to the park you get measured on arrival). For older kids there's a one dollar charge. For adults it's two dollars. Both pools are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a weeks. Van Cortlandt pool, in Van Cortlandt Park, also opens today, as do fifty-something other outdoor pools across the city. Perhaps those fire hydrants can finally get some peace...

Community Board 5 elects new Chair

Community Board 5 board members voted, this evening, to oust current chairperson, Beverly Smith, and replace her with Bola Omotosho, a Nigerian-born doctor currently working out of Jacobi Medical Center. Omotosho officially takes over in September. He won by 16 votes to 4.

Smith, who works for the civilian arm of the NYPD, has been on the Board for 17 years and the chair, an unpaid position, for the last two. Her future plans include running for City Council. She says she has her eye on Council Member Helen Diane Foster's District 16 seat in the South Bronx. (Due to term limits, Foster's time is up at end of 2009.) Smith says she'll quit the Board for good in January to start campaigning.

Omotosho, a quieter less authoritative figure than Smith, describes himself as a good listener. Prior to the vote, he talked briefly about the "desperate need for new leadership," and how he wants to "work with everybody" and bring back "dignity and trust." Later, he said he had great respect for Smith, who he described as an "encyclopedia of this community." (Smith has lived in the neighborhood for four decades.)

The margin of victory suggests Omotosho has the Board behind him. He may have a harder time winning over the core group of local residents who attend the Board's monthly public meetings. Several, clearly disappointed to see Smith go, talked over his acceptance speech. "He doesn't have the experience," lamented Louella Hatch, the 46th Precinct's passionate (and outspoken) community council president. "He'll do whatever they tell him do to." By "they" Hatch said she meant the Board's district manager, Xavier Rodriguez.

Community Board 5 serves Mount Hope, Morris Heights, and parts of University Heights and Fordham. They'll be more about Omotosho, and his plans for the district, in the next print edition of the Mount Hope Monitor coming out July 25.

Community Board 7, in the northwest Bronx, is also going through a transitional period, following district manager Rita Kessler's recent decision to retire. Tomorrow's Norwood News looks back at her 17 years at the helm. We'll link to the story when it's on-line.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Arm Wrestling?

Yes, indeed. The Bronx Arm-Wrestling Championship on Mosholu Parkway at last Sunday's Bronx Week Parade and Festival. That and more improbable, yet delightful scenes from the Parkway in the next print edition of the Norwood News, which hits the streets tomorrow.
(Photo by Jordan Moss)

News Roundup for June 27

The NYPD released details yesterday of a string of attacks on Kingsbridge Road between Morris and Jerome which have left one man dead and five hospitalized. A Daily News article says that the first attack happened June 1, and the others happened June 22 and 23. We'll be following this story closely.

The Rent Guidelines Board voted 5 to 4 to approve rent hikes of 3 percent for one-year lease renewals and 5.75 percent for two-year leases, effective October 1. NY1 reports that, as usual, neither tenants nor landlords are satisfied. In May, Greg Jost wrote here about the affordability gap in the West Bronx.

The Citizens Budget Commission released a report showing a discrepancy in the upkeep of parks in wealthy and low-income neighborhoods. You can read the full report here.

Daily News reports that the City Council is expected to pass a bill restricting the amount of money donors can give if they do business with the city.

Update: The bill passed 44-4. Oliver Koppell was one of four Council members opposing the bill, which he said was inconsistent, according to the Daily Politics blog.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Chianese and Moreno Get Down on Mosholu

Rita Moreno, 76, but acting and looking more like 46, grooved with Soprano big Dominic Chianese to blaring salsa on a float at the Bronx Week Parade along Mosholu Parkway Sunday. The two are former Bronx Walk of Fame inductees who returned for the 10th anniversary of Bronx Week. More on the parade and the preceding Bronx Ball at the Loew's Paradise in the next edition of the Norwood News, which hits the streets Thursday.
(Photo by Jordan Moss)

News Roundup for June 26

The Daily News reports that the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp. (BOEDC) has been using a Brooklyn printer for its BXBusiness publication, a tabloid newspaper featuring Bronx business stories produced by the Murdoch-owned Courier-Life Publications. Our question is, are there any printing presses in the Bronx? The Norwood News is printed in Brooklyn and every other Bronx paper we know of is printed outside the borough.

Sewell Chan reports in the NYT City Room blog that Rep. Charles Rangel is supporting Bloomberg's proposal for a waste transfer station on the West side of Manhattan, a contentious issue between Manhattan residents and those fighting to keep extra waste out of the Bronx and Brooklyn.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Starry Night

Robert Klein, Dion DiMucci (of Dion and the Belmonts), and Danny Aiello (far right) were among the stars who turned out for the 10th annual Bronx Ball at Loew's Paradise on Saturday night. Aiello and Klein had been inducted in previous years. Dion was one of the inductees this year.

More news and photos to come on the Ball and the Bronx Week Parade on Mosholu Parkway in the next edition of the Norwood News. And we'll upload a few more photos here as a preview in the next couple of days. (Photo by David Greene)

News Roundup for June 25

Gotham Gazette released an analysis of individually sponsored member items from this year’s city budget. The list shows Helen Foster sponsored only one item (compared with Oliver Koppell's 14 items and Joel Rivera's 33), but it was for $102,187. (Via Politicker)

Bronx pols sounded off on childhood obesity in a NY Post story about Bronx's fitness problem. According to Department of Education statistics obtained by The Post, 25 percent of Bronx elementary school students are considered obese and more than 42 percent are overweight.

Fireworks Event Tonight

Bronx BP Adolfo Carrion and State Senator Jeff Klein invite Bronx families to kick off your Independence Day celebrations early at "New York Salutes America," a Fireworks Festival tonight at Orchard Beach. Here are the details:

Fireworks Festival
Monday, June 25
Orchard Beach
6:30-8:30 PM, fireworks at 9:30

Featuring barbeque, music, magicians, face painters, balloon artists, and a musical performance by Alive-N-Kickin'

Friday, June 22, 2007

Half-Nelson Park Celebration

Although thunderstorms broke over "For the Kids Day" at Half-Nelson Park on Saturday, June 16, they didn’t dampen the children’s spirits. Read more on the Mount Hope Monitor Web site.

Youth Want Old Library for Community Space

We've already linked to the current Norwood News on-line, but this story about a youth group organizing for the old Fordham Library to be converted into a facility for youth programs and community space has not been pPost Options osted on our site yet. So, we thought we'd post it here.

Youth Want Old Fordham Library for Community Space

By Annie Shreffler

Members of Sistas and Brothas United (SBU), a grassroots local youth group affiliated with the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, have their sights set on the old Fordham library as a new community center.

The group rallied at Our Lady of Refuge church on East 196th Street in May to show residents and city leaders that they want to convert the building on Bainbridge Avenue, originally built as a library in 1923 and containing 27,400 square feet of floor space, into a place that can once again be used by the neighborhood.

SBU currently runs all of its programming out of the Coalition’s building on the Grand Concourse, where space is limited. The bottom line is that the group needs more space and the vacant library building would be an ideal place to grow.

Elisabeth Ortega, a former DeWitt Clinton High School student now at Borough of Manhattan Community College, said SBU wants to offer a wide variety of art and technology classes.

“Having a place to do art will build unity and have people take ownership in this,” Ortega said.

Jose Cabrera, a senior at the High School for Teaching and the Professions on the Walton High School campus, said students want to open a job center for young adults.

The Reverend Leo W. Curry of Fordham United Methodist Church, adjacent to the old library, said a community center would be welcome. To make up for the shortage of community space in the area, Curry said neighborhood churches provide room for people and groups to gather, especially seniors.

“Some type of senior program could be held there,” Curry said. “I would endorse [the youth group’s plan]; it might be good to mix all the ages in one building.”

Jessica Mejia, a freshman at Lehman College who has served as a youth leader in SBU for four years, said SBU is pursuing the project partly because the resources aren’t available in their schools.

Last year, when SBU originally tried to acquire access to the library for its new school, the Leadership Institute, plans were scrapped after an environmental study ordered by the School Construction Authority found the library contaminated with Tetrachloroethelyne (PERC), a manufactured chemical used for dry cleaning and as a metal degreaser.

A spokesperson for the New York Public Library (NYPL) confirmed the study’s findings and said they submitted a request to the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in May to clean up the building’s contaminants and make it safe for use.

The NYPL expects a response from the DEC this summer so work can begin in the fall. No estimated date of completion can be set before they receive a response. When the clean-up is completed, NYPL said it will cut ties with the building.

“Once approved environmental work is completed, our intent is to give the building back to the city and the Department of City Administrative Services (DCAS),” the spokesperson said.

During the Saturday morning rally, SBU and Coalition activists joined with politicians, including Assemblyman Jose Rivera and City Council Members Joel Rivera (the majority leader and Jose’s son) and Robert Jackson (head of the Council’s Education

Committee), on a march from Our Lady of Refuge to the library. Wielding a megaphone, the younger Rivera led a series of chants, as the procession implored residents to join them. The rally culminated with a series of speeches in front of the library.

The elder Rivera, who is being honored as the Coalition’s “Ally of the Year,” agreed to arrange a meeting with DCAS to discuss SBU’s ideas and establish a timeline for a possible project. SBU members said they hoped the rally will persuade politicians to prevent the city from making other plans for the location.

(Photo caption: Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera led activists on a march from Our Lady of Refuge Church to the old Fordham Library building. Local youth want the contaminated library to be cleaned up and turned into a community center Photo by David Greene).

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Bronx Week Events for June 21

Hey folks, it's Bronx Week. Check back here for updates over the next few days.

Thursday, June 21: Arts and Culture Day

Tour the Bronx aboard the trolley with borough historian Lloyd Ultan as a guide from the Bronx County Building, 851 Grand Concourse at East 161st Street from either 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Info: (718) 590-3047.

A street fair where sand artists share their work with the community takes place at the Institute of Applied Human Dynamics, 3625 Bainbridge Ave. from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Info: (718) 920-0813.

Live Latin music and festivities accompany the screening of a documentary on the history and culture of Bronx Puerto Ricans at the Centro Cultural Rincon Criollo, 157th Street and Brook Avenue from 12 to 7 p.m. Info: (718) 960-1181 or www.bronxnet.org.

A curator’s tour of the ceremonial objects and art from Passover to Shavuot is at the Judaica Museum of the Hebrew Home in Riverdale, 5961 Palisade Ave. from 2 to 3 p.m. Info: (718) 581-1787.

The opening reception of Beyond the Uniforms: Documentation of FDNY Bronx Firehouse 1998-2002, a photography exhibit by Marisol Diaz, 2007 BRIO award-winner, is at the Borough President’s Gallery, Bronx County Building, 851 Grand Concourse, Third Floor from 6 to 8 p.m. Info: (718) 590-2502.

Kick off your shoes for Barefoot Dancing in the Park with Retumba, the Bronx’s own all-female ensemble, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Van Courtlandt Park at Broadway and West 246th Street. Info: (718) 830-1890.

Today's News -- June 21

The mother of 4-year-old Quachaun Browne, the Norwood boy who was beaten to death early last year pleaded guilty to first degree manslaughter, the Post reported yesterday. Her boyfriend awaits trial for murder. Here’s the Norwood News story about the tragedy.

Patrice O’Shaugnessy of the Daily News takes a look at the borough’s image-boosting ad campaign.

Bronx Independent Film Festival is next week at Lehman College’s Lovinger Theatre.
More info here and here.

More about the marriage license shenanigans at Bronx Supreme Court.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Event of the Day

The Parks Department is hosting a public listening session for people interested in having their say on what should be done with the High Bridge, the city's oldest bridge, which is on the verge of a major renovation to open it again to foot traffic (it's been closed since the 1960s). Tonight's event is being held in Washington Heights at High Bridge Recreation Center, 2301 Amsterdam Ave. at 173rd St. A free bus for Bronx residents will be leaving from 164th Street and Ogden Avenue at 6 p.m. The session begins at 6:30 p.m. For more information call Joseph Sanchez of the High Bridge Catalyst Project at (212) 927-5864 or (646) 306-1835.

For a crash course in the history of the High Bridge, and the campaign to re-open it, check out this, this, this, and this. And here are some great photos.

News Roundup for June 20

Bob Kappstatter at the Daily News takes a look at the political aspirations of term limited Council members, who are rumored to be eyeing runs for State Assembly and/or Borough President. The termed-out Bronx pols are: Helen Foster, Larry Seabrook, Oliver Koppell, Maria Baez and Joel Rivera.

More trouble for the clerk's office at the Bronx Supreme Court - two couples were told they arrived too late to be married yesterday, even though they were there before the 4 p.m. closing time, the New York Post reports.

The Village Voice has a story on the challenges of being gay or lesbian in the Bronx, where the community just held a Bronx Pride celebration for only the second time in seven years.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Man Dead Following Fall From Building

A man is dead after apparently falling from the roof of a six-story Grand Concourse apartment building at approximately 9 p.m. this evening. Police were at the scene in minutes, but there was clearly little they could do. Someone placed a white sheet over the body. As a crowd gathered, rumors began to swirl. One man said the dead man jumped. Another said he was he was being chased by a cop and toppled over the edge. The deceased has yet to be identified. One bystander described him as 30-something-year-old black male, who lived on the building's fourth floor. The building is at 1900 Grand Concourse, in the Mount Hope section of the Bronx. Check back for updates.

Update: According to the Daily News the man, James Harris, fell from a fourth floor window, not the roof, after climbing onto an air conditioning unit while trying to escape cops who had knocked on his apartment door to serve an arrest warrant.

Political Leadership

We raised a few eyebrows with our editorial (scroll down to 2nd editorial) on political clubs in an April edition of the Norwood News. Enough so that we got two letters in response (see end of post), always a welcome result.

But some of the comments show that people might have misinterpreted our point. Anthony Rivieccio mentions all the great community groups that are active in the area.We know and appreciate all the organizations, political and otherwise, that are involved in good works in our communities.

Political clubs are different and letter writer Ricky Martinez acknowledges this when he says, “Yes, with the demise of the Decatur Democratic Club and the past two gerrymanders of the election districts, your entire circulation area has lost some of its political effectiveness.” This is exactly the point.

The kind of political clubs we are talking about are based in the district from which Assembly members are sent to Albany. They are closest to the grassroots because they are smaller than City Council or State Senate districts and certainly smaller than Congressional districts.

Political parties are organized around Assembly districts. The county and state political parties are embodied in committees whose members are elected by Assembly district. Judges are picked by conventions of County parties whose delegates are chosen by Assembly district.

This is important stuff and it was once all organized by local political clubs. We used to have one of those in Community District 7, the above-mentioned Decatur Democratic Club. But district lines were changed and we are not the center of any elected official’s district at any level. So, the political clubs are all someplace else or have disappeared. (We hear rumors that a new one is being contemplated. Stay tuned.) With the exception of part-time staff people, there is no constituency office for any elected official in our area either.

What we must point out is that when people in leadership are simply not here every day, and that goes for bank presidents (which we used to have a few of around here) as well as politicians, important decisions that affect our lives get made by people who don’t see the conditions they are deciding about.

One additional criticism must be addressed. The 81st Assembly District is, of course, just part of our coverage area. So, here are all the districts, all the political committee people who represent them and the club (if any) that they belong to:

81st District Assembly Member: Jeffrey Dinowitz

District leaders: Bruce Feld and Randi Martos

Club: Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club

State Committee Members: Marcia Allina and William Weitz

Delegates to the last judicial convention: : Jeffrey Dinowitz, Marcia Allina, Anthony Creaney, Helen Morik, Eleanor Oliff and G. Oliver Koppell.

80th District Assembly Member: Naomi Rivera

Represents in Norwood News readership area: Norwood and Bedford Park

District leaders: Kenny Agosto and Michelle Dolgow

State Committee Members: Elaine Feder and Joseph McManus

Delegates to last judicial convention: Naomi Rivera, Rose Salzman, Jeffrey Klein, Valerie Velasquez, and Lilithe Lozano

78th District Assembly Member: Jose Rivera

Represents in Norwood News readership area: North Fordham and Bedford Park

District Leaders: Jose Rivera and Nilda Velazquez

State Committee Members: Donna Benjamin and BJ Rivera

Delegates to last judicial convention: Nilda Velazquez, Jose Rivera, Efrain Gonzalez, and Donna Benjamin

86th District Assembly Member: Luis M. Diaz

Represents in Norwood News readership area: University Heights

District leaders: Hector Ramirez and Zoraide Rosado

State Committee Members: Yudelka Tapia and Nero Graham Jr.

Delegates to last judicial convention: Luis Diaz, Yesenia Polanco, Julio Cardi, Bernice Johnson and Ivan Figueroa

News Roundup for June 19

State Senator Jose M. Serrano posted on the Room Eight blog to urge his colleagues to pass the The Climate Change Solutions Act and Solutions Fund, bills that would increase investments in energy-efficiency programs and clean energy development.

Bob Kapstatter at the Daily News (article not online yet) reports that Adolfo Carrion did not reappoint four members of Community Board 4 who opposed the Yankee Stadium plan, a repeat of his actions last summer, when he got rid of three dissenters and demoted the chair of CB4. We discussed this controversy in a post a couple months back.

A Daily News editorial praises the decision by the Council and Mayor to increase library funding so neighborhood branches can stay open six days a week. It remains to be seen if the funds will provide for alternatives in Highbridge, where the local library is closed for two years for renovations.

Yesterday's New York Post feature on people working the night shift profiles an overnight guard at Woodlawn Cemetery, as well as men enrolled at Hostos and BCC, on top of multiple jobs.

Election Day, Links to Norwood News Stories

Today is election day in the northwest Bronx! At the Community Board 7 meeting tonight at 6:30 pm (at the CB7 office, 229A E.204th St. in Bedford Park, if you want to show up) members will be electing new leadership. I could explain some of the dynamics involved, but instead I'll just link to our story about the election here. And now that veteran District Manager Rita Kessler is retiring, these newly elected officers will be leading the search for her replacement.

The election story is in the newest installment of the Norwood News, which hit stands in the northwest Bronx last week. Here are some of the other big stories from that issue that are available on-line:

News editor Jordan Moss takes an in-depth look at the career and legacy of Montefiore president Spencer Foreman who is retiring some time in the next year, but will leave behind a lasting impression on the Medical Center and the surrounding community. And here's the editorial on Foreman's impact on this newspaper.

There's also a story about how Bronx New School students/rock stars (the entire 250-person student body) recently recorded a live CD at Lehman College.

And check out this story about a Chlorine gas leak at the Jerome Park Reservoir.

Get all these stories and more by picking up the latest issue, out on Bronx streets now.

Monday, June 18, 2007

After-School Programs Threatened

If you haven't read it yet, check out David Gonzalez's story in the Times about a pending cut in after-school programs statewide come September. He mentions Norwood's own PS/MS 20 as an example of a school facing this grim reality.

The Daily News had a story about this last week, while the Post wrote about this in February. Both stories use MS 206, also in our coverage area, as an example. Both use 206 Principal David Neering as a source speaking out against the cuts.

This is terrible news in the West Bronx, where after-school programs are already few and far between. In fact, there's been much talk from local politicians lately about the need for additional after-school programs as a means to counteract youth violence and gang activity.

In the News

The Daily News has a 2-page story on increased school bus breakdowns and smoke/fire incidents aboard NYC school buses. Incidents have more than doubled since 2002.

The News also reports that State Senator Jeff Klein has proposed legislation calling for New York State to divest $12 million of the state's pension funds from companies that do business with countries known to fund terrorism.

The Gotham Gazette reports on the latest round in the garbage wars, describing a protest by Bronx and Brooklyn residents last week at the office of Assemblywoman Deborah Glick over her opposition to the proposed waste transfer station on Manhattan's West side. The protesters say the west-side side would ease the burden on South Bronx waterfront communities.

More Bronx elected officials have endorsed PlaNYC, the Mayor's sustainability plan for the city, but there may be problems with securing federal funding for the congestion pricing initiative, according to WNYC.

News 12 reports the number of weapons confiscated in Bronx and city public schools is down 18 percent from the same time last year.

The Korean Times, via Voices That Must be Heard, reveals that Bronx Koreans are concerned about rising crime. A Norwood News story from a few years back took an in-depth look at the Bedford Park Korean community.

And Comptroller Bill Thompson wrote a letter to Bloomberg and the Rent Guidelines Board calling for a rent freeze, an issue that Bronx residents will be watching closely.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Supporting the Troops?

The Washington Post reporters who broke the story detailing the awful conditions for soldiers at Walter Reed Medical Center are back at it, reporting on the, at best, sub-standard care many receive after returning from Iraq with post-traumatic distress syndrome. The article focuses on a Bronx vet, Army Specialist Jeans Cruz. Talkingpointsmemo.com has a summary of the piece here.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Councilman Dinowitz?

Over at the Riverdale Press (not 0n-line) Buddy Stein reports that Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz is mulling over the idea of running for City Council in 2009. Why trade a job-for-life up in Albany for one with significant less job security (Council members can only serve two 4-year terms)?
Well, because the pay is $33,000 higher and the commute to City Hall is considerably less onerous than frequent trips up to the state capital. He'd probably be a shoo-in for the post, being the obvious successor to Oliver Koppell, whose old Assembly seat he now occupies.
But Dinowitz also tells the Press that he's happy with his appointment to the Aging Committee and he just had the satisfaction of seeing his anti-sex trafficking bill signed into law.
In 2017, when he'd be tossed out of the Council, Dinowitz would be 62. He said he's not predicting an "early retirement."

Today’s News

The 10th Annual Bronx Week celebrations officially begin this Saturday, kicking off a week of historic tours, athletic competitions and other festivities highlighting the borough’s culture.

As part of its Bronx Week Coverage, NY1 has a feature on the old Bronx courthouse on Third Avenue. Construction on the courthouse, also known as the Gray Lady, has been halted many times since renovation efforts began in the 1990s. The article discusses community support for plans to convert the courthouse into a charter school.

Mamadou Soumare, who lost his wife and four children in the Bronx fire last March, filed notice of a claim reserving his right to sue in the future. The precursor to a $100 million negligence lawsuit against the city, the claim cites the FDNY, Department of Buildings, the Department of Housing and Moussa Magassa -owner of the Woodycrest Avenue home who also lost five children in the fire – as possible defendants.

The Daily News reports a decrease in Bronx crimes despite a smaller police force.

Eighteen after-school programs in the Bronx are on the chopping block due to dwindling federal funds. Five schools, including M.S. 206 in Morris Heights, are already shutting down programs that cannot continue in the absence of state-distributed funds previously dedicated to after-school programming.

The New York Public Library plans to close the Highbridge branch on W.168th St. betweenWoodycrest and Shakespeare Aves for renovations. Only the well-intentioned renovations willtake two years to complete and parents in the area are furious. In a stories published by the Daily News and the Highbridge Horizon, parents protest the closing plans which do not provide for an alternate library site, let alone include a bookmobile or library trailer.

As we mentioned on this blog last week, in the 1990s Norwood residents were successful in securing a temporary location when their branch underwent a rehab.

Con Edison unveiled plans for a new substation in Mott Haven. This is of particular concern to Bronx residents because of last summer’s blackout in Queens.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Today's News

Bronx BP Adolfo Carrion is endorsing the mayor's congestion pricing plan, according to the Daily News.

The New York Times reports on a study by the Regional Plan Association that says the cost of operating 55 miles of planned waterfront parks would be $100 million a year — almost one-third of the park department’s budget. The article doesn't mention the planned parks on the Harlem River that were promised as part of the stadium deal, an an ongoing issue covered by the Highbridge Horizon.

Child Struck by Bus Near Mosholu Parkway

A 10-year-old on his way to school was struck by a bus at Jerome Avenue and East Mosholu Parkway South yesterday morning and remains in critical condition at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.

Eliseo Oller, 10, reportedly walked into the side of the articulated bus. Officials believe he may have been sleepwalking, according to local news reports.

Oller was headed to nearby P.S. 95, where he attends the fourth grade. Witness Jamilah Hakeen, 30, a security guard, recalled, "He wasn't moving or anything. He was just lying there, there was blood all over and the EMT's were performing C.P.R."

Moments after the accident, good samaritan James Adeola, 38, who works at the nutrition department of Montefiore Medical Center, sprang into action and removed his shirt to cover the young child in an attempt to stop the bleeding from a serious head wound. Oller reportedly has a fractured skull, a broken shoulder and broken ribs but is expected to recover.

(Photo by David Greene)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Daryl Strawberry, Cathy Moriarty-Gentile Launch Bronx Week

Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion kicked off Bronx Week 2007 today with Mets and Yankees legend Darryl Strawberry and actress Cathy Moriarty-Gentile at his side.
The event took place at the newly-named Utopia's Paradise Theater, the former Loew's Paradise Theater now operated by Utopia Studios, the company of Joseph Gentile, Moriarty's husband.

This year's Bronx Week activities include Bronx Trolley tours, a health fair, a salute to Community Emergency Rescue Team (CERT) volunteers, and the Bronx Ball, a black-tie affair scheduled for Saturday, June 23 at the Paradise Theater.

Daryl Strawberry was in the Bronx with Ray Negron, Yankees consultant and author of "The Boy of Steel," a children's book about a child with brain cancer who fulfills a lifelong dream by becoming a Yankees batboy for a day. Negron announced that he was turning the book into a play, and that Strawberry will act in the production. The two were headed to PS 150 in Hunts Point to sign books in the afternoon.

-Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Joe Gentile, Cathy Moriarty-Gentile, and Bronx Week Executive Director Doris Quinones
-Darryl Strawberry with Gene Santiago, Bronx Chamber of Commerce and Gary Axelbank, Bronxnet

In the News...

There's more on the Bronx ad campaign in today's AM New York and Daily News.

Mamadou Soumare, one of the fathers who lost his family in the devastating fire in Highbridge, took the first steps to file a $100 million negligence lawsuit against the city. NY1 and others have the story.

New York City students improved their math scores this year across the board. On the New York Times website, you can look up the increase for your district or school here.

Disaster Zone at Highbridge Building

MY9 News cameras recently ventured inside 1055 University Avenue in Highbridge, which--as reported in the April issue of the Highbridge Horizon--has racked up over 2000 housing code violations from the city.

Just wait till you see what My9 discovered inside the building.

Latest Highbridge Horizon now on the web

The latest issue of the Highbridge Horizon is now available online. Among the stories featured this month:

*The High Bridge branch of the New York Public library has closed down for renovations and is not expected to reopen for 2 years. Many community members, while excited by the building's extensive makeover, are unhappy about the length of time the building will be unavailable to local residents. Of particular concern to local residents is the affect the libary closing will have on area children.

*In April the Highbridge Horizon visited 1055 University Avenue (W. 165th Street) to find numerous apartments with collapsed ceilings, water leaks, mold, no hot or cold water, and crumbling walls. This month, the Horizon returned to find that, if anything, conditions have only gotten worse.

Monday, June 11, 2007

In the News...

Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion will star in nine TV ads to promote the Bronx (and indirectly his 2009 mayoral campaign), according to the Observer.

Today's New York Times has a feature by Manny Fernandez about Johnny Five, a homeless man living beneath an abandoned train station in Highbridge. It's a fascinating look at his failed transition from the streets to an apartment provided by local community based organizations.

In another Highbridge story, the Metro reported Friday that there's talk of reopening the High Bridge so people don't have to climb across it illegally any more to get to the Manhattan side of High Bridge Park.

Congressman Joseph Crowley weighed in on congestion pricing.

And this week's City Limits features a story on the construction jobs that were promised in connection with the Croton Filtration Plant, now that the first pre-apprenticeship program is underway. The Norwood News ran a story on this in December.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Building Collapse

Here's a look at a Morris Heights building that suddenly became two stories shorter last Saturday. NY1 has the story. (Photo by James Fergusson)

Source: Post Purchase of Bronx Times Imminent

We've been hearing these rumors for months, but a very well-placed source tell us that the Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, the publisher of the New York Post, is sealing the deal on its purchase of the Bronx Times this week.
This follows News Corp.'s buy of 28 weeklies in Brooklyn and Queens last September.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

News Roundup

In the news …

From yesterday’s Daily News, a story on a proposed rezoning in Norwood and plans for a homeless facility operated by the Doe Fund.

The Mayor and Speaker announced a new proposal for a bill limiting campaign donations, intended to rein in “pay for play” contributions . The Post explains that the bill would limit contributions for people with city contracts, franchises or grants worth more than $100,000 - as well as registered lobbyists - to $400 for candidates for citywide offices, a sharp decrease from the $4,950 previously allowed. The Times covered it, too.

In today's Daily News, Carrie Melago reports on the crisis caused by more stringent rules for admission to the city’s homeless shelters. Because families are shuffled between boroughs, kids are unable to attend school consistently.

A Request of Our Readers

I want to thank everyone who has been reading the Blog and posting comments. We're excited about the growing conversation on this site and the reaction we have gotten from readers.

One minor concern I have is the posting of anonymous comments. We're trying to create a platform here for Bronx issues. But it's hard to get people to pay attention to your concerns if you're hiding behind a curtain.

So, keep commenting. But make sure you include your name, even if it's just "Joe" or "Sally."

And thanks to every single one of you that has posted a comment so far. Keep them coming!

Jordan Moss, Editor
Norwood News

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Early Start to BP Race

The New York Times reported on Sunday that the city’s term-limits law has led to a flurry of early campaigning for the 2009 citywide elections for Mayor, Comptroller, Public Advocate and Borough Presidents.

A graphic accompanying the story identifies two Bronx council members as candidates for Bronx Borough President: Helen Foster and Joel Rivera. Both have filed campaign finance disclosures with the New York City Campaign Finance Board.
Two other rumored candidates for Borough President have not yet filed any paperwork: State Assemblyman Ruben Diaz Jr. and State Senator Jose Marco Serrano. Serrano said he’s exploring the possibility.

“I’m definitely looking at all angles, but there is something to be said for where I am right now,” Serrano told the Norwood News. “The State Senate is controlled by the Republicans, I took a Republican seat by defeating Olga Mendez, and we are very interested in helping take back a Democratic majority.”

If Serrano and Diaz run, the Bronx could see four second-generation politicians running for the same seat.

In the news ...

This is our first "daily roundup" of Bronx issues in the media.

The state Dormitory Authority is asking the Bronx district attorney to investigate a firm it contracted with to build the Bronx Hall of Justice, which is supposed to open this month on East 161st Street. The problems at the building go beyond the parking garage. According to the Post, inspectors found three weld locations on the canopy above the main entrance were not up to snuff. ...

The Highbridge Horizon (and the New York Times) report that the local branch library is set to close for renovations. When the same thing happened about 7 years ago in Norwood, the community demanded a temporary library location until the renovations were complete. And they got it. ...

And City Limits reports on the push for a Housing Court Bill of Rights.

Norwood News On-Line

The latest edition of the Norwood News is on-line.

Here’s a couple of things you’ll find there:

Dinowitz Calls Filter Plant Investigation -- Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, a long-time opponent of the water filtration plant being built in Van Cortlandt Park, is calling on the city to investigate the entire filter project, which now appears to be costing taxpayers nearly $2 billion more than the original estimate.

And find out why the Yankees atrocious start may be the result of “The Macombs Dam Curse” and why BCC part-time professors say they’re being shortchanged.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Times Picks Up Our Story

Often, when I meet reporters from big dailies -- the Times, Daily News, etc. -- the first thing they tell me is: "Oh, the Norwood News, we steal from you guys all the time." It's flattering, but frustrating because they rarely give us any credit. For instance, my predecessor here, Heather Haddon, a phenomenal reporter now at a Jersey daily, dominated a story about the Pinnacle Group, which was buying up buildings throughout the Bronx and forcing out tenants in an apparent bid to jack up rents. The Daily News and others picked up the story months later and labeled it an "Exclusive" without ever mentioning the Norwood News.

Sour grapes? Well, we're used to it by now and we're happy a wider audience is hearing about our section of the Bronx. That's part of our mission, actually, to amplify Bronx issues and voices that otherwise get overlooked. But we really appreciate when reporters and editors extend a simple journalistic courtesy and throw some credit our way like in this piece from the City section of the Sunday Times by Emily Brady about a Kennedy Fried Chicken outlet doubling as a drug den.

So, thanks Emily.

By the way, here's the original Norwood News article about this issue published a month ago.

Friday, June 1, 2007

End of Operation Impact?

It's been well reported (particularly in the Daily News here, here and here) that Operation Impact, the police program that floods high-crime hot spots with rookie officers, is endangered because there aren't enough new recruits to staff it. Officials credit Impact with taking a bite out of crime in several drug-ridden, violent neighborhoods throughout the city.

So, what does Impact's potential elimination mean for the 52nd Precinct and the rest of the west Bronx? Well, short of the disappearing police presence in the 52nd Precinct's current Impact Zones, it follows that there's virtually no chance that current Five-Two commander James Alles will get the Impact Zone he wants for Tracey Towers and Knox-Gates, where tensions between young people are high.

There's a City Council Public Safety hearing on Monday to discuss police staffing issues at 10 a.m. Here's an excerpt from the press release:

Coming on the heels of recent testimony from Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, where he classified the lack of officer recruitment as the number one labor crisis in the City, Public Safety Chair Peter Vallone will host a long planned hearing to address what NYPD can do to meet its stated goals for hiring new officers. The hearing will address not only recruitment, but retention of officers and the impact that fewer officers is having on public safety.

The Return of Car-Free Sundays

This great outdoor community-building event on the Grand Concourse was axed early in the Giuliani administration. A coalition of groups has revived it with the support of Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion. And though it's now just from 170th to Mt. Eden, it includes a variety of health and fitness programs for kids and adults.