- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.Q6qPkwFC.dpuf An In-depth Look Inside the IDA Armory Meeting | Bronx News Networkbronx

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

An In-depth Look Inside the IDA Armory Meeting

Now that the Norwood News has done some quick live blogging about IDA's board meeting, we wanted to give a recap about what happened.

The Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance (KARA) brought about 60 community members to the meeting. The board began by presenting general responses to comments made by the community at the public hearing last Thursday. Among its comments, the board tried to assure the audience that it used the proper channels to alert the community about a public hearing.

In addition, the board said that wages for future jobs at the armory will reflect the current average of minimum wage jobs in the Bronx. There were several times when community members yelled at board members, calling them "liars" and accusing them of creating "sweat shops at the armory." Chairman Seth Pinsky had to ask the audience to be quiet on two separate occasions.

After responses from the board, a representative for NYC Comptroller William Thompson motioned to postpone a decision until Related could provide detailed information on potential wages and employment opportunities at the Armory. This motion was seconded by a representative for Manhattan Borough President Scott Stinger. The board deliberated this for about 10 minutes and eventually IDA Chairman Pinsky accused Comptroller Thompson of making unfair accusations about Related's application.

Ultimately, the board voted against postponing a decision. The board continued its discussion about Related's application, as Pinsky reminded the board that Related was asking for benefits in the midst of an economic downturn. Pinsky acknowledged that the board had decided to provide capped benefits as the economic climate would eventually become more favorable. Pinksy continued to say that Related's proposal will bring much needed jobs to the community and provide better wages than what has been in the Armory in the past. (In response to this comment, there was an outburst by the audience with community members shouting at the board that the Armory has been vacant, which it has since 1993).

Pinsky concluded his comments by saying that the city's uniform land use review procedure(ULURP) is "the proper place for a community benefits agreement" where it can be "addressed through a legally sanctioned process."

When it was time to vote, all but two board members, Comptroller Thompson and Manhattan Borough President Stringer, voted in favor of giving Related $17.8 million in tax breaks. See below for Related's next steps.

In a statement, Comptroller Thompson said that he was "concerned that the IDA voted today on a project that is not allowed under its own policies." He continued to say that "the Kingsbridge Armory is not an industrial project, nor is it located in an Empire Zone, Empowerment Zone or Industrial Business Zone." Thompson also said that his office requested, but was denied, copies of all procurement documents that resulted in the selection of Related.

After the meeting, Norwood News spoke to Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter of KARA. "It's a sad day in New York when tax payers money is being used to put tax payers out of business," she said. "Related has taken living wages off the table. If they are not going to do it our way, it's not going to happen."

Community members were also concerned about elements provided in a powerpoint presentation during the meeting, such as a proposed building entrance on 195th street, which Pilgrim-Hunter said would prevent the construction of a school.

KARA plans to attend any ULURP meetings to prevent Related from proceeding any further until both parties can sit down and create a community benefits agreement. KARA will meet this Tuesday, at 6:30 at St. James Church, 2500 Jerome Avenue (and 190th). The meeting is open to the public.


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