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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Following Piano Theft, Norwood Residents Say 'You Can't Take Away Our Hope' (VIDEO)

Norwood residents young and old helped paint the new community piano in Oval Park. (Photos by Rachel Sander)
Friends of the Williamsbridge Oval Park and a number of helpful local residents gathered today in the park to paint the recently-donated piano that will replace the Sing for Hope Pop-Up Piano that was stolen earlier this week.

It remains a mystery who took the piano and how they were able to remove the hulking instrument from the park, but the Norwood community is celebrating today and once again feeling hopeful. More than two dozen kids and adults chipped in to give the piano a bright new paint job. (See video at the bottom of this story.)

Bronx News Roundup, Thursday, June 30

Ladies and gentlemen of the Bronx and beyond, welcome to the last Bronx News Roundup of June. Here's to a lovely Independence Day weekend and a fantastic July. Now, to the news!

Weather: Absolutely gorgeous, high in the low- to mid-80s, nice little breeze to cool the sweat beads on the back of your neck. No complaints here. Tomorrow, there's a slight chance of isolate thunderstorms in the afternoon, but we doubt it.

Story of the Day: Report Says Father's Rage Led to Bronx Football Star's Death

Yesterday, we linked to the brain-twisting and tragic story of Truman High School football star Isayah Muller, who was stabbed to death in a Bedford Park parking lot just hours after his graduation ceremony at Lehman College. Today, more details have emerged. According to the NY Post, after a post-graduation meal on City Island, Isayah's father, Andre Muller, became enraged when he couldn't locate an expensive bottle of cologne in his car. After dropping off Isayah's grandmother, the father drove back to the parking lot where the family had dropped off the car during the ceremony and angrily confronted two attendants who were on duty. A brawl ensued, with one of the attendants wielding a machete and the other a makeshift knife, both weapons were apparently on hand for protection. (You know, in case an enraged man accuses you of stealing expensive cologne and you need to shank somebody.) Isayah went to help his father and was stabbed by one of the attendants, once, in the heart. He was pronounced dead a short time later at St. Barnabas Hospital. Muller was charged with assault yesterday and was released after pleading not guilty. Neither of the attendants have been charged with a crime.

Quick Hits:

Orchard Beach Firework Tonight! Plus Other July 4th Weekend Festivities in the Bronx

Fireworks at Orchard Beach TONIGHT!
Kick off the holiday weekend early with the annual Boardwalk Festival and Fireworks Extravaganza at Orchard Beach tonight, Thursday June 30. The fun begins at 6! Come enjoy free music, food, and, of course, fireworks. The big show is expected to stary between 8:45 and 9 p.m., but be sure to get there early so you can get a good view! For more info visit ilovethebronx.com.

Other events this weekend:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Crucial Bronx After-School and Drug Prevention Program May Close

Kids participate in fitness classes at the Featherbed Lane Improvement Association, which is in danger of closing after its funding was slashed. (Photo by Fausto Giovanny Pinto)


For single mother Haile Rivera the time her three young children spend in the after-school program at Featherbed Lane Improvement Association is crucial. She uses the time to attend college classes, run errands, and, after recently being laid off, look for a job.

Soon, however, Rivera, 41, may need to find a new place for her kids to go after school. Earlier this month, funding for Featherbed Lane was completely gutted.

“We had a contract manager here in April who said she was impressed by the work we do, nobody said we weren’t doing our job,” said Alcee James, the center’s program director. “Then, the next month, they send a letter [saying] our funding is cut.”

Bloomberg Checks In On Hunts Point Market

Hunts Point Produce Co-op 3
Bloomberg talks with Stephen Katzman, a president of the Hunts Point Produce Market
(Photo courtesy of the Mayor's office)
Mayor Bloomberg paid a late night visit to the Boogie Down yesterday to meet with vendors at the Hunts Point Produce Market, taking a tour of the facility and talking to some of the leaders there about the challenges they're facing.

It's in the best interest of the Bronx and the city that the Mayor stay on good terms with leadership at the market, which employs some 2,400 people and brings in about $2.3 billion in sales each year. A few months ago, it seemed as if the cooperative might pack up and move to New Jersey, tempted by an offer from Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

City's Homeless Shelter Plan for Muller Center Blasted By Bronxites

Editor's note: We don't get into this until later in the story, but the big question here is whether Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. will decide to sit down for a vote with the other two members of the local redevelopment authority (LRA), both from the mayor's office. It's supposed to happen by tomorrow. He refused to show for a vote in late 2010, preventing the LRA from voting to recommend a shelter as the best use of the center, but Diaz spokesman John DeSio said on Monday he didn't know what the BP would do. Stay tuned.

By Alex Kratz

During his lengthy and impassioned testimony at a public hearing concerning the fate of the vacant Muller Army Reserve Center in Wakefield, Father Richard Gorman compared the Bloomberg administration to A) Josef Stalin and B) a group of slave owners (with Wakefield residents being the slaves).
Father Richard Gorman

Gorman, the longtime chairman of Community Board 12, which includes Wakefield and Woodlawn, made those comparisons in the course of blasting the city's controversial proposal to house a 200-bed homeless shelter for men in the Muller Center. The mayor’s office says the city’s homeless needs outweigh the desires of community residents and stakeholders.

Calling the city’s plan “outrageous,” Gorman said the report that determined a shelter would be the best use of the center was full of misrepresentations and inaccuracies. “It’s a shame trees lost their lives to print that garbage,” he said. Gorman also suggested the city’s plan to turn the building over to the Doe Fund and give the group a fat city contract to run the shelter amounted to a giveback to the nonprofit, which provided valuable support to Bloomberg’s campaign to extend term limits two years ago.

New Piano Secured For Oval Park

Here's an update in the saga of the purloined piano--BxNN reader Lis says a kind-hearted soul offered to donate an old piano of theirs to to replace it, free of charge (local group Friends of Williamsbridge Oval had been planning to chip in and buy a new one).

Now they just need folks to help pick it up in Midtown and load it into a truck. Here are the details from Lis:

So we are picking it up tonight and placing it in the park tonight; we need all hands on deck! Those who can help with moving and hoisting a piano, please assemble outside of PS 56 on Hull Ave. at 6 pm this evening (Tuesday night). I will be out there in a bright pink shirt with "I Am the Bronx" logo on it... we can then divide up cars and who can ride in the UHaul to pick up the piano.

For those of you with children, I would be happy to watch them at the park while you help get the piano from Mid-town. Tomorrow, at noon, we, along with many area children, will be meeting in the park to paint the piano. We welcome any paint donations.
There you go, folks; head over to PS 56 tonight, or show up to the Oval tomorrow with some paint, if you're looking to lend a hand.

Bronx News Roundup, Wednesday, June 29

Late speed roundup today, folks.

Weather: Sunny today, might rain tomorrow afternoon. 

Quick Hits:

A post-graduation ceremony brawl in a parking lot near the Bronx's Lehman College ended with the stabbing death of Isayah Muller, a star running back for Truman High School. His father, who was also apparently involved in the fight, was charged with assault, while two parking lot attendants were questioned but not charged. I know, this makes very little sense. Hopefully we'll get some clarity soon.

Three of the four men convicted for plotting to bomb two Riverdale synagogues were sentenced to 25 years a piece, less than the life sentence prosecutors were seeking. 

Friends of Oval Park to Replace Stolen Piano

After a community piano in Williamsbridge Oval Park was stolen sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning, the local group Friends of Williamsbridge Oval Park decided not to let a little thing like larceny get their neighborhood down. The group is pooling funds to buy a replacement piano on Craiglist and renting a truck to haul it back into the park.

The group just sent out a resilient-sounding e-mail to announce their plan. Here's a portion of it:

"Instead of being helpless victims, our community pulled together to replace what was taken from us. Friends of the Williamsbridge Oval has found another piano on Craigslist, will be pitching in to rent a truck, and investing their time and physical effort to bring the piano back to our park. The Sing-for-Hope piano was painted by an artist, and our neighborhood's kids will be participating by painting our new piano.

This attack on our beloved neighborhood park has only made our community stronger by bringing neighbors together and demonstrating how much our park is appreciated."
If you want to get involved, find the friends on Facebook.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Students Hit The High Seas for New Learning Initiative

Editor's Note: this story was first published in the latest edition of the Mount Hope Monitor, out now.

Students from PS 306 went fishing, part of a "Classroom Without Walls,"
 learning initiative. (Photo by F.G. Pinto)

At noon on a recent Friday, while most students across the city were hitting the lunch line, the students at PS 306 were busy tossing out fishing lines and reeling in fish onto a boat bobbing in the Long Island Sound.

As part of a new learning initiative that takes kids out of the classroom and into the real world, the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade Special Education students at PS 306 set sail on a day-long fishing trip. It marked the culmination of this year’s Classroom Without Walls program.

Bronx News Roundup, June 28

Apologies for the lateness of today's roundup--we're busy going to press with the latest Norwood News, which will be out tomorrow. Here are some other Bronx headlines to keep you up-to-date in the meantime.

Weather: Cloudy and around 80 degrees this afternoon, with thunderstorms expected later tonight.

Gay Bronxites and their straight allies are basking in Friday's historic decision by the state legislature to legalize same-sex marriage. Last week, Bronx Community Pride Center became the first local LGBT group to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Have You Seen This Piano? Oval Park Instrument of Hope Goes Missing

Just yesterday, this "pop-up" piano in Williamsbridge Oval Park was being used to make music as part of a citywide program initiated by the nonprofit Sing for Hope. Today, it's gone. Vanished. Apparently overnight. Caretakers locked it up last night near the tennis courts on the west side of the park at around 6:30 p.m.. Today, it is nowhere to be found.

If you have any information about it's whereabouts, please contact Michael Lambert of Mosholu Preservation Corporation at mlambert@mpcbronx.org or (718) 324-4461.

Bronx News Weekend Roundup, June 27

Weather: Mostly sunny and in the 80s today.

Quick Hits:
The Times' David Gonzalez, himself a graduate of St. Martin of Tours School in Crotona, offers this poignant piece on the school's closing and emotional last day of classes, which was last Wednesday. The 86-year-old parochial school is one of 26 closed this year by the Archdiocese of New York because of budget cuts and low enrollment.

Gay Marriage Becomes Law -- Diazes React Very Differently

With the historic passage of gay marriage Friday night in the state Senate and Gov. Cuomo signing the legislation immediately, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and his father, State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., the only Democrat to vote against the bill, had very different reactions.

"God, not Albany, has settled the definition of marriage a long time ago," Diaz Sr. said on the Senate floor.

In sharp contrast, the borough president, who did not publicly support same-sex marriage, said he looked forward to the wedding of his lesbian niece, Erica Diaz, who made headlines when she crashed her grandfather's anti-gay marriage rally on the courthouse steps and then took him on in a NY Post op-ed, and his chief of staff Paul Del Duca. He added:

"Now that the debate on marriage equality has been resolved, it is time for us to come together and move forward in a positive manner with respect for our fellow Bronxites and all New Yorkers, irrespective of our differences, backgrounds and religious beliefs. We must both celebrate and build upon our diversity for a better and brighter future for all of our hard working families. I also wish to complement Governor Andrew Cuomo for working sincerely and diligently to ensure that the appropriate balance of protections are ensured within the bill.

Friday, June 24, 2011

LGBT Activists Discuss Solutions to Bronx Intolerance

By Kristen Gwynne

Through a series of town hall meetings and other public activities, advocates and organizers are working to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender tolerance in the Bronx, a borough that gained a bad reputation for its intolerance last fall when a group of young adults in Morris Heights were arrested for viciously beating and sodomizing two youths and another man because they suspected the victims were gay.

On May 31, at a town hall meeting at the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center, Bronx Community Board 7 and other local community organizers pinpointed lack of advertisement, religion, cultural bias and low socio-economic status as the main causes of the borough’s LGBT intolerance. To navigate these obstacles and improve the borough’s reputation, attendees and panelists suggested working with the police and increasing LGBT awareness, especially in notoriously anti-gay communities.

Bronx News Roundup, June 24

Good morning, everyone. Feels like Ireland out there with the fine, soft rain (in NYese more of a shpritz). Mix of clouds and sun today with a high of 80 degrees. Chance of thunderstorms this evening.
We're a bit short-staffed today and need to work on getting next week's Norwood News ready, so this will be a quick and dirty roundup.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bronx Health: Senator Looks to Shed Pounds, Promote Healthy Living

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Story and Photos by Fausto Giovanny Pinto

Dressed in Rocky-esque training attire — hooded sweatshirt, jogging pants and sneakers — State Senator Gustavo Rivera walked into the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center and challenged himself to a weigh-in.

Rivera was joined by Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. (sans workout attire) and numerous organizations, to launch the Bronx CAN Health Initiative.

CAN, which stands for Change Attitudes Now, looks to promote a healthier lifestyle among Bronxites, who often rank last on health polls. To help promote the initiative, which will encourage Bronxites to set healthy goals, Rivera said his goal was to lose 20 pounds by the end of the summer without using any gimmicky diet or workout program.

Residents Gather in Oval Park to Push for Playground Opening; Parks Dept. Says 'Next Week'

Local residents gathered in Williamsbridge Oval Park yesterday to demand that two newly renovated sections of the park are completed by June 28, the last day of school.

Bronx News Roundup, June 23

Weather: Foggy and 71 degrees at the moment, with scattered thunderstorms predicted.

Story of the Day: Kemba Walker Ready for His NBA Close-up
Soundview native Kemba Walker, who was launched into basketball stardom after leading his UConn Huskies to a national championship this spring, is expected to be a lottery pick in tonight's NBA draft, telling the Hartford Courant that he's "excited, nervous, ready." He could join any of five teams--Charlotte, Detroit, Toronto, Sacramento and Utah. "It's a dream come true no matter where I am selected," Walker told the paper.

"The Bronx, and all of New York City really, will smile knowingly and burst with pride," tonight, the NY Post's Steve Serby writes. Good luck, Kemba!

Quick Hits:

In other news related to talented Bronx athletes: North Riverdale Little Leaguer Sean Gallagher, 9, pitched a perfect, 8-inning game last week. 

BP Diaz's Testimony From Last Night's Muller Center Hearing

The public hearing over the future of the Muller Army Center in Wakefield took place last night, at P.S. 21 on 225th Street.

BxNN reporter Alex Kratz was there and will post a more detailed account later, but he said the majority of those who attended--a strong showing of Wakefield and Woodlawn residents, and many members of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition--are against the city's plan to fill the building with a homeless shelter, and support the idea of moving the National Guard from an annex at the Kingsbridge Armory into the Wakefield site to free up school space (you can read some more background in yesterday's news roundup).

Kratz said that Father Richard Gorman of CB 12 got the crowd going with an impassioned speech that took several hilarious digs at Mayor Bloomberg. Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., who sits on a panel overseeing the building's redevelopment, also testified--you can read his full statement in the document below.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rent Law Pact "Terrible Deal," For Tenants, Advocate Says

Local leaders and residents rally on the Bronx Courthouse steps last week 
for stronger rent laws (photo by Jeanmarie Evelly)

Lawmakers are reportedly finalizing a deal on the state's rent laws today, a full week after the Emergency Tenant Protection Act--which sets the guidelines for millions of rent-regulated apartments in the city and across New York--expired on June 15.

Housing advocates and many Bronx elected officials have been pushing to see the laws not only extended, but strengthened in favor of tenants. But the legislature's tentative deal, struck last night, does little to meet most of the goals these groups wanted to see addressed.

"It's a terrible deal," said Michael McKee, of the Tenants Political Action Committee, who has been camped out in Albany since last week.

Bronx Crime Watch: Rally for Yvette (Updated)

The recent shooting of 15-year-old Yvette Marie Torres and lack of progress in finding the person who shot her has led a group of concerned residents, from the Bronx, Queens and even Massachusetts, to take the investigation into their own hands.

The group, led by Nelson Figueroa, a childhood friend of Yvette's mother, have organized a "Rally for Yvette" this Saturday at 2396 Valentine Avenue, near the corner of E. 187th Street, just below Fordham Road. That's where Yvette was shot after apparently standing up to a bully during a party. They created a "Rally for Yvette" Facebook page to advertise the event.

Figueroa also set up a phone number (347-670-3843) and an e-mail address (JUSTICE4EVIE@gmail.com) so witnesses and or anyone with information about the shooting, who might not feel comfortable dealing with police, could come forward.

According to Figueroa, Yvette was taken out of a medically-induced coma yesterday and given two days to respond. Doctors were checking for brain activity, he said.

Oval Park Meeting to Press for Opening of New Spray Showers and Playground

Frustrated with the delay in opening the new playground and spray showers in the Williamsbridge Oval Park, the volunteer group Friends of Williamsbridge Oval Park is gathering and requesting that concerned residents join them at 4:30 today in the southern section of the soccer field near the construction fence. We've heard from Parks officials at the site that the spray showers and playground should be open by July 4, but the Friends are insisting that the renovated areas open by the end of school on June 28. We'll have more later today on official word from the Parks Department on when these new play areas will be open for ruse.

Bronx News Roundup, June 22

Weather: In the high 70s today, and thunderstorms likely this evening.

Story of the Day: Future of the Muller Center To Be Debated Tonight
A hearing is scheduled tonight to get public input on the fate of the Muller Army Reserve Center, a 55,000-square-foot former military base in Wakefield that the Bloomberg administration wants to turn into a homeless shelter.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Piano Waiting For You in Williamsbridge Oval Park

This PS 54 student sat down to play the piano in Williamsbridge Oval Park on Tuesday -- exactly the kind of spontaneous music-making organizers of the pop-up piano project have in mind. In fact, shortly after this girl left to hang out with her classmates, a professional piano player named Vadim showed up to play. Part of the program is for pianists to demonstrate the pianos and attract curious people who will then want to tickle the ivories themselves. The piano is only in the park for a couple of more weeks, so get going! (Photo by Jordan Moss)

Bronx Health: Free Prostate Cancer Exams

Montefiore Medical Center will be offering free prostate cancer tests for all men 40 and over at the following times and locations:
Wednesday, June 22, 4 to 7 p.m.
Moses Division, Gold Zone, Ambulatory Oncology
111 East 210th Street

Thursday, June 23 4 to 7 p.m.
Montefiore Medical Park
1695 Eastchester Road, 1st Floor

Friday, June 24, 1 to 5 p.m.
1521 Jarret Place, 1st Floor

According to the latest statistics available from the Center for Disease Control, nearly 30,000 men in the United States died from prostate cancer in 2007.

For more information, contact Montefiore's Office of Community Relations, (718) 920-7744.

Bronx News Roundup, June 21

Happy summer solstice! The season will kick off with some rain showers later this afternoon, and temperatures around 80 degrees. Scattered thunderstorms predicted for tomorrow.

Story of the Day: Armory Report Released
The Kingsbridge Armory Task force released a 267-page report today detailing plans for how the long-vacant building should be filled (ideas: a hockey arena, a culinary center and a mega-church). For more on the report, see our previous post here. Feel free to go there and share your thoughts/suggestions in the comments section. For example: what do you think of TV evangelist Creflo Dollar's proposal to take over the building?

Kingsbridge Armory Task Force Releases Report on Potential Uses

The Kingsbridge Armory (Photo by Adi Talwar)

The latest formation of the Kingsbridge Armory Task Force (there have been others over the last 17 years since the National Guard vacated the main structure), chaired by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and Councilman Fernando Cabrera, released its report today -- 267 pages actually (much of it background material, thank goodness). We obviously haven't had time to go through it all, but the bottom line is that the task force is not recommending any one, or combination of, uses. They are instead calling on the city's Economic Development Corporation, which has overseen all the unsuccessful proposals and plans over the years to issue another request for proposals (RFP). The report includes the findings of the NYU's Capstone project.

Film studios, a megachurch, sports and recreation entrepreneurs, and the sustainable food industry (culinary school, farmers' markets) all have expressed an interest in the facility.  While the Capstone project section identifies the various potential uses as separate proposals, Diaz's spokesman, John DeSio said that there is a "lot of room for the different proposals to mesh together." 

Click here for the full report. Let us know what you discover and think about the various proposals.

Andrew Brent, a Bloomberg spokesman, told the Daily News that the administration would read the report and be open to "feasible proposals that include private-sector investment, the responsible use of city resources and the creation of new jobs."

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bronx State Sen. Gustavo Rivera Passes First Piece of Legislation

Well, here's one sign that there's some work going on in Albany, despite the lack of action on rent reform and gay marriange. State Sen. Gustavo Rivera's office just tweeted that the freshman lawmaker just passed his first bill, which enables nonprofit organizations to post bail for defendants that can't afford to do it for themselves. In a press release, Rivera states: “Thousands of New Yorkers are held in jail each year because they simply cannot afford to post a few hundred dollars bail,” said Senator Rivera. “Every day, people plead guilty to crimes, regardless of guilt, because they can’t afford bail and just want to return home to their families and avoid time spent in jail. For individuals like the residents of the 33rd Senate District that I represent, even just a few days of incarceration can have devastating consequences: job loss, eviction, and for non-citizens, deportation.”

The measure passed the Assembly, where it was sponsored by Jeff Aubrey, and now awaits the governor's signature.

Three Bronx Firehouses Could Get Axed By City Budget

 Editor's Note: A version of this article first appeared in the June edition of the Tremont Tribune, out now.

Budget cuts have 20 of the city’s firehouses on the chopping block—including local Engine 46 in Bathgate, on the Cross Bronx Expressway and Third Avenue.

In addition to Engine 46, two other companies in the Bronx face a possible closure: Ladder 53 on City Island and Engine 60 in the South Bronx.

Firefighters, residents and elected officials rallied at City Hall on June 3 to protest the potential closures, laid out in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s budget 2012, which estimates the move would save the cash-strapped city approximately $55 million.

Bronx News Roundup, June 20

Weather: Today, a high of 82, with a possibility of showers this evening. 

Story of the Day
Today's supposed to be the last day of the legislative session in Albany, though lawmakers are likely to be there at least for a couple more days. On the agenda, of course, is gay marriage, and there seemed to be signs that Governor Cuomo was close to reaching a deal with Republicans in the state Senate where the legislation has been logjammed. Meanwhile, former Bronx assemblyman Michael Benjamin continues to campaign against again gay marriage in New York State. In a New York Post op-ed over the weekend, Benjamin argues that the fight for marriage equality for gay residents of the Empire State should not be compared to the civil rights battles waged by African Americans: "The same-sex-marriage movement is not nobly about obtaining a long-denied civil right. It's about settling old scores against religious leaders, institutions, parents and the greatest villains of all-time -- 'straight white men of privilege," he wrote. On another issue that's atop the legislative agenda, the Post's Fred Dicker reports that there is a deal afoot to pass rent reform, with the minimum rent for vacancy decontrol likely to be hiked up to $2,500 from $2,000. Dicker says Cuomo is getting the landlord lobby to agree to the change by threatening to use his emergency powers to kick the issue down to the New York City Council, which inevitably would lead to legislation much more favorable to tenants.

Quick Hits:
One idea that's surfaced prior to the release of a report on Kingsbridge Armory development prospects from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. is for a cycling center that will feature a velodrome and BMX course.

Mayor Bloomberg is circumventing the City Council by seeking state legislation to address the issue of livery cabs in the outer-boroughs. No one seems to be happy

The mother of a 5-year-old Bronx boy who was found dead in his E. 227th St. apartment Friday has been charged with murder. It was the start of a tragic weekend: A 3-year-old girl was found unconscious at her home on E. 140th St. on Saturday. She died later at Lincoln Medical Center. While her death was ruled a homicide, there have been no arrests yet in the killing.

Some incarcerated Bronx teens are given the opportunity to write and record their own songs through a program run by the city's Administration for Children's Services. Here's the audio from WNYC.

The cost of an education next school year at Riverdale Country School will be $40,450, the first time a NYC private-school education will top $40,000.

The Times, in this story on Keith Olbermann's new "Countdown" show on Al Gore's Current TV (not available on Cablevision from what I can tell), reports that Bronx-born-and-raised Christopher Hayes, the Washington editor of The Nation and a frequent MSNBC substitute host, will be given a new show on MSNBC. Incidentally, Hayes' dad, Roger Hayes, a NYC Department of Health official who still resides in the borough, was part of the original team of young organizers in the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, which was formed by Jesuit priests at Fordham University in 1974 to stanch the tide of arson and abandonment that was creeping north. (A great book on this critical period in Bronx history is South Bronx Rising, published by Fordham University Press.)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

BronxTalk - The inconvenient truth about education... and more...

This Monday night BronxTalk will present a stirring dialogue about public education, including a look at a new indepedent film,  The Inconvenient Truth about Waiting for Superman.  Produced by a grassroots organization comprised of teachers and parents, The Inconvenient Truth... presents an alternative view of education than the one depicted in the Hollywood blockbuster.

Beginning at 9:00pm, BronxTalk host Gary Axelbank will interview a teacher and parent about the film and public education.  Viewers can call in at 718-960-7150.

On May 30, BronxTalk presented an exclusive look at new technology that helps seniors and the ill access care.  On June 6, the subject was Bronx filmmakers, and on June 13, BronxTalk took a close look at new development designed to keep Bronxites healthier.  Here are links:

BronxTalk - May 30, 2011 

BronxTalk - June 6, 2011

BronxTalk - June 13, 2011

For the next two weeks BronxTalk will present "summer" shows about street musicians and an exclusive look at spectacular underwater photos taken by a Bronx scuba enthusiast.

One of New York City's longest running TV talk shows now in its 17th year, BronxTalk is seen each Monday night at 9:00pm on Bronxnet's Cablevision channel 67.  It's also on Verizon Fios channel 33 and streamed live at www.bronxnet.org.  Hosted by Gary Axelbank and produced by Jane Folloro, BronxTalk is repeated each day at 9:30am, 3:30pm, and 9:00pm. Archives are available here:  BronxTalk archives

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Double Bronx Rainbow


After the heavy rain and thunder today, I saw these rainbows looking east from where Tryon Ave meets the Williamsbridge Oval Park. The vivid colors did not last long. Bottled it for all to enjoy. If you want to see more of my work, head on over to rawlat.com/adi

Bronx Events: Bronx River Sounds

The Bronx River Arts Center presents "Bronx River Sounds," a series of musical performances through the month of June. 

Tomorrow night, afro-punk singer Honeychild Coleman will perform at the Bronx Art Space, 305 E.140th St., #1A, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $6 in advance or $8 at the door; for more, visit www.bronxriverart.org/events.

For other Bronx events happening this weekend, check out our community calendar, below.

Editor's note: What did we miss? Send details to bronxnewsnetwork[at]gmail.com.

Deadly Shooting of Young Mother Spurs Community Concern

Editor's Note: This story was first published in the June edition of the Tremont Tribune, out now.

Family and friends erected a shrine for Claudia Millan on the street corner where she died. (Photo by Jeanmarie Evelly)

Summer started off on a tragic foot this year, as an exceptionally warm Memorial Day weekend saw the horrific and fatal shooting of a young mother in the Bathgate neighborhood.

Claudia Millan, 29, was shot in the head on the corner of Park Avenue and East 178th Street on Sunday, May 29. According to the New York Times, Millan was walking with her 2-year-old son in tow at the time of the incident, which occurred around 10:30 p.m. as she made her way towards her home on E. Tremont Avenue.

Bronx News Roundup, Friday, June 17

Happy Friday folks and welcome to our Friday edition of the Bronx News Roundup. Let's get to the news!

Weather: Cooler, periodic bouts of rainfall, high in the upper 70s. Should be nice most of the day Saturday, then rain is expected to return Saturday night and into Sunday.

Story of the Day: So, Who Owns The Land Near Lehman HS?
The Bronx is on the front page of today' edition of the NY Times (and it has nothing to do with Pedro Espada or hate crimes!) with a story about the protracted football field at Herbert H. Lehman High School. The field is 80 yards long, too short for regulation football, soccer or lacrosse games. It forces the school to struggle with scheduling all of its home games in these sports on other schools' fields. The DOE's School Construction Authority is in the middle of a $5 million renovation of the field, but is not planning on expanding it so Lehman's celebrated football squad, one of the best in the city, can play home games on campus. The DOE says they couldn't expand the field because the land would need to be acquired from the Army Corps of Engineers and the agency had no interest (or resources, they say) to purchase it. But the Army Corps says it doesn't own the land and has no clue how that idea was implanted as fact in the collective minds of the DOE. So, again, we ask, who owns the land? And why didn't the city take the time to give Lehman an extra 20 yards of field?

Quick Hits (click Read More for the rest of the Roundup):

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bronx Sen. Gustavo Rivera Says Dems Want Strengthened Rent Laws, Not Just Extension of Old Ones

Last night, Democrats voted not to extend rent regulations because they say the status quo isn't good enough. Today, Bronx State Senator Gustavo Rivera, whose 33rd District includes a wide swath of the northwest Bronx and 72,000 rent regulated apartments, said they are holding out for strengthened rent regulations. See the video above.

Bronx Events: Local Celebrity Theatre Presents 'Beyond Therapy'

Bronx-based not-for-profit theatre group Local Celebrity Theatre performs "Beyond Therapy," tonight and tomorrow night at I.S. 192, 650 Hollywood Ave.

A description of the show, via a press release:  

"A farcial comedy that follows Prudence, an uptight writer who has trouble finding satisfying relationships, and Bruce, an emotional bisexual, two Manhattanites both seeking stable romantic relationships with the help of their psychiatrists.When their psychiatrists suggest they place personal ads in the paper, their lives intertwine and become evermore complicated."

Tickets are $15; more info can be found here. Check out what else is happening in the Bronx this weekend in our community calendar, below.

Editor's note: What did we miss? Send details to bronxnewsnetwork[at]gmail.com.

The Bronx Green Machine Goes 'Above and Beyond'

The sweet smell of basil drifted down the hallways of Discovery High School in late May. Parents, teachers, and neighbors anxiously chased the scent down to classroom 279, where Steven Ritz and his science classes hosted a Farmers Market and Edible Plant Sale.

At the event, guests were not only able to purchase a selection of fresh veggies, plants, and flowers, but also learn about the unique science curriculum Ritz has created.

“This is my portable science lab,” Ritz explained. “Unlike software that gets outdated and textbooks which are expensive; this room is a constant learning resource.” Ritz says he started bringing plants into the classroom in order to give his students a hands on lesson. But what began as a science teacher’s teaching tool has now grown into a mission to make the entire borough eat and grow healthy food.

West Farms Residents Get Free Home Makeovers

Editor's Note: This article was first published in the June edition of the Tremont Tribune, out now.

Volunteers from Rebuilding Together NYC repair homes on Bronx Park Avenue and East 178th Street, part of the nonprofit’s “Neighborhood Rebuilding Day.” (Photo by F.G. Pinto)

They came in the early morning in droves brandishing tool belts, saws and a dumpster. Before most people were up they were busy hammering, painting, and repairing in an all-day extreme remodeling session.

Bronx News Roundup, June 16

Weather: Warm and sunny today, in the high 70s/low 80s. Chance of rain late tonight and into tomorrow morning.

Story of the Day: Mount Hope Dad Gets a New Kidney
We'll start off today's roundup with a feel-good piece in honor of Father's Day this weekend. New York Daily News' Patrice O'Shaughnessy brings us the story of Bronx dad Jameak Lee, who after a decade of illness, dialysis and disappointment, successfully underwent a kidney transplant this winter. This will be the first Father's Day in his 12-year-old son Justin's life that Lee will feel well enough to celebrate.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fight Over Worship at Schools Puts Bronx Church in Spotlight

The Bronx Household of Faith has held services in PS/MS 15 for the past nine years.
[Editor's note: This story appears in the latest issue of the Norwood News, which hits local streets today. Just a quick warning: this story is long and easily could have been longer. I'm planning a follow-up post to tackle some of the angles we couldn't fit into this original piece.]

By Alex Kratz

When the leaders of Bronx Household of Faith, an evangelical Christian congregation based in University Heights, first approached the city, in 1994, about using its public schools to hold worship services, they didn’t think much of it. They certainly did not think they would find themselves, 17 years later, fighting for freedom of religion and speech as part of a back-and-forth legal case that could end up in front of the Supreme Court.

“It’s taken on a life of its own,” said Bob Hall, Bronx Household of Faith’s head pastor.

Bronx News Roundup, Wednesday, June 15

Welcome to the Wednesday early afternoon edition of the roundup. I'll be your humble host and guide today as we navigate through the latest Bronx news. 

Weather: Just downright lovely out here in the Boogie Down. Should stay this way until Friday.

Story of the Day: The New Downtown Bronx?
Pop quiz: Where's downtown Bronx? Give up? OK, you guessed correctly. There is no designated, or even unofficial, downtown Bronx area.There's no one place where borough commerce can congregate and entice even more corporations and businesses to set up shop. That could change with the coming expansion of the Hutchinson Metro Center near Westchester Square. Joseph Simone, president of New Rochelle-based Simone Development Companies, is building on the success of the Metro Center's first building, a renovated and updated version of a former residential treatment center. A new nine-story office building is set to open across the street from the original building this summer and is already 90 percent leased, mostly by medical groups and law firms. Construction on a twin tower is expected to begin this summer as well. When fully completed, in an estimated five years, the complex will have 2 million square feet of office space. The kicker: the final tower will supposedly include a high-end hotel and conference center.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bronx Crime Watch

Grand Ave. Shooting
Police are asking for help finding the gunman responsible for opening fire on a crowd last Friday night in Fordham Heights, injuring three people, including a 5-year-old boy. The incident took place on June 10, on the sidewalk in front of 2395 Grand Avenue, when the man fired several times at the group, hitting the boy as well as a 30-year-old man and 32-year-old woman. All three victims were treated at St. Barnabas Hospital and later released.

The suspect (shown in video, above) is described as a black male with braided hair between the ages of 25 and 30, around six feet tall and 160 pounds.

Woman Found Unconscious, Dies
Police are seeking the person responsible for killing a 51-year-old woman, who was found unconscious on the kitchen floor of an apartment at 1042 E. 227th Street, in Edenwald. The victim was discovered by officers responding to a 911 call, and was later pronounced dead at Jacobi Hospital. She had suffered head trauma; autopsy results are pending. So far, there have been no arrests.

Man Wanted in Two Assaults
The man pictured in the grainy photo to the right is believed to have sexually assaulted one woman and robbed another on Sunday morning; he is described as a Hispanic man between 20 and 25, around 190 pounds.

At around 8 a.m. Sunday, a 42-year-old woman was sexually assaulted in the stairwell of an apartment building, Tinton Avenue and East 163 Street as she attempted to board the elevator. About 45 minutes later, a 17-year-old girl was robbed several blocks away.

Anyone with information related to the above incidents is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Living Wage Supporters Seek Compromise

Faced with criticism from opponents who say the bill would squash jobs, backers of a proposed "living wage" mandate in the City Council are now reportedly willing to make some concessions.

"We're trying to take into account some legitimate concerns," Bronx Councilman Oliver Koppell, who sponsored the legislation with Councilwoman Annabel Palma, told the Daily News. "What we want is something that'll work and also something that will engender as little resistance as possible."

Bronx Borough Hall Greenmarket Reopens Today

(file photo)
The greenmarket at Bronx Borough Hall, at 161st Street and Grand Concourse alongside Joyce Kilmer Park, reopens today. It will return every Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. until December 27.

The market features fruits and vegetables from Migliorelli Farm in Duchess County and Morgiewicz Produce in Orange County, as well as fresh baked goodies from Not Just Rugelach in Hudson County, NJ, and honey from Ballard's Honey based in Delaware County, NY.

Food Stamps/EBT payments are accepted.

Missile Found at Bronx Construction Site. Seriously. (UPDATED)

Daniel Andujar shows a photo of the missile he
captured on his Blackberry. It is sitting beside the
dumpster it was found in, in front of 3524 Hull Ave.,
a construction site. (Photos by Jordan Moss)

Man, what a way to start the day!

In the "now-we've-seen-it-all" department, a missile was found in a dumpster in front of an active construction site at around 7:30 this morning in the Norwood section of the Bronx.

Residents who piled into the streets following the arrival of fire and emergency vehicles and a helicopter hovering over the site at 3524 Hull Ave. (just above E. Gun Hill Road) say that a member of the bomb squad simply carried the missile in his bare arms to a truck that then took off with it. That sent all the other emergency trucks away and the workers back to work.

One worker who said he was part of a crew installing elevators at the site, said they measured the missile -- a narrow, green projectile -- at 39 inches. They said it had to have been left there overnight since they had been working with the dumpster yesterday. Several workers and residents got photos of the weapon on their cell phones, like the one above.

Marlene Lopez who runs K & M Daycare in her apartment across the street said that emergency workers told her to close up for the day, after which she called parents and informed them of the situation.

We'll bring you more details as we get them. 

UPDATE (2:20 p.m.): NYPD tells us the object was determined to be an inert "dark green practice shell." So, apparently NOT a missile, the way it was first described on police scanners, etc.  

The missile was found in this dumpster at the construction site.

Bronx News Roundup, June 14

Morning, Bronxites! Your weather forecast for today calls for some cooler weather, with temperatures hanging around the low 60s, and a chance of rain this afternoon.

Story of the Day: Getting Down to the Wire in Albany
It's the last week of business for our state legislators before this year's session ends on Monday and they adjourn until January--meaning just five more (business) days to tackle a number of high profile issues and turn some bills into law. As we wrote yesterday, a slew of Bronx representatives are pushing to pass stronger state rent laws before the week ends, including Assemblyman Jose Rivera, who was arrested during a lively protest outside Gov. Cuomo's office.

While the rent issue still lingers, the Senate and Assembly quickly passed an ethics reform bill yesterday. The Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011 will supposedly keep a closer eye on lawmakers and lobbyists for signs of corruption and conflicts of interest, establishing an independent ethics commission to keep watch over things, and requiring lawmakers to fully disclose sources of income.

Other items still on the legislative agenda this week: a property tax cap and same-sex marriage. Bronx Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr., is now the lone Democrat opposing gay marriage. Three other Dems who'd previously been against it, and one Republican, announced yesterday that they now intend to vote yes.

Quick Hits:
Jerome Raguso, owner of Gino's Pastry Shop in Belmont, is taking a delicious stand: he sent City Council members a batch of empty cannoli shells, sans the cream filling, to protest budget cuts to arts and civic groups. The missing cream symbolizes "just how much the city's small businesses need its leading attractions," the Daily News writes.

A 17-year-old boy has been arrested for the weekend shooting of 15-year-old DeWitt Clinton student Yvette Torres.

Residents at a number of NYCHA housing complexes in the South Bronx and Manhattan are demanding that the authority make needed repairs on their apartments.

Giant rats are taking over a neighborhood in Pelham Bay.

The Bronx Re-entry Working Group is trying to help the formerly incarcerated turn their lives around.

A ring of 16 Bronx residents were arraigned yesterday for allegedly scamming car insurance companies out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Grim LeRogue, the man arrested in October for storming the field at Yankee Stadium and writing threatening notes to player Alex Rodriguez (similar to a bizarre letter sent to one of our publications, the Norwood News), was sentenced to community service yesterday.

A potential strike of union workers at retail department chain Macy's could mean a shutdown for the store's Parkchester branch, and three other city locations.

More drama in the Bronx NYPD ticket-fixing scandal.

Police are looking for a man suspected of robbing and sexually assaulting a South Bronx woman; photo at the link.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Group Plans Massive Housing Complex for West Farms Road

Editor's Note: This story first appeared in the latest issue of the Tremont Tribune, out now.

A development group is proposing to build a series of high-rise apartment buildings and retail shops in West Farms and Crotona Park East, in what the city is calling one of the largest private rezoning projects undertaken in the Bronx for several decades.

Signature Urban Properties, a real estate group headed by former New York City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, purchased the five-acre site, which runs along West Farms Road and the Sheridan Expressway and north and south of the Cross Bronx Expressway.

The group has requested that the city rezone the 11-block area to allow for residential development in order to construct 10 buildings, each approximately 15 stories high made up of 1,325 apartment units, 663 of which would be affordable housing.

Jose Rivera, Bill Perkins Arrested at Protest [VIDEO]

As we mentioned in the post below, Bronx Assemblyman Jose Rivera--rarely seen without the red light on his hand-held video camera blinking--and Harlem State Sen. Bill Perkins, were among the dozens of protesters arrested this afternoon during a rally for stronger rent laws.

Here's some video footage of the protest, courtesy of the Albany Times Union.

As Deadline Nears, A Final Push for Stronger Rent Laws

Bronx legislators at a rally for stronger rent laws on Thursday (photos by J. Evelly)
Housing advocates and local elected officials are making a last-ditch campaign to strengthen the state’s rent laws, which technically expire on Wednesday. Just this afternoon, dozens of protesters--among them Bronx Assemblyman Jose Rivera and Harlem State Sen. Bill Perkins--were arrested for blocking the entrance to Gov. Cuomo's office during a rowdy rally.

The Emergency Tenant Protection Act guarantees rent-stabilized status for over a million apartments across the city, and hundred of thousands in the Bronx. Sunday night, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos moved to extend the law’s deadline to this Friday, June 17, in the event that a deal isn’t reached before Wednesday.

Student Work Showcased at Bronx Museum of the Arts

Photos courtesy Free Arts NYC
On June 2, nonprofit group Free Arts NYC hosted its annual "Art from the Heart," exhibit at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, on the Grand Concourse.

The gallery show featured over 300 works of art done by children, from the Bronx and across the city, who participate in the organization's art and mentoring programs. Free Arts NYC partners with schools, community centers and shelters to involve low-income children and their families in the creative arts.

Construction Almost Finished at Tremont Park

Construction on the playgrounds in Tremont Park should be finished by the end of June. (Photo by J. Evelly)
 Ongoing renovations at the two playgrounds in Tremont Park should be wrapped up in time for summer, according to a Parks Department spokesperson who says construction should be finished by the end of the month.

The two play areas along the park's eastern edge, one at Tremont Avenue and Arthur Avenue and another at Arthur Avenue and East 176th Street, have been fenced off since construction began last spring.

The renovation project is costing $4.5 million total and includes the installation of a lawn to replace the deteriorated bocce court and pathways between the two playgrounds. The city is also constructing  new benches, swings, play equipment, water play areas, fencing, and new wheelchair accessible ramps for the existing restrooms.

Bronx News Weekend Roundup, June 13

Weather: Partly cloudy and cool today, with a chance of light showers later this evening.

Quick Hits:
State Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr. says he's received death threats for his fierce opposition to same-sex marriage, according to this AP piece about conservative gay-rights opponents who claim they've been "bullied," for their views.

Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is holding a special strategy session in Albany today, as he prepares to make one final push for a same-sex marriage bill before the legislature adjourns at the end of this week.

A 15-year-old girl was shot in the back of the head outside of a party in Fordham Heights Saturday night. Yvette Marie Torres, a student at DeWitt Clinton High School, is in critical condition at St. Barnabas Hospital. So far, there have been no arrests.

Anti-hunger advocates and Bronx Assemblyman Jose Rivera want New York to rename its food stamps program to its federally-known moniker--the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)--in an attempt to reduce the stigma attached to applying for the benefits.

The federal government is pushing for state courts to curb medical costs by encouraging judges to settle malpractice cases way before they get to trial. The tactic, known as judge-directed negotiation, started locally in the Bronx State Supreme Court and is being expanded to other counties.

The Bronx Academy of Art and Dance, aka BAAD!, is hosting its 11th annual "Out Like That!" festival this week; there's a schedule of performances and events at the link.

A Long Island construction company that received millions of dollars from the MTA to install security fences around the authority's warehouses and transit depots has been found guilty of grand larceny, after supposedly submitting bogus or inflated invoices for years. 

Police have released surveillance footage of three men believed guilty of shooting four people--including a pregnant woman--at a BBQ in Castle Hill last week.

Another bout of gun violence left a 5-year-old boy and a 30-year-old man wounded on Friday. The victims of both shootings survived.

A 62-year-old man collapsed and died following a scuffle with police officers at a Morrisania homeless shelter on Friday, and autopsy results are pending.  Police had been called the the Webster Avenue shelter by administrators who said the man had been fighting with other residents.

The annual Riverdale Riverfest took place yesterday.

A 12-year-old Bronx boy has been missing since Friday; photo at the link.

Editor's Note: BxNN will keep posting this clock in our daily news roundups -- tallying the days until the NYPD releases neighborhood sector crime stats, which we requested from them via a Freedom of Information Law request last year. For some background, see our Norwood News' editorial here.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Bronx Events: Puerto Rican Festival at Roberto Clemente Park


This Sunday marks the 54th National Puerto Rican Day Parade, a time-honored tradition where Puerto Rican residents in the Bronx and the across the city come out to celebrate their heritage. This year’s grand marshals are Robert I. Unanue, President of Goya Foods, Inc., and Carlos 
Unanue, President of Goya Foods Puerto Rico. The Parade kicks off at 11 a.m. at Fifth Avenue and 44th Street, and ends at Fifth Avenue and 79th Street.

If you need any flags, necklaces, or other swag to showcase your Puerto Rican pride, head to Taino Mayor Studios, at 855 E. Tremont Ave., where they stock everything imaginable, from flag bikinis to beach chairs. Check out our profile here. 

Want to get down with your heritage without leaving the Boogie Down? A "Juegos Boricua" Festival will take place on Sunday at Roberto Clemente State Park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring a dominoes tournament, arts and crafts, and live music.

Other Bronx events are featured in our community calendar, below.

Editor's note: What did we miss? Send details to bronxnewsnetwork[at]gmail.com.

Bronx News Roundup, Friday, June 10

Happy Friday, ladies and gentlemen of the Bronx and beyond, let's get down to business.

Weather: It may be cooler today, but there's definitely still some sticky humidity lingering. A slight chance of thunderstorms this afternoon before we head into a weekend full of clouds, rain and, thankfully, much cooler temperatures.

Story of the Day: Four Injured in Castle Hill BBQ Shooting
I hate (and I don't use that word lightly) making gun violence the subject of our Story of the Day. It feeds into the worldwide-held stereotype of the Bronx as a crime-ridden blight on the rest of New York City. There are other positive, compelling, fun and substantive conversations we should be having. But for the second time in two days, I couldn't ignore another case of reckless gun violence that endangered and injured innocent people. On Wednesday afternoon, someone fired shots into a crowd of teenagers in Soundview. Then last night, at a Cattle Hill-area barbecue, two men stepped out of an SUV and sprayed the assembled party goers with bullets, hitting four people, including a 16-year-old boy and a young pregnant woman. All are expected to survive, including the pregnant woman's baby, but the incident is disturbing and should sound alarm bells from Kingsbridge to the Throgs Neck Bridge. History tells us violence heats up along with the temperatures in the Bronx. Still, it's only early June. School's not even out, the summer hasn't even officially started yet. Stop the madness!

Quick Hits:
Now onto one of the aforementioned (and rarer) positive Bronx stories. This one, from the Daily News' Dan Beekman, who writes a fair share of these type of stories, is about City Squash, a Belmont-based organization that provides free squash training and academic help for around 100 at-risk Bronx kids. (For those unfamiliar, squash is a racquet sport "traditionally dominated by preppy trust-funders," Beekman writes.) The program has helped numerous participant land scholarships at prestigious prep schools and colleges. As part of a fundraising effort, a handful of City Squash organizers, volunteers and participants recently embarked on a cross-country bike tour. For more info on this group, check out citysquash.org.

A Hunts Point prostitute graphically described her terrifying encounter with a known sex offender.

Paul McCartney is scheduled to play Yankee Stadium on July 15. It will mark the first time the Beatles legend performs in the Bronx.

Bronx rapper (Not Nearly as) Fat Joe talks about how he recently lost 88 pounds after seeing several friends with weight problems drop dead from heart attacks. Switching to a healthier diet has been difficult. "I'm addicted to food; I love food," he told the Daily News. "It's like a crack addict - he hits rock bottom and he says, 'All right, forget it. I'm not going to get high anymore.'"

A Bronx model boat enthusiast laments the city's policy on banning motorized boats at the Central Park Model Boat Pond.

This great picture from the Bronx Zoo is now on display at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

And finally, our ongoing quest to provide the public with invaluable neighborhood crime stats continues.

On to the clock! For some background, see Norwood News' editorial here.

Piano for Public to Arrive in Oval Park on June 18

Last summer, as part of the Sing for Hope program, a piano arrived in Sachkerah Woods Playground in the Norwood section of Van Cortlandt Park (see photo above by David Greene). This year, the destination is Williambridge Oval. It was supposed to appear near the new playground on June 18, but some final punch-list construction items under way there (the Parks Department says the playground, spray showers, and basketball courts, will be open by the end of June) make that location unlikely. The Parks Department tells us though that the piano is definitely Oval bound, and though they won't know the location until the last minute, it may go in front of the benches at the Reservoir Oval West entrance.

Unfortunately, last year, the pianos suffered from vandalism in two Bronx Parks, including Sachkerah Woods. Let's hope the tune plays out more joyfully this year.

(Thanks to BxNN reader Lis for her comment on a previous post, which led to our calling the Parks Dept. for more info.)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Devoe, Bronx River and Joyce Kilmer Parks to Get Wi-Fi

Bronx River Park is one of three in the Bronx that will be getting free Wi-Fi access this summer. (Photo by J. Evelly)
In the mood to do a little web surfing in the great outdoors? You'll soon be able to break out your laptop or iPad at three Bronx parks, thanks to a city initiative launched today.

Devoe Park in Kingsbridge Heights, Bronx River Park in West Farms and Joyce Kilmer Park, near Yankee Stadium, will be Wi-Fi enabled this summer, part of a bigger project launched by the city and wireless service provider AT&T that's bringing free wireless to 20 different city parks.

Bronx Crime Watch: Granny Robbery Suspect Caught

The man police say spent three weeks in April and May terrorizing and brutally robbing elderly Bronx women in the 48th and 52nd precincts has been arrested, according to Deputy Inspector Joseph Dowling, the commanding officer of the 52nd Precinct.

Yesterday afternoon, we published a mug shot of Tyrone Rosario, 40, an ex-con who has  previously spent time in prison for robbery and attempted robbery, according to the NY Post. Police said Rosario was wanted in connection with six robberies of women between the ages 65 and 81. The robberies happened between April 23 and May 9 in various parts of the 48th and 52n precincts. (It's unclear exactly where in the precincts they happened.)

Reached briefly on the phone today, Dowling said they caught their suspect last night. We'll have more details when we get them.

Heat Wave Health Tips: Stay Cool, Bronxites

File photo by Adi Talwar
Weather.com says the thermometer is going to hit a stifling 95 degrees today. As we mentioned in this morning's news roundup, you can get some relief from the heat by stopping in at one of the city's air-conditioned cooling centers.You can find the location closest to you by calling 311 or using this online map feature.

In the meantime, the folks over at St. Barnabas Hospital wanted to remind everyone, especially the elderly and those with young children and infants, to be wary of the health dangers that can come with very hot weather.

Dr. Ernest Patti, the hospital's Senior Attending Physician of Emergency Medicine, offers these tips for how to stay cool--and avoid health problems like heat exhaustion and heat stroke--until this sweltering weather breaks:

Bronx News Roundup, Thursday, June 9

Weather: Outrageously hot. Because of the extremely temperatures and humidity today in the Bronx and the rest of the region, the National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory until 8 p.m. tonight as well as an air quality alert from 2 to 11 p.m. Stay inside, drink lots of water and if you can, spend some time chillin' in one of the city's 400-plus cooling centers. Click here to locate the center nearest you. Thankfully it is supposed to cool down slightly tomorrow and then temperatures should drop significantly this weekend.

Story of the Day: Shooter Takes Aim at Bronx Students, Hits 16-year-old in the Hip
This is the type of terrifying random-act-of-violence story that keeps parents up at night. Yesterday afternoon, a man stepped off a BX5 bus near the Rincon de Gautier Institute for Law and Public Policy on Story Avenue and opened fire. Fortunately, this didn't turn Columbine-esque. Though "several shots" were fired, only one bullet found a victim, a 16-year-old girl who was hit in the hip and is expected to survive. The scariest part of this is that the shooter remains on the loose as of this posting. One student who attends a nearby school summed it up best for the Daily News: "I don't understand how people can just start shooting at a pack of kids."

Quick Hits:
Speaking of random acts of violence in the Bronx, a Sarah Lawrence College professor who was visiting the Bronx Zoo with his wife and 19-month-old son was hit by a BB gun pellet after parking on Bronx Park South near Daly Avenue.

Okay, enough with the random violence. How about some housing policy? Bronx State Senator Gustavo Rivera says Democrats are pushing hard for stronger rent regulations as the current Emergency Tenant Protection Act is set to expire on July 15, just six days from now. (Note: The story wrongly says regulated apartment rent increases are set by the Rent Stabilization Association, which is lobbying and advocacy group that represents landlords. Rent increases are set by the Rent Guidelines Board.)

The New Jersey Nets are taking a hard look at Bronx hoops product Corey Fisher.

The retired cops of the 41st Precinct, which covers the Longwood-Hunts Point area and was known back in the day as "Fort Apache," will gather to reminisce about the good/bad old days tomorrow night.

Alright, here's a positive, even heroic, Bronx story. A Bronx court officer performed emergency CPR on a 2-year-old girl who had stopped breathing after suffering a seizure. His father told the Daily News: "You're talking about a guy who brought my daughter back to life. I don't know how to thank him. I didn't know we still had people like that out here."

Our favorite Bronx political gossip columnist Bob Kappstatter reports that Bronx Assemblyman Peter Rivera's campaign treasurer pleaded guilty to mail fraud after facing obstruction of justice charges and will spend six months in jail. Meanwhile, former Bronx State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr., had his trial on embezzlment charges moved to Oct. 17. It will be a busy month for legally-entangled Bronx pols. Councilman Larry Seabrook's corruption trial is set to begin Oct. 11.

Bronx rapper Fat Joe may have to change his moniker to Svelte Joe after noticeably slimming down for his latest music video, "Drop a Body," a track from his upcoming "The Darkside II" album. Maybe he should have renamed the song, "Drop a Body Weight." What's your secret Joe? Hopefully he's not trying to live up to his other nickname, "Joey Crack."