At its Feb. 25 meeting, Bronx Community Board 1 chair Arline Parks announced that, as recently reported by the Herald, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department removed syringe disposal boxes from St. Mary’s Park. The boxes were intended to safely collect needles discarded by drug users, but most boxes fell into disrepair and disuse.
Parks praised the removal and the efforts of activist Carmen Santiago, saying, “This is a win for us” and that the park can now be “a safe haven.”
But while members in the chat agreed on the need for better community support around drug addiction, they debated the merits of attempted solutions such as the needle boxes.
Board member Ora Kemp typed in the meeting chat, “I helped to get those receptacles put into the park, and now it’s undone??” She later wrote, “Removing receptacles from the park will not make it safer. It will force more needles to be discarded on walkways, in grass where kids play and in spaces that are meant for safe recreation.”
But member Maura Cosme disagreed, saying, “We as the community need to stop enabling addictive behavior. The receptacles were placed and obviously did not work. If anything, they caused more of an issue.”
Iconic Church Destined for Demolition
Confusion continued over the fate of La Resurreccion Church at 790 Elton Ave. in Melrose.
Although the church was never a designated landmark, Board Chair Arline Parks complained she never received a reply from the Landmarks Preservation Commission, to her request regarding the project.
Some board members and nearby homeowners remain upset about the demolition of the church, but there isn’t much they can do.
New York-based nonprofit Jericho Project plans to build supportive housing on the site, which will include some units for veterans. The project is co-developed with Azimuth Development Group, LLC.
According to Guido Subotovsky of Azimuth, the demolition of La Resurreccion will begin within the month and “will be completed in approximately 60 days,” and new construction beginning this fall, lasting “approximately 24 months.”
Some board members voiced general opposition to this type of project. During the presentation by City Councilwoman Diana Ayala, board member Michael Barber wrote in the chat, “Stop greenlighting shelter and supportive housing projects in our district.”
OTHER MEETING HIGHLIGHTS
- Parks introduced Anthony Jordan, the board’s new district manager, who officially took on the job as of Feb. 20. He plans to tour the district and arrange for board members to do the same.
- Two NYPD representatives from Transit District 11 reported many instances of purse and cell phone theft in the subway stations at 138th and 149th Avenues. According to the officers, most of the thefts happen to people who are not paying attention to their belongings. Two board members said they want more police presence in the early morning hours and for officers to walk around the stations rather than standing.
- The board voted on a letter of support for Dash Real Estate, a developer who plans to build high-end apartments at 427 East 140th St. Although the vote was approved with 13 in favor, six members voted against it and three abstained.
- Jeffrey Laufer from the Borough President’s office notified the board about a community survey on overnight truck parking. Laufer said this was a major concern from the board, with Parks adding that she has seen many trucks parked in front of fire hydrants. The survey is available in English and Spanish: https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/1267646deeb5419284ab98c766ad6d9a?portalUrl=https://www.arcgis.com