The Port Morris waterfront is among parts of the neighborhood that will receive attention from Community Board 1's new environmental committee. By Connor Zaft.

Bronx Community Board 1 has created an Environmental Justice and Sanitation Committee to oversee ways to overcome a history of environmental injustices in the South Bronx, including the lack of any recreational access to a waterfront. 

The new committee, formed at the behest of the community and new Community Board Chair Clarisa Alayeto, is being led by Cesar Yoc, marking a historic milestone. Applications for membership on the committee are being taken at the board’s office at 3024 Third Ave.

The committee, which held its first meeting on Jan. 17, has been charged with educating the community about the importance of sustainability as all community sectors work together to address pressing environmental injustice and sanitation issues in the district. 

 Cesar Yoc, a dedicated environment and community advocate, brings a track record that clarifies why he was selected to head the new panel.  With a Master of Arts in Urban Planning from Hunter College, a B.S. in Environmental Studies from Syracuse, and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Yoc has dedicated his life to fighting environmental injustice and doing so with the community’s well-being at the forefront.

Beyond his committee work, Yoc has operated the Bronx Institute for Urban Systems since founding it in 2019, and worked with NYCHA to fund and ultimately establish a community garden at the Mill Brook Houses on E. 137th St. Port Morris, where he lives.  

Yoc has been part of the Community Board since 2016, often serving insights, expertise, and quotes to local press and community members. Speaking with the Mott Haven Herald in July 2023, Yoc voiced concerns about the city’s plan to go carbon neutral, citing the community’s disproportionate burden. 

“A lot of infrastructure is going to be put in EJ (environmental justice) areas,” and “you have all these companies that are putting the burden of having infrastructure only in our communities,” he said.

Anthony Jordan, a Mott Haven native and Community Board 1’s district manager, emphasized the need for all board committees to work together to have a “well-thought-out and active plan” to fight environmental injustices within the next nine months to two years. 

Jordan asked for community input to help develop this plan:  “We need to hear from you. We need to understand where you’re thinking, what is not in your community, what is in your community, and what we need to do as decision-makers to make this community a better place to live.”

Representatives from South Bronx Unite also attended the meeting in a show of support. 

The committee’s next meeting will be on Feb. 21 at the CB1 Office at 3024 Third Ave.

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