Vol. 15, No. 17      August 29 - Sept. 11, 2002



     
 

Youth Group Want Schools in Armory

By HEATHER  HADDON

A grassroots group of northwest Bronx teenagers is continuing to push city officials to include new schools inside a renovated Kingsbridge Armory.

At the first annual meeting of Sistas and Brothas United, a youth group affiliated with the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión to support the coalition's concept for three 600-seat schools, an event and athletic facility, and storefronts on Jerome Avenue.

A Giuliani administration proposal to lease the landmark building to Basketball City to develop the armory as an athletic facility and shopping mall appears to be off the table, as no action has been taken on the plan by the Bloomberg administration. A proposal for a TV and video production studio in the vacant space has similarly withered on the vine at the city's Economic Development Corporation, according to Carrión.

Carrión, who has been vocal in arguing for the armory's restoration since he represented the area in the City Council, still does not know what should go underneath the new $30 million roof installed over the giant drill shed over the last several months. "I don't have a proposal," he told the members of SBU and their supporters at the Aug. 8 meeting. "I want to see [that the plan] works and it financially sustains itself." While the borough president has said he would form a Bronx-based commission on the armory since early this year, it still doesn't exist.

Carrión did say he supports at least one school in the armory and he agreed to continue meeting with the youth group on the issue. With District 10's perennial overcrowding, many residents insist that schools should be incorporated into any proposal.

To accomplish this, the Coalition proposes using Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZABs), interest-free federal bonds designated specifically for fixing up old buildings for school purposes. But the Board of Education has been unwilling to use the money for the armory.

As the Norwood News went to press, parent activists with the Coalition said that in a meeting at City Hall last week, Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff said he would bring the group's proposal to the new city Education Department for review.

Fernando Carlo, a 16-year-old SBU youth leader, was glad to have Carrión's ear on the matter. "It's an ongoing process," said Carlo, who has been active on the armory issue since he got involved with the Coalition three years ago.

A number of other issues were pitched to Carrión, Bronx High Schools Superintendent Norman Wechsler, and representatives from the offices of Councilman Jose Rivera, Jr. and Councilwoman Maria Baez. SBU members -- primarily high school juniors and seniors -- asked for answers on subjects such as better education, traffic safety, and a proposed community center on Decatur Avenue and a children's park on Oliver Place.

The event was SBU's first annual meeting and about 100 people turned out in the parish hall of Our Lady Of Refuge Church to celebrate the group's accomplishments. Carlo said the meeting is just one step toward achieving SBU's goals.

"We'll be making follow-up calls come September," Carlo said.

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