|Vol. 12, No. 21
||Nov. 4 - 17, 1999
Carrion Blasts City's Armory Planning Process Says Community is Locked Out
By JORDAN MOSS
Tired of waiting for the Giuliani
administration to include him and the community in its deliberations over the fate of the
Kingsbridge Armory, Councilman Adolfo Carrion (D-Fordham) is making his displeasure
"I'm very angry about the fact that this administration is being secretive about this
process and I'm prepared to make a stink about it now," Carrion said in a telephone
interview. "I came at this with a willingness to work with the administration.
They've done nothing to include me as a representative of this community in a meaningful,
substantive discussion about the future of the armory." Carrion's district includes
Last March, the city administration formed what it calls a "working group" of
officials from several city agencies to address the fate of the deteriorating landmark,
which was vacated by the National Guard in 1994. Carrion lobbied for a seat on the
committee, but he said he's never been invited to any of its meetings.
Asked how many times the working group has met, Jennifer Chaitt, a spokeswoman for the
Department of City Planning, one of the agencies involved, said, "It met three times
over the last four to five months."
Chaitt added that "the working group discussed the condition of the building and
measures for protecting the building from continued deterioration."
The Department of Design and Construction (DDC) has completed a pre-preliminary
observation report of the armory, which estimates that $15 million in repairs are needed
to stabilize\ the facility. Chaitt said DDC was in the process of completing a more
comprehensive engineering study.
Meanwhile, at least three preliminary development proposals have been submitted to the
city. The Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, which is collaborating with
Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development (PICCED) on a
redevelopment plan, acquired two of the proposals through a request under the Freedom of
However, Carrion said he believes that another proposal, which has not been released, has
been submitted to the city's Economic Development Corporation (EDC). "The truth is
that there's a proposal that's being considered by EDC and nobody knows what it is,"
Carrion said. A spokeswoman for EDC did not return a call seeking comment by press time.
The two other proposals were submitted by Rosenshein Associates, a Mamaroneck-based
developer of shopping malls, and the Oval Economic Development Corporation, an entity
associated with former city councilman Israel Ruiz. (Ruiz occupied the seat now held by
Carrion.) Both groups said they have not heard back from the city after they submitted
their proposals last spring. The two plans call for, in varying degrees, the combination
of retail commercial space with educational and community uses. Kathy Zamechansky, the
head of a public relations firm working with Rosenshein, said she expected the city to
issue a formal request for proposals before seriously considering the initial submissions.
The Coalition/PICCED proposal appears to include the most space for schools with three
600-seat schools provided for. Joan Byron, an architect at PICCED, said she believes the
joint plan, which proposes a green market, an athletic complex, and a community center,
has already succeeded by influencing the other development packages being suggested.
"Now everybody is saying 'schools,'" Byron said. "Every proposal makes a
token gesture at including schools."
With the help of a grant from the Booth Ferris Foundation, the Coalition and PICCED are
drafting more extensive drawings and a proposal with a "greater level of
detail," Byron said.
The pressing issue for Carrion, however, is securing community input into a major
redevelopment project with tremendous implications for the neighborhood.
"This community has not had an opportunity to participate in a meaningful way, either
through the community board, the borough president's office or the task force,"
Carrion said. "We haven't been able to have a voice in the future of this development
that's going to have a huge impact on our lives. It's a huge project with a major impact
on a neighborhood and we've yet to even come to the table."
As for the nature of that "stink" he plans to make, Carrion was coy, but
promised, "The noise level will be high."
Ed. note: All Norwood News articles about the Kingsbridge Armory published over the
last 18 months appear in Ongoing
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