Vol. 12, No. 6 March 25 - April 7, 1999


City Forms Task Force on Armory
Community Wants Representation


The Kingsbridge Armory is finally commanding Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's attention, but residents around the landmark fortress say they're not registering on Hizzonner's radar screen.

The administration recently announced the formation of a task force comprised of nine city agencies to study the decaying structure, but community voices are unrepresented, raising the hackles of residents and community leaders who have worked hard to develop plans for the armory and to get the city to prevent it from collapsing.

Chaired by Deputy Mayor Joseph Lhota, the grouping includes representatives of the following city agencies: Economic Development Corporation, City Planning Commission, Parks and Recreation, Department of Citywide Administrative Services, Landmarks Preservation Commission, Office of Emergency Management, Department of Design and Construction, and the Sports Commission.

No local elected officials have been named to the task force, not even Councilman Adolfo Carrion, whose district includes the armory. Carrion has been negotiating with administration officials in recent months over the release of $30 million originally appropriated to repair the facility. The money has since been moved to a more general pool of building repair funds. Carrion will request a seat on the task force, according to his spokesman, Michael Benjamin.

"Our contention is that Councilman Carrion should be on the task force, since [the armory] is in his district," Benjamin said.

According to Denise Collins, a spokeswoman for the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, the purpose of the new forum "is to review the conditions of the building and options for use."

The Kingsbridge Armory has been in the city's hands since 1994 when the National Guard left the landmark facility. The structure is in such desperate condition that a city agency declared it unsound last fall and erected scaffolding around its perimeter.

To many with an interest in the armory, the absence of the Board of Education at the table is also conspicuous. Because of the severe overcrowding crisis, Community School District 10 has long expressed interest in transforming the building into an education facility. And beginning last summer, members of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition drafted preliminary plans -- which include schools and other community uses -- for the armory with the help of the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development (PICCED).

Kingsbridge mom Isabel Colon believes that those who will have to live with the city's decision on the armory should have representation on the task force, particularly since she and her neighbors have put so much work into making plans of their own for the building.

"Whatever happens to the armory directly affects this community and the surrounding areas, so people from [this] area should be involved," Colon said.

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