Coalition Presses Armory Proposal
By JORDAN MOSS
The Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition continued to press its proposal for rehabilitating the Kingsbridge Armory in a meeting last week with Adolfo Carrion, the city councilman who represents the area including the facility.
Parent activists with the group asked Carrion, in the session at Our Lady of Angels Church in Kingsbridge, to support their proposal, which includes reconfiguring the structure's interior to make room for three public schools, a theater, a green market and other community uses. Carrion stopped short of giving his backing, saying he wanted to study the financial details of the plan.
But Carrion told the group that their organizing was making its mark on the debate around what do with the building, which was vacated by the National Guard in 1994.
"What you've done in terms of advocating for education space is important because every proposal I'm seeing [has space for schools], Carrion said. "This community's proposal is now influencing every other proposal." Until now, many proposals for the site have relied heavily on commercial uses and few, if any, Bronx elected officials have supported using any part of the complex for public schools. Carrion said including schools makes sense because it would provide a guaranteed funding stream for whoever takes on the mammoth project.
Carrion also said he wants the Kingsbridge Armory Task Force to meet in the Bronx, and he suggested that the group press the administration to do so. The task force, a group representing a variety of city agencies, was formed in March by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Carrion was not originally on the task force but succeeded in convincing the administration to appoint him.
There is approximately $29 million in unspent funds originally designated for the armory, but most of that money has been placed by the Giuliani administration in a more general pool of facilities funds and pushed into the "outyears" of the city budget, meaning that when and how the funds will be spent is very much up in the air. Carrion has met with administration officials on the matter, but said it will be difficult to free the money until a proposal emerges that the city supports.
Carrion agreed to try to set up a meeting for the coalition with City Council Speaker Peter Vallone to discuss the armory.
Ronn Jordan, a Norwood parent, who presented the proposal to Carrion at the meeting, said rehabilitating the armory into a state-of-the art educational complex would be a magnet for good teachers and administrators.
"We want to put something here that's going to attract the best teachers," Jordan said. "It's not going to happen in broken-down buildings where you have 50 kids in a classroom."
Jordan said it was "good to hear [Carrion] say he's willing to work with us."
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