Vol. 12, No. 9 May 6 - 19, 1999


400 Rally Against Plant


Moved to action by city plans to build a filtration plant at Mosholu Golf Course in Van Cortlandt Park, 400 local residents gathered in the auditorium of a Mosholu Parkway school April 22 for one of the biggest neighborhood rallies in memory.

Organized by three groups -- the Mosholu Woodlawn South Community Coalition, the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park, and the Norwood-Bedford Park Consortium -- the meeting at MS 80 featured speeches by residents and elected officials articulating community opposition to filtration and to the Van Cortlandt site in particular.

Assemblymen Jeffrey Dinowitz and Jeffrey Klein, and State Senator Guy Velella addressed the crowd, as did representatives for Councilman Adolfo Carrion, and Councilwoman June Eisland.

After he was thanked for bringing the Beacon School to MS 80, which allows the school to stay open in the evenings for a wide array of youth programs, Velella said he would talk to his fellow Republicans Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Governor George Pataki about considering alternatives to filtration or siting the plant in Westchester. The senator also promised to contact Paul Feiner, the town supervisor of Greenburgh, home to one of the proposed plant sites the city's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) passed over in favor of Van Cortlandt Park. Feiner continues to express interest in the facility. The site in his town is much further from residents and has been used for industrial purposes.

Still, Velella predicted that the groups would have to go to court to stop the city's plans. "When the day is done, it's going to be won and lost in the courts," Velella said in a telephone interview. "In whatever capacity I can be supportive, I will."

In the meantime, Velella said the City Council also had an important role to play in getting the mayor to alter the city's current plans for filtration in the Bronx.
The matter is currently before the City Planning Commission, which will make a decision on the plan by early June. If the commission votes for the proposal, the City Council could still derail it with a veto-proof (two-thirds) vote against it. The plan has already been unanimously rejected by the three community boards surrounding the park and the Bronx Borough Board.

In her address, school board member Myrna Calderon announced that she had received support from a majority of the board for a resolution opposing the construction of a filtration plant anywhere in the Bronx. The resolution was passed by the board a week later.

The lively meeting began with a parade of about 20 children into the auditorium from the Knox-Gates section of Norwood, a neighborhood that borders Van Cortlandt Park. Many of the children carried one-letter signs which together spelled the message, "Happy Earth Day." Others carried placards saying, "Save Our Park," and "No Filtration in the Bronx." In the auditorium, the group put their anti-filtration message to song. With the city in mind, to the tune of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," the group sang, "When you said you'd filter, you were wrong, you were wrong."

Margaret Groarke, president of the Mosholu Woodlawn South Community Coalition (disclosure: Norwood News editor Jordan Moss is married to Groarke), said the rally sent a clear message to the city.

"The most significant thing [the rally demonstrated] is that the Norwood community is not going to accept this lying down and we've got the support of all our elected representatives to push for natural alternatives to filtration or a better site for a filtration plant," Groarke said.

Those who came to the rally were encouraged to call City Council Speaker Vallone and ask to him to lead the charge against the proposal. People were also invited to a meeting Thursday, May 13 at 7 p.m. at St. Ann's Church to plan for a June event in Van Cortlandt Park. Call 655-1054 for more information.

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