Vol. 18, No. 15 July 28 - Aug. 24, 2005


Advocates Want Rehab of Streets Near Library


Advocates hope Poe Place (left) and Coles Lane (right) can be rehabbed in time for new borough library.      Photos by Danielle Whyte


When the borough’s new regional library opens early next year on Kingsbridge Road, community advocates want to make sure that two North Fordham streets in the immediate vicinity are no longer eyesores.

Coles Lane and Poe Place are two small dead-end streets that have been a magnet for litterbugs and vagrants. Coles Lane, which joins Kingsbridge Road and Bainbridge Avenue, was repaved recently but it is still used as a dumping ground and is a haven for loiterers.
Poe Place is a dead-end street with drainage problems, loads of trash and damaged sidewalks and curbs.

Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation (FBHC), in collaboration with the City College Architectural Center, is proposing a redesign for the two streets that “will add additional lighting, greenery, and be handicapped-accessible,” said Rosanna Viera of FBHC.

FBHC is planning to share its proposal with the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) and the city Department of Transportation (DOT).

“DOT has always been aware of our problem; it’s more of presenting it to DDC and to try to get everyone on board who is going to be a part of the design and building,” Viera said.

DOT says things are still in the fact-finding stage.

“Right now things are in the preliminary phases,” said Craig Chin, a DOT spokesman. “We need to meet and discuss and find out what to do. They [FBHC] are going to bring their proposal and bring the borough commissioner up to speed.” The Bronx DOT commissioner is Joe Palmieri who, since appointed in 2003, helped get the streets paved and steps repaired.

FBHC manages 80 buildings in the northwest Bronx and its Office of Policy and Planning, which works on public infrastructures and community and housing development, has raised about $2 million from elected officials to improve Poe Park, which is close to the two problem streets.

FBHC first began lobbying for improvements to the two streets in 2001, when plans for the new $50 million Bronx Borough Library were announced. The new library will dramatically increase traffic in the area and FBHC wanted to make the two roads safer and more attractive.

“There’s been very minor improvements,” said Viera. “The garbage problems have gotten a little better but there’s still graffiti and illegal dumping still takes place.”

FBHC succeeded in getting the DOT to make some repairs to Coles Lane, but many of the steps are still hazardous and uneven. Coles Lane is also very steep, which Viera considers dangerous, and there is still loitering at night.

“They should keep working on it,” said Sergio Fernandez, a Coles Lane resident. “Some people come out of nowhere and do graffiti.”

FBHC hopes to coordinate their construction proposal with the Bronx Borough Library by incorporating similar materials. The new library will feature glass walls that will overlook Poe Place and Coles Lane.

“We want the view from the library to be more pleasant and coincide, not contrast, [with] the new library,” said Viera.

But there are still no definite plans for the Poe and Coles makeover.

“We’re moving forward but these projects take time and patience,” said Viera. “We still have a long way to go.”

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