Vol. 17, No. 5  Feb. 26  - Mar. 10, 2004



Mayor: Residents in Plant Area Will Be ‘Seriously Disadvantaged’


At a press conference at North Central Bronx Hospital Wednesday, where he announced the creation of a new sexual assault response team for the Bronx, Mayor Bloomberg acknowledged that “people in the immediate area [of the Mosholu Golf Course site] “would be seriously disadvantage” by the construction of a water filtration plant at Mosholu Golf Course in Van Cortlandt Park. 

The mayor’s remarks came in response to a question from the Norwood News about what the city would do if its prediction that the plant’s construction would have no effect on the area’s asthma rate proved inaccurate. Bloomberg brushed aside those concerns, expressing confidence in his Department of Environmental Protection commissioner Chris Ward. But he added: “The Bronx would be materially advantaged by putting the plant under Van Cortlandt Park, but there’s no question that people in the immediate area would be seriously disadvantaged.”

Earlier, in the portion of the press conference where reporters were asking questions, Norwood resident Lyn Pyle welcomed the mayor to the neighborhood but told him that the plant would have a devastating impact on the area. She also held up a bottle of Drano, which she said symbolized that city and Ward were “stuck in the past,” and unwilling to recognize new realities in the city’s own environmental study that make the Eastview site in Westchester a better choice. A security guard confiscated the bottle from Pyle.

Bloomberg joked that he would give the Drano to Ward, but defended the city’s preference for the golf course site. He said that the city is under court order and paying fines for every day the plant isn’t built. Pyle, a member of the Knox Gates Neighborhood Association, issued a press release with Margaret Groarke of the Mosholu Woodlawn South Community Coalition (disclosure: Groarke is married to the author of this article) refuting that point. “The city has not paid fines,” the press release stated, “and if it had decided to build the plant in Westchester back in 1999, it would be under not threat of fines.” 

The two community activists also disputed the mayor’s assertion that the plant would be completely underground. “Parts of the project will be above ground – a chemical fill building, a maintenance building, a parking lot, and a 16-foot-high, 300-foot-long wall with ventilation ducts,” they said in the press release. “Also, the DEP admits that building the filtration plant under the park will make that part of the park unsuitable for any future park use other than its current use as a driving range.”

Pyle said she thought the mayor’s responses confirmed that “the city is stuck looking at it like they were last spring. The EIS [environmental impact statement] presents some new perspectives on the situation and he hasn’t given it a thought. There’s new information. They aren’t taking it into account. They need to reconsider.”

The city will hold a hearing on its latest environmental study, which evaluates the golf course site, along with Eastview and another one in the Bronx along the Harlem River, on March 3 at DeWitt Clinton High School at 7 p.m. It is widely considered to be the last opportunity for community residents to weigh in on the matter before the city makes its final decision on siting in June. If the golf course is chosen, construction will begin in August and last several years.

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