Vol. 17, No. 10 May 6 - 19, 2004


Bloomberg and the Bronx

Mayor Bloomberg had breakfast with community newspaper publishers on April 30. He spent much of the time talking about his new budget, his election prospects and problems with the new law regulating sidewalk newspaper boxes.

But when the conversation turned to development projects, the mayor said some things that make us wonder how much he knows about the Bronx and our communities.

He spoke with obvious delight about the prospects for both the rebuilding of downtown and the development of the west side of Manhattan, the latter including a new facility that would serve both an expanded Javits Convention Center and the Jets football team.

When asked about economic development projects in the Bronx, the mayor's first thought was the filtration plant proposed for the Mosholu Golf Course. He said that politically there was no other way to deliver the $250 million for Bronx park projects that the city has promised in return for hosting the facility. As The Riverdale Press reported last week, Bloomberg said that while the review process is ongoing, "If I get to vote," Van Cortlandt is where it will go. One wonders who else "gets to vote."

The mayor mentioned the Bronx Terminal Market and the Nets arena in Brooklyn, but when asked, he didn't have a project to talk about in Queens. He only said what couldn't be done --  financing a football stadium there.

He said that the best economic development program for the boroughs other than Manhattan was clean streets, low crime and improved schools. He talked about how the Manhattan west side development would keep the tourism industry going year round and provide entry-level jobs for New Yorkers.

He also said it would be hard to rebuild or refurbish Yankee Stadium because the income to the city is so small, but that something would happen while he is mayor - if he gets re- elected. He said, when asked, that he would give more attention to the Kingsbridge Armory.

All of which may add up to an outline of the mayor's view of the whole city. He appears to be investing his attention in big projects downtown and thinks the only way he can really invest in the Bronx is as payback for the borough shouldering a burden, once again, for the whole city. An improved Yankee Stadium surrounded by a revitalized Bronx Terminal Market may also come, but at this point there are no details. The rest of the city can be improved as bedroom communities with lower crime, cleaner streets and better schools, but lots of big investments in the other boroughs are unlikely.

The Bronx is asking for a lot of things: park improvements without a filtration plant; a new Police Academy to help revitalize the area between the courthouses and the Hub; a redeveloped Kingsbridge Armory; a revitalized Yankee village area; transportation improvements including new mass transit along the Cross Bronx Expressway and changes for the Sheridan Expressway; rail service from Co-op City, Parkchester and Hunts Point; solutions to the problems with environmental impacts near industrial areas and highways; the list goes on.

What's a Bronxite to do? First we want to thank the mayor for arranging these forums for community publishers and journalists. Secondly, we are going to remind him about his willingness to pay more attention to the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory. And third, we all have to build consensus around the things we really want, knowing that resources  -  including the mayor's attention  -  are limited.

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