Vol. 13, No. 16 Aug.  24 - Sept. 6, 2000



Fire Alarm
The fire in a Mosholu Parkway building that left 65 families homeless earlier this month is only the latest in a string of disturbing blazes in our area. A preliminary review of statistics provided by the Fire Department indicates that there has not been a recent increase in fires in Community Board 7, which covers Norwood, Bedford Park, Fordham Bedford and University Heights. But that does not mean that there hasn't been an increase in Norwood and Bedford Park alone or that the fires in questions have not been unusual in their severity. We urge the Fire Department to investigate the frequency of fires in this smaller geographical area.

Many of the fires have been caused by faulty electrical systems. That may mean that landlords could benefit from targeted loan programs or technical assistance provided by housing organizations.

Fires are a particularly sensitive issue in the Bronx, which almost burnt to the ground in the 1970s during a wave of arson and abandonment the borough has only just recovered from. This is not the same situation but we should remain alert nonetheless. The landlord of a now- vacant Bedford Park building has reportedly been encouraging tenants not to return so that he can jack up rents for new customers. This type of displacement is not healthy for any community.

Vigilance is paramount. All local community groups and elected officials should pay attention to this problem and urge city officials to do the same.

Voice Discovers the Bronx - Slowly
Remember when the Norwood News and local residents had to remind the circulation department at The New York Times that the Bronx was in New York City? A few years back, the paper of record launched its new City Section on Sundays but Bronxites couldn't get it. We got the Westchester section instead. After months of hue and cry, the gray lady gave in.

As residents of the most-snubbed borough, we've grown accustomed to disrespect. But we're dawning on a new era so expectations should rise. There is a Barnes & Noble in Bay Plaza and a Starbucks and a Gap on Fordham Road. Some might not consider this progress, but whatever your feelings about mass-market America, it's news that it's coming to Fordham Road.

So where's the Village Voice? The venerable alternative weekly went free three years ago in Manhattan, and then followed suit in Brooklyn and Queens. But we still had to pay! (Of course, we all refused, and picked it up on forays into Manhattan.) As with the City Section, which regularly covers Bronx issues, the Voice similarly dissed us by talking about us in print behind our backs. The most recent issue, with a large story about challengers to State Senator Guy Velella, is a case in point.

Finally, this summer, three red Voice dispensers appeared along Fordham Road, at the corners of Belmont, Arthur and Webster avenues. The Voice's circulation chief said the boxes were positioned to target Fordham University students.

More are planned for Westchester Square. But what about everybody else? Does the Voice assume 99 percent of the borough's 1.2 million residents, particularly its legions of young people, doesn't care for its political and cultural coverage or its entertainment listings? What about the borough's many other college campuses, commercial districts and centers for art and culture like The Point in Hunts Point.

And Fordham students tell us that it's difficult to find a box on Fordham that has copies regularly, even on the day of distribution.

We'll give the Voice points for trying, but they have a long way to go to earn the Bronx's respect.


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