Norwood News Guide to Sept. 11 Democratic Primary
The Race for Borough President
The following numbered questions respond to the numbered responses of the candidates below. The questions were presented in writing to the candidates by the Norwood News and they responded in writing. Their answers appear in full and have been edited only in a few instances for clarity.
1. What are your three top priorities? What specific proposals do you have concerning these priorities?
2. A coalition of organizations has proposed designating one percent of the annual city budget toward parks. Do you support this proposal?
3. The Norwood News has reported on the deteriorating state of Williamsbridge Oval Park. What improvements would you propose for the park? How much funding would you allot to renovate the park?
4. The redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory will have an impact on the entire northwest Bronx. What kind of development do you support in the Kingsbridge Armory (i.e. schools, commercial)? Do you support the construction of schools, stores, recreational facilities or other type of construction?
5. How do you propose to help solve the overcrowding problem in School District 10? How much money is required for your proposal, and where will the money come from?
6. What do you think of the 52nd Precinct's Operation Capture plan for 194th Street? What else would you propose be done about the chronic problem of drug sales and shootings in this area?
7. What is your position on filtration of the Croton water system?
Name/Age: Adolfo Carrion, Jr., 40
Education: B.A., World Religions/ Philosophy; Master of Urban Planning
Occupation/Employer: Council Member -14th District/New York City Council
Past Employment: School Teacher; Urban Planner-NYC Department of City Planning-Bronx Office; District Manager, Community Board #5; Vice President, Human Services and Community Development, PROMESA
Community Experience: Volunteer and board member of the following organizations: Morris Heights Health Center; The Clearwater-Environmental Advocacy Organization; Episcopal Social Services; Occupational Training Program; Bronx Community College Advisory Board; Bronx Council for Economic Development-Board Chairman; Aspira of New York; Founder, Harlem River Valley Development Corp.; Judicial Delegate,78th Assembly District
1. Top Three Priorities.
Good Schools: In the first year of my administration I will issue a report and analysis of every school in the Bronx and will present a blueprint for school improvement, both in terms of physical conditions and educational outcomes.
It is imperative that we develop an agenda of our schools that is very specific about the resources we need to improve educational outcomes. To this end, I will work with every elected official at the City, State and Federal level to lay out the budget and programmatic needs at every Bronx school.
I will also reopen the Board of Education's five-year Capital Plan to accomplish two objectives: one, to inform Bronxites how the Bronx was cheated out of sorely needed education dollars in the current five-year plan. And, two, to demand that we exercise the amendment provision of the five-year plan so that we may redirect funds to the Bronx for construction for new school space.
Housing: We currently are experiencing a housing emergency, not a housing crisis. With a vacancy rate hovering around 1.5%, families in the Bronx cannot find affordable housing. I intend to advocate for the creation of 20,000 to 30,000 units of housing over the next four to eight years. This will require a commitment of hundreds of millions of dollars from the city, as well as participation from the state and federal governments. I will work on a housing development agenda with all our delegations that will identify specific budget allocations in the state and federal budgets, as well as the new mayor and City Council.
The housing will address the needs of poor/working families, moderate to middle income families and the elderly. I will advocate for the development of assisted living facilities for seniors and for the state to provide the medical service reimbursements necessary to make this housing affordable for Bronx seniors.
In addition to the creation of new housing, I will work aggressively to preserve and improving existing housing. I am committed to restoring the tenant-initiated inspections that non- profit housing groups had arranged with HPD, as well as increasing the number of housing inspectors so that inspections and repairs may be done in a more expeditious manner.
Finally, I will make housing a standard item on the Borough Service Cabinet agenda so that we will monitor housing conditions and opportunities throughout the borough on a monthly basis.
A Job Creation Program: I believe that the best social program is a job. I will work to market the Bronx's location in the metropolitan region in order to completely fill our industrial parks with new industry that will provide good jobs with good family benefits. I will work to develop the Bronx's waterfront with new housing, parks, and grow the working waterfront in Port Morris and Hunts Point, and push out the noxious uses that now hurt us. And, I will work very aggressively to support the Bronx's Main Streets. The main streets program will provide the small businesses with the technical and financial support they need to grow and expand their businesses, as well as helping Bronxites start new businesses.
In order for Bronxites to benefit from new and growing industries, they must be trained in the skills of new industry. So, I will work to expand the number and quality of job training programs for all Bronxites.
2. 1% for Parks. I support the allocation of at least one percent of the City budget for parks.
3. Williamsbridge Oval Park. I would support the overall modernization of the park, including the park house/recreation center. The complete modernization of the park would require a multi-year, multi-million dollar commitment. I do not know how much this will cost, but I will commit to ensuring that we provide the needed resources to modernize the park.
4.The Kingsbridge Armory. I have been very clear about my position on the Kingsbridge Armory. I believe we should build a school into the Armory complex, along with the city's premier teacher training center run by the City University of New York, a multiplex cinema, other sports and recreation uses, and local retail. We must be creative about the possibility of a new-media small business incubator to allow youth to start new businesses, as well as a technology center to train the community in computer technology and language and give small businesses to do on-line wholesale purchasing. As soon as I am elected I will set up a real Kingsbridge Armory Task Force to assess these options and work with the new mayor to change the current Giuliani plan for the armory.
5. Overcrowding. I will hold hearings on the current Five-Year Capital Plan, identify what the optimum number of school seats we need over the next four to eight years is, and put forth an "Emergency School Building Plan." To this end I will lobby the new mayor, new City Council, and the state legislature for additional funds for school construction. With the cost overruns in school construction, the entire five-year capital plan is out the window. This is nearly a $3 billion deficit. Therefore, action by the city and state must be taken immediately. I will use the bully pulpit of my office to build new schools in the armory, on the Harlem River, and I'll continue my support of the new middle school/high school in Kingsbridge, MS/HS 368.
6. Operation Capture. I support aggressive action against those who prey on our children by selling them drugs, purveying violence and setting a bad example for children. I am a proponent of community policing. That means beat cops, in uniform, assigned to our neighborhoods on a long-term basis. This kind of policing works; it restores communication and respect between the police and the people in the neighborhood. In the short run, I would work with the police to set up a sting operation and have a 24-hour presence on the block until we clean it up.
7. Filtration for the Croton: I have been very clear that we must do everything to avoid filtration, and we cannot and must not build a plant in the Jerome Park Reservoir or Van Cortlandt Park. I will use the power of my office to continue fighting for better watershed protection, and for the reversal of the federal EPA mandate requiring filtration. Our first goal should be protecting our drinking water at its source.
Name/Age: June M. Eisland, 62
Education: University of Miami
Occupation/Employer: Member, New York City Council
Past Employment: Mayor's Urban Action Task Force, City of New York;
private consultant, housing
Community Experience: Chairperson, Community Board 8; Transportation Chair, Community Board 8; co-founder, Skyview Tenants Association; Board member, Frances Schervier Home & Hospital and Neighborhood House; Advisory Board of Hebrew Home for the Aged; Housing Chair, League of Women Voters; Parents Association, PS 81 and MS 141 Executive Board; founding member Network Organization of Bronx Women
1. Top three priorities.
Education: Improving our public school system. It is absolutely essential that we build more schools to reduce overcrowding, particularly in District 10, and create smaller class sizes. As Bronx borough president, I would actively pursue more funds from City Hall for school construction and repair. After-school programs, and more involvement from school boards and parent/teacher associations are also essential.
Economic Development/Housing: As borough president, one of my first acts would be to convene a "Housing Summit" to discuss and implement ways to create more affordable housing in the Bronx. I would work to create public/private sector partnerships between the community development corporations and other not-for-profits that know our neighborhoods and are doing such a good job, and private developers to bring additional resources to the Bronx and greatly increase our supply of high-quality, affordable housing.
City Services: Police community relations; libraries; senior and youth programs; parks. The quality of life for all Bronx residents depends on better police training and neighborhood policing, after-school programs for our youth, good libraries and parks that are clean and safe. As borough president, I would devote resources and work to ensure that these services are available to all Bronx residents.
2. 1% for Parks. Definitely. Parks are essential to urban dwellers. Bronx families desperately need greenery and clean open space, well-maintained playgrounds and park facilities.
3. Williamsbridge Oval Park. As a City Council member, I allocated millions to the Williamsbridge Oval Park, but much more needs to be done. The money I fought for improved the drainage system, helped to refurbish playgrounds, and repair the park house roof. Further work will be done to refurbish park entrances, tennis courts, and help to control erosion. As borough president, I intend to finish the job, hopefully in conjunction with the new Council member for the district.
4. Kingsbridge Armory. The Kingsbridge Armory is undergoing a $30 million stabilization project using funds that former Councilman (now Assemblyman) Jose Rivera and I led the fight to allocate. The project is now almost half-complete and is scheduled to be finished by summer 2002. Another $30 million has also been allocated for a new high school. We should explore the possibility of its inclusion in the Armory. In addition, we fought for and won a commitment from City Hall that two schools be included in the Armory, or built in close proximity to the Armory. If the current administration does not provide those funds, I will, as borough president, lobby the new administration and the Board of Ed to provide them.
5. Overcrowding. We endeavor to provide an appropriate educational environment for all children in the district. District 10 needs more school buildings. Regrettably, leased space must be used, but space is needed to accommodate the huge population of schoolchildren in the district. I believe we need at least 10 new schools at a cost of nearly $55 million per school Ð that's a goal of $550 million. As borough president, I would use my first-hand knowledge of District 10 to lobby strenuously for those critical dollars.
6. Operation Capture. Many different initiatives have been tried in this area but this new effort seems to have reduced the violent crime that occurs at night. With the cooperation of area residents, the police, and other city agencies, there has been a significant reduction in violent crime, homicides, fatal shootings and stabbings. However, even more needs to be done. I believe we need more and better training for police, improved police/community relations and a greater number of bilingual officers, and more police walking the beat in our neighborhoods. In addition, to cut off supply, we need to increase outreach to drug treatment programs.
7. Filtration for the Croton. I have been advocating for filtration alternatives in the Croton Watershed for the past 10 years. It is easier and cheaper to clean up the water at its source. We don't need a massive filtration plant. I'm urging the city's Department of Environmental Protection to use the innovative technology that is being suggested for the Catskill-Delaware System for the Croton Watershed. The recent announcement that an ultra violet light process will be used for the Cat-Del reinforces my belief that new technologies be used to clean up the Croton Watershed as well.
Name/Age: Pedro Espada Jr., 47
Education: Graduate of Fordham University
Occupation/Employer: Three term State Senator, 32nd District. Founder and CEO of the Soundview Healthcare Network.
Past Employment: Teacher, Tenant Organizer
Community Experience: 25 years of experience in providing quality healthcare to Bronx families regardless of their ability to pay.
1. Top three priorities.
Better Schools: For better schools, I propose to ensure that our schools provide a sound basic education to our children by mandating smaller class sizes; building more new schools; ensuring every classroom has a qualified teacher with adequate supplies; training and paying our teachers better; experimenting with new systems like charter schools on a limited basis; insuring that the children of the Bronx receive their fair share of federal, state, and local funds; and holding the Board of Education accountable for using those funds.
Affordable Housing: For better, more affordable housing I propose to: use vacant city owned land to build new housing; experiment with new ideas for community involvement in developing new affordable housing; encourage low income home ownership efforts; fight for an overall reduction in water bills that are tax deductible with an additional rebate for seniors. I am committed to an affordable housing plan that will yield over 25,000 quality affordable housing units during my first two years in office. I will also place a heavy emphasis on preserving our diminishing affordable housing stock through stronger code enforcement, targeting and saving at-risk properties, and expanding housing subsidies and homeownership opportunities.
Economic Development: With respect to economic development, job creation, and job training, I believe that Bronx tourism (Yankee Stadium, Wave Hill, The Botanical Garden, etc.) can be promoted better. I am especially interested in attracting a major hotel chain to the Bronx through cultural tourism initiatives. In addition, the Bronx has some of the finest waterfront properties available in the city that are ripe for development. The Fulton Fish Market, the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center, and the various economic development zones along with the Federal Empowerment Zone, must be coordinated and leveraged to maximize employment for Bronx residents.
2. 1% for Parks. Yes. I also believe that more public-private partnerships modeled after the Central Park Conservancy should be encouraged and supported to upgrade and maintain Bronx parks on a long-term basis.
3. Williamsbridge Oval Park. The Bronx has more parkland than any other borough, and well-maintained parks are an integral part of my cultural tourism plans. As borough president I will identify and support local park volunteer organizations and encourage them to work closely with the community board to develop a five-year redevelopment plan for the park. The plan should focus on reconstructing walkways, re-seeding lawns and fields, erosion control, wilderness, restoration, and capitol projects. I pledge to fund one-third of the cost of such projects in cooperation with the new councilperson, and the next mayor.
4. Kingsbridge Armory. I support current redevelopment plans for the Kingsbridge Armory that will create a shopping mall in the building. However, I also believe that the armory is large enough to house a school and the addition of a school will make the project more attractive to developers.
5. Overcrowding. With an overcrowding problem estimated to be somewhere between eight and 10 thousand students, and our intentions to strive for smaller class sizes, we will have to build at least 10 new schools in District 10 to begin to alleviate overcrowding. Given recent estimates for school buildings, and the rising cost for vacant land, it will take about $300 to $400 million to build the schools needed. However, before we plan any new school construction projects, we must put in place a system that will control the basic costs, and curb construction overruns. If we manage our current building program better, we can double the number of schools being built. I would also earmark a portion of any savings we make from dismantling the Board of Education to the building program.
6. Operation Capture. The only part of Operation Capture's plan for 194th Street. is the need to beef up the police presence in the area.
7. Filtration for Croton. I do not support the filtration of the Croton water system. It is much more cost effective and safer for the long-term quality of our water system to protect the Croton watershed from development.
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