Stop FreshDirect on Our Waterfront
Please send this letter to the contacts below:
Office of the New York State Attorney General
Eric Schneiderman, Attorney General
Guy H. Mitchell, Assistant Attorney General In Charge
163 West 125th Street, Suite 1324, New York, NY 10027
Office of the New York City Comptroller
John Liu, Comptroller
Carol Kostik, Deputy Comptroller for Public Finance
1 Centre Street, New York, NY 10007
Email: ckostik@ comptroller.nyc.gov
Office of the Bronx Borough President
Ruben Diaz, Jr. Bronx Borough President
Paul J. Del Duca, Chief of Staff
Albert M. Rodriguez, General Counsel for Bronx Borough President
851 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY 10451
New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC)
New York City Industrial Development Agency (NYCIDA)
Seth W. Pinsky, Chairman
110 William Street, New York, NY 10038
Empire State Development (ESD)
Kenneth Adams, President & CEO
633 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017
To Whom It May Concern:
We, the concerned residents of the South Bronx, stand united in opposition to the proposal to relocate FreshDirect to the Harlem River Yards in the South Bronx We believe that the plan to utilize our public lands without community input demonstrates a total lack of cooperation and consideration with the constituency that will be directly and adversely impacted by this proposal. Set forth below are the primary reasons, among others, why the more than $100 million in public subsidies to relocate FreshDirect to the South Bronx should not be allowed to move forward:
More info here.
PUBLIC HEARING HELD AFTER DECISION MADE: There was no consultation with the people of the South Bronx before announcing on February 7 that FreshDirect would receive more than $100 million in public subsidies and grants to abandon Queens and move to the South Bronx at tax payers’ expense. The public hearing took place on February 9, two days after the decision had already been released in a joint press statement announcing the decision by Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. The hearing and review was fundamentally undemocratic. Further, the New York City Industrial Development Agency (NYCIDA) application of FreshDirect was significantly flawed, missing essential financial information as well as an environmental assessment to allow for meaningful public consideration and review prior to any finalizing actions.
INSUFFICIENT ENVIRONMENTAL ANALYSIS OF IMPACT: There has been no environmental impact analysis of FreshDirect’s plan to move from Queens to the South Bronx, a community already facing the nation’s highest asthma rates. FreshDirect would add more than 130 trucks per day through the most congested traffic corridors of the South Bronx and would further add increased truck emissions via the removal of more than 380 tons of solid waste per month. This is especially egregious when assessed with the cumulative exhausts of an already existing waste transfer station, FedEx hub and taxi depot in the same area, further putting at risk residents of a newly developed apartment complex contiguous to the proposed site.
NO JOBS FOR SOUTH BRONX RESIDENTS: There is no guarantee that any new jobs will be part of the project; FreshDirect is not penalized if no new jobs are created. There are also no written guarantees that any new jobs would go to residents of the South Bronx; there are neither mandates nor incentives to hire from the South Bronx, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in New York City. Moreover, FreshDirect would be exempted from any local living wage mandates adopted by the city, an especially troubling fact given that nearly 40% of current employees make less than $25,000/year.
FRESHDIRECT’S HISTORY OF DISCRIMINATORY AND UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICES: Numerous complaints have been filed with city, state and federal agencies regarding FreshDirect’s labor practices, including 27 discrimination and nine unfair labor claims against FreshDirect in the last four years alone. The description of wages and employment in FreshDirect’s NYCIDA application fails to provide taxpayers with enough information to gauge the quality of jobs, including with respect to salary or how many jobs are part-time or full-time.
NO “FRESH AND DIRECT” FOOD FOR THE SOUTH BRONX: FreshDirect has never and does not currently serve the South Bronx. FreshDirect further states they have no mechanism to accept food stamps or benefit cards even if they did. The names for the two major food stamp programs in the United States are the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) programs. The use of actual stamps has been recently replaced by EBT and Debit cards, making it clear that FreshDirect can accept SNAP and/or WIC if the company wanted to. Even fruit and vegetable street vendors regularly accept SNAP/WIC.
THE PROPOSED SITE IS MISUSED PUBLIC LAND: The proposed site at the Harlem River Yards in The Bronx is owned by New York State Department of Transportation and has been leased for 99 years to Harlem River Yard Ventures II (HRYV), which is 95% owned by the Galesi Group. The purpose of the Harlem River Yards project (together with its partner project, the Oak Point Link) was to reduce air pollution by decreasing truck traffic and to help avoid $500 million in public road improvements through development of a Full Freight Access Program, which has not been developed in the more than 20 years that HRYV has held the lease. Instead, the Bronx community has had 1.9 miles of waterfront made inaccessible to the public.
GREENWAY and WATERFRONT ACCESS: Harlem River Yards is essential to a Harlem River Greenway as a necessary Bronx West – East connection from High Bridge and the Harlem River Greenway to the South Bronx Greenway and Randall’s Island. The New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) has been negotiating for some time with HRYV to create access to a pedestrian bridge, currently under construction, that will link the South Bronx Greenway to Randall’s Island and then to Queens and Manhattan (the “Connector”). The Connector will provide a safe and legal means to cross an important waterway that unites the Bronx with the open space and green playing fields of Randall’s Island. EDC is now granting more than $100 million in public subsidies to FreshDirect, some of which will be allocated to Harlem River Yards, when HRVY has so far refused to grant an easement to complete the vital Connector project through the Harlem River Yards. Equitable land use, in accordance with the public trust doctrine, includes meaningful waterfront access and recreational opportunities in addition to the swift completion of the Connector.
We look forward to a community-led development plan that makes efficient use of nearly 100 acres of public waterfront land and incorporates sustainable development, living wage jobs, clean air and waterfront access for South Bronx residents.