Comptroller Stringer and Councilmember Salamanca Demand Accountability in the South Bronx
August 28, 2018
Long delayed Roberto Clemente Plaza construction project in the busy Bronx Hub harms residents and local businesses
Coalition calls on City to end the bureaucratic nightmare and finish Roberto Clemente Plaza immediately
(New York, NY) — Today, City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Councilmember Rafael Salamanca protested the extensive and detrimental construction delays at Roberto Clemente Plaza in the South Bronx and called for the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) to release a transparent timeline as well as a realistic plan for completion. Joining the Comptroller and Councilmember was a community coalition that included neighborhood residents, local business owners and the Third Avenue Business Improvement District.
With an originally anticipated public opening in November 2015, Roberto Clemente Plaza was designed to be a community centerpiece for Mott Haven and Melrose residents with open seating, welcoming fountain, food vendors and a bus stop. It was also meant to provide a pathway to connect local businesses to pedestrians and plaza visitors.
Fast forward to present day and despite its nearly completed look, the plaza is completely blocked off to public access. The community has voiced concerns that the walled off plaza has become an eye sore that they feel creates congestion on the roads, prohibits pedestrian traffic by blocking a substantial section of sidewalk and obstructs a bus station. Multiple local businesses have closed and the former owners cite the diminished pedestrian foot traffic as a critical reason they had to shut their doors.
The ongoing project is managed by a myriad of agencies involved in its construction – including Department of Design and Construction (DDC) and the Department of Transportation (DOT).
“Instead of representing progress and economic development, this project has been met by delay after delay,” said Comptroller Stringer. “It’s unacceptable that these setbacks have prevented the public from using Roberto Clemente Plaza – even worse, now the construction delays are harming small businesses owned by local residents. It’s long past time for the City to get its act together and finish this park. The South Bronx deserves nothing less.”
“A few weeks ago, we were celebrating the near completion of the Roberto Clemente Plaza, a project that has been a decade in the making. Today, I stand with the Third Avenue BID, Comptroller Stringer, and members of the community demanding that the City take this project seriously and get it done,” said Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr. “Centrally located in my district, this plaza has tremendous opportunity to serve the neighborhood but delay after delay has left this community without this resource. This plaza must be finished promptly.”
“Equity is something that is absent in the South Bronx. Roberto Clemente Plaza is a visible sign of this neglect,” said Michael Brady, Executive Director of the Third Avenue Business Improvement District. “Thankfully, the Third Avenue Business Improvement District has representatives like Comptroller Scott Stringer and Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Jr. who join us in calling out inequity in services and demand that the South Bronx be on equal footing to the rest of the City. From public works projects, to opioid overdoses, to being on the forefront of homeless and vending policy these representatives stand for and with our community.”
This month, Comptroller Stringer’s office returned a contract to the City for a variety of reasons. The contract not only would have extended the project timeline yet again, it listed an extension date that has already passed. The Comptroller and Councilmember are calling on the administration to immediately end the bureaucratic dysfunction and coordinate the agencies involved to get this plaza open.