Wakefield Area NewsBy Mary V. Lauro
BRONX, NEW YORK, June 25– With rags on their backs, no shoes, starving, my friends, in freezing weather, even so, George Washington kept his men together. Valley Forge was hell on ice. Who would have thought that from that tattered band would arise the strongest army in the 21st century? And that today, we remember all that suffering with hot dogs and barbecues and fireworks?
Well, that army has contacted our Borough President in regard to the Muller Army Reserve Center at 555 Nereid Avenue, which our Mayor would like to turn into a homeless shelter for 200 single men. We've written enough about it and readers may recall that we recently sent a letter to the Mayor correcting his false assertion that he originally wanted the ARC to house the National Guard stationed in a decrepit annex of the Kingsbridge Armory, but that we somehow dropped the ball so that he had no alternative but to turn it into a homeless shelter. (Incredible how politics destroys truth and honor).
Well, it ain't over yet. The fat lady has not sung. It seems that the Department of the Army (DOA) must investigate the impact environmental issues might have on the end use of the facility.
Those following the issue will recall that in the two studies commissioned by the city the best end use was identified as a “similar use.” What could be a more similar use than turning the facility over to the National Guard? Nonetheless, the last report sponsored by the Mayor does not even mention the National Guard as a possibility. Now, the Army has reversed that. It is definitely considering moving the National Guard into the facility.
We must, however make a case for the National Guard by pointing out the environmental issues that would impact on using it as a homeless shelter. The Army itself recognizes that leakage from the tanks at the Hess Station on the corner opposite the Muller ARC has polluted a stream of the underground water which it calls a "plume." The plume carries in it varying amounts of carcinogenic and teratogenic material. Other environmental possible pollutants given the age of the structure include asbestos, lead paint, radioactive residues and the poly chloride by-phenyls (PCBs) in some plastics.
A response to the Army must be made by July 3 which the League will do. However, the Mayor is not taking this lying down.
His Honor is so intent on a Homeless Shelter that his Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is reviewing/negotiating the terms of agreement between the City and The Doe Fund for the provision of homeless services at the ARC. This means that the city might very well recommend to the Army that the ARC be turned into a homeless shelter. If this should happen, we expect our Borough president to take the City to court as he promised.
While we are pleased that there is still hope, we cannot refrain from complaining. We received the Army's letter on our FAX on Wednesday, June 20, from an anonymous sender who said it was top secret. We called the BP's office for an update on Thursday, June 21 and were sent the Army's letter and accompanying important information. We know CB 12 had all this information for some time. The information was received at the BP's office on June 4! We did more than two weeks elapse before The League and Woodlawn, the two communities that would be most impacted by the fate of the Muller ARC, were notified?