NEWS N’ VIEWS
Father Richard F. Gorman
Community Board #12 (The Bronx)
“Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty.”
Remember these words of THE LOVIN’ SPOONFUL? They are taken from a song written by band member Mark Sebastian entitled SUMMER IN THE CITY that was the number one song on the BILLBOARD HOT 100 in August of 1966. The song featured a series of car horns, during the instrumental bridge, starting with a Volkswagen Beetle horn, and ending up with a jackhammer sound, in order to give the impressions of the sounds of the summer in the city. The song is ranked number 393 on ROLLING STONE’S list of THE 500 GREATEST SONGS OF ALL TIME.
While the heat wave of last week has subsided, it is clear that other hot, hazy, and humid days lie ahead. This summer may well prove to be rather uncomfortable, if not brutal, at times in terms of the weather.
What is clear, however, is that this summer will be far from calm or copasetic relative to the challenges that confront the people of
Community Board #12 (The Bronx) all year long. These issues will not be taking a vacation or giving us any rest or relaxation during these hazy, lazy summer days of July and August.
As I related to you last week, the issue of the homeless colony being planned by the City of New York and its Department of Homeless Services (N.Y.C.D.H.S.) on the intersection of Bronx Boulevard and East 238TH Street/Nereid Avenue is front and center once again. If the Bloomberg Administration has its way, two facilities housing well over 300 of our homeless brothers and sisters with chemical dependencies and/or mental health issues will be dumped on a single intersection in a single neighborhood within two years, within a brief stroll of yet a third homeless facility sheltering some 60+ folks, who otherwise would not have a roof over their head, up the hill and around the corner on White Plains Road. The end result is that a single spot in the one neighborhood of Wakefield will now have anywhere from 400 to 500 new residents, most if not all of whom have critical needs to be addressed in a Community Board that has historically suffered a severe scarcity of municipal services. If the circumstances leading to this situation demonstrate any genuine foresight in planning and/or justice in the equal and fair-share distribution of the burden imposed by the presence of municipal facilities in Bronx Community District #12, I wish that I could unearth it. Please, could somebody -- ANYBODY! -- kindly tell me what I am missing and let me in on the secret?
The United States Army and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (U.S.H.U.D.) are preparing to facilitate the transfer of THE SERGEANT JOSEPH E. MULLER UNITED STATES ARMY RESERVE CENTER (MULLER U.S.A.R.C.) located at 555 East 238TH Street/Nereid Avenue to the City of New York for re-use by THE DOE FUND, INCORPORATED as a shelter for some 200 men with chemical dependencies and related social service needs. Simultaneously, PROJECT RENEWAL, a big-time player in the cottage industry that has sprouted up amongst the homeless, is on the verge of undertaking renovation of the structure at 4380 Bronx Boulevard. While these agencies profess with the piety of an old-fashioned cleric that their only desire is for the betterment of the homeless, the fact is that both organizations intend to house them in locales that are not environmentally safe. Both the
4380 Bronx Boulevard sites as well as the shuttered MULLER U.S.A.R.C. right across the street are contaminated with toxic materials that have seeped into the groundwater primarily from the AMERADA HESS Gas Station across Bronx Boulevard at 610 East 238TH Street/Nereid Avenue.
Moreover, if these agencies are seeking to do God’s work, they appear to be doing it in less than a divine fashion. The City of New York should not be preparing to have MULLER U.S.A.R.C. transferred to its Department of Homeless Services (N.Y.C.D.H.S.) because the process by which such transfer should be take place, THE DEFENSE BASE REALIGNMENT
AND CLOSURE ACT (DEFENSE B.R.A.C.), has not been followed. As a matter of fact, the City of New York is concocting a scenario that is as phony as a three-dollar bill in order to make it appear as if the spirit and letter of DEFENSE B.R.A.C. has been obeyed. Meanwhile, questions about the professionalism and competency with which PROJECT RENEWAL has served the homeless at another of its facilities in the Borough of Manhattan have led to complaints, some of which have resulted in the agency literally being dragged into court. Recently, an out-of-court settlement was reached on one of these grievances.
Accordingly, letters have been written and more will have to be
penned. Perhaps, other causes of action will have to be filed in
court. In any event, vacation is not a term that will apply to the
problems that beset our area during this summer. As THE LOVING SPOONFUL put it so well, it is going to be a “hot time” this summer in the City and our necks will probably get quite “dirty and gritty,” but we shall not allow those who do not have our best interests at heart to break them.
Until next time, that is it for this time!