Elected officials release capital budgets

Harlem River Yards among biggest beneficiaries

Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is committing $1 million to clean up the Harlem River Yards site where food company FreshDirect is scheduled to move.

Diaz released his 2013 construction budget in July, saying he will allocate $23 million across the borough for projects that include over two dozen school renovations and upgrades, several health clinic expansions, and three expensive pollution clean-ups on industrially-zoned sites where big plans are pending.

The $1 million price tag to remediate the Harlem River Yards is by far the biggest allocation among the projects Diaz announced he will finance in Mott Haven and Melrose. The waterfront site has been the center of controversy since the city announced earlier this year it would provide $130 million in subsidies to the Queens-based food delivery giant to convince the firm to move to Mott Haven.

FreshDirect officials signed a non-binding agreement with the Borough President’s office in February, vowing to begin delivering food to Bronx addresses, to hire local workers, and to convert to an all-electric trucking fleet gradually over five years. The latter measure was an attempt to allay the concerns of some residents that the company’s delivery trucks will add to the area’s pollution problems and to the asthma concerns of many who live in the neighborhood.

A lawsuit filed by a public interest law firm in June has blocked the company’s proposed move, for now.

Along with the $1 million to clean Harlem River Yards, Diaz promised $3 million to the Hunts Point Terminal Co-operative Market to help clean and modernize the sprawling, outdated facility. In addition, Diaz committed $1 million to clean up a site near the Hunts Point Food produce, meat and fish wholesale markets, on which the city wants to construct a fueling station that would supply biofuels and other alternate energy sources for trucks and cars.

“Our borough’s economy continues to grow, and these projects will ensure that we continue to see considerable job creation and retention in the Bronx,” Diaz said.

In addition, Diaz announced NYCHA complexes Betances Houses and Mill Brook Houses will each receive $150,000 for the installation and maintenance of security cameras. After a few brief experiments with security cameras over the last year, tenants concluded that the monitors made them feel safer.

Diaz also announced he will allocate $250,000 to Lincoln Hospital for expanded dental service, and the same amount to Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association in Longwood for a renovation project on Dawson and Simpson streets; $500,000 to an expansion of social service and housing group H.O.G.A.R. On Vyse Ave. $500,000; and $400,000 to the Bronx Defenders Service in Melrose for infrastructure improvements.

Borough-wide, almost a quarter of this year’s budget went to fund housing developments, including $1.2 million for a mixed-use complex in West Farms with 110 apartments.

City Councilwomen Melissa Mark-Viverito and Maria del Carmen Arroyo, along with City Councilman Robert Jackson, announced they will allocate $150,000 to the Afterschool Superheroes program, in which Americorps workers mentor middle school students.

In addition, Arroyo has committed $75,000 to the Per Scholas Institute of Technology in Port Morris to fund a four-month computer technology training program for unemployed adults; $28,000 to East Side House Settlement on Alexander Ave. for maintenance, supplies and class trips; and nearly $18,000 to Pregones Theater for staff, programs and supplies.