Bronx Community Meets to Recognize Youth, Protect Community
Bronx Community Board 7 met this past Tuesday for their monthly General Board Meeting where they affirmed their commitment to the community’s youth and the Fair Share laws currently in the City Council.
Bronx Community Board 7 serves over 135,000 thousand residents from the Norwood, University Heights, Jerome Park, Bedford Park, Fordham, and Kingsbridge Heights neighborhoods.
Every third Tuesday of the month, the board publicly meets in order to update the community on their work and allow community members to share information on the work they are doing.
This Tuesday, Bronx CB 7 recognized five students from the community who recently received the New York Yankee Scholarship Award for their outstanding academic success and devotion to community service. The students, Antonio Landron, Brittany Martinez, Robert Aboaqye, George Nunoo, and Chantel Brown, will receive a $750 scholarship and will participate in an award presentation on the field at Yankee Stadium on April 17.
Board Chairwoman Adaline Walker-Santiago stressed how doing community service as a kid can lead to further civic participation in the community.
“When I see the [New York City] Council members and all their representatives come out here every month to come and share resources with you, when I see leaders of our library sitting here sharing their resources, and I see people from parks, and all the community organizations coming here together; I know there is something else you can be doing… but you are here today. These youth are a symbol of what you were back in the day, and I know that is a fact.”
Furthermore, CB 7’s emphasis on youth was apparent in the participatory budgeting process run by the offices City Council members Ritchie Torres and Andrew Cohen who represent the 15th and 11th City Council districts, respectively. Each of their Council districts overlap into the 7th Community Board District which is why they send representatives to the monthly board meetings.
Participatory budgeting is an initiative common in the City Council that allows members of the community to propose and vote on capital projects that will receive funding from their City Council member’s budget. Capital projects include parks, schools, street repairs, NYPD street cameras, etc.
An aspect unique to participatory budgeting is the relative low age threshold for voting. In Torres’s 15th district, anyone who lives in the district and is 13 years or older can vote. The minimum age is 14 for Councilmen Cohen’s 11th district.
Adolpho Abreu is a representative from Councilman Torres’s office. He attributes the low voting age to “our current political climate.”
“A majority of our budget items are for schools. There are certain schools that need new SmartBoards, laptops; there’s a school in our district that needs a new science cart. There’s one that has a jungle gym that needs to be renovated and updated,” he says. “It really depends on those in the community letting us know what they want to be funded.”
After representatives from the offices of local leaders gave updates on upcoming events, the meeting shifted towards upgrading community infrastructure.
On February 27, the City Council released a report titled “Doing Our Fair Share, Getting Our Fair Share: Reforming NYC’S System For Achieving Fairness In Siting Municipal Facilities.” The report concluded that New York City has been biased in the way it sites negative-impact buildings like homeless shelters or waste management sites.
The Council measures the negative sitings by a statistic called residential beds-to-population. It measures the amount of negative sitings per any given area, adjusted for population. The report found that Bronx Community District 7 ranked 11th out of more than 50 community districts in terms of a high ratio of residential beds-to-population, and the 4th fastest growing since 1999. The Bronx, in general, had 8 of the top 15 community districts.
There is currently a bill in the City Council, Council Bill №495, that states: “The bill would reduce permitted capacity at putrescible and non-putrescible solid waste transfer stations in certain overburdened community districts in New York City.”
“Right now, the Bronx is the second largest borough that is taking all of the waste,” says Bronx CB 7 Environment and Sanitation Committee Chairwoman Helene Hartman-Kutnowsky. “The South Bronx has 14 stations in one district.”
“If you see your City Council member, or have an opportunity, let people know you’re interested. It is really a justice issue. Why should the Bronx be saddled with all this, with asthma and all these health problems. It’s really not fair.”
Former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Tip O’Neill once famously said, “All politics is local.” Bronx Community Board 7 is proving that even raising children the right way and preserving their future home can be a local community affair.
NARRATION: On Tuesday, March twenty-first, Bronx Community Board Seven focused on the future during their monthly General Board Meeting. Five high school students from the district were honored for received the New York Yankee Scholarship Award. Bronx Community Board Seven Chairwoman Adaline Walker-Santiago spoke to the Board about the link between the community service at a young age and future civic leadership.
TAPE 1: Walker Santiago: “These youth are a symbol of what you were back in the day, and I know that is a fact.”
NARATTION: Also, Councilmembers Ritchie Torres and Andrew Cohen released a low voting age for the upcoming participatory budgeting season. PB allows community members to propose and vote on local community projects to get funding from the Council. Representative of Ritchie Torres, Adolpho Abreu speaks about the participatory budgeting process.
Tape 2: Abreu: “A majority of our budget items are for schools. It really depends on those people in the community letting us know what they want to be funded.”
NARRATION: Next, the meeting shifted towards the Fair Share report released by the City Council on February Twenty-Seventh that found the Bronx has been unfairly receiving a disproportionate amount of waste transfer sites, a big negative for the community. Bronx Community Board 7 Environment and Sanitation Committee Chairwoman Helene Hartman-Kutnowsky talks about the report.
TAPE 3: Hartman-Kutnowsky: “Right now, the Bronx is the second largest borough that is taking all of the waste. So, if you see your City Council member, or have an opportunity, let people know you’re interested. It is really a justice issue. Why should the Bronx be saddled with all this, with asthma and all these health problems? It’s really not fair.”
NARRATION: Bronx Community Board 7 looks to continue to support their youth while simultaneously fighting to protect their community from unwanted City sitings which could negatively affect their community for years to come. It’s a good thing the community has a bright next generation. I’m Truman Stephens from Fordham University.