Melissa and Council Member Maria del Carmen Arroyo wrote to the Commissioner of the State Department of Transportation urging a re-evaluation of the Harlem River Rail Yard, which is slated to host the new FreshDirect site and more than 2,000 daily truck trips through the neighborhood. But the effects of the already-existing truck traffic are immense.
The cumulative effect of such facilities on air quality in the South Bronx, where we have an asthma epidemic, is staggering. Asthma hospitalizations in the South Bronx are five times the national average; asthma deaths are three times the national average; and it is estimated that one in every five children in the South Bronx has asthma.
The surrounding area has already been rezoned for commercial and residential uses and Harlem River Yards no longer has a positive impact on the neighborhood.
Therefore, we request that the Department of Transportation audit the lease for this property, consider declaring an event of default, and explore the State’s remedies in the event of such default. We also request that the Department of Transportation place a moratorium on all new development at Harlem River Yards, including with respect to FreshDirect’s proposed development, until a thorough review of the current uses of the land and the cumulative effects of such uses on the residents of the South Bronx can be done, taking full account of the socio-economic makeup of the neighborhood and the disproportionate impact on the poorest congressional district in the country.