Fighting for the Bronx Terminal Market merchants has not been easy in part due to the tremendous political support the Related Companies has for its redevelopment. In terms of the ULURP process, we have gone in to public hearings (e.g. the Community Board vote) knowing that the deck was stacked and no matter what was said the application would be send on its way.
Yesterday’s City Planning Commission hearing, however, was not only decided way before it began (the vote isn’t until December but it’s clear the commissioners are in favor) but for the first time the merchants and those testifying on their behalf were actually treated with a mixture disdain, contempt and condescension.
A number of commissioners where aghast that we labeled EDC’s relocation package as insufficient. “EDC is doing everything it can to help these small businesses,” said one commissioner. We guess offering a pittance that would split up the market and then declaring you have no obligation to help the merchants is generous in City Planning’s book. Another commissioner asked merchant lawyer Andrew Tulloch, as if he was a 2nd grade child, if he knew that small business are available for empowerment zone loans. Still another declared that the city, “in its infinite wisdom,” (yes that is a direct quote) would not support a bad project and would not harm small businesses. At this point we could not help but laugh.
The commission’s silence during the testimony other witnesses was just as telling. When the city and Related testified, a couple of commissioners echoed concerns with the project’s traffic impact including how it, combined with a new Yankee Stadium, would affect that area. No substantive answer was given to the question except that there would be coordination and that the police could handle it. However, when Brian Ketcham testified about how the developer’s traffic analysis was fundamentally flawed not one commissioner asked a question. Amazing for a group so concerned about congestion in the area.
The outright superciliousness and ignorance of the CPC embodies the city’s attitude vis-à-vis the Bronx Terminal Market. We could go on but instead here are some of the news stories about yesterday’s hearing/press conference. Also we would like to thank all those who came down yesterday to support the merchants including Bronx Voices for Equal Inclusion, ACORN, Wal-Mart No Way, Save Our Parks, NY Jobs with Justice and Good Jobs NY.
We also received coverage from WBAI, WYNC and HOY and Metro.