Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Borough President Carrion: A Man of his Word?

At 1:00 p.m. today, we’re told that Borough President Carrion and members of the Bronx Delegation are going to tout the community benefits agreement (CBA) signed with Related for its Gateway Center. We’ve already pointed out some of problems with this CBA, including the fact that the community groups involved were handpicked, there was no counsel present to represent these organizations and that the whole process took place, not prior to ULURP, but in a meager 45 days towards the end.

Another major issue with the CBA is what’s left out. Though we haven’t seen the final draft, we’re pretty sure that the document does not address the Bronx Terminal Market merchant relocation or the union status of BJ’s, the anchor tenant of the development. These omissions are crucial considering past statements by Carrion and his office. Consider what a rep says about the presence of a BJ’s in Gateway (Daily News, December 9th, 2005):

A spokesman for Borough President Adolfo Carrión, who took in $5,000 in campaign contributions from Related, said the borough president "has supported this development from its very inception and he remains a supporter, with the understanding that BJ's [will] hire Bronx workers, [use] Bronx contractors, and that they allow employees access to union enrollment and use environmentally efficient technology and construction materials in building" [emphasis ours].
According to the UFCW, which would represents the workers in a BJ’s, the non-union retailer has not signed a neutrality agreement. However, Carrion fully supports the entry of BJ's into Gateway despite this lack of union access.

What about the merchant relocation? Here’s Adolfo again (Daily News, November 3rd, 2005):

But the current market merchants set to be displaced by the project counted as a small victory Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion's demand for a relocation plan for them "retaining the advantages of proximity to each other and to their customers, with an adequate level of financial relocation aid provided [by the City of New York (or its agent) or the developer]" as a condition for his approval.
Well considering there is no relocation plan for them will the Borough President withdraw his support? For some reason we don’t think so. And because this lip service never was translated into any actual assistance, the Bronx Terminal Market, and the businesses the comprise it, may very well be destroyed forever.