Friday, February 10, 2006

Poor State of the Borough

At his 5th State of the Borough Address, Bronx BP Adolfo Carrion focused on the recent Bronx Terminal Market deal as a highlight of his administration. Specifically, he touted the project’s “Community Benefits Agreement” and, according to Talise Moorer at the Amsterdam News, remarked:

“Good economic development happens when the community is a recognized, involved stakeholder in the process,” said Carrion. He added, “This community benefits agreement will ensure that Bronx residents will benefit from the investment in and redevelopment of their neighborhood, and it should serve as a benchmark for doing business in our borough and throughout the city.”
As we’ve mentioned before, the problem with this type of statement is that, the community was never involved in the meaningful CBA negotiations. As the Alliance’s Matt Lipsky comments:

“The process was created to be community-driven, but instead it was driven by the borough president,” he said. “The borough president hand-picked the community groups he wanted involved, did not take into account legal representation, and the community was not involved in the [final] negotiations.”
The Amsterdam News article continues:

Like Lipsky, critics generally claim that the Benefits Agreement does not compel tenants occupying the mall to provide living wages, access to unions, or opportunities for minorities or Bronx residents. They also allege the document lends itself to weak enforcement, in that a court cannot force the developer to fulfill any part of the agreement.
This CBA and the process by which it was crafted do not seem like a “benchmark” to us. In fact, the only purpose the Gateway agreement serves is to show future parties exactly what not to do when negotiating a community-developer compact. We agree with BP Carrion that “good economic development happens when the community is a recognized, involved stakeholder in the process” so hopefully next time this will actually happen.