Category Archives: Action Alerts

Mon, April 20: South Bronx vs FreshDirect Back in Court!

Where: Bronx Supreme Court – East 161st Street and Grand Concourse
When: Monday, April 20
8:30 am – Fliering/press conference ( 161st St. side of building)
9:00 am – Enter court (Room 405A, Judge Mary Brigantti-Hughes)
Can public land be used by a private developer with no public benefit? South Bronx Unite packed the courtroom as New York Lawyers for the Public Interest argue (with newly discovered (aka previously withheld) information) on a motion to renew to allow standing to sue on this important issue.

Emergency Rally in Opposition to Secret “Groundbreaking” Ceremony in the Dead of Winter

South Bronx Unite Calls for Emergency Rally in Opposition to FreshDirect at Harlem River Yard on Monday, December 22, at 9:00 a.m., as Company Plans Secret “Groundbreaking” Ceremony for its Diesel Trucking Operation in the South Bronx Environmental Justice Community Where 1 in 4 Children
Has Asthma
At 10:00 a.m. on Monday, December 22, FreshDirect plans to hold a secret “groundbreaking” ceremony at Harlem River Yard on St. Ann’s Avenue and East 132nd Street in the Mott Haven/Port Morris neighborhood of the South Bronx. The move aims to pave the way for the development of a 500,000 square foot diesel trucking operation to be built on public waterfront land in a neighborhood completed blocked from its waterfront and already oversaturated with diesel exhaust and industrial facilities. The company relied on a 21-year-old environmental impact statement to assess the effect of the more than 1,000 diesel truck trips the company would make through the community every day. The use of TMS software, however, could potentially stop the running of diesel trucks and move more towards the automation of trucking. It may not be administered as quickly as starting this up but it is a route to go down for companies who want to implement it for the future, especially as they are already going to view it, and other measures, for fleet tracking purposes.

FreshDirect is thumbing its nose at nearly three years of community opposition to the project. Just last month, hundreds of residents and local businesses and organizations testified in opposition to the project in the very first Bronx-based public hearing on the proposed $140 million subsidy package. Among those who submitted testimony were Bronx Council for Environmental Quality, South Bronx Community Congress, Community Connections for Youth, South Bronx Farmers Market, The POINT Community Development Corporation, Bronx Climate Justice North, Bronx Clergy Round Table, Latino Pastoral Action Center and the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, as well as others from among the more than 50 organizations that support South Bronx Unite.

Tellingly, not a single local resident testified in favor of the project. FreshDirect’s planned ceremony takes place as historic city-wide actions challenge decades of unequal public policies in communities of color.
Unprecedented acknowledgement of the racial divide in air quality is taking place across the nation right now, with The Washington Post writing that “blacks and whites actually breathe different air.”Mayor de Blasio, who campaigned on promises to stop the FreshDirect deal and end the tale of two cities, has remained silent since taking office despite more than 400 phone calls and emails to his office by the community to stop the project.

It is nearly seven years to the day of when FreshDirect fired 85
immigrant workers and over a hundred fled just days before Christmas in 2007 following an immigration raid on the eve of a Teamster union vote of the employees. The company was alleged to have tipped off immigration authorities.

While FreshDirect is courting support from Bronx representatives (and will be sponsoring the Christmas parties of several State
representatives from outside the district later in the week), City,
State and federal elected representatives from within the district
remain opposed to the project. U.S. Congressman José E. Serrano, State Senator José M. Serrano, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and City Council Member Maria del Carmen Arroyo have all called for a moratorium on all new development on the state-owned stretch of waterfront land, including with respect to FreshDirect, until a thorough analysis of the current uses and the disproportionate impact on the health of the community could be thoroughly studied and mitigated.

Mayor de Blasio, who campaigned on promises to stop the FreshDirect deal and end the tale of two cities, has not yet affirmed this stance since taking office despite more than 400 phone calls and emails to his office by the community to stop the project.

Public Hearing Nov 17 to Stop Cuomo From Giving FreshDirect $10 Million to Cause Asthma in the Bronx

Mon, Nov 17th, 5-9 pm;
4:30 pm Press Conference
Hostos Community College, Gymnasium 
450 Grand Concourse, C Building



And bring 5 friends/neighbors! We need everyone to turn out!
Cut and paste the below into an email, then print and bring it with you to the hearing to read it into the record.
SUBJECT: I oppose the proposed ESD $10 million subsidy to
To Whom It May Concern:
I oppose the proposed Empire State Development subsidy
package for FreshDirect because the project: (1) runs counter to the needs, desires and well-established development plans of the local community (with multiple residential rezonings and State open space proposed prioritization of the Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan), (2) would have devastating environmental and health impacts on a community where one in four children has
asthma (as the company would bring upwards of 1,000 diesel truck trips through the neighborhood every day), (3) has no requirement to pay its workers a living wage (including for the more than half of its workforce that is not unionized), nor add any jobs despite promises made to the public, (4) violates the constitutional requirement that the state-owned land on which it is proposed to
be sited provide a public benefit and reduce truck traffic, (5) is inconsistent with efforts to protect the South Bronx waterfront flood zone in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and (6) runs contrary to fair business practices – no analysis has been made of its impact on existing brick-and-mortar grocers nor on new entrants to the grocery delivery market; there is also no cost-benefit analysis
regarding the potential loss of jobs of Queens residents, nor on the ability of FreshDirect to stay and expand in its already-subsidized Queens location, which it disclosed would be the most economical option.
CLICK HERE for More Detailed Draft Testimony

New York State Proposes Prioritization of the Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan!


The Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan was voted by overwhelming majority for inclusion on the draft list
of priority projects of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Open Space Plan! Never before has our community had a priority project in the plan! The Open Space Plan serves as a blueprint for the state’s land conservation efforts, identifying priority open space projects for protection and guiding State Environmental Protection Fund investments. From now through December 17th, the public is being asked to provide comments on the plan via email (see below for draft text). On October 22, a public hearing will also be held from 2:30-4:30 and from 7:00-9:00 at 47-40 21st Street, Long Island City. After the public comment period is closed, DEC will review all comments on the proposed plan and issue a final plan of priority projects.

A: Bronx Kill Waterfront Park – site
of Native American settlement and burial ground; last significant open green space on the Mott Haven-Port Morris waterfront; lines the Bronx Kill waterway; directly connects to the Randall’s Island Connector”
B: Park Avenue Boat Launch and Waterfront Park already
green space; one of the few areas with actual water access not blocked
by Oak Point Link rail; already being used as an ad hoc fishing and boat
launch site
C: Lincoln Avenue Waterfront Park
easily accessible by pedestrians; already being used as an ad hoc
fishing site; provides direct access to the waterfront; renderings have
already been prepared by local architects; MIT produced a plan for this
site in 2011
D: Alexander Avenue Extension of Lincoln Avenue Waterfront Park – easily
accessible by pedestrians; vacant and unused site; community blocked by
fence and guard; directly connected to Mott Haven antique district
E: East 132nd Street Pier – previously
a pier here (and even a floating pool in 1902); in the 1980s, a ConEd
explosion destroyed the pier, and the company never replaced it;
currently residents crawling through holes in the fence to fish along
the banks of the shore
F: Historic Port Morris Gantries -stands
as a reminder of NYC’s rich nautical heritage; in 1902, the gantries
fostered the development of a market, hotels and restaurants; recognized
by the Historic Districts Council during its “Six to Celebrate” program
on the basis of architectural and historic merit of the area; full
reviatlization renderings have already been completed
G: Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Connecting Path – connecting
West to East – Melrose to Hunts Point – the waterfront connecting path
would weave through and around existing uses on the waterfront to
connect the six interrelated projects, and also connecting to the
“Randall’s Island Connector” near completion now
* * * * * * * * * *






SUBJECT: I support the Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan as a Priority Project for Region 2!

MESSAGE (draft): To Whom It May Concern:

I support inclusion of the Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan as a priority project for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Open Space Plan. This community-developed plan would provide underserved residents access to a public waterfront that, for decades, has been inaccessible. The plan is consistent with three rezonings on adjacent land, provides a logical solution to climate change effects on significant maritime industrial areas (SMIAs) and gives the community open space to counteract severe health consequences caused by an oversaturation of highways and truck-intensive businesses
in the South Bronx. These vacant coastal sites are located within a
flood zone, and if properly designated as protected open space, could significantly mitigate dangerous effects on the community of storm surge flooding of existing power plants and waste transfer stations along the South Bronx waterfront. Each site has also been included as an area of significance in the Vision 2020 NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, and several sites are currently proposed for elimination from SMIA designation. These sites, all of which are government owned, are easily accessible by pedestrians, have recognized historical significance, are already being used as ad hoc fishing and canoeing sites and connect to bigger capital projects already funded and underdevelopment (like the Randall’s Island Connector). The development of these sites are seen as necessary for growth since they often being in pedestrians who would like to take part in activities such as fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. Many findings show that this is the perfect spot for such activities, with patrons bringing the best fishing kayak to take part in these new adventures and expand the cultural and economic value on these sites.


18 Bronx Politicians Express Concern About FreshDirect’s Unfair Wages & Anti-Union Activity. Residents Ask: What About Health?

18 Bronx Politicians Express Concern About FreshDirect’s Unfair Wages & Anti-Union Activity
Now urge them to equally advocate for the health of our community. Please help put an end to decades of dumping diesel truck intensive businesses
in the South Bronx!
Last week, in response to UFCW Local 2013, eighteen Bronx politicians wrote a letter to FreshDirect to express concern about unfair wages and anti-union activity.  See letter here.
This week, South Bronx Unite responded with a letter thanking them for urging FreshDirect to engage in fair wage and labor practices.  We also asked them to equally consider the negative impact of FreshDirect’s proposed move on the health of South Bronx residents, who have been forced to fight against bad policy (for decades) causing severe environmental degradation and an alarming health crisis.  See letter here.
Below are the Bronx politicians that signed the letter.  If you are in their district, please call them, email them or set up a meeting with them to urge them to equally advocate for an end to decades of dumping diesel truck intensive businesses in the South Bronx.
Bronx Elected Officials
Senator Adriano Espaillat
5030 Broadway, New York, NY10034
Senator Jeff Klein
1250 Waters Place, Suite 1202, Bronx, NY10461
Senator Ruth Hassel-Thompson
959 E. 233rd Street, Bronx, NY10466
Senator Gustavo Rivera
2432 Grand Concourse, Suite 506, Bronx, NY10458
Assemblymember Carmen Arroyo
384 East 149 Street, Suite 301, Bronx, NY 10455
Assemblymember Michael Benedetto
3602 E. Tremont Ave. Suite 201, Bronx, NY 10465
Assemblymember Marcos Crespo
1163 Manor Avenue, Bronx, NY 10472
Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz
3107 Kingsbridge Avenue, Bronx, NY 10463
Assemblymember Mark Gjonaj
1126 Pelham Parkway South, Bronx, NY 10461
Assemblymember Carl Heastie
1446 East Gun Hill Road, Bronx, NY 10469
Assemblymember Victor Pichardo
2175C Jerome Ave, Bronx, NY 10453
City Councilmember Maria del Carmen Arroyo
384 E. 149th St., 3rd Ave., #300 Bronx, NY 10455
City Councilmember Andrew Cohen
Riverdale: 3636 Waldo Avenue 10463
Norwood: 3450 Dekalb Avenue 10467
R: (718) 549-7300; N: (718) 882-4000 x 353
City Councilmember Andy King
940 East Gun Hill Road, Bronx, NY 10467
City Councilmember Annabel Palma
1041 Castle Hill Avenue Bronx, New York 10472
City Councilmember Ritchie Torres
573 East Fordham Road, Bronx, NY 10458
City Councilmember Vanessa Gibson
1377 Jerome Avenue Bronx, New 10452
City Councilmember James Vacca
3040 East Tremont Ave., #104, Bronx 10461

Tale of Two Cities Action Alert Update


On July 14th 2014, South Bronx Unite sent out an action alert to our email list.  In it we encouraged our members and allies to contact Mayor de Blasio, and ask him to put an end to the Bloomberg-era Tale of Two Cities FreshDirect deal that he campaigned against during his mayoral run.

It has been over one month and Mayor de Blasio has not yet responded to over 250 calls/emails asking him to stop the proposed $137M subsidy of 1,000+ daily diesel trucks trips
through South Bronx Asthma Alley. 
Instead, his office announced the monumental redesign of downtown Brooklyn – to include a 21 acre greenway connecting downtown to the Brooklyn waterfront.The Tale of Two Cities will not change until we insist it changes.  If you have not yet contacted the Mayor, please do so today.  If you have not yet received a response, please call and email again (and ask 5 friends to do so as well.)
 *   *  *
Action Alert to Mayor de Blasio – End Tale of Two Cities FreshDirect Bad Deal!
For two and a half years, together we prevented (then) Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo from giving FreshDirect a single dollar of a (then) promised $127 million subsidy to move its trucking
operation to a South Bronx waterfront flood zone, bringing 1,000 daily diesel truck trips through an overburdened community already plagued with asthma rates 8 times the national average.  In 2013, we voted a progressive administration into office to change the tale of two cities and reverse course on decades of double standards and hazardous dumping on the South Bronx.
We have patiently waited more than six months for our newly elected leaders to deliver on their campaign promises, but our community’s health can no longer afford to be a back burner issue.  So today, we are asking all of you and everyone you know to call, email, tweet and facebook the Mayor and tell him to stop the FreshDirect deal.  Ask him to back his campaign for change with
EMAIL Mayor de Blasio & Team (gmail, hotmail, yahoo users)
EMAIL Mayor de Blasio & Team (outlook users)
CALL Mayor de Blasio via his Dir. of Intergovernmental Affairs Emma Wolfe at 212.788.2162 and/or via his Director of City Legislative Affairs Jon Paul Lupo at 212.788.2971


“Mr. de Blasio
railed against the city’s economic development subsidies,
singling out a $130 million tax break for FreshDirect to
support creating low wage jobs – a deal he called a
‘mistake.'” -Crains
“Fresh Direct would
never have gotten more than $100 million in government
subsidies to stay in New York City if he ran City Hall, Bill de
Blasio said.” –NYP
FreshDirect deal – giving away $130 million in taxpayer money
to support low-wage jobs, all in response to the company’s
empty threats — was a mistake.  And it’s a symbol of how
upside down our economic policies have been.  By reforming
New York’s incentive programs, we will free up resources to
support entire industries and small businesses in all five
boroughs – and begin to reinvest in real pathways to economic
opportunity…”  -Speech as Public Advocate
Also remind Mayor
de Blasio that the FreshDirect project has changed in size
and scope as well as in amount and type of subsidies. Allowing
FreshDirect to receive an undemocratic gift of (now) nearly
$140 million in subsidies to move its trucking operation to a
waterfront flood zone in the South Bronx would mean:
  • 1,000+ additional truck trips every day through South Bronx “asthma alley” where the community already suffers asthma hospitalization rates 21 times higher than other NYC
  • Allowing a company to rely on a 21 year old environmental impact statement to build in a community globally known for environmental injustice and despite a well-documented asthma epidemic linked to the diesel truck-intensive industries and
    highways saturating and surrounding the South Bronx
  • No living wage requirements attached to one of the largest corporate subsidies to be
    given in NYC history
  • Rewarding an anti-union, anti-immigrant employer that is not right for the South Bronx, with a record of discriminatory and unfair labor practices and a lawsuit by workers against the company for $50+ million in unpaid tips and overtime.
  • Perpetuating back room deals with no community input.
  • Subsidizing a business model that parks diesel truck refrigerated warehouses
    on city streets for 14 hours a day that act as grocery depots across the city
    , especially in UES, UWS and Tribeca (instead of paying taxes like all other brick and mortar grocers.)

The Mott Haven Nine

Arrested for Protesting FreshDirect in the South Bronx, the Mott Haven Nine Appear in Court Today to Fight Charges

Update: We won.
Protest charges dismissed!

Read the Full Story Here.

“Our actions are reflective of our belief, to paraphrase Dr. King, that one who violates an unjust law is in reality expressing the highest regard for the law.”
– Rev. Rubén Austria, Mott Haven Resident, Director, Community Connections for Youth
“How can the city and state give a company $128 million in subsidies when they refuse to even conduct an environmental impact assessment of what thousands of additional diesel truck trips would do to our children, our seniors, and all our neighborhood residents?”
– Mychal Johnson, Mott Haven Resident removed from Community Board 1 by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. after expressing his opposition to the FreshDirect deal
“Would New York give FreshDirect $128 million of our tax dollars to pollute public waterfront land in the West Village with up to 2000 diesel truck trips a day? No. This is
blatant environmental racism.”
– Leah Kozak, Mott Haven Resident, Program Director, The Micah Institute, New York Theological Seminary
“Our new mayor, our public advocate, our speaker all ran on the platform of overturning Bloomberg era policies that put profits over people and favored corporations over communities. It’s time for them to step up and use their authority to overturn this deal, the way they’ve put an end to other Bloomberg era disasters.”
– Harry Bubbins, Mott Haven Resident, Director, Friends of Brook Park

More Oral Arguments on FreshDirect Case

Bronx Supreme Court







The community effort to challenge FreshDirect’s proposed move to the South Bronx continues! Still before the Court is the legal claim challenging the New York State Department of Transportation’s (DOT) approval of the sublease of public land to FreshDirect in violation of the State Constitution because the FreshDirect project eviscerates the public purpose of this state-owned land. Originally, Judge Brigantti-Hughes dismissed the claim on the grounds that the complaint alleged no DOT involvement in the conveyance to FreshDirect. However, after the Judge issued her opinion, facts became available to us establishing DOT’s involvement in the conveyance, thus providing us with the opportunity to seek permission to amend our complaint and move forward with our constitutional claim. Oral arguments on Monday, April 7, 2014, addressed the new facts showing DOT’s involvement in approving the FreshDirect project.