Why We Fight FreshDirect

The Facts – FreshDirect aims to receive a $140 million taxpayer subsidy to relocate its diesel trucking operation to the South Bronx. Here is why our community has fought this backroom deal for nearly three years.

1. FreshDirect would exacerbate asthma rates among a community already facing asthma hospitalizations at five times the national average and at 21 times higher than other NYC neighborhoods. FreshDirect would add upwards of 1,000 diesel truck trips per day through a residential neighborhood facing a health crisis for decades of dumping industrial and diesel truck-intensive facilities in the neighborhood. And FreshDirect refuses to perform an environmental impact statement on the effects of its move, instead relying on a 21 year old thorough environmental study. The same public land set to house FreshDirect already holds a FedEx hub making over 1,400 daily truck trips through the neighborhood, the New York Post printing and distribution center, and a 5000 ton per day waste transfer station, one of four waste transfer stations within a 1/8 mile radius of the proposed site. For the last 10 years, FreshDirect has been promising to convert to a “green fleet”, but when they lost more than half their fleet in Hurricane Sandy, they replaced every truck with another diesel truck.

2. Despite lures of trading our health for low wage “jobs”, FreshDirect would not bring a single guarantied job to the South Bronx. Despite what elected officials have said, the (now) $140 million in public funds awarded to FreshDirect carries no mandate that they add any jobs or hire a single person from the South Bronx, a fact reaffirmed by the non-binding agreement between FreshDirect and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz. The vast majority of the subsidies being offered carry no “clawback provisions”, which means that even if FreshDirect does not create one single job, they still get to keep more than $100 million in taxpayer money. Additionally, FreshDirect has a well-documented history of discriminatory and unfair labor practices and spent over $300,000 lobbying to be excluded from City living wage legislation. According to the New York Daily News, nearly half of its warehouse workforce makes in the range of $8/hour.

3. FreshDirect plans to build on land documented to be a Native American burial ground and settlement. The owner of this historically significant site, New York State Department of Transportation (DOT), acknowledges that artifacts of the Ranachqua Village and burial ground may be present. Yes, FreshDirect wants to build an underground parking lot to accompany its 500,000 square foot warehouse on the site!

4. Architects of this deal ignored the democratic process and were not upfront with the public. Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg, and Borough President Diaz announced that the deal was done two days before the sole public hearing on the matter. In doing so, they publicly demonstrated that community input was not important. Additionally, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority has refuted the notion that they made a competitive offer to support a FreshDirect move across the Hudson.

5. DOT’s twenty-one year-old agreement with a private developer is outdated and harming residents. A 1991 lease to Harlem River Yard Ventures (HRYV) was designed to “reduce congestion from truck traffic” by developing the rail system. While HRYV failed to follow through on this, surrounding areas have drastically changed: land bordering the site has been rezoned for residential use, significant residential development has taken place, and the area has been included in the New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan. Despite local development and city planning, however, HRYV continues to sublease to companies that block public access to the waterfront and cause egregious levels of air, water, land, and noise pollution. The City, State, Borough and Fresh Direct all ignored these facts when crafting the proposed move to the South Bronx.

There are many additional concerns with the project that we would be happy to discuss with you, your company, your organization or your community. We ask that you choose alternatives to FreshDirect until the company stops its plan to relocate to the South Bronx, a community that can no longer be the dumping ground for all that New York City does not want. South Bronx residents deserve better.

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…with love for our hood in truth always…