Tag Archives: Boycott FreshDirect

Lawsuit in the News

  

Bronx Residents Protest $130M Subsidies For Online
Grocer

Law360, New York (September 07, 2012, 4:06 PM ET) — A group
of South Bronx residents on Thursday challenged the legality of some of the
nearly $130 million in subsidies made to online grocer FreshDirect LLC for its
planned 500,000-square-foot shipping facility, as well as the constitutionality
of its sublease at the site.

In an amended complaint filed in New York
state court, two community groups known as Friends of Brook Park and South Bronx
Unite and a group of individual residents allege that the city and Empire State
Development Corp. overstepped their authority in approving.

See the entire article here:
Aerial view of the Harlem River Yard in the Bronx.
Harlem River Yards

South Bronx Residents File Suit to Stop FreshDirect’s Move

South Bronx Residents File Suit to Stop FreshDirect’s Move
Seek Comprehensive Analysis of FreshDirect’s Affect on Health, Environmental and Quality of Life
Bronx, NY, June 13, 2012 – Residents and community organizations from the South Bronx filed suit today at Bronx Supreme Court aiming to halt FreshDirect’s move to public waterfront land at the Harlem River Yards in the South Bronx, a relocation that would use $130M of public money.
The lawsuit seeks to compel defendants to conduct a comprehensive analysis of how FreshDirect’s move would adversely affect the environmental health and quality of life of South Bronx residents, as is required by law. The move would, among other things, add thousands of diesel truck and car trips every day to a community that is already over-polluted and that has very high rates of asthma and other negative health conditions associated with exposure to pollution. 
In addition, the plot of land FreshDirect wants to occupy is across the street from a 420-unit apartment complex and adjacent to hundreds of additional residential units and small businesses, developed in response to successful rezoning efforts over the last fifteen years.
The cumulative effects of the proposed FreshDirect move would be devastating. The Harlem River Yards already house a 5,000 ton-per-day waste transfer station, as well as enormous hubs for FedEx and the New York Post, and a fossil fuel power plant. This despite the fact that the land is owned by the State and as such, supposed to be used to the benefit of the public.
“We are not New York’s dumping ground,” said resident Mychal Johnson, who serves on Community Board 1. “Our asthma rates are at five times the national average. We need jobs, but we also need to breathe.”
Defendants, including New York City Industrial Development Agency, New York City Economic Development Corporation, New York State Department of Transportation, Empire State Development Corporation, Harlem River Yard Ventures, UTF Trucking, and FreshDirect, failed to hold a public hearing before announcing the move and failed to discuss the proposed 500,000 square-foot project with the local Community Board.
“Enough is enough,” said Harry Bubbins, Director of Friends of Brook Park, “we have too much pollution here. We need what other communities have: green space, waterfront access, mixed use development with affordable housing, local commercial enterprises, and green jobs.”
South Bronx residents and community organizations, including La Peña del Bronx, Pueblo en Marcha, Friends of Brook Park, and South Bronx Unite, have joined together to file this lawsuit with representation from New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and pro bono co-counsel Schindler, Cohen & Hochman, LLP.
“The Fresh Direct project has been improperly forced upon the South Bronx.  The City excluded the community from its decision-making processes and systematically understated the Project’s environmental impacts in an effort to avoid public scrutiny of the harms this project will create,” said Christina Giorgio, attorney, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. “This is unacceptable and irresponsible for a project that would add at least 3,000 cars and diesel trucks every day into a community already plagued by asthma and high pollution.”
“None of those involved with this plan live here,” said resident Monxo Lopez, “our neighborhood is energized and taking charge of its own development and destiny.”
In addition to the lawsuit, City Council Member Mark-Viverito, City Council Member Arroyo, State Senator Serrano and U.S. Congressman Serrano have joined local residents and called for a moratorium on all new development, including FreshDirect, until an analysis is undertaken of the current uses of the land on which FreshDirect proposes to move and the effects such uses have on the community.
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About New York Lawyers for the Public Interest
New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI) advances equality and civil rights, with a focus on health justice, disability rights and environmental justice, through the power of community lawyering and partnerships with the private bar. Through community lawyering, NYLPI puts its legal, policy and community organizing expertise at the service of New York City communities and individuals. NYLPI’s partnership with the private bar strengthens its advocacy and connects community groups and nonprofits with critical legal assistance. NYLPI is the recipient of the 2010 New York Times Awards for Nonprofit Excellence.
About South Bronx Unite
South Bronx Unite is a coalition of South Bronx residents, organizations, and allies.

Follow us at www.southbronxunite.com

Two City Council members ask state to delay South Bronx deal for FreshDirect pending property audit (Daily News Article)

Two City Council members ask state to delay South Bronx deal for FreshDirect pending property audit 

FreshDirect deal remains controversial

Two City Council members are demanding more information related to a new headquarters for FreshDirect at the Harlem River Rail Yard.

FRANCES ROBERTS/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Two City Council members are demanding more information related to a new headquarters for FreshDirect at the Harlem River Rail Yard.

The food fight over FreshDirect is still raging.
Two months after the Bloomberg administration approved $82 million in subsidies for the company to move to the South Bronx, two City Council members have asked the Cuomo administration to halt the deal.
Melissa Mark-Viverito and Maria del Carmen Arroyo want Albany to delay the move pending an audit of the Harlem River Rail Yards, the state-owned, privately-controlled waterfront site where FreshDirect plans to build its new headquarters.
“We need greater transparency,” Mark-Viverito said Tuesday.
The city, state and the Bronx have already committed about $120 million to the online grocer, with some caveats, but the Cuomo-controlled Empire State Development Corp. has yet to approve an additional $9 million. It expects to vote on the grant this summer.
“We are concerned that this property has been and continues to be used in a manner that is causing severe harm to the residents of the South Bronx and that undermines nearly two decades of rezoning and development,” the councilwomen wrote in a May 3 letter to Joan McDonald, state Department of Transportation commissioner.
When Harlem River Yard Ventures leased the site from the state DOT in 1991, the company vowed to develop a new rail system that would reduce local truck traffic.
But Mark-Viverito and Arroyo claim it has done the opposite, inking subleases with heavy truck users such as FedEx, the New York Post and now FreshDirect.
The DOT said it will respond later this month.
Garbage trains do leave the site by rail, noted Mychal Johnson, a community activist who has opposed the FreshDirect move.
The result is a neighborhood clogged with polluting trucks and stinky trains full of trash from other parts of the city, he said.
The 99-year lease held by Harlem River Yard Ventures was at one point slammed by a state controller as a sweetheart deal.
The company declined to comment. It collects about $500,000 per month from its subleases but pays just $43,000 per month in rent to the state, Mark-Viverito and Arroyo wrote.
They claim the city Industrial Development Agency relied on an outdated environment impact statement when it judged the FreshDirect plan. The 1993 statement was put together before rezonings that generated new housing and made the neighborhood less suitable for industry.
Furthermore, Mark-Viverito believes FreshDirect could remain in Long Island City, Queens.
Mayor Bloomberg and others argued subsidies were needed to keep the growing firm from bolting to New Jersey.
But in its application for Garden State subsidies, the growing firm described a Queens expansion as a cheap, viable option.

City Council Members Urge Audit of South Bronx Waterfront Lease and Moratorium on Polluting Developments like FreshDirect

City Council Members Urge Audit of South Bronx Waterfront Lease and Moratorium on Polluting Developments like FreshDirect

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE12:30 PM Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mychal Johnson,  mychaljohnson@gmail.com(212) 810-0562Harry Bubbins, h.bubbins@gmail.com(646) 648 4362
                                                                                                        South Bronx community residents and activists are excited about the recent letter signed by local City Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito and Maria del Carmen Arroyo calling for a moratorium on any development on the South Bronx waterfront, including the controversial FreshDirect proposal.

The entire southern shore of the Bronx is owned by the public under the auspices of the New York State Department of Transportation.  In 1993 an unprecedented 99 year lease was granted to the Galesi Group’s Harlem River Rail Yards Ventures, an Albany insider real estate firm that distributes political contributions to both major parties despite litigation from the South Bronx Clean Air Coalition.  Francesco Galesi was a member of the Audit Committee for Worldcom which signed off on years’ worth of cooked books that the misstated $3.9 billion in costs as revenue.
While mentioning a number of troubling concerns, the Council Members highlighted the potential impact on air quality and asthma. The cumulative effect of such facilities on air quality in the South Bronx, where we have an asthma epidemic, is staggering. Asthma hospitalizations in the South Bronx are five times the national average; asthma deaths are three times the national average; and it is estimated that one in every five children in the South Bronx has asthma.”
The letter further echoed longstanding concerns that were raised in two different audits in the past by the New York State Comptroller’s office. “Adding insult to injury, Harlem River Yard Ventures collects approximately $500,000 per month in rent from its subleases’, while paying only $43,000 per month in rent to DOT for the entire 94 acres.”
 The FreshDirect proposal relies on a 1993 Environmental Impact Statement for a community that has undergone numerous land-use changes and greenway initiatives and changes in the character of the area.

“They have not considered how the neighborhood has changed from 20 years ago.  We have rezoned the area and there is a brand new 400+ apartment complex right next to the proposed site. This is a budding residential area with new developments and loft conversions; it is not an industrial wasteland” said Mychal Johnson. “We need open space and waterfront access and real economic development.” 
The proposed relocation is a “slap in the face to the people of the South Bronx,” said Ivylese Andino, a resident of Mott Haven. “We are in dire need of fresh food in this community, but FreshDirect won’t even deliver in the South Bronx. Yet they have no qualms about driving fleets of trucks in and out of our neighborhood every day, polluting the air our people breathe, while they bring their product to wealthier communities.”

Furthermore, the contention that FreshDirect would move to New Jersey seems to have been a falsehood meant to extract an offer of greater public subsidies.  Leaked documents have revealed that, according to their own analysis, it is cheaper and possible for FreshDirect to remain in Long Island City. ”They did not share this information with the Governor and the Mayor,” said Harry Bubbins, director of a local environmental organization.”  We are confident that when they learn about the misleading statements, the package of public subsidies will be significantly lowered and an action plan for keeping FreshDirect in Long Island City (while saving tax payer resources) will be implemented.”

Council Members Viverito and Arroyo concluded by writing,  “Therefore, we request that the Department of Transportation audit the lease for this property, consider declaring an event of default, and explore the State’s remedies in the event of such default. We also request that the Department of Transportation place a moratorium on all new development at Harlem River Yards, including with respect to FreshDirect’s proposed development, until a thorough review of the current uses of the land and the cumulative effects of such uses on the residents of the South Bronx can be done, taking full account of the socio-economic makeup of the neighborhood and the disproportionate impact on the poorest congressional district in the country.”

Council Members Viverito and Arroyo Letter:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B3KiqZzVHu8LV0hvODkteXVUOWM/edit?pli=1

Council Member Viverito blog post:

http://mmviverito.com/2012/05/07/melissa-and-council-member-maria-del-carmen-arroyo-call-for-better-use-of-the-harlem-river-rail-yard/

Background on Mr. Galesi:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/bal-wboard11,0,348796.story

Leaked documents with relocation cost comparison:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8qEdzX5fireVU8xcmpiNjlRdDZDRVNVSzhuQU9zZw/edit

Press Advisory | New Yorkers Say “Enough is Enough”: City-wide Boycott of FreshDirect to be Launched

 

PRESS ADVISORY  Photo Opportunity
For Immediate Release
New Yorkers Say “Enough is Enough”: City-wide Boycott of FreshDirect to be Launched
Contacts:
Harry Bubbins, Friends of Brook Park, cell: 646-648-4362
Mychal Johnson, Bronx Community Board 1 Member and Resident, cell: 212-810-0562
WHO:
Residents of the South Bronx fighting FreshDirect proposal to move to their neighborhood
WHAT:
Press conference to announce a city-wide boycott of FreshDirect.  Press conference held in the Upper West Side neighborhood that has been battling the violent noise levels caused by FreshDirect’s fleet of trucks for years.
WHEN:
Wednesday, March 21st, 4:30 p.m.
WHERE:
Verdi Square Park, 72nd and Broadway
WHY:
FreshDirect stands to receive nearly $130 million in public subsidies to move its headquarters to public waterfront land in the South Bronx, bringing upwards of 2,000 daily vehicle trips through a neighborhood with asthma hospitalization rates five times the national average. The company, by its own analysis, is able to stay and expand in its current Long Island City location, which would be less expensive than moving to the Bronx. The move to the South Bronx would entail building next to a waste transfer station and on land documented with evidence of a Native American settlement and burial ground. New Yorkers are dismayed that city, state and borough leaders would subsidize FreshDirect’s loud, polluting and excessively idling diesel trucks that overburden New York City streets, particularly given the company’s refusal to pay living wages and its history of unfair labor practice claims.
See www.boycottfreshdirect.nyc for more information.