This year was the 6th State of the Borough speech by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. In his last 5 State of the Borough addresses BP Diaz was energetic, happy to list his accomplishments, and spoke very fast to get everything in. This year however BP Diaz sounded like the seasoned elected official we all knew was there, speaking softly and at a slower pace, and spoke of how the borough of the Bronx, and even other boroughs will move ahead under his leadership in the coming years.
As previously stated this was the Ruben Diaz Jr. many of us were waiting for.
Below are excerpts from the 6th State of the Borough speech by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. given at the new Mall at Bay Plaza.
BOROUGH PRESIDENT DIAZ DELIVERS
SIXTH ‘STATE OF THE BOROUGH’ ADDRESS
“We've seen unprecedented, transformative growth since I became the borough president,” said Borough President Diaz. The state of The Bronx is stronger than it has been in decades. We are maximizing our assets, while improving our quality of life.” Unemployment has dropped, and The Bronx has seen record investment, including over $1 billion in new investment last year alone.
“We will examine possible costs and potential density, and will take the first step towards creating new space as a key component of our city's housing and economic development future,” The study of the potential decking of three borough train yards—149th Street, the Grand Concourse yards (near his alma mater, Lehman College), and the 1 train yards connecting Riverdale and Kingsbridge. The expansion of “impact investing” in New York City. Impact investments are ventures made with the intention to generate measurable social and environmental benefit, alongside a financial return. Borough President Diaz’s proposal would leverage a revolving fund with private sector investment to accelerate the greening of large residential buildings.
On education, Borough President Diaz noted the racial disparities in admissions at the city’s three specialized high schools—the Bronx High School of Science, Stuyvesant High School and Brooklyn Technical High School. He proposed the creation of new specialized high schools, one in each borough that would use a portfolio system to select its freshman class. These new schools would also guarantee admissions to the top two performers in each city middle school. “We must ensure that the best and brightest from every community have a chance to excel,” added Borough President Diaz.
He highlighted a number of new projects coming to the borough, including the redevelopment of the former Bronx General Post Office by Youngwoo & Associates, Freshdirect’s relocation to Port Morris, York Studios’ plan to build a new film and television studio in Soundview and the future Kingsbridge National Ice Center. Also highlighted the future redevelopment of the Harlem River waterfront, he urged the State to move on the reconstruction of the Sheridan Expressway, and called on the City to create a new freezer facility for the fish and produce markets at Hunts Point.
He discussed his office’s efforts to employ Bronxites, highlighting the success of “NY Works” in his speech. Launched in August in partnership with the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State Department of Labor, “NY Works” puts Bronxites into direct contact with borough employers, and has so far led to more than 4,000 job placements. “We are bringing together development and job placement like never before.” He then thanked Ms. Marlene Cintron the head of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation.
He highlighted his office’s legislative agenda, including his continuing push for a citywide and statewide public gun offender registry. Borough President Diaz also discussed his proposal for a letter grading system for cosmetology businesses, which he announced in September 2014.
Borough President Diaz noted several other future initiatives in his speech, and closed with a remembrance of former Bronx Borough President Herman Badillo and former Governor Mario Cuomo, both of whom passed away in 2014. “We move forward, in the spirit of Herman Badillo and Mario Cuomo. We move forward, understanding that we can design and enact a transformative agenda for our future while also respecting the hardships and the glories of our past,” he said. Borough President Diaz ended the speech by saying - “Look at where we are today, 'The Mall at Bay Plaza'. Look at the hundreds of Bronxites working here this morning. Look around you at this tremendous structure, and the new opportunities it has brought to our borough. “We can, and we will. because we deserve it.”
The full speech can be read at http://on.nyc.gov/1zOPJF9.