South Bronx Unite is asking everyone who opposes the giveaway of valuable waterfront land to FreshDirect to come to the Community Board 1 offices, located at 3024 3rd Avenue at 5:30 today–Wednesday, July 10. The focus of this meeting will be FreshDirect’s request to be granted a land use modification for the property. Here is the website of South Bronx Unite, where one can find its positions and other information.
|New York City, City Hall, Protest against FreshDirect, November 14, 2012|
On November 14 of last year (2012), I happened to be in the vicinity of City Hall and took some photographs of a gathering of activists who were calling for the boycott of FreshDirect. Here we can see two people holding up a sign while standing on the steps leading up to the elegant Ionic portico of City Hall. Designed by the architectural team of Mangin and McComb, this classical gem was built in 1811 and stands–fittingly–as the oldest city hall in the United States that continues to function as a center for government.
The issue in regard to FreshDirect, the on-line grocer which delivers directly to residences or offices, is that it is moving its distribution center from Queens to a new site in the Bronx. However, Bronx residents and civic organizations were given no input into the process. In essence, FreshDirect had worked out a sweetheart deal with Albany and the office of the Mayor of New York in which it will receive around $130 million in public money (through tax exemptions and through direct subsidies).
I think that the whole issue of urban governments subsidizing private, for-profit corporations ought to be reassessed, whether it be a food distribution center or a sports stadium. And in this case, when New York City desperately needs so many other things, why is it supporting what Sarah Jaffe remarks is “a grocery delivery service that is notorious for underpaying its workers, has faced multiple accusations of discrimination and has been accused of using all sorts of shady tactics to block its workers from joining a union?”
|New York City, City Hall, Protest against FreshDirect, Bettina Damiani, November 14, 2012|
Bettina Damiani, of the advocacy group, Good Jobs New York, was certain that residents in the South Bronx, had they been consulted, would have rejected this sweetheart deal. She remarked that “the future of economic development must be in rebuilding our city, rebuilding infrastructure after Hurricane Sandy” and not in subsidizing specific businesses.
|New York City, City Hall, Protest against FreshDirect, Irene Prestigiacomo, November 14, 2012|
Irene Prestigiacomo, a business owner from Willets Point, Queens, worried about the imbalance and unfairness of such subsidies and their effect on the local groceries and bodegas of the South Bronx. Seeing an issue of socio-economic injustice, she noted that “they victimize businesses in small neighborhoods like my own to the benefit of the well-connected.”
|New York City, City Hall, Protest against FreshDirect, Letitia James, November 14, 2012|
In a similar vein, Councilwoman Letitia James of Brooklyn stated, “I’m concerned that grocery stores all over the city are suffering,” and then added, “When you give one entity unfair advantage over others, there is something wrong with the equation.”
|New York City, City Hall, Protest against FreshDirect, Mychal Johnson, November 14, 2012|