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Summer Sizzles in The Bronx with the 4th Annual SalsaFest!

Festival will include free community events

Summer Music Series will feature all-star performances

The summer is heating up in The Bronx in more ways than one as the 4th Annual Bronx SalsaFest gets underway beginning this weekend!

El Condado de la Salsa (the borough of Salsa) will, once again, celebrate the music, the dance, and the artists in a month-long festival bringing together a collaborative of institutions and community-based organizations presenting a variety of Salsa-related activities.

Presented jointly by the Office of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and The Bronx Tourism Council, SalsaFest begins with the Orchard Beach Sizzling Salsa Summer Concert Series on Sunday. “We’ll be dancing under the sun, in the streets, and barefoot in the grass this summer” says Olga Luz Tirado, executive director of The Bronx Tourism Council.

“The Bronx is El Condado de la Salsa, and SalsaFest offers great concerts and activities for visitors and locals alike. This is the centennial of Bronx County, and we invite everyone to come and dance with us, explore the culture and the vibrancy of The Bronx, and join the thousands of people who will take advantage of SalsaFest this August,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Events include concerts, dance lessons, street fairs, book readings and panel discussions throughout the borough.

SalsaFest partners include NYC & Company, Bronx Lebanon Hospital, Bronx Music Heritage Center, Casita Maria for Arts & Education, Latino Sports, New York Parks Department, The National Jazz Museum, The Woodlawn Conservancy, Wave Hill and Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy.

NOTE: Download a full list of SalsaFest events here. Visit ilovethebronx.com for the latest calendar and more information about this and other great Bronx events.

Borough President Diaz Served as Grand Marshal of
25th Annual La Gran Parada Dominicana

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. greets constituents during the 25th annual La Gran Parada Dominicana on July 27, 2014. The annual parade down the Grand Concourse, for which Borough President Diaz served as this year’s grand marshal, caps off a full week of events celebrating the culture and heritage of the Dominican Republic and its people.

Borough President Diaz Provides Over $9 Million
in Funding to Bronx Organizations

Today, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. announced that his office has provided more than $9 million in capital funding to worthy Bronx organizations as part of his FY2015 capital budget allocations.

“This critical funding helps keep our cultural institutions vibrant, our schools strong, our parks clean and our neighborhoods safe. Funding like this is critical to our ‘New Bronx’ agenda, and I am proud to have funded so many important projects in every corner of our borough,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

For FY2015 Borough President Diaz has provided $9,135,000 to 25 projects. Since taking office in 2009. Borough President Diaz has provided more than $126 million in capital funding to 362 total projects.

This year, Borough President Diaz’s largest allocations went to housing, $2.75 million, representing 30 percent of his total capital budget. These funds will support the creation of over 600 new units of housing across five projects, keeping in line with Borough President Diaz’s commitment to keep the borough’s housing stock diverse and affordable.

Borough President Diaz also provided $2 million to parks projects, the second highest percentage of his total capital funding for the year at 22 percent. This will include the renovation of the pool at Edenwald Playground and the construction of a new comfort station at Fort Four Playground, among other projects.

In addition to these projects, Borough President Diaz has also put funding into two New York City Housing Authority developments, including $440,000 to install new security cameras at the Forest Houses.

“Just last week, I stood with Mayor de Blasio as he announced his proposal to make our city’s NYCHA developments safer. I have funded cameras and security upgrades in the past, and will continue to do so as we work to make our public housing developments safer for their residents,” said Borough President Diaz.

Other capital projects funded by Borough President Diaz this year include renovations at both the DeWitt Clinton High School and Adlai Stevenson High School campuses, new lighting and a new shuttle van for Wave Hill and exterior renovations at Bronxworks headquarters on the Grand Concourse.

The complete list of Borough President Diaz’s capital budget allocations for FY2015 can be viewed at http://on.nyc.gov/1p04xPb.

Local Officials Condemn Hate Crime Found at McLaughlin Playground

Last Friday morning, hate filled graffiti including several swastikas and the phrase “Kill Jews” were inscribed in the ground at McLaughlin Playground in Riverdale.  The incident was reported to the 50th Precinct and the investigation is now being overseen by the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force. 

Although the graffiti was removed by the police later Friday afternoon, the Riverdale community is still in shock over the hate filled message.  The local elected officials have come together to state that this vitriol will be not be tolerated, in Riverdale or anywhere else.

"Such acts of hatred have no place in our borough or anywhere in civilized society. This anti-Semitic graffiti is a sad reminder of the cruelty some individuals are capable of, and I am proud to join my colleagues today to condemn this act in one united voice. The people of The Bronx do not tolerate hatred of any kind, and I hope those responsible for this hate crime are brought to justice," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Read the complete press release.

Borough President Diaz Encourages Bronxites to Enroll in
'Forever Graffiti Free Program'

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is urging all property owners to enroll in the City’s graffiti removal program, Graffiti Free NYC (GFNYC).  GFNYC is the City’s first ever, full-time, street-by-street graffiti removal program and is a service provided by NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) on behalf of the City of New York.  The program provides NO COST graffiti removal to affected commercial, residential and industrial properties throughout the five boroughs.

“Graffiti is a blighted condition that changes the overall aesthetics of neighborhoods, often giving the impression that a neighborhood unsafe and ignored.  Graffiti decreases property values and discourages business investment and employment opportunities throughout the community.  I urge all property owners to take a few minutes to enroll in this program and help keep The Bronx clean and beautiful,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

By completing a “Forever Graffiti Free” form, property owners will authorize NYCEDC program staff to enter their property for the purposes of cleaning any accessible graffiti found on the property exterior. The one-time authorization covers all future graffiti at the specified location until consent is removed or property ownership is transferred.

“Graffiti turns lovely neighborhoods into eyesores. And no one wants to live in an area that’s been aesthetically vandalized. That’s why the Graffiti Free New York Program has become a critical tool to improving the quality of life in many communities around the city,” said Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia.  “I encourage all property owners to participate in the Graffiti Free NY Program to help keep their property clean of graffiti.  By working together, we can all make a difference for a cleaner, greener New York.”

A PDF version of the enrollment form can be found at:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/cau/downloads/pdf/graffiti_waiver.pdf  (in English)
http://www.nyc.gov/html/cau/downloads/pdf/graffiti_waiver_spanish.pdf (in Spanish)
http://www.nyc.gov/html/cau/downloads/pdf/graffiti_waiver_chinese.pdf (in Mandarin)

An online form can be found at https://a002-oomwap.nyc.gov/graffiti/OnlineFGF/OnlineFGFEdit.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: Mayor de Blasio’s NYCHA Safety Initiative

“I was proud to stand today with Mayor de Blasio, and with so many leaders from every corner of the city, to add my voice in support of this crucial new initiative.

“Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bratton have taken several important steps to reduce crime in our neighborhoods. Just a few days ago we learned of ‘Summer All Out,’ a new operation that will put more cops into the communities that have seen an uptick in crime statistics, which includes several precincts in The Bronx.

“Today, we stood together to announce this new program, which will take the fight against crime directly to our NYCHA buildings. In partnership with Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Bratton, my good friend Chief Carlos Gomez and the many elected officials, organizations and people all over the five boroughs who share a dream of a safer city, we will work together to make our public housing developments safer for the people who live within their walls,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: Tentative contract agreement between the City & DC37

“This is a big day for New York City and a day of real progress. City employees have long deserved a contract and a raise, and I applaud the Mayor and DC37 for reaching a responsible agreement that is good for the city and good for its workforce. This contract agreement contains fair and reform-minded terms, and it is a positive step toward restoring a fruitful and productive relationship between City government and its employees,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: Félix V. Matos Rodríguez named President of Queens College

“I would like to congratulate my good friend Félix V. Matos Rodríguez on his new position as President of Queens College. Felix has made a tremendous impact on the life of countless students and residents in The Bronx during his five years serving as President of Eugenio María de Hostos Community College.

“My office has worked with Félix on many initiatives, and has provided capital funding on projects such as Hostos Community College’s Natural Science and Allied Health Building. Félix was a true champion for this transformative project, and his strong advocacy helped garner wide support for this proposal.

“Aside from his scholarly accomplishments, Félix has demonstrated a commitment to public service and to the success of all students. I, as well as the 1.4 million residents of The Bronx, thank Félix for his great leadership and a job well done and wish him continued success in his new position,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

NYC Department of Small Business Services Announces
Six Bronx Recipients of 2015 Avenue NYC Grants

Grants Awarded to Bronx Economic Development Organizations To Help Fund Commercial Revitalization Projects in Low to Moderate-Income Neighborhoods

New York City – The Department of Small Business Services today announced six Bronx recipients of Avenue NYC funding for FY15. Avenue NYC is a competitive grant program that provides funding for non-profit economic development organizations to implement commercial revitalization activities in the low and moderate-income districts they serve. Avenue NYC also offers a number of capacity building initiatives to support the efforts of organization staff and Board Members throughout the City.  Capacity building trainings include topics such as financial management, program evaluation, fundraising and strategic planning. In FY14, organizations that received Avenue NYC funding attracted 53 new businesses to their corridors, recruited 355 new merchants to new and existing merchants associations, and improved 12 storefront facades.

“These grants, delivered through the Avenue NYC program, will help several of our borough’s most significant business corridors develop new programming, enabling them to attract new customers and grow their businesses,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “Economic development is a top priority of my administration, and I am grateful to the Department of Small Business Services for providing the critical funding our small business communities need to expand through this wonderful initiative.”

Read the complete press release.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: The Deaths of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Fraenkel & Gilad Shaar

"My sympathies go out to the families of these three abducted boys, who were recently found in Israel. I cannot think of any country or organization in the world that would condone this sort of behavior.  I hope that anyone with information on the kidnapping of these three innocent young men will comply with authorities and, when caught, they must be brought to justice.  Such acts of barbarism have no place in a civilized society. On behalf of the 1.4 million residents of The Bronx, I offer my condolences and prayers to these families in their time of need,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: Gov. Cuomo’s Plan to End the AIDS Epidemic in New York State

“I applaud Governor Cuomo on his announcement of a new plan to reduce the number of New York State residents living with HIV infections. This three point plan—which includes greater access to testing and healthcare services—has incredible potential to reduce the number of HIV infections not just here in The Bronx, but across the entire state.

“The Bronx has a particular need for these services, given that we have some of the highest HIV infection rates in New York City, and my office is prepared to work with Governor Cuomo and the State Department of Health to make this new proposal work for the people of The Bronx,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

More information on Governor Cuomo’s proposal can be found at:

https://www.governor.ny.gov/press/06292014-end-aids-epidemic.

Comptrollers DiNapoli & Stringer Call on Corporations
to Protect LGBT Rights Around World

Investors Ask Coca Cola, McDonald’s and Others to Ensure Equal Rights Policies Overseas; Russian Website Must Pull Hate Crime Posts

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released a joint letter today on behalf of the state and city pension funds to 20 major U.S. corporations urging them to uphold LGBT rights around the globe.

“The momentum of the LGBT civil rights movement here in the U.S. is inspiring, but LGBT men and women face a rising tide of discrimination and violence in some parts of the world,” DiNapoli said. “These companies have a strong track record upholding LGBT equality domestically and we want to ensure their employees are protected from discrimination no matter where in the world they’re located. As reports of hate crimes and discrimination rise, robust enforcement of the anti-discrimination policies that protect workers and safeguard our companies from reputational and financial harm is more important than ever.”

“While we have made great progress in advancing LGBT rights in New York State and across America, this community still faces incredible hardships and discrimination all over the globe. I stand with Comptrollers Thomas DiNapoli and Scott Stringer and the NYCERS board in calling on those companies our city invests in to be good global citizens, and to enforce their non-discrimination policies evenly across the world. These companies must take the lead in ensuring that LGBT individuals are treated fairly and equitably, no matter where they live,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., a New York City Employees’ Retirement System Trustee.

Read the complete press release.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: Municipal IDs In New York City

“I congratulate Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Members Carlos Menchaca and Daniel Dromm, as well as the entire City Council for passing legislation to create municipal identification cards in our city. I have called for municipal identification cards since I first served in the New York State Assembly, and today’s vote marks a major step forward for equity in treatment for undocumented residents of the five boroughs.

“For too long, the undocumented community has been denied important services for lack of proper paperwork. In addition, municipal identification cards will make it easier for this community to cooperate with law enforcement.

“My office handles many constituent cases each year from undocumented residents and their families, and many of them are afraid to cooperate with city government and the police for fear of reprisal. This proposal will bring this community out of the shadows, making our city safer for everyone. I congratulate Mayor de Blasio for making this proposal a priority in his ‘State of the City,’” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Borough President Diaz Hosts LGBTQ Heritage Celebration

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. declares June 25, 2014, "LGBTQ & Allies Recognition Day" at his annual LGBTQ Heritage Celebration at the Bronx Museum of the Arts.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. & the Bronx Tourism Council
Launch the 'Bronx 100 Scavenger Hunt'

June 25, 2014, Bronx, NY—Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and The Bronx Tourism Council announced today that entries are on sale for the “Bronx 100 Scavenger Hunt,” which will pit teams of four from all over the region in a competition focusing on Bronx history, culture and the redevelopment of the “New Bronx.”

The event will take place all-day on Saturday, July 12, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Bronx County Courthouse. Teams will earn points by taking pictures of various Bronx landmarks and destinations, with the highest scoring team winning $2,500. The day will close with a party for scavenger hunt participants, and will feature other giveaways and prizes.
Only 40 teams will have an opportunity to participate in the event. Entries can be purchased for $40 per team at ilovethebronx.com.

“Throughout our centennial celebrations we have been focused on highlighting the ‘New Bronx.’ This contest will give teams from all over a chance to learn about our borough, see firsthand the progress we have made, and maybe even win a prize,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
“It’s a fun and adventurous way to discover The Bronx, learn about its rich history, and meet new people!” said Olga Luz Tirado, executive director of The Bronx Tourism Council.

“New York Community Bancorp is proud to be the principal sponsor of the ‘Bronx 100 Scavenger Hunt.’ Great things are happening in The Bronx, and this event will help highlight many of the new projects and new developments that are changing the way the world thinks about this wonderful borough,” said Christopher B. Beck, Vice President of New York Community Bancorp.

For more information about the Bronx Centennial celebrations and other borough events, visit ilovethebronx.com.

Motion to Renew Lawsuit Against FreshDirect Denied

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and FreshDirect CEO Jason Ackerman issued the following statement today upon learning that the motion to renew a previously dismissed lawsuit designed to stop FreshDirect’s relocation to The Bronx has been denied by the courts.

The complete ruling can be found here: http://bronxboropres.nyc.gov/pdf/2014-06-25.pdf.

“This ruling clears the way for a transformative development project, and the thousands of jobs that will come with it, to make its way to The Bronx. FreshDirect, as well as the various agencies that helped to shepherd this important deal, have been vindicated at every turn by the courts, and this ruling is no exception,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

FreshDirect CEO Jason Ackerman said: “We are of course pleased with this decision, and look forward to servicing our customers from our new state of the art facility in The Bronx. We are working hard to make that a reality. With that new facility, we will bring more than a 1,000 new jobs to the Bronx, many to be filled by local residents.”

Borough President Diaz added, “This key economic development project is crucial to the future of this borough, and my office has not wavered in our support of FreshDirect and their relocation to The Bronx for that reason. The economic health and vitality of this borough is of preeminent importance to my administration, and I am satisfied that the legal efforts to derail this project have been given a fair hearing and have been dismissed.”

FreshDirect’s relocation to The Bronx will create 1,000 new jobs while also relocating 2,000 jobs to The Bronx from Queens. Already, FreshDirect has displayed their commitment to the Bronx through hiring initiatives that have led to Bronx residents getting jobs at their existing Queens facility, the impending greening of their delivery fleet, the expansion of their services to the entire borough, food donations to Bronx families during the holiday season and their efforts to expand their services to EBT users.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: New York City’s Rent Guidelines Board vote

"Although the Rent Guidelines Board vote on Monday is a first step in the right direction for our City by keeping the increase to a historic minimum it does not go far enough. It is therefore vital to offer more relief to the poor and middle-class of our City, given how many residents are struggling and have not seen their own paychecks increase over the past few years. 

“In the future, in order to address the city’s growing income inequality, we should consider a rent freeze combined with a property tax decrease so that the people of this city have more money in their pockets, while also providing relief to property and home owners. The city needs to work to do more to diversify its housing stock not just by  creating opportunities for low and middle-income housing but also developing greater chances  for homeownership. New York City should be a place everyone can afford to live in and we should utilize every opportunity to preserve affordability for all New Yorkers,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Borough President Diaz Announces
'Respect Our Block' Poster Contest Winners

Contest Encouraged Bronx Students to Help Keep Their Neighborhoods Clean

Today, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. announced the winners of the “Respect Our Block” Poster Contest. The contest was open to students of all ages across the borough, and invited individual students or groups of students to create a poster urging their neighbors to “Respect Our Block.”

Hundreds of students from all over The Bronx submitted posters for consideration, and two students were chosen as the winners. They were Aliya Victor, a kindergarten student at P.S. 121—The Throop School, near Allerton Avenue and Marielys Perez, a fifth grader at P.S. 100 in Soundview.

“We saw so many great posters as part of this contest, and I want to congratulate every student who participated. These two posters showcased the community spirit we want our students to embrace in The Bronx, and were worthy of extra recognition. I’d like to that Aliya and Marielys, as well as their teachers, principals and especially their families, for showing us just what it means to ‘Respect our Block!’” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Aliya’s poster can be viewed here: https://flic.kr/p/o5kLFv. Marielys’poster can be viewed here: https://flic.kr/p/o53vaR.

Borough President Diaz hosted a press conference to announce the two winners. The day included a lunch with the borough president, and each student received a Barnes & Noble e-reader and a large blowup of their winning poster as their prizes.

The “Respect Our Block” contest, which is part of the borough’s ongoing centennial celebrations, was launched in March in response to concerns and complaints raised by Bronxites to the Borough President’s Office regarding litter, pet waste and other issues that can make a neighborhood look unappealing. Through this contest, Borough President Diaz’s hopes to engage the children of The Bronx and use their energy to make our streets cleaner and increase pride in The Bronx.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: President Obama Awards ‘Borinqueneers’ with Congressional Gold Medal

“I am proud and it gives me great pleasure to know that the ‘Borinquneers’ have been awarded the congressional Gold Medal from President Obama for their military service. It is an honorable recognition that the ‘Borinquneers’ truly deserve for their brilliant record of heroism on the battlefield.

“The enormous contribution the 65th Infantry has made in shaping our country’s history truly makes us proud as Americans and Latinos. Thousands of Puerto Ricans, many of which live right here in God’s country, The Bronx, have served courageously as ‘Borinqueneers’ since World War I. The Bronx congratulates and thanks them for their sacrifices and service to our country and offers its eternal gratitude,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Governor Cuomo Announces Plan to Strengthen Roberto Clemente State Park Waterfront; Protect Morris Heights Neighborhood

Project Will Replace Failing Seawall and Improve Park Waterfront Esplanade

New York State Will Use Up To $46.5 Million of Community Development Block Grant Disaster Funds
for the Project

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a plan to replace a failing seawall at Roberto Clemente State Park that was directly impacted by Superstorm Sandy with a stronger, more storm- resilient bulkhead along the Harlem River. The new wall will protect park and residential housing complexes in the Morris Heights neighborhood of the Bronx from future storms. The State will utilize State and Federal resources to restore and enhance Roberto Clemente State Park. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will apply for up to $46.5 million in Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR) funds for the project. The funds provided to the State by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are managed through the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery. New York State has been awarded $4.4 billion of HUD disaster recovery funds to date to address recovery needs resulting from the impacts of Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee to the State.

“Roberto Clemente State Park is a true Bronx treasure, that honors a man who was not only a great baseball player but a great humanitarian as well. I applaud Governor Cuomo for his great commitment to the Bronx and for putting forth this new project that will strengthen the park’s waterfront which in turn will enhance this historic park and protect the surrounding neighborhood,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Read the complete press release.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: ProPublica Investigation on Gun Tracing

Today, the non-profit investigative journalism organization, ProPublica, issued a report on gun tracing in the United States, which found that 68 percent of all guns the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms recovered in New York State originated in another state. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. issued the following statement in reaction to this report:

“We have some of the toughest gun laws in the United States here in New York, but the scourge of gun crime can never be truly erased from our streets until we have tougher federal controls on gun sales. Nearly 70 percent of all weapons recovered here come from out of state—and nothing could illustrate the problem we face more clearly than that disturbing statistic. Congressional action is long overdue,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

The complete report from ProPublica can be found at http://projects.propublica.org/graphics/atf-gun-traces.

Dinowitz, Klein Introduce Legislation to Designate
Jerome Park as Parkland of NYC

Today, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx) and State Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester) were joined by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and a host of community activists near the Jerome Park Reservoir to introduce new legislation intent on designating Jerome Park as parkland of the city of New York. The bills, A.9681 and S.7467, would set in motion a public process by which most or all of what is known as Jerome Park can either become designated as park lands or lands that can be readily accessible to the general public for recreational use. The space could also be used as an urban wildlife or nature sanctuary.

The perimeter of the Jerome Park Reservoir, which is the area that would be turned into New York City Parkland as a result of this legislation, is currently owned by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Access to the land around the reservoir, which is enclosed inside fence, is currently off-limits to the general public.

“The Jerome Park Reservoir is an incredible resource that should be enjoyed by our residents. This community treasure has been left unused for far too long. Northwest Bronx families have a right to enjoy the area around the Jerome Park Reservoir and I am glad that this new legislation will help make this area available for public recreational use. This has been a priority of mine since I became borough president, and I am proud to stand with my colleagues in calling for greater access to the area around the Jerome Park Reservoir as well as greater community involvement in determining the future of one of our Borough’s crown jewels,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Read the complete press release.