Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is raising serious concerns over a proposal by the New York City Housing Authority to develop open green spaces between existing buildings at city housing projects.

“The tenants of NYCHA should not be treated like second-class citizens,” said Borough President Diaz. “Despite the assertions of NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye, these green spaces play a critical role in the everyday life of building tenants, especially children, and should be preserved. NYCHA’s housing stock is already poorly maintained. Taking away light, air and green space from these tenants—taking away safe spaces where children play—would be an outrage.”

Borough President Diaz also criticized Ms. Olatoye for her comments in an interview with Politico New York, where she described the green spaces at NYCHA developments as “strewn with trash” and “gated off,” and therefore any discussion of their use by tenants amounts to “nostalgia.”

“Ms. Olatoye should not be so cavalier about her agency’s responsibility to manage these spaces,” said Borough President Diaz. “If the space is strewn with trash, pick up the garbage. If they are gated off, then open the gates. Her admission that NYCHA cannot maintain space for its tenants should not be an excuse to develop inappropriate housing projects, but should instead spark a discussion about ways to provide additional resources to the hardworking men and women employed by the housing authority.”

Borough President Diaz added that he is not opposed to all development on NYCHA property, and has in fact supported some projects in the past. But to develop on cherished green space does a tremendous disservice to the over 400,000 city residents who call these developments home.

“I understand the need to build more affordable housing,” said Borough President Diaz. “But this development should not be at the expense of the quality of life of NYCHA tenants.”