81st Assembly District
from Assemblyman
Jeffrey Dinowitz

May 2004

Assemblyman Dinowitz
Calls For
Economic Development
in Kingsbridge

A year-and-a-half after Community Board 8 voted to support the construction of an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) garage on an inappropriate site, the Board finally held a public hearing on the issue. This garage would be used to refuel and restock local ambulances. It would not be used to dispatch ambulances, contrary to some misleading suggestions. I am pleased that the Board held this hearing, especially because it demonstrated that public support for building this garage on the site at West 230th Street and Broadway was non-existent.

When the Board, in the fall of 2002, voted to support the Fire Departmentís proposal to build this EMS garage and a fire station in the city-owned parking lot on West 230th Street, off Broadway, I raised objections on two grounds. First, the Board voted on this very important issue without a public notice, without holding a public hearing and without consulting with local elected officials. Second, it was, on the merits, a bad choice of a location for an EMS garage. Congressman Eliot Engel, Councilman Oliver Koppell and local community organizations all agreed with my position that the EMS garage must be built, but on a more appropriate site.

Councilman Koppell and I, along with the Kingsbridge-Riverdale-Van Cortlandt Development Corporation, all believe that the site ought to be reserved for commercial development. This location is ideally suited for a commercial/office/parking complex, since it lies between the West 231st Street/Broadway shopping district and the new shopping mall at West 225th Street. It is my belief that such development would be the cornerstone of efforts to revitalize the Kingsbridge and Marble Hill communities, and that it would bring many new jobs into the area.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) will be issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) to solicit potential developers of the site. To encourage development, I have urged that provisions for the EMS garage on this site not be required in the RFP. I strongly believe requiring that a garage be part of the construction on that site would decrease the likelihood that developers would submit proposals. I am pleased to say that the EDC has agreed to make the EMS garage optional in the RFP.

I STRONGLY SUPPORT CONSTRUCTION OF AN EMS GARAGE IN OUR COMMUNITY, just not on the West 230th Street/Broadway site. Unfortunately, scare tactics and misleading statements by some individuals who support the construction of such a garage on this site have clouded the issue.

The question is simple: should the City build an EMS garage? The answer is YES. Where it should be built is the subject of disagreement. I hope that elected officials, community board members and other interested community members could get together and search for other potential sites for an EMS garage and get behind one site. We all agree on whether to support building a garage. The question is where.

At the recent, belated, meeting of several Community Board 8 committees on this issue, no members of the public other than board members came forth to support construction of an EMS garage on West 230th Street. The Fire Department indicated that it does not have a specific site preference at this time. In fact, the EMS division chief endorsed building the garage adjacent to the firehouse on Bailey Avenue and West 230th Street, just a block away. I strongly agree with that position. The firehouse site has always been my preferred site.

The Fire Department did not present any information at the meeting as to whether ambulance response time is better or worse in our area as compared to other areas of the Bronx or the rest of New York City. Itís not clear that an EMS garage would improve response time in most cases, but we should certainly have one in our community board area. Those who use the scare tactic ďitís a matter of life and deathĒ as the reason to build on the inappropriate West 230th Street/Broadway site are doing the community a tremendous disservice. Letís drop the scare tactics and stick to the facts to make a sensible decision for the entire community.

In the coming months I will continue to strongly advocate for the construction of an EMS garage in our community (not on West 230th Street and Broadway). I will also continue to work with our local development corporation and elected officials for the much-needed commercial development that I believe will be a major shot in the arm for the Kingsbridge and Marble Hill communities.

I certainly welcome any comments from community residents on this issue. I can be contacted at my community office, located at 3107 Kingsbridge Avenue, Bronx, New York 10463. You can also email me at .