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Borough president calls for “one Bronx”

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., at his second State of the Borough address. (Photo by: Kitama Cahill-Jackson)

By Linda Thrasybule

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., sounded the call for a more unified Bronx in his second State of the Borough address Thursday.

Diaz delivered the speech to  a full house at De Witt Clinton High School in the northwest Bronx. In attendance were city political heavy hitters such as New York City Comptroller John C. Liu, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.

Diaz announced several initiatives his office plans to pursue in the coming year, such as hosting the borough’s first education summit and expanding the successful “Peace in Our Streets” initiative against gun violence.

Diaz highlighted successes in the Bronx, crediting the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, which serves the economic development arm of his office, for pushing more than $32 million in funding into the borough’s economy to businesses wide and small.

“My administration has and will continue to make intelligent economic development a reality,” Diaz said. “We have taken major steps to market the Bronx to new businesses, to support our existing businesses, and to grow the overall economy of our borough.”

He noted that his office would continue its fight to remove PCBs, a dangerous chemical that has been used for many years in the construction of school buildings.

“The response to this issue has been grossly inadequate,” he said. We need a faster response. The health of our children is at risk.”

Diaz echoed a theme he underscored in last year’s address — the lack of a world-class hotel in the Bronx. He said his office is working with the New York City Economic Development Corporation to bring a hotel to the area near Yankee Stadium.

“We have begun discussions with multiple developers who have shown a keen interest in building a hotel, complete with street-level retail, restaurants, entertainment, catering and convention space just blocks away from the stadium,” he said.

Diaz received thunderous applause for denouncing last year’s brutal anti-gay attack, in which a group of teens were charged with viciously beating several young men in Morris Heights, calling it “sickening.” He announced the creation of a new task force of clergy and community leaders from different  faiths, ethnicities and sexual orientations, to combat  hate crimes. “We need to show Bronx solidarity and make sure these incidents don’t happen again,” he said.

He ended his address by calling on all Bronxites to come together to support efforts to make the borough a better place to live.

“It is time to let the world know once again that the Bronx is a place of success,” Diaz said. We face challenges—in education, in the economy, in making our borough a greener place. But we are all committed to the rebirth and continuing revitalization of our ‘One Bronx.’”

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