Tag Archive | "Bronx"

Curry comes to Morrisania

Hungry Bird on East 164th Street, the newest restaurant to open in Morrisania, introduces Indian cuisine to the neighborhood for the first time. (SWATI GUPTA / The Bronx Ink)

A steady stream of customers wandered into Morrisania’s Hungry Bird one September evening, drawn inside the brand new restaurant accompanied by the unusual aroma of curried chicken. Indian cuisine was practically unknown on East 164th Street and Morris Avenue until local entrepreneur, Azizur Rahman, decided to open the quaint eatery three weeks earlier. Wooden spoons hung on the painted walls behind him as the 47-year-old owner, originally from New Delhi, India greeted his customers. Rahman’s life-long dream had been to introduce Morrisania to his native cooking. In addition to traditional Indian dishes, he plans to include Dominican and American menu items to ease the transition. “One step in, and people can get whatever they want,” said Rahman. Local residents know Rahman as the manager of Dunkin’ Donuts four blocks away on 161st Street, where he has been working for the last 15 years. His plans to set up his own business finally took shape two years ago when his family in India was able to provide $100,000 in start-up capital. His younger sister Sabrina Khan and her husband Mahatab Hussein help out with the cash register and overseeing the kitchen. The Hungry bird stands out among the very few restaurants that are scattered around a neighborhood mostly populated with grocery stores and 99 cent stores. Small businesses have been opening up slowly in Morrisania in the past few years. According to the 2012 U.S. Census, the number of restaurants has nearly doubled in the South Bronx between 2010 and 2011. Michael Nixon, a business development officer at the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation said that his office received around 10 to 15 requests for new business loans every month. Most of those businesses like Rahman's, he said, are financed by a close network of friends and families,. Rahman, who immigrated to New York 16 years ago, still works at Dunkin’ Donuts, putting in 18-hour days working two jobs, and commuting back and forth from Brooklyn where he lives with his wife and two teenage children. His normal workday begins at 6 a.m. at Dunkin' Donuts, and ends at 11 p.m. after he closes Hungry Bird. It's a schedule he believes will pay off eventually. Early customer counts have already exceeded his early projections. He planned for 40 food orders a day and is currently seeing 70. One customer agreed to talk only after he wiped his plate clean of the chicken and rice. As he paid his check, Sylla Boubacar said he was going to keep coming. "It is just the beginning,” said Boubacar, a long-time Morrisania resident. Rahman has depended mostly on discount offers, incentives for referrals and word of mouth to encourage local residents to come through the door. Besides his family members, Rahman hired two local residents to distribute menus to passersby and do deliveries. One man, 43-year old Jeff Hargrove, is studying to become a food inspector eventually. Rahman believes that one of the reasons his opening weeks have gone so well is the generosity from the people in the neighborhood. “People have been forthcoming whenever I have asked for help,” he said. When asked why he chose the name “Hungry Bird”, he paused and said, “A bird has no job besides finding food. So, when humans get hungry, their characteristic changes to mimic a bird.”

Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, FoodComments (0)

Defendant’s Girlfriend Testifies Against Him with iPhone Footage of Alleged Assault

A 25-year-old mother of two testified against the father of her six-month-old infant in Bronx Supreme Court on Wednesday, as the first witness in his trial on 28 counts of assault, possession of a weapon and attempted murder. The witness, Vateya Prentiss, covered her face as the prosecutor showed the jury graphic video Prentiss had taken with her iPhone, recording the alleged crime that took place on January 6, 2013. “It’s disturbing. It bothers me, the way I was reacting and everything,” she said when Bronx District Attorney Marisol Martinez Alonso, asked why she had averted her gaze. Across the courtroom, wearing a trim dark suit, the defendant, Rodrigo Neri, 28, looked away as well. Prentiss testified that she and Neri, her boyfriend of three years, were on their way to a friend’s house when they spotted an acquaintance, Jamell Mungin, standing outside of his apartment building at 863 Melrose Avenue near 161st Street. They saw Mungin run inside and come out again and Neri told Prentiss he thought Mungin had a gun, she said in her testimony. The two men began exchanging blows in a fistfight that Prentiss captured on her pink and white iPhone 4S. The DA also played two other video clips, both from surveillance cameras outside of the victim’s building. Together, the footage clearly shows Mungin swinging at Neri with a knife and stabbing him through his jacket before Neri shoved him down the concrete steps in front of his building. Mungin hit the pavement and lay there motionless. Neri, wearing Timberland boots, stomped Mungin’s head half-a-dozen times. Then Neri went up the stairs, calmly walked back down, and sliced Mungin’s face from his ear to his mouth. Mungin later received treatment for a fractured orbital socket and 60 stitches, according to the criminal complaint. Mungin has not been charged in the incident. “I’m an animal,” Neri can be heard saying in iPhone the video. Prentiss’s voice can be heard throughout the three-minute brawl, too. “Get that nigga, babe,” she said while continuing to film the altercation. “Get that bitch. Fuck him up.” For egging her boyfriend on, Prentiss was also charged with assault and attempted murder. She pleaded guilty to the felony of assault with intent to cause serious physical injury, agreeing to testify in his trial in exchange for a sentence of five years probation. The couple was also arrested for giving a false report to police on the day of the incident.  Leaving Mungin lying unconscious in a pool of blood, they took a cab to St. Luke’s Hospital in Manhattan –rather than going to nearby Lincoln Hospital -- after Prentiss noticed that Neri was “leaking blood,” from stab wounds, according to her testimony. They told police at the hospital that Neri had acquired his wounds in a fight at a train station in the area. At issue in the assault and murder case is whether Neri attacked Mungin with the intent to cause serious injury or to kill. The prosecution will argue that once Mungin was lying unconscious on the pavement and was no longer a threat, Neri crossed the line from self-defense into violent crime. During a break in the trial on Wednesday, Neri dandled his young son, Princeton, on his hip for a few minutes before handing him over to a babysitter. After Neri left the area, Prentiss held Princeton and then pushed him in his stroller through the airy halls of the courthouse. Prentiss said she and Neri are still a couple, but by court order, they are not allowed to see each other. “It was nerve wracking to get up there and show people that video and have them paint whatever image they’re going to see of me based on that,” she said. “But the truth is the truth.” Prentiss also faces a year in prison for an unrelated charge of assault against a friend, which violated the terms of her plea deal in this case.  

Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, CrimeComments (0)

Bronx gang member convicted once, now tried again for the same murder

The second day in the retrial of a Bronx gang member charged with killing a 10-year-old girl and paralyzing another Bronx man began with pointed cross examination of the defendant's St. James Boys associate, the prosecution’s key witness. Enrique Sanchez, stony and monosyllabic, recalled very little about the shootings or their aftermath in his nearly three-hour testimony in Bronx Supreme Court yesterday. On trial is Edgar Morales, who is being charged with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy and possession of a deadly weapon for the 12-year-old incident. Morales’s original trial gained fame when the Bronx District Attorney charged him in 2007 with a slew of offenses, including terrorism for “striking fear in the hearts of residents and business owners.” Morales, now 32, became the first lone gang member convicted under the new terrorism statute that was passed days after the 9/11 attacks. The charge that was accompanied by a stiffer jail sentence was overruled as overreaching by the State’s Court of Appeals two years ago. It then ordered a new trial. The original crime took place on the evening of August 17, 2002, when the St. James Boys street gang erupted into an argument that turned fatal at a christening celebration at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran church in Parkchester. Ten-year-old Melanny Mendez died after a stray bullet struck her in the back of the head. Javier Tocchimani, a rival gang member, was paralyzed after being shot three times. Both Morales and Sanchez were present at the scene of the crime. Sanchez told the court he was drunk at the time of the incident and that he only saw someone get hit by the bullet. Morales’ defense team attempted to discredit Sanchez’s testimony by making references to conflicting accounts he has given over the last seven years in court, in interviews, and to detectives as far away as Arizona. Sanchez’s primary response to a majority of the questions asked during cross examination was, “I don’t remember.” Eventually the defense asked, “Is your entire story about Edgar Morales doing the shooting a total fabrication?” Sanchez replied with the familiar, “I don’t remember.” Sanchez was arrested in March 2004 for possession of a .38-caliber handgun. He was later indicted by the Bronx District Attorney for second degree murder charges in the shooting outside St. Paul’s Church and was facing between 15 years to life in prison. The DA’s office offered to lower the charges in exchange for Sanchez’s cooperation in Morales’ 2007 trial. He eventually served seven years in jail for manslaughter and was released in the beginning of 2011. A few days prior to his release, Sanchez told the court, he was visited in prison by a pair of investigators and a pair of attorneys, all of them working on the Morales case. He claimed they wanted Sanchez “to help them out, for Edgar.” Sanchez testified that he was assured confidentiality in exchange for his cooperation. “They were harassing me too much already,” said Sanchez. When asked by the defense if he remembered becoming emotional during the investigators' visit, saying he did not want Morales to face time away from his child, Sanchez replied, “I don’t remember.” “You don’t remember breaking down?” Attorney Matthew Fishbein asked. “Is that something you could forget?” The prosecution, which was led by Assistant District Attorney Christine Scaccia, said its office had worked with Sanchez for nearly ten years and believed that he gave a reliable account of what went down on August 17, 2002. A member of the team added that the St. James Boys gang had been terrorizing the Mexican-American community in St. James Park in Fordham for years through intimidation, murder, drug activities, and other gang-related violence. Mendez’s mother, Antonia Gutierrez, was present in court. She hoped for the sentencing to rule in favor of the prosecution and to see Morales “stay in jail.”

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Bronx Man Charged with Murder of Wife with Scissors

On Monday afternoon, the light over the front door of the sealed house was left on.

On Monday afternoon, the light over the front door of the sealed house was left on.                 (HAN ZHANG / The Bronx Ink)

On Monday, a 56-year-old man was charged with second degree murder, manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon after fatally stabbing his wife with a pair of scissors, according to police. Around noon on Sunday, the wife, Cynthia Migliozzi, 57, was found unconscious and unresponsive in her Bronx home at 1581 Astor Avenue. With a puncture wound in her left armpit and shoulder, she was pronounced dead upon arrival at Jacobi Hospital, a few blocks away from her house. The couple has lived in the traditionally Italian neighborhood of Pelham Gardens for more than 25 years, first with the husband’s parents, and then with the couple's two sons, both of whom are in their early twenties. The family also kept a pug. The neighborhood belongs to precinct 49, where the crime rate is the lowest among neighboring precincts. Last year, 10.06 crimes happened per 1000 residents in this area, lower than all but three precincts in Manhattan. On Monday afternoon, the light over the front door of the sealed two-story, red brick house was left on and a silver Chrysler was parked in the weed-ridden yard. To their neighbors, the family seemed friendly but not particularly social. “They really kept it to themselves,” said Josephine Venditti, 73, who has lived in the house next door to the Migliozzis’ since 1977. “Their jobs were a big question mark. I don’t think they’ve ever worked,” said another close neighbor who preferred to remain anonymous.“Martin was actually very well-spoken when he talks. I think he told me that he used to study pharmacy before drugs messed him up.” Police said that Martin Migliozzi had nine prior arrests, mostly for drug possession. The motive is still under investigation.

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Bronx celebrates cinematic masterpieces at inaugural film festival

Conventional wisdom does not usually pair up Hollywood with The Bronx.  But the nonprofit Yes the Bronx would like to change that misperception this coming weekend with the inaugural Yes the Bronx Film Festival. Festival planners said the goal is to spark a discussion about how the borough has been portrayed in popular films. “It happens to be the 100th anniversary of the Bronx,” said George Stephanopoulos, president of the organization and film festival director.  “If we are going to do something to promote the Bronx community, this is as good a year as any to launch.” Stephanopoulos is a television and film lawyer by trade, in addition to a producer and life-long aficionado of independent cinema – a combination that he felt might be put to good use in organizing the festival. When he put the plan into effect, his first call was to famed film historian Foster Hirsch to assist in selecting the best films to program for the event, and organize the panels and talkbacks. The two experts settled upon five feature films: “The Pride of the Yankees” a 1942 film about Lou Gehrig, “The We and I” a 2012 picture about Bronx teenagers’ bus ride on the last day of school, “A Bronx Tale” the 1993 De Niro directorial debut about a Bronx boy’s two heroes, “Marty” the 1955 Best Picture Academy Award winner about a socially awkward Bronx butcher, and “City Island” the 2009 family comedy-drama.  The films all encompass different historical periods and perspectives of the borough – ranging from the heartwarming to the shockingly realistic, and tickets to each of the screenings cost between $10 and $15.  
Yes the Bronx Film Festival Poster (courtesy of George Stephanopoulos, Yes the Bronx)

Yes the Bronx Film Festival Poster (Image courtesy of Yes the Bronx organization)

Compared to other film festivals that Hirsch has helped to curate,  this weekend’s festival has a larger focus on current films and lots of talk about the future. “We want response from the audience,” Hirsch said.  “What is the effect of this film on your thinking about the Bronx?  We want a sort of interactive connection between the spectators and the films.” A key goal is to encourage the city to open up the Bronx to future filmmakers. To that end, on Saturday, Hirsch will moderate a panel entitled “The Bronx in Hollywood Films” featuring Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and Commissioner Cynthia Lopez from the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.“I think opening filming sites to the Bronx increases the variety of locations that New York has to offer and also corrects the misperception that filming in New York City is just about urban congestion and density,” Hirsch said. In addition to the five films, the festival will also showcase several shorts shot by local Bronx filmmakers and artists. Stephanopoulos worked with the Bronx Artists Collective to create a short documentary film Artistic Energy: The Bronx, based upon the Bronx Artist Documentary Project – an exhibit featuring local visual artists on display at the historic Andrew Freedman home on the Grand Concourse. The project is the brainchild of painter Daniel Hauben who, with his wife Judith Lane, worked on a series of photos documenting the artistic community of the Bronx. Lane said the idea to photograph artists at work came to her husband when he was painting on location in an artist friend’s studio.  He began ruminating about the significance of artist’s spaces, and thought non-artists would be interested as well.

Artistic Energy: The Bronx Trailer

So Hauben and Lane began to send photographers into artists’ studios in order to create an exhibition, with the help of New York Times photojournalist and adjunct professor at Columbia Journalism School, Michael Kamber, who joined the project. The Documentary Project was intended to cap at 100 photos to celebrate the centennial, but the interest was so large that the project wound up expanding to document 110 different artists, a number that Lane says is ironically reflective of the “110 percent” that all participating artists gave. A primary goal of the documentary is to allow those outside of the artistic community to recognize the local artists who are working on beautifying their neighborhoods. “This project was designed to get people connected with each other, to get collaborations going, to get friendships going,” Lane said.  “So that the arts community as a whole can grow and flourish within this new Bronx that is growing and flourishing.” Kamber noted the groundbreaking work and the “astonishing diversity of creativity that exists all over the Bronx.” The Bronx itself is a “brand,” said Stephanopoulos.  “The aim is to showcase the borough’s renaissance.  But it has become clear that we really are also promoting the Bronx as a film site.” And Lane has one main sentiment that she hopes attendees will walk away with after the three-day festival. “I hope they think, ‘my entire viewpoint of the Bronx has changed and it is not what I thought it was, and I am going to go tell the world,’” she said.     Yes the Bronx Film Festival runs from Friday, September 19 through Sunday, September 21 at Lehman College, Lovinger Theatre. You can view the complete schedule here.

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Fight against the stigma of AIDS marches on in Hunts Point

 
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The AIDS Walk participants march down Southern Boulevard raising awareness for HIV/AIDS in the South Bronx (BENJAMIN BERGMANN/The Bronx Ink)

Against the backdrop of gray skies, the roughly 100 participants of the Third Annual Community Board 2 AIDS Walk replaced the usual truck racket in the area with the odd chants of “HIV! GET TESTED!” and “SAFE SEX! USE CONDOMS!” Marching between Westchester and Hunts Point Avenue, the group called attention to the community-wide stigma of the disease, something the organizers believe may be a key obstacle to eradicating the virus. “We need to break the silence once and for all,” said Millie Colon, a community board activist and chairperson of the AIDS Walk. “People are no longer dying for lack of medication, but rather due to a lack of communication and education.” Silence is literally killing some Bronx residents. Colon encountered AIDS over 20 years ago when her nephew passed away from the disease. Three years ago she lost her brother to AIDS, after he spent four years refusing to see a doctor for fear of community backlash. Though the fight is deeply personal for her, Colon recognizes the larger context. She urged the community to overcome the “fear barrier” of getting tested, and she encouraged those who are infected to “come out of the closet” and receive the proper medication.
Millie Colon, chairperson of the Community Board 2 AIDS WALK, rallying the marchers before the walk begins in Hunts Point (BENJAMIN BERGMANN/The Bronx Ink)

Millie Colon, chairperson of the Community Board 2 AIDS Walk, rallies the marchers before the walk begins in Hunts Point (BENJAMIN BERGMANN/The Bronx Ink)

From time to time the marchers, color coordinated in red and white, stopped along the 45-minute route to listen to community voices and pray for those that have lost their lives to a disease first recorded in the city 33 years ago. One of the marchers, Carmen Rodriguez, surprised many by revealing that her husband, who had been secretly living with HIV for 25 years, passed away last Monday. “He didn’t want nobody to know” she said, gently dabbing at her mascara-stained tears. “He was in denial for many years and when he started treatment eight years ago, it had already caused too much damage.”
Carmen Rodriguez stands outside the Hunts Point Recreational Center after revealing to the group of marchers that her husband passed away from AIDS just last week

Carmen Rodriguez stands outside the Hunts Point Recreational Center after revealing to the group of marchers that her husband passed away from AIDS just last week (BENJAMIN BERGMANN/The Bronx Ink)

Rev. Kahli Mootoo, a Hunts Point pastor and former AIDS activist, commanded the megaphone for large parts of the walk, educating sidewalk spectators on the importance of getting tested. “The issue of HIV is losing steam” he said. “People are no longer scared of it, but does that mean they are not getting infected? Of course not!” Even though HIV numbers are consistently falling across the city according to the New York City Department of Health, the percentage of people dying from the disease continues to skew heavily towards low income neighborhoods. The Bronx has the highest death rates among the five boroughs, while Manhattan has the clearest survival advantage in New York City. These numbers were much more even back in 2005. Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 4.25.25 PM Though the organizers did not focus on these issues, Rev. Mootoo himself believes the issue is deeply entangled with poverty and political will. His view is that as long as HIV-related issues are contained in the most disenfranchised neighborhoods, city officials will see no reason to take action. “We always say the squeaky wheel gets the oil. Our community doesn’t have the power to squeak loud enough,” Mootoo said with a smile. “And god knows we could use some more oil around here.”

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Soundview’s booming juice bar market attracts customers, and some concerns

Carmen Arias, an employee at Blended Up juice bar, pours a pineapple smoothie customers coming in for the afternoon rush.

Carmen Arias, an employee at Blended Up juice bar in Soundview, preparing pineapple smoothies to-go. (JENNIFER LUNA/BronxInk)

Bright orange carrots and yellow cubes of mango spun into liquid inside large plastic blenders one September afternoon at Blended Up, a new juice bar on Westchester and St. Lawrence Avenues in the Bronx. A steady stream of customers ordered smoothies named “big-fighter” or “detox power." Many said they were grateful for a healthier option to the more established fast-food fare at the nearby Checkers, McDonalds and Dunkin’ Donuts, according to owner Maribel Vilas, 44, a native of Puerto Rico. “There’s a misconception that black and brown people don’t want to eat healthy,” said Yasmin Tejeda, 28, drinking a mango smoothie on her lunch break from Primary Care Information Project where she is a clinical quality specialist. “But if it’s affordable and it’s available we want to eat it.” Fresh juices are quickly becoming a staple in the local diet and economy. Vila’s business is the newest of four juice bars that have opened in the Soundview area of the Bronx within the last five years, three of them just within the last year. The trend began in 2010 when Rapper David Styles—known by fans as Styles P—opened the popular Juices for Life on 1026 Castle Hill Ave. Its success inspired other Bronx entrepreneurs to follow suit. Three years later, Fresh Take, a juice shop on 2245 Westchester Ave., opened its doors and four months ago, GP Smoothies and Gift Shop opened on Castle Hill Avenue. Fresh Take owner Eric Glisson, 38, said the shop sells up to 400 juices a day, with many of the customers coming in after a work out at the Planet Fitness gym above the shop.
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Dr. Samuel Walters recommends juicing to his patients, many of whom are diabetic or pre-diabetic. (JENNIFER LUNA/BronxInk)

“People were so excited and very receptive, saying, ‘Thank God something healthy is coming to the neighborhood,’” Glisson said. GP Smoothies and Gift Shop owner Geoconda Pin said she distinguishes her business from others by including a deli and groceries. Juices, however, are still her most popular product. “People like the concept of green juices,” Pin said. “We use vegetables and natural fruits and that’s why they buy a lot.” Affordability is key to business in Soundview. A small juice at Blended Up and Fresh Take sells for $3.50, compared to $5 at Juices for Life. Some customers compare the cost favorably to fries and a shake at McDonalds. “You can’t be a juice place coming in here selling a ten-dollar organic juice,” said Nancy Guevara, 28,a Bronx native who was visiting from Pennsylvania. Prices don’t seem to be a factor for many customers, especially when their doctors recommend the products. Dr. Samuel Walters, an Internal Medicine specialist in Unionport, estimates 20 percent of his patients to be diabetic and 70 percent hypertensive. Juicing, the doctor said, is a good way to get fresh fruit. “I am a naturalist in the way I treat patients,” the Jamaica born doctor said. “Patients ask if I recommend juice and I do.” But his recommendation comes with a caveat. Diabetes rates are high in Bronx neighborhoods. According to the New York City Community Health Survey of 2002 to 2004, the greater Pelham Bay area had a diabetes rate of 11 percent. In 2010, the Center for Disease Control reported that 8 percent of Americans have the disease. Restricting calories, Dr. Walters said, is the key to losing weight and keeping diabetes in check. An improved diet and increased exercise also helps. Orlando Castro of Soundview dropped 50 pounds over the last year by making these lifestyle changes. The 31-year-old lives near Blended Up and comes for breakfast frequently throughout the week. “My father died of diabetes and my mother has diabetes,” Castro said, sipping on a strawberry and pineapple smoothie. “I’m not going out that way.” Some health experts, however, are concerned about the dangers of the high sugar content found in fruit juices. An 8-ounce serving of juice with sugary fruits such as apple, pineapple or grape can have up to 44 grams of sugar. “Juicing has become a big hit with my patients,” said Priya Massand, a health educator at Montefiore Medical Group on 2300 Westchester Ave. “In an area that is so laden with diabetes it’s almost a dangerous trend because it’s not being done in an educational way.”
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Health educator Priya Massand warns patients about juice bars that add agave syrup, honey or enhanced protein powers that are high in sugar. (JENNIFER LUNA/BronxInk) 

Massand said she recommends that her patients drink juice that includes only one fruit, not several mixed together, and that they make sure no sweeteners are added. The educator keeps photocopies of the juice bars’ menus and points out which beverages are best—vegetable-based drinks—for her diabetic patients. “It can help but I think it requires so much attention to detail that is being missed that it’s not helping yet,” Massand said. “I’m concerned that it’s a trend and not a lasting change.”

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Parks department officials announce water safety measures following drownings in the Bronx

Bronx water tragedy New York Parks Department officials unveiled new safety measures on Friday for more than 50 city-wide boat launches in the wake of the tragic deaths of two boys who drowned in the Bronx River earlier this summer. Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver expressed condolences to the families of the two 13-year old cousins, Erickson Villa and Wellington Gavi, who jumped off a boat launch site in June after cooling off from playing basketball in Starlight Park. Neither boy knew how to swim. Responding to recent criticism over his department's slow reaction to the incident, Mitchell said that “a period of reflection, listening and studying the situation” had been necessary before executing changes. The new safety measures include self-closing gates at the pier entrances, additional life rings and throw lines, weekly inspections by the Parks Enforcement Patrol as well as solar-powered emergency call boxes on eight city-wide docks that lead directly into deep water. Additionally a total of 40 pier sites have added bilingual warning signs. The commissioner added that costs had been kept under $100,000, excluding the emergency boxes which are to be installed in the coming weeks. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. praised the comprehensive plans, while pointing to the bittersweet nature of this event. “This is not a happy day or occasion to make such an announcement,” said Diaz, Jr., “but it's a necessary one”. Rev. Joel Bauza spoke on behalf of the victim's families, who did not feel ready to take part in the event. The families had been pushing local elected officials for two months to move more aggressively to prevent more drownings. “We are moving forward,” Rev. Bauza said. “And that is what is important”. Some local residents at the Hunts Point Riverside Park press conference praised the new bilingual signage, pointing out that many Bronxites still mostly speak Spanish at home. Spanish was the first language of the two young boys who drowned in June. water tragedy bronx Others were more skeptical of the initiative. “The neighborhood kids that want to jump will jump - with or without a fence,” said Bronx resident Cicy Martinez. She also revealed that the new fence shown at Riverside Park on Friday had been demolished a couple of weeks prior to the press conference and had been replaced before the event. For Martinez the only solution is “better communicating water safety issues in ways that kids will actually listen”. Silver said his office has planned a high-profile public campaign before next summer to inform children about water safety. “Teaching our children how to be safe around water,” Silver said, “should be as basic as teaching them to be safe around traffic.” New York City is surrounded by water, with more than 500 miles of shoreline -- 14 miles along the Bronx River alone. There are also 14 miles of beaches, which were visited by nearly 15 million people last summer, and 55 outdoor pools, which were visited by nearly 1,600,000 people last summer.

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