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Morris Heights Residents Voice Concerns About Noise and Pollution as City Plans to Renovate Jennie Jerome Playground

Jennie Jerome Playground. New York City Department of Parks and Recreation

Community members in Morris Heights are asking the city to address noise and pollution as it begins the process of renovating the Jennie Jerome Playground. The park, located on Jerome Ave. near the Bronx Expressway, is getting a $4 million dollar facelift. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation held a scope meeting Wednesday, to discuss the  redevelopment.

“I don’t think there’s a way to mitigate the noise pollution from the (four) train because it’s elevated above the park and we’re just kind of used to that,” local education organizer Chauncy Young said. “It really is in a lot of ways, you know, a very small public park so you have to have something to draw people in.”

The decision to renovate Jennie Jerome Playground was announced in July, one of 10 new sites to be renovated as part of the Community Parks Initiative to renovate neighborhood parks that were hit hardest by the pandemic. A total of $425 million was allocated for the initiative, according to Peng Xu, landscape designer for the project. 

Many community members expressed their concerns at the meeting about noise and pollution in the playground, suggesting that the renovation add unique features to the park to mitigate pollution.

They also cited safety concerns regarding the traffic and transportation around the playground. Suggestions included moving the entrance to the park from Jerome Ave nearer to Townsend Ave and installing a traffic light.

“A lot of our children actually don’t go to this park, not only the highway pollution, the noise pollution, but there’s also a safety concern that our children are not the only ones that are in this park,” said Gladys Gomez, Parents Association president for school district PS 170. “This is a park that’s so near to the highway and there’s a stop sign rather than a traffic light on one of the crossways.”

Samantha Cardenas, chief of staff for city councilmember Pierina Ana Sanchez, indicated that Sanchez’s office was open to the idea of the entrance being moved. She added that Sanchez’s office would facilitate conversations with the Department of Transportation to install a traffic light.

“This is unfortunately one of the few parks we have and it is very very sadly stationed right above the Cross Bronx and next to the train,” Cardenas said. “However we can mitigate those would be ideal.”

Posted in Bronx Beats, Bronx Life, Bronx Neighborhoods, Community Resources, Culture, North Central Bronx0 Comments

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Bronx Community College Hosts Kids Comic Con Sci-Fest

The Kids Comic Con Sci-Fest welcomes Bronx families to learn more about comics, science and technology. Lindsey Choo for The Bronx Ink.

Dozens of families attended the annual Kids Comic Con event held at Bronx Community College Saturday—the first one held in-person since 2019. This year’s convention, named Sci-Fest, was focused on the relationship between comics, science and technology.

The event was co-founded and organized by comic book writer Alex Simmons and Bronx Community College Director of Collaborative Programs, Eugene Adams, as a way of introducing Bronx kids, particularly those in Black and Latino communities, to careers in science and technology through comic books.

“We want young people to see that—of course, Iron Man is cool—but we also want you to know the technology for Iron Man,” Adams said. “They are areas that … you can actually learn from. So we combined the idea of comic books with robotics, computer science, coding and media production.”

A number of volunteer vendors had comic book displays and sketches, as well as tabletop science experiments and demonstrations. Many displays featured main characters who were people of color.

“The goal is just to see more kids of color enter STEM based careers,” said Delanda Coleman, founder of the publishing company behind More than a Princess, Sydney and Coleman. “A lot of kids, especially minority kids, children who are poor or in rural areas, don’t get the right level of exposure to STEM based concepts… so we integrate science concepts into the story.”

The convention also featured a tribute to the late actress Nichelle Nichols, who starred in the Star Trek franchise and led efforts in the 1970s to diversify recruits in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, including the hiring of the first Black American astronaut and the first female American astronaut.

Alex Simmons, comic book writer, speaks during a tribute to actress Nichelle Nichols. Lindsey Choo for The Bronx Ink

“[Other] comic cons are more expensive,” said Danira Roman, a student at Bronx Community College who works with children with special needs. She added that Saturday’s convention was inviting.

Other attendees were in agreement, making references to New York Comic Con, where a one-day ticket costs $67.75 according to its website.

“It’s kind of tight right now with a lot of parents, especially mine” said Aryanna Chiraunjilal, a Bronx Community College student. “So having this free Comic Con at the college, it provides a safe environment to bring the kids out here and give them an opportunity to be excited, to explore, to meet new people, especially to be creative.”

Posted in Arts, Bronx Life, Culture, Education, Education, Multimedia, Northwest Bronx0 Comments