A Gould Memorial Library Seeks New Life; de Blasio’s Failing Housing Plan|Bronx PM Links


Mayor Bill de Blasio’s housing plan to preserve and create 200,000 units of affordable housing is crumbling, Casita Maria searches for a new executive director as Sarah Calderon departs the organization after 7 wonderful years, and the Gould Memorial Library at Bronx Community College may be repurposed are some of the stories you’ll find here at Bronx PM Links.

Community boards grapple with de Blasio’s housing plans

Last week on the eve of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr’s public hearing for Bronx Community boards on de Blasio’s update to city zoning text, such as the controversial Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Affordability and Quality, 9 Bronx community boards had  rejected the Mayor’s recommended changes which are a cornerstone to his housing plan. (Oh and it’s not just The Bronx. Queens is also voting down the plan).

Last Thursday, Ruben Diaz Jr was missing from the public hearings where a big protest took place outside on the steps of the courthouse and his offices as well as during the hearing.

City and State writes:

“On Wednesday night, two community boards in the Bronx that originally supported Mayor Bill de Blasio’s zoning proposals to create more low- and middle-income housing are scheduled to take the unusual step of reconsidering their votes.

An agenda for Community Board 6 notes its top item is “reconsideration of the committee’s previous decision to recommend that the community board approve” the mayor’s two zoning plans, citing “new information” presented at a public hearing convened by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz last week.

In a memo to other members, Sara Logan, the board’s land use committee chair, said she felt the original vote “was premature and not understood by many, leading to a ‘yes’ vote,” despite concerns about several elements, including the the elimination of parking requirements in certain affordable housing developments and the mandated rent thresholds being too high for current Bronx residents.

De Blasio has touted his housing proposals — part of a larger plan to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing — as a transformational response to the city’s “housing crisis.” Via City and State

An Opulent Bronx Library in Decay, and in Search of a Purpose

To reclaim Gould Memorial Library at Bronx Community College, Stanford White’s most dazzling extant structure in New York, its admirers must invent new uses for a building that was intended by a much different institution — New York University — to serve a now-antiquated form of scholarship, using riches of which the community college could only dream.

Under the chairmanship of Samuel G. White (Stanford’s great-grandson) and the day-to-day leadership of Michael Parley, a group called Save Gould Memorial Library will advise on the study of conditions in the largely empty, little-used 116-year-old building; help estimate what it would cost to repair and preserve it; and then set out to raise a sum that may need to be $50 million or more.

That’s a daunting task. In fact, it may be impossible. But it’s certainly worth trying.

“If you enhance the environment, people will be more likely to come here to learn,”Thomas A. Isekenegbe, the president of Bronx Community College, said. Via The New York Times

Casita Maria’s Executive Director Says Goodbye

Change is coming at the top for Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education. Sarah Calderon, who had been the organization’s executive director for seven years, stepped down in October.

Under Calderon’s leadership, the iconic organization on Simpston St. has thrived.  It added eight new educational programs and six new arts programs during her tenure and now serves 1,500 children and teens every day, compared with about 200 daily before she joined.

With Calderon, 40, at the helm, the group’s annual budget more than doubled to 3.2 million dollars: its funding comes from the city and from foundations and individual donors.  Free curriculum for students of all ages was added, including visual and performing arts, music, high school and college prep courses and summer camps, and after school programs were expanded to include students from across the South Bronx and Harlem. Via The Hunts Point Express

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.