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James Vacca NYC Councilman 13th District

Fighting For A Better Community
James Vacca

James Vacca

Democratic

3040 East Tremont Avenue
Bronx, NY 10461
718-931-1721
718-931-1605 (Fax)

Party enrolled in: Democratic
Occupation: District Manager, Community Board #10

Occupational background: 30 years of activity and leadership in civic and community organizations in the Northeast Bronx, Adjunct Professor of Urban Studies at Monroe College and CUNY Queens College, Former President of Chippewa Democratic Club

Educational background: Masters in Urban Studies from Queens College, BA in Political Science from SUNY, Graduate of Christopher Columbus HS

Organizational affiliations: President of Northeast Bronx Senior Citizen Center, Member of St. Benedicts Council Knights of Columbus, Member of Throggs Neck Homeowners Association, Member of AFT Local 2334

Prior public experience: First time running for political office

Email: james.vacca@council.nyc.ny.us

Message From James Vacca
    Friday, October 24, 2008

PAIR OF NEW PLAYGROUNDS
Last week I joined students, staff and parents in celebrating the official opening of a new playground at PS 96 on Waring Avenue. I was pleased to have been able to secure funding for this new playgound. Previously, students had no organized play space. Play and exercise are important to our children and foster good health and socialization. The school yard at PS 96 has now come alive and it was a great day for all of us!

I was also able, in conjunction with Borough President Carrion, to secure funding for new early childhood play equipment for students attenting PS 175 on City Island. I attended the October Parent Association meeting and was thrilled to see the difference made by the new equipment. I was also extremely grateful to all the students who showed up and shared their letters of thanks. That's a moment I won't forget!

THROGS NECK MERCHANTS
Last week the growing Throggs Neck Merchants Association held its first-annual dinner dance and it was quite successful. Along with Throgs Neck icon Jim McQuade and the Penny Pincher's own Barbara Perrone, I was honored to be recognized by this great organization.

I must take this opportunity to urge all our residents, especially during these rough economic times, to patronize their local merchants. Do not bring your business outside the community because our local merchants are there when our community needs help or organizations such as schools, churches or senior groups reach out. They deserve your support.

VOTE FOR DISABLED VETS
When you head to the polls on November 4, you will be asked to vote on a proposed amendment to the State Constitution that would change the way points are awarded on the civil service exam for veterans who were disabled while on duty. Currently, veterans seeking additional points on their exam must show that they are currently receiving benefits from the VA. If the amendment passes, veterans would only need to show that their disability currently exists.

I believe we must do everything we can to help the men and women who put their lives on the line for our safety - especially those who return home disabled and are seeking work. I urge you to vote yes on this amendment.


    Friday, October 17, 2008

HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH
This year I co-sponsored a truly special event marking Hispanic Heritage Month. In conjunction with Kings Harbor Multicare Center our celebration was held with nursing home clients at this Pelham Parkway facility and involved both short-term and long-term residents. Over a hundred residents danced to Latin Music, enjoyed the desserts and nostalgically reminisced as songs of yesteryear brought so many good memories.

It was a fantastic and emotional experience! It was the first time we brought a Latino festival to a nursing home and a great time was had by all. We were even able to specially honor three Kings Harbor residents who have been making life better for their fellow residents every day. To Edith Medina, Joseph Tirado and Jose Rivera, congratulations again!

ITALIAN HERITAGE MONTH
I was honored to march in the Bronx Columbus Day Parade on Morris Park Ave last Sunday and attend the wonderful dinner the week before. Hats off to the Parade Committee for all their hard work! As in the past, I was able to secure a $10,000 grant from the New York City Council for this now-borough-wide event that grows bigger and bigger every year. Also, at City Hall, I am pleased to announce that our Italian American Celebration will include special honors for my predecessor, Councilwoman Madeline Provenzano. Her years of service on the Council and as chief of staff to Councilman Michael DeMarco indeed deserve recognition!

KNITTING FOR SENIORS
The Bronx Council on the Arts, which is working with my office and the Parks Department to bring better programming to the Owen Dolen Recreation Center at Westchester Square, will be offering free knitting workshops for local senior citizens on Mondays and Wednesdays from October 13 through October 22, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.. For more information, call BCA's Desiree Wright at (718)409-1265 ext. 10.

LOW-COST LAPTOPS
A few weeks ago, I wrote that the nonprofit group Per Scholas is offering Bronx middle and high school students a special price of $300 for newly refurbished laptop computers. I want to let everyone know that this offer is continuing through October but that the computers are going fast. If you are interested in ordering a computer or just learning more, call Per Scholas at (718)991-8400.


    Friday, April 4, 2008

WE CELEBRATE WOMEN
As we say good-bye to March, we officially end Women's History Month and salute what many say is the stronger sex. Indeed, women are outliving men. Either they are doing something right or we are doing something wrong!

On Sunday, I was pleased to join senior citizen Rose Pierro and her family and friends as we celebrate Rose,s 104th birthday. Yes, this young lady still cooks and maintains her lovely apartment and is indeed very opinionated. She is an inspiration!

Later that day, I visited with the National Council of Jewish Women,s Pelham Parkway chapter. I spoke about the city,s plans to "restructure" senior centers, which could involve closing many of our city,s 325 centers. As chairman of the City Council Subcommittee on Senior Centers, I have been fighting this possibility for months now, and will continue to fight, if need be, in the days ahead. I know that active and vibrant senior centers represent an important lynchpin for communities throughout our city. Here, again, we have female activists at the forefront of community involvement.

Earlier last week, I joined the Bronx Chamber of Commerce in saluting "Women of Distinction" in our borough by attending their luncheon held at the Marina del Rey. And I was also honored to co-sponsor with Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera a breakfast honoring outstanding women in the Morris Park, Pelham Parkway and Van Nest communities, during an event at the Pelham Bay Dinner.

Of course, any salute to women is incomplete unless we recognize the invaluable role they play in keeping families together. To this day, I look to my mother for advice and guidance. She is always there for me and always lends her support. And to my wife and daughter, a special note for your understanding over the course of many years. They let me pursue the busy life I have chosen and I thank God every day for their understanding.

Nothing in this column should be interpreted to mean that men aren,t important too. But we do not have a Men's History Month yet. When we get one, I can write a book...

FREE MAMMOGRAMS
A free mammography van will be stationed outside Bronx House at 990 Pelham Parkway South on Sunday, April 6, starting at 9:00 a.m., in an event sponsored by the American Italian Cancer Foundation, the Women's Outreach Network and Bronx House, with partial funding from the New York City Council. To make an appointment, call 800-564-6868.


    Friday, March 28, 2008

SENIOR TAX REBATES
Congressman Joe Crowley is advising seniors that the upcoming round of federal tax rebates, part of the economic stimulus pachage passed by Congress in February, are available to nearly everyone, including Social Security recipients, veterans and low-income workers who do not file taxes.

To receive the rebate chech, those eligible must submit a one-page form called the 1040A (available at our local libraries and on the Internet) so that the IRS will know the total amount of benefits you have received over the past year. They will use that amount to calculate how big a rebate chech you can receive. Most seniors and low-income filers will receive approximately $300.

If you need any assistance, the IRS has a taxpayer assistance center at the Hutchinson Metro Center at 1200 Waters Place, which is open 9:00 to 5:00 on weekdays. A list of centers offering free assistance in filling out this simple form is available by calling the Congressman's office at 718-931-1400.

PELHAMBAY PARK EARTHFEST
The 15th Annual Earthfest is scheduled for Sunday, April 20, from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the running track area just north of the Middletown Road entrance. There will be dance, music, storytelling, live birds of prey, a nature walk, family fun and activities, and arts and crafts. For further information call the Pelham Bay Park administrator's office 718-430-1890.

TN AMBULANCE CORP
I was pleased to join Throggs Neck Volunteer Ambulance Corps members and the Easter Bunny last weekend as I presented them with an $8,000 grant to assist in their great work. This is a fantastic organization serving the Pelham Bay and Throggs Neck communities. If you have time to give, please call them at 718-430-9501.


    Friday, March 21, 2008

ENDING ELDER ABUSE
Lat week, I introduced a bill into the City Council that I hope will begin to address a serious but often overlooked problem in our society: elder abuse. Over the years, we have seen major outreach campaigns that focus on child abuse and domestic violence both very important issues but senior citizens are also extremely vulnerable when it comes to being taken advantage of, not just physically but also emotionally and financially.

In New York State, it is estimated that there are more than 200,000 cases of elder abuse each year. Common examples include physical abuse by caretakers, neglect at nursing homes, and ongoing theft by a family member. According to studies, the vast majority of cases go unreported because seniors who are being abused often know their abusers and are afraid of what will happen if they are caught seeking help.

The bill would establish a toll-free elder abuse hotline run by the city. It would provide an opportunity for seniors or their friends, relatives, neighbors or coworkers to report instances of abuse or suspected abuse. The hotline number would be posted prominently at senior centers and distributed through other senior service providers.

The bill would also require service providers to be trained in how to detect and report elder abuse, and how to properly counsel victims of elder abuse. Senior centers would also be required to host at least two info sessions per year to educate members on the issues. Together, these efforts should help bring a very serious issue out of the shadows and provide help to some of our most vulnerable citizens.

RECYCLING EVENT
Have a bunch of trash lying around? The New York City Department of Sanitation will hold a Bronx Spring Cleaning event on Saturday, April 5, and Sunday, April 6, where any borough resident can visit one site to recycle their electronics, donate used clothing or drop off homemade compost. Held at the Soundview Composting Facility (on Randall Avenue at Metcalf Avenue, near the Bruckner Expressway), the event runs from 8am to 2pm each day. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/wasteless or call 311.


    Friday, March 14, 2008

OUR SENIOR PROGRAMS
I am always looking at how we can improve our senior centers and other local programs to better serve our mature adult community. This coming year, with the Department for the Aging proposing far-reaching changes in the way senior centers are run, this will be a most challenging time and we must be vigilant.

I have visited over 40 senior centers around the city, and what I have found is that every center offers something unique. I visited a center in Manhattan last week and learned that they offer a meditation program. Yes, seniors here find it to be a fantastic stress reducer and it certainly presents a way to relax that so many of us always on the run should take a page from.

I met one 98-year-old lady who lives independently and goes to her center every day for socialization and participates in a current events discussion group. She certainly gave me a piece of her mind!

I cannot help but think about how time marches on and stops for no one. I was listening to the radio recently and I heard a DJ refer to the "golden oldies." I always interpreted that term to mean the 1950s. He was referring to the 1970s. Now that hit a nerve!

Only recently, a neighborhood resident called me and spoke about what he called his "retirement." He told me he was busier than ever before. His hobbies and children and grandchildren and shopping. It raises the question: With so much to do in our golden years, does anyone truly retire? What do we retire to? And why? Soon the term "growing older" will only pertain to our biology, not our state of mind.

ADULTED CLASSES
Don't forget! Lehman College's next round of adult education classes at I.S. 192 are about to start. Courses include GED Prep. Basic English Grammar and Writing, Spanish for Beginners, Beginner Italian, T'ai Chi and Career Development and Your Professional Image. All fee-based and held on weekday evenings. To register, call 718-960-8512 or visit www.lehman.cuny.edu/ce. You can also call my office at 718-931-1721.


    Friday, March 7, 2008

COLUMBUS HS GRANT
I am a proud graduate of Columbus High School. If you must know, it was the class of 1973. We had over 4,600 students at the time, so students on early session came in at 7:50 a.m. and late-session students went home at close to 6:00 p.m.. But I have nothing but great memories of my high school years. In fact, I was elected Student President in my senior year, so I have to say that my high school experience had a profound impact on my choosing a career in community work and government.

Since 1995 or so, many alma mater has gone through tough times. When I arrived at the Council, I was determined to do my part in supporting Columbus and the small schools that have opened at what is now called the Columbus Educational Campus. Last week I visited the school to see the result of a $3.5 million dollar allocation I supported that resulted in Columbus having a totally new diner-style cafeteria and refurbished auditorium. Over the summer the library will also be totally transformed and redesigned with new furniture and updated technology.

I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed by not only the quality of the repair work done at the school (the group New Visions for Public Schools, which led the projet, deserves a lot of the credit for that). I was also floored by the students' respectful demeanor, the talented members of the school band and other performance groups, and the dedication of teachers and staff. I have always been a believer in Columbus, even during the tougher times. But now, I can truly say that this is a school on the up.

HOUSING SEMINAR
Following the success of a similar event in January, I will sponsor a free Housing Seminar on Wednesday, March 12, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., dealing with predatory lending, free debt and budget counseling, foreclosure and refinancing and more. Certified home loan consultants will also be available to let you know what you can afford and how you can save. It will be held at the Hutchinson Metro Center, 1200 Waters Place. Please RSVP by calling my office at 718-931-1721 and asking for Jennifer Rivera.

ADULTED CLASSES
Don't forget! Lehman College's next round of adult education classes at I.S. 192 starts in mid-March. Courses include GED Prep. Basic English Grammar and Writing, Spanish for Beginners, Beginner Italian, T'ai Chi and Career Development and Your Professional Image. All fee-based and held on weekday evenings. To register, call 718-960-8512 or visit www.lehman.cuny.edu/ce. You can also call my office at 718-931-1721.


    Friday, February 29, 2008

LIBRARY BEHAVIOR
I never thought I would have to write a column about how to behave in a public library. But I was wrong.

As a youngster who grew up in Pelham Bay, I remember well walking or taking a bus to the Westchester Square Library before Pelham Bay had its own branch. I never saw young people hanging out in front of the library creating noise or a disturbance. In fact, when I entered the library, you could hear a pin drop. The library was a place for quiet reading or studying time and an occasional "hush" worked like magic.

Too many libraries have now become too noisy. Inside the libraries, we find many students who go there after school not to study but to wait until 5:00 p.m. or so for someone to pick them up. If youngsters are in the library studying or doing research that is one thing. But all too often our library branches have become depositories for children whose parents have no idea what they are doing or not doing. This has to change, parents have to realize there is a problem and that they must be part of the solution.

The area outside our libraries have become problem spots as well. In the past year, I prevailed upon the New York Public Library to provide temporary guards at both the Morris Park and Pelham Bay branches due to youngsters who misbehave and refuse to respect the rights of others. I thank the library system for responding to my requests, but must say that local parental input is the only long-term solution.

FINANCE DEPT. OUTREACH
The Finance Dept. will visit my office on March 6 to help certain homeowners, including seniors, veterans and the handicapped, apply for tax exemptions and abatements. The two-hour visit begins at 11:00 a.m. at 3040 Tremont Avenue. Please register in advance by calling my office at 718-931-1721. You can ask for Jennifer Rivera.

METROCARD VAN VISITS
The MetroCard Van will make three stops in my District on Friday, February 29.
The van's schedule is as follows: 10:00 to 11:30 a.m., Fine Fare Supermarket at 3680 East Tremont Avenue; 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Morris Park Library at 985 Morris Park Avenue; and 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Met Supermarket at 2505 Eastchester Road.


    Friday, February 22, 2008

METROCARD VAN VISITS
I am pleased to announce that the MTA's MetroCard Van, which sells most types of Single Ride and Unlimited Ride MetroCards, will make three stops in my District on Friday, February 29. The visit will allow residents who don't use mass transit very often to purchase a card for emergencies, and also allow regular riders to refill their cards without traveling to the train station.

The van's schedule is as follows: 10:00 to 11:30 am, Fine Fare Supermarket at 3680 East Tremont Avenue; 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm, Morris Park Library at 985 Morris Park Avenue; and 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm, Met Supermarket at 2505 Eastchester Road.

SENIORS TAKE NOTE
People over 60 can go back to school for free! City University of New York provides for mature adults to take courses tuition-free at any of its four-year colleges. Students do not take tests or receive academic credit, but can learn new skills and acquire knowledge in pratically any field of study.

In fact, at the two-year community colleges, age 60-plus students may earn credit and take courses for free on a seats available basis. Look into the offering at Lehman, Bronx Community, Hostos or any CUNY college today!

Seniors may also receive free training to re-enter the workforce on a full-time or part-time basis through the STEP program run by the Department for the Aging. STEP is a 20-week program that teaches office skills, typing, word processing, spreadsheets, business English, Math, resume writing, interviewing and job search techniques. Two locations in Manhattan are available, call 212-369-5523.

With tax time upon us, so many seniors tell me they do not make enough to pay taxes. Yet, if that is the case, you may be eligible for money back from the government through the IT 214 program. Call 800-225-5829.

As always, for any information, feel free to call my office.


    Friday, February 15, 2008

ADULTED CLASSES
As I travel around the District, I often hear from middle-aged adults and senior citizens looking to enhance new career skills or otherwise learn something new. That's why I worked with Lehman College to set up the Northeast Bronx's first continuing education center at I.S. 192 at 650 Hollywood Avenue.

Last year's classes were wonderful, with residents from all over the District enjoying classes on GED prep, public speaking, notary public training even yoga and t'ai chi. This year, I,m hoping for an even greater response so we can keep the program going, and may be even add more classes as time goes on.

The next round of classes starts in March and will include GED Prep, Basic English Grammar and Writing, Spanish for Beginners, Beginner Italian and T'ai Chi. All courses are fee-based and take place on weekday evening from mid-March through May. A sixth class, Career Development and Your Professional Image, is limited to three sessions in early May.

To see a more detailed schedule or register for one or more classes, please call 718-960-8512 or visit the Lehman College website at www.lehman.cuny.edu/ce. You can also call my district office at 718-931-1721.

Lehman College doesn't just serve our neighborhood by offering adult-education courses it also has a Performing Arts Center that hosts performances by big-name stars like Patti LaBelle, Johnny Mathis and Joan Rivers. It also provides a worl-class stage for the school's students body, including many talented young performers who hail from the Northeast Bronx.

I am proud to announce that I was able, along with Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr. and Council Member Annabel Palma, to help fund a $2.5-million expansion that will make the Center handicapped-accessible and provide other needed improvements. To learn more about the Performing Arts Center, please call 718-960-8232.


    Saturday, February 02, 2008

ANIMAL RIGHTS
As your elected representative on the New York City Council I have to fight for the rights of men and women in our community and city. But I am also aware that humane treatment of animals is an important part of public policy and that our city should lead the way in making sure that compassionate treatment of animals be assured.

Many of you may have recently read about the high rating the animal rights group the League of Conservation Voters gave me because of legislation I am supporting in the Council. One bill would allow renters the right to replace a pet if they live in an apartment without a no-pet clause and their pet dies. Another bill would require pet shops to install sprinkler systems so that any place housing animals for a 24 hour period protects them from fires.

Two other bills I support would protect circus animals from beatings or extensive confinement. Using whips or electrical prods to control the behavior of a harmless animal for a sho-time effect is cruel and unnecessary. I am also supporting a resolution that would require the Department of Education to live up to a longstanding state law that requires instruction in the humane care and treatment of animals for children in our school system.

God gave all of us rights. Some of us can lobby and fight for our rights. We must also defend those who cannot speak for themselves...

COMPOSTING EVENT
The New York Botanical Garden is sponsoring a free event on Wednesday, February 13, that might be of interest to our local green thumbs. It's called "Crazy for Composting," and experts will dish out advice on how to turn food and other household waste into top-notch fertilizer. The event runs from 6:30 to 8:30pm at the Watson Educational Building, Room 102. RSVP is required at (212)788-8078.


    Friday, January 25, 2008

NOTIFY NYC
A few weeks ago, I encouraged all residents of Community Board #10 (Pelham Bay, Throggs Neck, City Island, Zerega) to register for a pilot program for the city,s new reverse-911 system, which sends out taped messages about weather and traffic concerns in particular communities. Those of us who signed up have already received a few alerts one last week about an expected blizzard, another about possible flooding in Edgewater Park. The alerts are quick and timely, and a great resource for the east Bronx, which includes many waterfront communities and of course is no stranger to Nor'easters, flooding and other disasters. As this program becomes more successful, I will work to add Community Board 11(Pelham Parkway, Morris Park, Allerton). For now, to register, please visit www.nyc.gov. If you do not have access to the Internet but still wish to sign up, call my office at (718) 931-1721 and ask for Jennifer Rivera.

HEAP GRANTS
Applications are still available for the Home Energy Assistance Program. This is a federally funded grant applied to utility bills to help defray expenses for income eligible residents. And, as we know, heating expenses this year are expected to be quite high. Income guidelines for HEAP are $1,876 a month for a family of one, $2,454 for a family of two, $3,031 for a family of three, and $3,609 for a family of four. There are certain income deductions and exclusions that can affect an applicant,s eligibility. For example, deductions may be made for seniors who pay for certified home health care services provided by someone other than a family member. If you think you may qualify, you can obtain an application by calling Meghan Lynch or Gloria Crespo at my office at 718 931 1721.

HEATING EFFICIENCY
Low-income families and seniors may also be eligible for the Weatherization Assistance Program funded through RAIN. Energy audits are performed and steps to conserve energy recommended. Insulation and other measures are included. There is a waiting list, but you first must get ON the list and have your application processed. You can do so by calling RAIN's main line at 718-824 0400.


    Thursday, January 17, 2008

THE FOOD WE EAT.....AND WAST!
I was invited last week to join Congressman Crowley as he announced a grant award he obtained for Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club to promote healthy nutrition for children attending their programs in Castle Hill and Throggs Neck. It is certainly going for a good cause as too many of our kids are eating take-out and high-fat fried foods all too often.

Whenever we go out to eat, we are under the temptation to eat things we never would at home. And I cannot help but note how much food I see being thrown away! People order so much they cannot finish what they order. The amount of food wasted when we have so many people hungry throughout the world and, yes, in our city, is sinful. I was always taught it is a sin to throw away God's food yet too many take food for granted.

With my mother's permission, I want to tell you a story. When I grew up, my sisters and I did not eat peas. My mother and father told us they were good for us but that was beside the point. Well, if my mother served peas as a dinner vegetable and we did not eat it, the next day we had peas and eggs for breakfast. After that we found peas in our macaroni or had peas with carrots. We were going to eat the peas and they were not going to be thrown away!

Old fashioned? I don't think so. Do we live to eat or eat to live? Do we know how to read food labels when looking for salt, fat, sugar and other ingredients that add weight and cause significant health problems? Are we substituting where possible to make our meal healthier? The vegetable burger on whole wheat with vegetables is much healthier than the hamburger on a roll with French fries.

And are our eyes bigger than our stomachs, and do we either throw food away or try to eat everything in front of us in one sitting? Food for thought....

SEMINAR REMINDER
Please note that I will sponsor a free Housing Seminar dealing with predatory lending, free debt and budget counseling, foreclosure and refinancing and more. Certified home loan consultants will also be available to let you know what you can afford and how you can save. It will be held this Thursday, January 24, from 6 to 8pm at the Hutchinson Metro Center, 1200 Waters Place. RSVP by calling Meghan Lynch or Gloria Crespo at 718-931-1721.


    Thursday, January 10, 2008

ADULT LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
This year, the Bronx Adult Learning Center at 3450 East Tremont Avenue (between Barkley Avenue and Bruckner Blvd.) will be offering the following FREE courses. There will be an Adult Basic Education course for those who need to brush up on basic skills Monday thru Friday from 1 to 4pm and on Tuesday and Thursday from 6 to 9pm. The Center will also offer a GED prep course on Monday thru Friday from 9am to 12pm and on Monday and Wednesday from 6 to 9pm. A computer literacy program will be offered on Monday thru Friday from 9am to 12pm, and Monday and Wednesday from 6 to 9pm, Tuesday and Thursday from 6 to 9pm and Saturday from 9am to 1pm.

In Pelham Parkway, ESL courses will be offered at various levels on Tuesday and Thursday from 6 to 9pm at New World High School, 2040 Antin Place between Bronxdale Avenue and Brady Avenue. For further information call 718-863-4057.

The Beacon Program at I.S. 192, 650 Hollyhood Avenue is offering intro to Ballroom Dancing on Monday and Thursday from 7 to 9pm and Saturday from 12 to 3pm. It's free! To register, call Janice Reyes at 718-239-4080.

HOUSING SEMINAR
In conjunction with the Consortium for Worker Education, I am sponsoring a free Housing Seminar at the Hutchinson Metro Center, 1200 Waters Place, on Thursday, January 24, from 6 to 8pm. Experts will offer advice on avoiding predatory lenders, free dept and budget counseling, information about foreclosure and refinancing options and more. Certified Home Loan Consultants will also be available to let you know what type of housing you can afford and what you need to do to save. Light refreshments will be served. Please RSVP by calling my office at 718-931-1721 and asking for Meghan Lynch or Gloria Crespo.

GREENSTREETS PROJECTS
This program. which replace empty lots and concrete plazas with trees and plants, was initiated years ago by then Park Commissioner Henry Stern, and now, under the Mayor's efforts to further green NYC, has come back to life. I have submitted almost fifteen sites for greening over the next two years. Work is underway at two sites as I write this column Throgs Neck Expressway and Schley Avenue and Throgs Neck Expressway at Miles Avenue (Theodore Korony Square).


    Thursday, January 3, 2008

FERRY POINT GOLF COURSE
All now points to the city finishing the Ferry Point Golf Course. I do not care who finishes the job, we must stand by our demand that the golf course be finished and that we get on with it!

Let me give you some history. Until 1963, our city used Ferry Point Park (300 acres of Park land under the Whitestone Bridge) as a garbage dump for city garbage from across the city. When they left Ferry Point Park the city then moved the garbage to Pelham Bay Park where they conducted landfill operations until 1977. At that time, (boy, am I dating myself!) I served as President of an organization called the Northeast Bronx Community Council, a federation of 25 civic organizations. With the late Senator John Calandra acting as our attorney we found that the city lacked the necessary permits to operate the Pelham Bay Landfill and forced the dump to close. Mayor Koch, at the time, then said he had no choice but to re-open the Ferry Point garbage dump. We even went to the Federal Aviation Administration who pointed out that it was one thing to have a garbage dump under the Whitestone Bridge in 1963 but another thing in 1977. La Guardia Airport was now opened and the seagulls the garbage mounds would attract would disrupt the flight path of airplanes. We fought hard and we won!

It was 1977 when the late Councilman Michael DeMarco came up with the golf course idea which was supported wholeheartedly by our community. Mayor Koch and then Mayor Dinkins were not supportive of the idea and, for years, we heard one hair brain scheme after another for this Park. Parts of the Park were used for illegal dumping and motorcycle runs and terrible odors came up from the former garbage dump that engulfed the surrounding community. Finally, in 1994, the city began to look at the golf course as the most feasible and realistic use of the Park.

Trere have been problems and delays along the way. So many people stop me and ask "Jimmy, when will the golf course finally be finished?" Do not forget how many residents, over the years, have moved to Westchester County to "overlook a golf course" Many Throg Neck residents paid top dollar for their homes in anticipation of the golf course coming to their community, to the Bronx.

I am committed to this project and will be working with the Park Department to finalize a work schedule and completion timetable in the days ahead.