BARA Vs. East River PlazaBy Jose B. Rivera
A group of East Harlem residents has united to prevent the construction of the East River Plaza Shopping Mall. This mall will be located at 116th-119th Streets between the FDR drive and Pleasant Avenue. The group has united under the name B.A.R.A., East Harlem Business and Residents Alliance, Inc. Some of the members of this group include Gloria Quiniones, William Gerena, John Kozler and others.
B.A.R.A. opposes the mall on many grounds. B.A.R.A. does not like the location of the Mall. They argue that it is too close to schools and areas where children play. In other words, children can get hurt due to the high traffic the mall will bring to the area. They also site higher car emissions and worry about an increase in children’s asthma as a result. The group is also concerned about noise from increased traffic and from freight trucks.
Increased traffic and less parking could also be a problem. B.A.R.A. also does not believe that promise of employment to area resident will come to pass. It is illegal to promise a set number of jobs to a community. Equal employment laws prohibit it. So East Harlem residents are not guaranteed the promised jobs. The possible loss of affected local merchants could change the character of the community.
What B.A.R.A. does propose is that the site be used for small business development and as a waterfront promenade. B.A.R.A. will hold its own public hearing on this issue on January 28th, 1999. at Holy Rosary Parish Hall, which is located at 444 East 119th Street. The meeting will begin at 7:00 P.M.
B.A.R.A. can be reached at:
341 Eat 116th Street, New York, N.Y. 10029
B.A.R.A. brings up some good points. This issue was brought before Community Board #11 and was approved. This writer believes that there is still time to look into the concerns which B.A.R.A. brings up. These issues need to be resolved to the community’s satisfaction. Traffic can be redirected so as to contribute as little noise and pollution as possible. Traffic should also clear as much as possible from schools where accidents can occur. Pollution and the potential increase to our asthma rate needs a very detailed evaluation. But ultimately, this project is too important to let go.
Our community residents can not usually travel to New Jersey, Long Island, or upper Westchester to obtain the less expensive, higher quality goods which a mall of this type can bring to our doorstep. Ask any East Harlemite and they will tell you they can’t wait for PathMark, Home Depot, Cosco and other big name stores to come into the area. It means less expense and travel to obtain items they need and higher quality goods. Employment should also be a consideration of this project. Malls never hire just a few people. The East River Plaza Mall will employ people with different skill sets, laborers, managers, office staff, cashiers, cleaners, etc. Something for everyone. Employment means more jobs, and with more East Harlemites working, we all gain. More East Harlemites with money means more spending in East Harlem. All merchants benefit.
Gloria Quiniones and William Gerena are great people who have contributed much to our community. They are also personal friends. Knowing them tells me that they are not being trivial about this project. They act on their beliefs. They do nothing on a whim and think things out before pursuing them. This writer respects them enormously. The project’s sponsors would do well to listen to B.A.R.A.s concerns. This writer recommends doing whatever possible to deal with B.A.R.A.s concerns and to allow the project to continue. jbr.
Note: This writer has replied to a Request For Proposal to design and maintain the web site for this project. It is entirely possible that the request will be successful. This writer believes in this project and has since it’s inception. It will be good for the community. This writer feels it would be in keeping with honesty and integrity to reveal this possible connection to the project along with this article. Jose B. Rivera
Note 2: The East River Plaza web site has been completed and can be found at: www.eastriverplaza.com