Updated 03/05/2010 09:30 PM
State Of The Bronx Outlined By New Leader
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. unveiled an ambitious agenda in his first State of the Borough address in Olinville on Friday. Borough reporter Dean Meminger filed the following report.
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Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. showed he had a full plate went it comes to improving the Bronx, as he delivered his first State of the Borough address in Olinville on Friday.
Diaz was elected borough president last year, after Adolfo Carrion went to work for President Barack Obama, and now Diaz wants to take on some of the same issues as his predecessor.
"The poverty rate here is 28.3 percent, more than double the state and federal average, and our current unemployment rate here is 13.9 percent," said Diaz.
A major hotel for the borough is still high up on the borough president's to-do-list.
"I have had about three or four meetings already since I have been borough president, where operators are interested," said Diaz. "Just yesterday, we hosted 35 concierges from the City of New York who are going to start to directing tourists here."
Diaz said it is a way to create good jobs, a conference center and allow people to have a comfortable night's stay when visiting the Bronx.
Another big issue is the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory. Diaz was instrumental in killing the mayor's proposal to put a mall inside of the armory, and he said he does not want it to remain vacant.
During his speech, Diaz announced the creation of a task force to find new developers for the armory.
"We all have to come together to make this armory work, and it is a building that is worthy of a good development. So he is definitely on point," said Desiree Pilgrim Hunter of the Northwest Bronx Community Coalition.
"He went a step farther and offered real vision, and some challenging points about what we have to do to stop gun violence, what we we have to do about the development process. I thought it was powerful," said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
Over the last year, the Bronx had several cases where tragic shootings brought more attention to the issue of guns and teen violence in the borough.
"Now Mayor Bloomberg and I, we don't agree on everything, but if there is one issue that we stand side by side on, is we need strong gun control laws right now," said Diaz.
The borough president has his work cut out for him if he plans to succeed with everything mentioned in his address.