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Bronx Residents Fight FreshDirect Relocation Citing Environmental Racism

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FreshDirect truck.

Lawyers representing members of a South Bronx coalition were in court Monday morning in the latest attempt to block the relocation of FreshDirect's headquarters from Queens to Bronx.

The grocery delivery service says the move to the Harlem River Yard will bring jobs to the neighborhood, but an effort spearheaded by South Bronx Unite contends that residents do not need the additional pollution that will accompany FreshDirect's fleet of trucks.

A judge heard oral arguments from South Bronx Unite that leasing the plot to FreshDirect violates the New York State Constitution because the land is designated for public use.

South Bronx Unite's previous lawsuit against the relocation was thrown out by a judge, and in March a judge rejected the group's assertion that the decision to approve the relocation was based on an outdated environmental impact study. 

New York fought to keep FreshDirect from moving its site to New Jersey by providing $120 million in incentives. The city estimates that FreshDirect will have an overall economic impact of almost $255 million.

The company says it will also benefit local residents by creating 1,000 full-time jobs and 644 construction jobs.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has been a strong proponent of FreshDirect and believes the company will have a positive impact on the community:

"My office has, since day one, understood that this project is crucial to the future economic health and vitality of the Bronx, and I am glad to see that the continued legal efforts to stop this critical project have been thoroughly dismissed.”

However, Mychal Johnson, a leader of South Bronx Unite, argues that the relocation will exacerbate the neighborhood's poor air quality and health issues. The area is home to four waste transfer stations, the New York Post distribution center and a FedEx hub making 1,400 daily truck trips. 

Johnson said the estimated 2,000 daily truck trips FreshDirect's business will bring won't help address the respiratory problems of South Bronx residents: 

"In the South Bronx, we have an asthma epidemic. Asthma hospitalizations are five times the national average; asthma deaths are three times the national average; and it is estimated that 1 in every 5 children in the South Bronx has asthma."

 

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Bibi Khan

Bibi Z. Khan is a Graduate student, human and environmental activist and aspiring writer. In her spare time she enjoys writing, reading and community volunteer work.