Change is coming to Hunts Point, as Mayor Eric Adams Wednesday released a 15-year plan to revitalize the economy and improve the quality of life in the long-neglected South Bronx waterfront neighborhood.
The mayor said the Bronx has been ignored for too many years and is often the most neglected part in the city, with more crime and worse education and healthcare outcomes than the other four boroughs. Dubbed “Hunts Point Forward,” the plan was crafted with a great deal of input from the Hunts Point community with an eye towards bringing the Bronx onto equal footing with the rest of the city.
“You look at all of the negatives and you keep seeing the Bronx,” Adams said. “Well, we are going to turn that around with real partnerships and listening to what’s on the ground. Hunts Point Forward is a 15-year plan, but it has a short term and immediate benefits for us all. You will feel the efforts in terms of safety, better access to health care and improved green space. We can rebuild, we can renew, we can reinvent, and it starts right here in the Bronx.”
The mayor was joined in Barretto Point Park for the announcement by City Council Members Rafeal Salamanca Jr. (D – Bronx), Amanda Farias (D – Bronx), Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, city Economic Development Corporation CEO and President Andrew Kimball and Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer.
This follows the mayor’s announcement in March that the city would pour $100 million into renovating the aging Hunts Point Produce market, which is a key part of his broader economic recovery plan.
The plan was shepherded along by the EDC, Salamanca Jr. and the mayor’s office and conceived with input from community organizations including the Pratt Center for Community Development and the Hunts Point-Longwood Community Coalition (HPLWCC) – which brought several local groups together. These organizations canvassed Hunts Point to gauge what improvements community members want to see actualized through the plan. They did this through community board briefings, a survey, three public workshops and focus groups in English and Spanish.
Salamanca said the work of HPLWCC through Hunts Point Forward is putting the community on the right path after 10 years of inaction under the last plan to improve the area known as the Hunts Point Vision Plan.
“Prior to the Hunts Point Coalition, there was what was called the Hunts Point Vision Plan where there was a vision plan for the last 10 years,” Salamanca said. “But we got to the last 10 years and we needed to have a different approach. There were too many projects that were occurring in the Hunts Point community and we felt as if agencies and communities and non-for-profits were not talking to one another. And so that’s where the Hunts Point Coalition came about.”
The plan contains 73 short and long term recommendations, and will get an initial $40 million commitment from the city to get it jump started, the mayor said. That money is for capital improvements to public space and infrastructure in the area, including upgrades to Barretto Point Park like enlarging green space, restoring its shoreline and making it more resilient to Climate Change.
The city Department of Transportation (DOT) will also work to redesign the streetscape in Hunts Point to reduce the number of deadly crashes on the peninsula, Adams said.
“Vehicle crashes that leads to fatalities or serious injuries are just as important as a gunshot that leads to fatalities or serious injuries,” Adams said. “So what are we doing? We are going to improve pedestrian traffic safety at many intersections by making crossings shorter, addressing signal timing and improving bike connections. The Bronx should not be left out of dealing with these traffic fatalities.”
The plan also includes expanded access to health care through pop-up clinics and screenings, as well as a new health care facility in the neighborhood. Plus, the plan seeks to connect Hunts Point residents to industrial jobs with the help of the city’s Department of Small Business Services (SBS) and Food Distribution Center.
Maria Torres, President and CEO of The Point Community Development Corporation, said it’s really meaningful to see the city put resources behind a plan born from the community.
“This gives us the ability to look at Hunts Point as a whole and really have it grow and the projects that come to it make sense and all work together,” Torres said. “And so this is one of the great things that we’ve been talking about and to see it come to its fruition and to see the city put so much money behind it, to make sure that it happens, is really very important and special to us.”