Serrano Applauds New "summer Streets" Initiative But Urges The City To Bring It Uptown

José M. Serrano

June 17, 2008

"Our city is leading the way with environmental initiatives," said the Senator. "But let's start putting these pilot programs where they really belong, in working class neighborhoods like East Harlem and the South Bronx.
"My constituents suffer asthma hospitalization rates that are five times the national average. We house more industry and take in more garbage than anyone else. In fact, six of seven diesel bus depots in Manhattan are located north of 96th Street."
He added: "If anyone needs a summer vacation from automobiles, it's the top half of New York City."
In a press conference yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg announced his plan to close off to traffic a seven-mile corridor stretching from the Brooklyn Bridge to East 72nd Street. The so-called "Summer Streets" are scheduled for three consecutive Saturdays in August, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Senator expressed his strong support for the idea, calling it a "big step forward in re-thinking how urban environments will function in the 21st Century.
"But I must stress the acute needs of the district I represent. As it stands right now, we benefit too little from the positive developments, and too much from the negative ones."
He cited a November 2007 report by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. DEC Law enforcement officers pulled over diesel trucks driving through East Harlem, and found that at least 25% were in violation of air quality regulations.
"When buildings are constructed in Midtown, the diesel trucks pass through and pollute our community," he said. "Then when the City magnanimously shuts down the streets in Midtown, we still get stuck with the cars ... in fact, probably more cars than ever before."