Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bronx organizations clamor for capital funding windfall

By Miawling Lam

Local schools, community centers, housing projects and parks will share nearly $13 million, thanks to a capital funds bonanza.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. last week announced that he secured $12.85 million in funding as part of his FY2012 budget requests.

Diaz said the financial windfall would benefit organizations in all four corners of the Bronx.

He said the cash injection would create new housing opportunities, fund the purchase of smartboards and computers in schools and most importantly, greenify the borough.

“The capital funding provided by my office is critical in moving important projects forward, and that is especially true in tough economic times,” he said.

“These funds will help bring technology to our schools, build new housing and make the borough a greener place.”

Among the 57 lucky recipients were the Grand Concourse Public Library, whose $750,000 grant will pave the way for the building to become wheelchair-accessible, and the New Settlement Community Center, who was allocated $500,000.

The New York Botanical Garden’s $365,000 grant will help fund the purchase of composting recycling environment, while the Madison Park Boys & Girls Club in Crotona Park East will receive $812,000 for a much-needed gymnasium rehabilitation.

The upgrade means the 40-year-old gym, which currently has no air-conditioning and resembles a furnace on hot summer days, will finally have A/C and a separate room for its dancers.

Local schools were awarded the largest chunk of the funding pie for the third straight year, with 38 projects chewing up 30 percent of the capital allocations.

The new Highbridge Middle School will use its $280,000 grant to pay for a green roof, while M.S. 145 in Melrose will be able to renovate their auditorium thanks to their $225,000 earmarks.

Meanwhile, Mercy College’s $225,000 allocation will be used to establish parent resource centers at its Morris Park campus and at two northwest Bronx elementary schools, P.S. 46 and P.S, 86.

“Our public schools are not only important to the lives of the students within them, but to the surrounding communities they serve as well,” he said.

“As this budget shows, my office has and will continue to make capital improvements to our schools one of our highest budget priorities.”

Housing projects were also flush with over $3,81 million in funds, including $839,000, which will go towards the development of mixed-income housing at Webster Commons in Norwood, as well as $500,000 for a Wakefield complex catering to formerly homeless people.

Nearly $400,000 was also allocated to each Cedar Playground and Van Nest Park for facility upgrades.

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