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Community Activists Sue to Stop Fresh Direct from Moving In

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A local Bronx activist group, South Bronx Unite, and other local residents are suing Fresh Direct, city agencies and developers, to stop the internet grocer from relocating to the neighborhood.

Fresh Direct is receiving $128 million in government subsidies, including loans, grants and tax credits, and in return the company has agreed to create 1,000 new jobs.

The local groups opposed to the project say the jobs are not guaranteed, and they complain the grocer will bring truck pollution to an area with asthma rates that are 9 times the national average.

“What the community wants is sustainable businesses coming in. They want cleaner air.  They want to reduce their asthma rates and certainly Fresh Direct will only heighten all of those problems,” attorney Christina Giorgio said. Giorgio, from New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, is representing the Bronx groups in the lawsuit that will be filed Wednesday. 

The suit alleges that the New York City Industrial Development Agency failed to do a required environmental impact study prior to approving the government subsidies that Fresh Direct is to receive.

Mychal Johnson, a member of Community Board 1, is a named plaintiff in the suit. He said a thorough review would allow for a better understanding of what the project will bring.

“I just don’t understand how they don’t believe — meaning our governor, our mayor and our borough president — don’t understand how 2,000 more vehicles in our community will adversely effect our quality of life and our ability to breathe,” Johnson said.  

In an effort to stave off the lawsuit, Fresh Direct CEO Jason Ackerman said in a letter to the plaintiffs that assertions about truck pollution were inaccurate. “We have repeatedly said that our goal is to move towards a 100% green transportation fleet over the next five years,” he wrote. "We have already purchased 10 electric delivery trucks from Smith Electric Vehicles, a clean technology manufacturing company in the South Bronx, and plan to add many more once the new facility is operational."

The city’s Economic Development Corporation wouldn’t respond to questions about the lawsuit, but, in a written statement, EDC spokesman Patrick Muncie accused the group of trying to derail a project that would bring much needed jobs to the nation’s poorest congressional district.

Fresh Direct has been trying to build good will in the Bronx. Last month, the company announced it was expanding its delivery area to include all of the Bronx, not just the affluent parts. It also said it would be accepting food stamps on a limited basis as part of a government pilot project.

Giorgio said her clients are not anti-business or anti-jobs. “This is about making sure that when businesses come into the South Bronx, the community is involved and that it comports with the local community’s vision of the South Bronx,” she said.

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Comments [11]

Dotti Bronx from bronx

This prime waterfront property has so many other uses that could bring revenue and glory to the Bronx. Carrion got Pepsi tons of abatements and dollars to keep their wonderful distribution in the bronx because they threatened to go to NJ.

Now the 6 acre parcel has taken over a waterfront neighborhood and the trucks polute our area with noise, fumes, and some debris daily....24 hours 7 days a week. This was all done with a 25 year old ULURP. in 25 years the area has changed so much there should have been a new ULURP done.

Jul. 20 2013 03:05 PM

FreshDirect was given $130 million taxpayer dollars because they threatened to move to New Jersey -- a threat they would never have followed through on, because the tolls to deliver to NYC would've destroyed their business.

That was a pure giveaway of our common good to a large corporation, in return for which there are NO guarantees of job creation, NO penalties or amelioration for the ill effects on air or noise, and until huge public outcry, no plans to even deliver food to the borough!

I used to be a FreshDirect customer, but no more. Luckily, their poor quality and high prices in comparison to other food sources made the right choice an easy choice too.

Jun. 13 2012 12:35 PM
Mott Haven Resident from Mott Haven, South Bronx

The FreshDirect proposal simply is a rotten deal and will not benefit either New York City generally or the South Bronx in particular. Our elected officials propose to give FreshDirect $130 million in public money and acres of public, waterfront land. In exchange, there is absolutely no requirement or binding promise that FreshDirect create even a single new job. Further, the 2,000 FreshDirect jobs are existing, Long Island City jobs and there is absolutely no requirement or binding promise that FreshDirect hire even a single person from the SouthBronx. Further still, the great majority of FreshDirect workers do not earn a living wage (a person could work full time for FreshDirect and still be eligible to receive, and need, public assistance).

FreshDirect and our elected officials failed to consider the impact of this proposal on our community. Asthma rates in the South Bronx are up to eight times higher than the national average and one in every five children in the South Bronx has asthma. Study after study has linked childhood asthma to diesel truck exhaust. FreshDirect proposes to bring at least 2,000 vehicle trips and 1,000 truck trips every day to a parcel of public, waterfront land that already houses a waste transfer station, several trucking hubs, and a fossil fuel burning power plant. The FreshDirect project would be pouring (diesel) fuel on the fire, giving us more trucks instead of sustainable development and access to any of our waterfront. Further, FreshDirect does not own a single electric truck and there is no requirement or enforceable promise that they purchase anyelectric trucks. Although FreshDirect has received millions in public money to purchase ten electric trucks from a facility to be built in the South Bronx, they haven't even broken ground on that facility, much less made any electric trucks.

Stop ignoring the public health crisis in the South Bronx. Stop dumping unwanted, unsustainable industrial projects in our community. Stop choking us off from access to our publicly owned waterfront. Stop FreshDirect.

Jun. 13 2012 10:47 AM
kikakiki from one time Bronxite

Questions - what is there now? what does the community propose to put there? how is this area zoned? can the community afford to lose 1000 jobs? What does the community mean that these are not permanent jobs? and Fresh direct better answer if they physically have the green trucks and when EXACTLY will there be more. Fresh Direct must not leave trucks idling and that must be enforced by the community. But community and business had better work together for the good of the jobless

Jun. 13 2012 10:44 AM
Monxo Lopez from SouthBronx

Ignorance is the worst of ills and sins. FreshDirect will bring pollution and more asthma to Mott Haven. Period. They only PROMISE jobs; and even if that were true, that will be $132,000 of OUR money (yours included) per job. We do not need this. The South Bronx is in its renaissance everybody! Many positive changes happening, and all without FreshDirect. Don't talk without knowing. Don't try to 'help' if ignorant about the facts. Don't be ideological just to defend crony capitalism. We are against these subsidies, against their trucks and asthma, against the bullying attitude, against the lies. Look how many jobs Atlantic Yards created!!!
Don't be a part of that you all. Peace

Jun. 13 2012 10:43 AM
Michael from S.I, next to land fill the Bronx use to ship there trash

tough choice, health and poverty or bootstrap jobs and asthma. The South Bronx is the next frontier of gentrification and one of the remaining idustrial areas in NYC that has not been turned into residential housing for the 1%. This war will continue for the next ten years, two mayors and three to four govenors (depending on a corruption scandle)

Jun. 13 2012 10:37 AM
Jessica from Mott Haven

The land they propose to relocate to is prime waterfront land that is owned by the NYSDOT, ie the public. Leased to the Galesi Group, they pay only $43,000 a month for 100 acres.With the $130 million more jobs could be created at a living wage that respects the environment and makes use of the amazing resource this shoreline site could afford the South Bronx and the entire city.

have a competition, like was done for the campus at Roosevelt Island to get the best bang for the buck.

the proposed corporate welfare to Fresh Direct is the worst kind of failed economic development initiatives.

Also, Mr. Ackerman fails to note that they do not have those trucks, the company does not even exist in the Bronx yet that is to make them and that Fresh Direct was offered $10 million cash to buy the trucks in the first place. That is truly skewing the market, why not buy all the companies their trucks? This deal makes no sense, I joined the boycott when I learned these facts.

Jun. 13 2012 09:45 AM
john from office

Wow, talk about shooting one self in the foot. These are jobs and commerce, that will bring other work and benefits. The "leadership" in the Bronx is backward. They need fresh blood.

Jun. 13 2012 09:32 AM
My opinion

Who needs this? It will just disrupt the substantial flow of welfare checks and food stamps to the neighborhood as well as taking away an excuses of 1000-2000 people for not being gainfully employed. Makes no sense to have fresh products and a nice place to shop. Really, the nerve of some people to want this to move into their neighborhood.

Jun. 13 2012 08:10 AM
Dot from New York City

The Bronx needs more industry! Who wants to live in a dying borough? This will employ more people, spread more money around, have electric vehicles the stores around will upgrade their products and the community will be the watchdog. Just do it!

Jun. 13 2012 07:38 AM
Donald Sepanek

So another possible job source is biting the dust? Yahoo!

Jun. 12 2012 09:13 PM

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