Norwood News http://www.norwoodnews.org Serving Norwood, Bedford Park, Fordham and University Heights 2017-06-25T04:00:31Z hourly 1 2000-01-01T12:00+00:00 Health Check: Rethink Your Drink http://www.norwoodnews.org/id=23658&story=health-check-rethink-drink/ 2017-06-25T04:00:31Z Trying to beat the heat in the hot summer months can be hard work, but staying hydrated doesn’t have to be. Hydration is one of the easiest and most effective ways to stay cool, and making healthy beverage choices is important. It’s one reason why Montefiore Health System’s Office of Community & Population Health launched […]

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THIS CHART SHOWS how much sugar is being consumed per drink.
Photo courtesy Montefiore Health System

Trying to beat the heat in the hot summer months can be hard work, but staying hydrated doesn’t have to be. Hydration is one of the easiest and most effective ways to stay cool, and making healthy beverage choices is important. It’s one reason why Montefiore Health System’s Office of Community & Population Health launched “Rethink Your Drink” to help you make better drinking choices. Here are some easy thirst-quenching tips to help you stay hydrated while avoiding sugary drinks that can lead to weight gain and tooth decay:

  1. Reusable water bottles are the latest fashion trend, especially for the summer. Whether you have a desk job, or are always on the go, it’s good to keep one within arm’s reach.  This way you’re more likely to take sips throughout the day without too much effort. Remember: every sip counts!
  2. Feeling hazy or frazzled and want to feel more alert? Grab a cold glass of water; it’s a simple healthy way to snap out of that midday slump.
  3. Want to add some flavor to your water? Try adding slices of fruits (oranges, lemon/lime, cucumbers, or even a splash of 100 percent fruit juice).
  4. Unsweetened teas are also a refreshing way to cool off in the summer. Add a few drops of honey if you prefer some sweetness.
  5. Seltzer, club soda, or sparkling water with a splash of 100 percent juice makes a great bubbly treat for beating the heat.

Your body depends on water to survive. Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body needs water to work properly. Staying hydrated is key for a safe summer.  Whatever you do, take water with you!

For more information on how you can Rethink Your Drink and stay hydrated this summer, contact Aneka Wynter at MHSI@montefiore.org or call (347) 418-4738.

Source: Montefiore Health System’s Office of Community & Population Health

 

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Opinion: Acknowledge Oval Park’s Milestone http://www.norwoodnews.org/id=23654&story=opinion-acknowledge-oval-parks-milestone/ 2017-06-24T04:00:30Z Williamsbridge Oval Park — or simply “The Oval” — turns 80 this September. It’s Norwood’s epicenter on the map and in our hearts. It was built between 1934 and 1937 on the site of an abandoned reservoir by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, which was also responsible for countless […]

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Opinion: Acknowledge Oval Park’s Milestone

AN AERIAL VIEW of Oval Park circa 1950. The park opened 80 years ago.
Photo courtesy Bronx County Historical Society

Williamsbridge Oval Park — or simply “The Oval” — turns 80 this September. It’s Norwood’s epicenter on the map and in our hearts. It was built between 1934 and 1937 on the site of an abandoned reservoir by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, which was also responsible for countless other landmarks all over New York City and the entire country.

The park opened on Saturday, Sept. 11, 1937, with a ceremony featuring Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, Bronx Borough President James Lyons, and WPA administrator Howard Peckham addressing a crowd of 2000 in bleachers constructed for the occasion along the southeast edge of the athletic field.

During the Great Depression the WPA put millions of unemployed Americans to work building parks, playgrounds, schools, libraries, post offices, highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, and countless features of our landscape that we take for granted today. In the Bronx alone, the New Deal is responsible for the building of Orchard Beach, the Triborough and Whitestone bridges, the Henry Hudson Parkway and Bridge, the Mosholu and Hutchinson River Parkway extensions, the Arthur Avenue and Bronx Terminal Markets, the Lehman and SUNY Maritime college campuses, and several public schools.

Not only did these New Deal projects provide work for thousands of unemployed Bronxites during the Depression, they left us with resources that we never would have had otherwise; especially the parks, playgrounds, and pools that would normally be at the bottom of any city’s budget priorities. Oval Park was a massive project costing $1.5 MILLION ($27 million in today’s dollars) and employing hundreds of people across four years.  (Did you know the Recreation Center is made of granite quarried and cut in Oval Park itself?)

Perhaps more significantly, Oval Park — like all New Deal projects — has continued to employ people ever since. Sarah Bishow, Oval Park’s Recreation Center manager, says the center normally has 10 full-time employees (mainly recreation and fitness trainers) and that on any given day, anywhere from a handful to 100 Parks Department employees and/or contractors are at work on the grounds. Multiply that by all the other New Deal sites to get an idea of the real value of public investment.

Norwood was once home to mainly those of Jewish, Irish, and Italian descent. Today it’s one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods. All nationalities, races, ages, cultures, and religions come to Oval Park. To play, to socialize, to exercise, to relax; for romance, for picnics, and for special events. I believe that it’s one of the best utilized spaces in the whole city, every nook and cranny is used… except the bocce court! Everybody gets along, everybody watches out for everybody else.

To illustrate, I asked Ms. Bishow for an anecdote. Usually nothing bad ever happens in the park, but one day a drunk man was yelling at a Bangladeshi lady in full Niqab who was with her children in one of the playgrounds: “Get out of this country, you don’t belong here,” etc. A man came to the Rec Center to report what was happening. Ms. Bishow and a PEP officer accompanied him back to the playground. The lady was terrified that they were coming to arrest or deport her but her children (who could speak English) explained that the people in the park were upset that she was being harassed, because everybody here respects everybody else and everybody is welcome in the park, except the abusive man, who was politely escorted out.

In 2015, Williamsbridge Oval was added to the National Register of Historic Places. But there is no WPA plaque on the center or anywhere in the park, so visitors have no idea how the park came to be. The same is true for all the other New Deal sites in New York City. People today should know that there was a time when government worked for ordinary people and not just for the rich and powerful. For that reason I believe the most fitting observance of Oval Park’s 80th birthday would be to put up the plaque that has been missing all these years.

To learn more about the New Deal in the Bronx, search “Bronx New Deal” in Google.

Frank da Cruz is a Norwood resident.

 

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Neighborhood Notes http://www.norwoodnews.org/id=23668&story=neighborhood-notes-151/ 2017-06-23T15:46:44Z Sen. Bailey Office Hrs. at MMCC Constituent service hours by the office of state Sen. Jamaal T. Bailey are now available at Mosholu Montefiore Community Center (MMCC), 3450 DeKalb Ave., every first and third Wednesday of every month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and every second and fourth Wednesday from 1 to 5 p.m. […]

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Sen. Bailey Office Hrs. at MMCC
Constituent service hours by the office of state Sen. Jamaal T. Bailey are now available at Mosholu Montefiore Community Center (MMCC), 3450 DeKalb Ave., every first and third Wednesday of every month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and every second and fourth Wednesday from 1 to 5 p.m. For more information, call (718) 547-8854.

Citizenship Help
Free, confidential help in obtaining citizenship and immigration information services is available via phone through CUNY Citizenship Now! through June 23 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. There will be numerous languages available. For English/multilingual services, call (212) 444-5968; for Spanish, call (212) 444-5964; and for deaf/hard of hearing, call 711.

Excelsior Scholarship
Applications for the state Excelsior Scholarship, offering tuition-free scholarships for SUNY and CUNY students, are available to those whose families make up to $100,000 annually.  To be eligible, students must be New York State residents, plan to attend a SUNY or CUNY two- or four-year college, take 30 credits per year (including summers and winter session), among some of the requirements. The deadline is July 21. To learn more, and to apply, go to hesc.ny.gov.

LGBTQ Needs Assessment
An assessment survey on the needs of the Bronx’s LGBTQ community can be filled out online at http://bit.ly/2so1TJB. Hard copies of the survey are also available throughout the borough’s 12 community boars, with the closest at Community Board 7, 229A E. 204th St., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call (718) 590-3500.

Preserving NCBH
Volunteers are needed to join the Bronx Healthcare Coalition, which seeks to ensure North Central Bronx Hospital remains a public hospital. For more information and to join, email Bxhealthcoalition@gmail.com.

Foreclosure Prevention
Are you at risk of foreclosure? Have you missed mortgage payments or think you will soon? Make your free appointment today to speak with a Legal Aid representative, available once a month at the UNHP Northwest Bronx Resource Center at 2715 Bainbridge Avenue (*by appointment only*). If you are at risk of foreclosure or having issues with your mortgage, property taxes, water and sewer charges, or other liens. Representatives can also review legal documents pertaining to your home before you sign or submit. Call 718-933-2539 to make your appointment or for more information.

Bird Walks
Free bird walk tours, sponsored by Councilman Andrew Cohen with guides provided by the New York City Audubon Society and Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy, are scheduled for every Saturday from now through July 29 from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy. Meet at the VC Nature Center. For more information, contact Joseph McManus at mcmanus638@aol.com.

Housing Assistance
Free housing assistance on topics relating to tenant harassment, denial of repairs/services, evictions, overchargers, and more are available at the office of Assemblyman Victor Pichardo every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 2175 Jerome Ave., Suite C. For more information, call (718) 933-6909.

Immigration Services
Free immigration services ranging from naturalization, citizenship, visa renewals, and information on DACA are available by appointment at the office of Councilman Ritchie Torres, 573 E. Fordham Rd. (entrance on Hoffman Street) Mondays and the first and third Wednesday of every month from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (718) 842-8100.

Literacy Initiative
The New York City Department of Education has announced a reading initiative where students from grades kindergarten through second grade can receive 11 different books from 40 different book titles. For more information, contact your child’s school principal.

Community Garden Program
A free 16-week education, skills-building and community development program through community gardening activities is available only for those who are on probation or recently released from prison. Participants must be committed to completing the program. For more information, call Rachel Schneider of the Hawthorne Valley Farm at (518) 672-4465, ext. 236 or email rachel@hawthornevalleyfarm.org.

 

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Out & About: Horses and K9s, Oh My! http://www.norwoodnews.org/id=23649&story=out-about-horses-and-k9s-oh-my/ 2017-06-23T13:09:44Z Editor’s Pick  Horses and K9 Dogs, Oh My! The public is invited to the 52nd Precinct’s 3rd annual Open House Meet and Greet on June 23 from 3 to 6 p.m. at 3016 Webster Ave. On hand will be officers and executive staffs, civilian staff and special units as well as horses and K9 dogs. […]

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Out & About: Horses and K9s, Oh My!
YOUNGSTERS PET A POLICE HORSE at a family-friendly gathering organized by the 52nd Precinct (see Editor’s Pick for more information).
File Photo

Editor’s Pick 

Horses and K9 Dogs, Oh My!
The public is invited to the 52nd Precinct’s 3rd annual Open House Meet and Greet on June 23 from 3 to 6 p.m. at 3016 Webster Ave. On hand will be officers and executive staffs, civilian staff and special units as well as horses and K9 dogs. In addition, there will be giveaways and refreshments. For more information, call (718) 220-5824.

Events
NYC Department of Parks presents Movies Under the Stars. Films are scheduled as follows: June 24 – “Sing,” at Van Cortlandt Parks’s Indian Field, 4222 Van Cortlandt Pk. E.; June 28 – “August Rush,” Williamsbridge Oval Park; and June 29 – “Beat Street,” at Devoe Park, West Fordham Road at SedgickAvenue. Movies begin at dusk. Bring blanket. For more information, call 311 or visit nyc.gov/parks.

Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy presents Barefoot Dancing, featuring demonstrations and teaching, on the VC House Lawn  from 6:30 to 8 p.m.: June 22 – West African; June 29 – batucada drumming; and July 6 – Bulgaria music & dance. For more information, call (718) 430-1890. 

The Bedford Park Congregational Church, 311 E. 201st St., will hold a summer lawn party on June 25 at 1 p.m.  There will be a raffle and refreshments will be served including hamburgers, hot dogs, assorted salads and desserts ($10/adults/teens; $5/kids). For more information, call (718) 733-3199.

Bronx County Historical Society offers Guided Walking Tour of Norwood, June 24 at 11 a.m. for about two hours. Included are Museum of Bronx History, Bronx County Archives, and other neighborhood jewels. Tour begins at the Mosholu Parkway #4 train station on Jerome Avenue. ($10/members; $20/non members). For more information and to RSVP, call (718) 881-8900.

Wave Hill, a Bronx oasis at 675 W. 252nd St. in Riverdale, offers Family Art Projects: Butterfly Habitat Hats, to see them, sketch them, then make a hat filled with flowers and insects, June 24 and 25; and Nature’s Canvas Bags, to create images on a canvas bag using fabric markers, July 1 and 2; both in the WH House from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Also scheduled is Pollination Headquarters, to see butterfly and insect displays, on the grounds, June 24 and 25 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Elsa Nilsson Quartet, featuring a variety of music, July 5 at 7 p.m. on the grounds ($10/ticket; $6/students/seniors 65+; $4/ages 6 to 18). Grounds admission is free until noon Saturdays and Tuesdays all year. For more information and a schedule of events including tours and walks, call (718) 549-3200.

Out & About: Horses and K9s, Oh My!
KIDS GET INTO the summer season by creating a “Butterfly Hat” at Wave Hill (see more under Events).
Photo courtesy Wave Hill

Save Our Streets (SOS) presents Healthy Lives Healthy Community, June 24 from noon to 3 p.m., at Union Avenue between 163rd and 165th streets. SOS is a community based effort to end gun violence. Events include medical truck for health checkup, health vendors, giveaways, refreshments, and miscellaneous children’s activities including two bouncy houses, face painting, and magician. For more information, call (646) 448-9131.

The Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corp. (WHEDco) holds its free outdoor street fest, June 23 from 2 to 6 p.m. on Louis Niñé Boulevard between Southern Boulevard and Jennings Street.  Events include an all-day DJ, health screenings, live performances, face painting, refreshments, raffles, arts and crafts, as well as local foods and  merchandise vendors. For more information, visit www.whedco.org. 

Library Events
The Bronx Library Center, 310 E. Kingsbridge Rd., presents for children: Hands-On Projects at 4 p.m.: (ages 7 to 12; preregistration required), Paper Plate Watermelon Making, June 22; and Plate Beach Ball Making, June 29. Teens/young adults can enjoy: The Organic Orchestra: summer reading program to learn how to create music with other participants and become a beat box orchestra, June 28 at 4 p.m. For more information, call (718) 579-4244/46/57 or visit www.nypl.org.

The Mosholu Library, 285 E. 205th St., offers for teens/adults: Craft-eens!: Different craft projects each Wednesday at 3 p.m., June 28 and July 5. Materials will be provided. Adults can attend: Knitting Circle: Thursdays at 3 p.m. For more information, call (718) 882-8239.

The Jerome Park Library, 118 Eames Place (near Kingsbridge Road), offers for children: Kids Get Active Fridays at 2:45 p.m.: (ages 5 to 12), dance moves on the Wii game console, June 23 and 30; Preschool Story Time and Craft at 11:15 a.m.: (ages 3 to 5), featuring books, puppetry, dramatics, crafts and flannel boards, June 29; Pedro Animal Falls in Love: (ages 3 to 12), puppet play with audience participation, performed in Spanish or bilingual, June 28 at 3 p.m.; and What is Transportation: (4-part series for ages 3 to 12), to learn how we get around by land, air and water, in addition to hands-on activities including creating boats and airplanes, July 5 at 11:15 a.m. Adults can attend: Computer Basics: June 29 at noon and 6 p.m. For more information, call (718) 549-5200.

NOTE: Items for consideration may be mailed to our office or sent to norwoodnews@norwoodnews.org, and should be received by June 30 for the next publication date of July 6.

 

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52nd Precinct Increases Patrols at St. James Park http://www.norwoodnews.org/id=23642&story=52nd-precinct-increases-patrols-at-st-james-park/ 2017-06-23T12:56:12Z The 52nd Precinct is upping patrols in and around St. James Park in Fordham after noticing a rise in gang-related disputes over the last month. “St. James Park is going to be a big concern for us,” said Deputy Inspector Peter Fiorillo in a 52nd Precinct Community Council meeting. “I’m already starting to see problems […]

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52nd Precinct Warns of More Patrols at St. James Park
ST. JAMES PARK has seen an uptick in crime over the last month, police say. It’s now looking to increase patrols.
Photo by Reggie Francois

The 52nd Precinct is upping patrols in and around St. James Park in Fordham after noticing a rise in gang-related disputes over the last month.

“St. James Park is going to be a big concern for us,” said Deputy Inspector Peter Fiorillo in a 52nd Precinct Community Council meeting. “I’m already starting to see problems in there.”

The precinct has identified four gangs that have been involved with the activity: Bloods, Crips, Black Kings and Trinitarios. Over the past month, Fiorillo cited two shootings with no injuries and four stabbings. He said the goal is to make the park, and surrounding area, as safe as possible by having a couple of police officers patrol the area all day, every day. 

Residents have a range of feelings about St. James Park and more police officers patrolling the area. Bronx native Dawn Sweeney, 48, works near St. James Park at an animal clinic. She usually comes to the park to walk her dog and enjoys coming there during the day.

“I won’t come out here at night, though, because at night you tend to get these fights that go on,” said Sweeney. “And you get your drug deals that come through because, when you walk, you can see the little baggies.”

Gabe Lorenzo of Kingsbridge does not usually hang out at St. James Park, but he believes 24-hour hour cop supervision would benefit the park.

“If you look now, there’s people here all the time,” said Lorenzo, adding the night usually invites criminal activity.

Twenty-five reported incidents surrounding St. James Park between June and August of 2016 included felony assaults, grand larceny, robberies and burglaries, according to the New York City Digital Crime Map. The last murder in the area was in 2015. The victim was identified as 21-year-old Henry Leal.

Sammy Torres, 23, does not think increased police presence will be effective.

“That’s creating an unsettling environment for everyone,” said the Fordham Heights resident. “Having police in the parks, around everywhere, kind of makes it feel like we’re animals being watched by trainers.”

“For the most part, I have to say that the park has quieted down since the mid-90s,” said Sweeney. “Because when I used to come through, in the evening, like seven, eight o’clock at night, a lot of people used to be here, very rowdy. But now they’re barbecuing with their kids [and] playing basketball.”

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Celebrating Centenarians at St. Patrick’s Home http://www.norwoodnews.org/id=23632&story=23632/ 2017-06-22T18:24:39Z St. Patrick’s Home for the Aged and Infirm held its annual Centennial Celebration for their residents who have reached the milestone of 100 years of age. The senior residence honored five centenarians: Julia Bizarri, 104, Annina Walsh, 102, Antoinette Cortina, 102, Sr. Benigna Consolata, O. Carm., 101, and Mary Palermo, who is 99 years old […]

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Celebrating Centenarians at St. Patrick’s Home
(l-r) Sr. SHAWN FLYNN Corporate Compliance Officer), Donna Berna (volunteer), Maria Ordonez (Pastoral Cars Assistant) Kathy Mayer (Director of Pastoral Care) Kathy Dawkins (Recreation Leader) Sr. Kevin Patricia (Administrator), Janet Kibassa (Director or Recreation), Janet Olivieri (Recreation Leader) Natasha Williams (Recreation Leader), and Noeline Harrington (Dementia Leader) pose with centenarians (left to right) Sr. Benign Consolata, O. Carm., Mary Palermo, Julia Bizzarri, Antoinette Cortina and Annina Walsh

St. Patrick’s Home for the Aged and Infirm held its annual Centennial Celebration for their residents who have reached the milestone of 100 years of age.

The senior residence honored five centenarians: Julia Bizarri, 104, Annina Walsh, 102, Antoinette Cortina, 102, Sr. Benigna Consolata, O. Carm., 101, and Mary Palermo, who is 99 years old and hitting the century mark in November. Honorees Irene Kuchma, 100, and Mary Cordillo, 99, also received recognition but were not present.

Celebrating Centenarians at St. Patrick’s Home
Recreation Leaders Kathy Dawkins and Janet Olivieri present customized cake to centenarians.
Photo by Devin Dae Tucker

“This is indeed a wonderful celebration for all of us who have the privilege of knowing or being related to these wonderful women,” said St. Patrick’s Home Administrator Sr. Kevin Patricia. “The women who we are pausing to recognize this day have lived full lives that provided a purpose in their lives by giving loving care to those with whom they shared their lives, their energies, their strengths and their love.”

The event featured dancing, live swing music, catered food, a cake made in honor of the centenarians, and a liturgical dance performed by Janet Kibassa, the home’s director of recreation and other staffers. Kibassa began this annual celebration more than a decade ago and understands the impact it has on residents, their families and staff.

“This is my 14th year at St. Patrick’s Home and I’ve been doing it since year one,” Kibassa said. “It’s a pleasure to have them with us and it’s always a blessing to have them and that’s the best part of this celebration, to see our centenarians all dressed up, looking very nice and having fun.”

 


Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray even offered their greetings to the centenarians, congratulating honorees “on the wonderful occasion of your birthday,” in a statement sent to the home.

“May this be a joyous time as your loved ones gather to celebrate this exciting milestone!” de Blasio added.

Fifteen minutes into the gathering, Sr. Kevin Patricia took to the podium, and quoted from author Bo Bennett to encapsulate the honorees moment.

“Those who improve with age embrace the power of personal growth and personal achievement and begin to replace youth with wisdom, innocence with understanding, and lack of purpose with self-actualization,” Sr. Kevin read.

 

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Latest Edition of Norwood News is Out! http://www.norwoodnews.org/id=23627&story=latest-edition-of-norwood-news-is-out-5/ 2017-06-22T17:49:06Z Dear Fellow Readers! The latest edition of Norwood News, covering community news in the Bronx, is out with plenty of stories that will get you talking. We can start with the beginning, with page 1 and a local story on Whalen Park receiving a $2 million upgrade. We go back in time to the days that […]

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Latest Edition of Norwood News is Out!
Dear Fellow Readers!

The latest edition of Norwood News, covering community news in the Bronx, is out with plenty of stories that will get you talking. We can start with the beginning, with page 1 and a local story on Whalen Park receiving a $2 million upgrade.

We go back in time to the days that Henry Whalen, the civic activists named after the eponymous park, was alive and making a positive contribution to Norwood in the 1960s and 70s. Read what his daughter had to say about him and the pending renovations for the park.

Norwood News would also like to welcome Reggie Francois and Devin Dae Tucker, reporting fellows with the CUNY School of Journalism. The pair have done some outstanding work within the last week and a half they’ve been with us. Check out Reggie’s story on plans to keep the small business community of Kingsbridge Heights active amid changes within New York City’s business scene. Devin took a look at Bronx Community Charter School’s stencil project intended to inspire. The pair and yours truly collaborated on what’s becoming a staple in the paper, Crime File.

Speaking of staple, regular contributor David Greene has a story on a two-alarm fire in Norwood that displaced families and injured seven. Thankfully, there were no injuries. Meantime, Fordham Road has a new farmers market opened every Wednesday. Find out how the Fordham Road Business Improvement District is involved, and what the future holds for the farmers market.

We also bring you a photo spread of the Family Fitness Festival which, while ending in a soaker, did bring a handful of residents out to Williamsbridge Oval Park.

As usual, the regular features can be found in the paper–Inquiring Photographer, Neighborhood Notes, and Out & About–all intended to get you talking.

So pick up your free copy of Norwood News. You can always share thoughts with me, David Cruz, at dcruz@norwoodnews.org.

Til next time!

David

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Kiss Goodbye: Beso Lounge in Norwood Closes http://www.norwoodnews.org/id=23624&story=kiss-goodbye-beso-lounge-in-norwood-closes/ 2017-06-21T20:23:22Z A popular bar lounge in Norwood had its final hurrah the weekend of June 9, closing its doors after its restaurateur couldn’t agree on a lease renewal deal with the building’s owner. Gino Pacheco, owner of Beso Lounge, said the nighttime bar underwent renovations for three years and had been promised a lease for five […]

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Kiss Goodbye: Beso Lounge Closes
BESO LOUNGE, AT 320 E. 204th Street, opened in 2010.
Photo by Reggie Francois

A popular bar lounge in Norwood had its final hurrah the weekend of June 9, closing its doors after its restaurateur couldn’t agree on a lease renewal deal with the building’s owner.

Gino Pacheco, owner of Beso Lounge, said the nighttime bar underwent renovations for three years and had been promised a lease for five more years. Despite a new owner buying the building for more money, Pacheco negotiated the lease in hopes for a similar lease deal he had when he first opened the business.

The lounge’s original rent was $3,000 and the new building owner doubled the rent to $6,000 after the building owner noticed the eatery’s success.

“We agreed,” Pacheco, 35, said of the new rent charge. “We were making business.”

But the building owner had stopped accepting rent, which ultimately led to the lounge’s closing, according to Pacheco.

Located at 320 E. 204th St. near the corner of Hull Avenue, Beso (Spanish for “kiss”) Lounge celebrated seven years in business. Guests shared their special moments with Open Mic Night on June 8 at the establishment.

A late May post on the lounge’s Facebook page thanked customers for their “loyalty and support throughout the last seven years.”

From the time it first opened, Beso Lounge positioned itself as a staple in the community and supporter of causes. In February, the lounge hosted an auction for singles in support of autism research. “I see all the single people complain that they’re single — so here’s their chance to catch a date and help people at the same time,” Pacheco said about the event in a New York Daily News article published afterwards.

The lounge also participated in Summer Streets, or Weekend Walks, the city’s push to integrate communities and local businesses through a block party-style gathering.

Anthony Rivieccio, 54, has been living in the Bedford Park area for 40 years. As the founder of the Northwest Bronx Democrats, a local political group, Rivieccio said he was involved with the opening of Beso Lounge, serving as a member of the East 204th Street & Bainbridge Avenue Merchants Association, a merchant organizing group.

“I was surprised it closed for the reasons it did,” Rivieccio said. “It’s affecting our whole Bronx strip in the same way [it is] in the Kingsbridge area with the [Kingsbridge] armory.”

Brenda Caldwell-Paris, president of the 52nd Precinct Community Council, said Beso Lounge has sponsored the council’s annual Fellowship Recognition Breakfast and Open House in the past. The council had held Christmas parties every year at the lounge.

“My daughter had a birthday party there,” Caldwell-Paris said. “It’s always a friendly environment. It’s always a safe environment.”

Pacheco also co-owns Lexa Bar & Garden with Eli Garcia. It is located at 357 E. 204th St., diagonally across from Beso Lounge. “I opened Lexa to create an environment that wasn’t so upbeat,” Pacheco said. “[It’s] more of a chill vibe.” Pacheco said if another opportunity arose to open a bar or restaurant, he would seize it. He and Garcia have already scouted a site for another eatery on Broadway, lobbying local Community Board 8 in Riverdale for approval, according to sources.

Pacheco and Garcia plan to remain part of the neighborhood merchants association, where Garcia serves as president.

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Ahead of Mayoral Control of Schools Fate, Bronx BP Releases Report on G&T Inequity Fix http://www.norwoodnews.org/id=23621&story=ahead-of-mayoral-control-of-schools-fate-bronx-bp-releases-report-on-gt-inequity-fix/ 2017-06-21T19:07:47Z Under a cloud over whether the fate of mayoral control of schools will be killed by the Albany Legislature, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and his Brooklyn counterpart released a report outlining ways to equalize the public school system’s gifted and talented program (G&T), claiming it grossly excludes minority students. “We are totally optimistic…that […]

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Ahead of Mayoral Control of Schools Fate, Bronx BP Releases Report on G&T Inequity Fix
BRONX BOROUGH PRESIDENT Ruben Diaz Jr. outlines recommendations to fix the Gifted & Talented program within the public school system.
Photo by David Cruz

Under a cloud over whether the fate of mayoral control of schools will be killed by the Albany Legislature, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and his Brooklyn counterpart released a report outlining ways to equalize the public school system’s gifted and talented program (G&T), claiming it grossly excludes minority students.

“We are totally optimistic…that before 12 o’clock strikes tonight the Legislature will come up with mayoral control expansion,” Diaz, standing next to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, said at a press conference in front of the New York City Department of Education (DOE) headquarters. “Should we go back to the Board of Education, which nobody wants, but should we go back to that, I think it’s safe to say that we will continue to push so that we can fix the pipeline so that we can have more and more diversity.”

The pair’s report lists ways to fix the problem they argue has kept black and Hispanic children, who make up 70 percent of public school systems, out of quality schools. The disparity falls in the Bronx, where G&T  programs are virtually nonexistent.

G&T programs, which provide elementary and middle school students with a more robust instruction than regular classroom instruction, has been viewed as promoting academic bias by having less G&T programs in minority neighborhoods when compared to affluent, predominantly white communities. G&T programs are often seen as a gateway towards Specialized High School, offering even greater education and academic advancement to students.

The de Blasio Administration has attempted to give greater access to the G&T system, but the report called it “small steps.”

Nine recommendations were made to fix the inequity including guaranteeing a G&T spot to any qualifying student within their community, free test prep service expansion, and free public transportation fare provided by the DOE.

The findings were collected following the creation of the G&T Task force by both borough presidents. The group comprised of educators and parent advocates, collected testimony from parents that was later used to develop the recommendations.

Among those who testified was Theodore James, a Bronx parent, who said at a March 20 hearing that taking his daughter to a Manhattan G&T program posed a logistical problem. “And we didn’t have the funds to pay for a private bus so we had to pass on that opportunity,” James said.

A spokesman for the DOE had told the Norwood News in an article covering the March 20 hearing that it has made it a point to send out mailers explaining the G&T program in multiple languages. “[G]ifted and specialized programs are one option for students and their families. There is much more work to do to ensure equity and excellence at every public school in New York City,” the spokesman said.

For now, Diaz maintains that the Albany Legislature will extend mayoral control of schools, a policy that went in place during the Bloomberg Administration. The policy shifted control away from borough presidents, charged with assigning two members to the defunct Board of Education. Opponents of the Board of Education say the power shift towards that body will create corruption and chaos within the public school system, as evident in years of it before it’s 2002 demise.

“I don’t think that there’s anyone who wants to see the old Board of Education,” Diaz said. “I’m sure that we all have capable individuals that we will be appointing should there be a Board of Education again. I don’t want want to see that. We’re optimistic.”

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Picking Up the Pieces After Perry Avenue Fire http://www.norwoodnews.org/id=23615&story=picking-pieces-perry-avenue-fire/ 2017-06-17T23:40:12Z Many of the residents of 3050 Perry Ave. returned home the day after a two-alarm fire tore through three apartments and injured 7, including four children June 15 in the Norwood section of the Bronx. The fire was the talk of the neighborhood. Perry Avenue resident Sonia Gonzalez heard screams moments before the sounds of several dozen […]

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Picking Up the Pieces After Perry Avenue Fire
A WORKER BRINGS in a sheet of plywood to board up windows damaged in fire at 3050 Perry Avenue.
Photo by David Greene

Many of the residents of 3050 Perry Ave. returned home the day after a two-alarm fire tore through three apartments and injured 7, including four children June 15 in the Norwood section of the Bronx.

The fire was the talk of the neighborhood.

Perry Avenue resident Sonia Gonzalez heard screams moments before the sounds of several dozen emergency vehicles converged on the block.

“I saw the flames when they started to blow out the front windows and some people were on the fire escape and they climbed down and the fireman went up,” Gonzalez recalled.

Picking Up the Pieces After Perry Avenue Fire
AT LEAST THREE apartment units were knocked out from the fire.
Photo by David Greene

Gonzalez added, “I just know one family in that building, and thankfully, they are fine. The firemen did a great job, they were very quick.”

Residents say children cooking on a stove was the cause of the blaze, but that could not yet be verified.

The FDNY had previously stated that the fire broke out on the fourth-floor of the six-story, non-fire proof building. None of the injured suffered life-threatening injuries and the fire remains under investigation.

According to a man who identified himself as the super of the building, three apartments in the building were severely damaged.

The American Red Cross of Greater New York reported that they had provided temporary housing for four residents, relocating them to Queens.

The night after the fire, Nilka Hernandez returned to her third-floor apartment with two of her three children, only to find her apartment and her new $1,500 furniture set destroyed by water damage.

Hernandez was unable to get to the Red Cross office in Manhattan in time and was forced to spend Friday night with a friend.

Her daughter Angie and her baby daughter were also staying with a family member. Angie recalled, “I was buying something and I came back home and I see everybody was outside and I called my mom, and then the fire started coming out the windows. I said, ‘Oh my God, this is crazy.'”

Late Friday night Angie was concerned that the temporary housing was in Queens, adding, “I can’t go to Queens because I work in New Jersey. I have to go to work, what do they want me to do? Right now I just can’t do that.”

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