Ready to overhaul Skyview mall


To the editor:

(re: “Burning questions for candidates,” Sept. 10)

Thank you for publishing Adam Stoler’s recent letter seeking some short answers from those who are running for city council.

Mr. Stoler asked if we wanted our local uniformed services working in the neighborhood and living here, and if so, would they be able to afford it?

We need legislation that works for everyone. Reshaping rezoning procedures to be inclusionary, and closing the loophole that lets developers move low-income units elsewhere — within a half-mile — has to change. This will better integrate lower-income housing everywhere.

Mr. Stoler asks the same about whether school teachers, nurses, home health aides and other providers of high-growth service jobs can afford to live here.

The answer is yes, our neighborhoods across the northwest Bronx are still open to school teachers, nurses, and all of the professions you mention. Additional incentives to build affordable housing for families and a change in metrics from “units” to “people” will help create one Bronx that lives together, works together and succeeds together.

Mr. Stoler asks if we’re going to NIMBY ourselves into oblivion. Not in my backyard? No. I’ve spoken about how we need to combat NIMBY with “yes in my backyard,” or YIMBY.

We need to enlarge our culture of acceptance and uplift members of our community who need help. We need to make deliberate changes that integrate everyone, creating one community.

Mr. Stoler asked if our community would welcome the diversity of the presence of the homeless — especially those with families — or if we will get a political football response to the loudest screamers.

This goes along with shifting the housing metric from “units” — which encourages small studios — to “people” or “families,” which incentivizes the units to fit the families who need them. We need holistic policy centered on resilience, sustainability and equity that deals with the root causes of homelessness.

Increasing access to services and building up our local economy with good-paying green jobs is one way we can start that process.

Mr. Stoler asked if we could make day care as official for children as RSS-Riverdale Senior Services is for adults. There is lots of work being one on care for children up to 3, such as city comptroller Scott Stringer’s NYC Under 3 plan.

It’s coming. Let’s support that and expand it.

Mr. Stoler asked about traffic enforcement so that we can all share the road. Our streets need to be safer. The city’s Vision Zero improvements are working in Manhattan. Let’s request them in the northwest Bronx.

Let’s also keep the changes to the streets that are working for the community and the small businesses, such as open streets, outdoor dining, and increased bike lanes.

Mr. Stoler asked about working with commercial landlords, ensuring that having stores here is not just about their bottom line. The city can nudge commercial landlords by disincentivizing vacant storefronts, one developer’s — Friedlander — favorite kind.

We do have to think about food deserts, food justice and food swamps (only bodega food) in the northwest Bronx. We can improve the Food Retail Expansion to Support Health — or FRESH — program to make sure the local groceries meet the neighborhood, are built on a sustainable model, and support the workers.

And we would love to see a Wegmans — or Trader Joe’s, if they would come — move in nearby.

Mr. Stoler asked what I was planning to propose to replace Skyview Shopping Center. The Skyview is an under-funded, poorly designed strip center that must be entirely replaced or dramatically upgraded.

While most Riverdale residents are driving to other neighborhoods or cities to meet their shopping needs, this shopping mall remains vital for residents who do not drive, or need to shop locally for other reasons.

Properly designed, it could be a tremendous asset to the community and to the dozens of other small businesses, schools and institutions on Riverdale Avenue.

As a city councilwoman, I will actively support the work of the Riverdale Main Streets Alliance, Skyview Owners Corp., and others that are demanding change. If elected, I would meet with the owner to demand change and, if that fails, encourage other higher quality shopping center operators to buy the current owner out.

I’m a believer in New Urbanism design ideas for sites like Skyview so that they are better connected to the sidewalk and can offer walkability. It’s been done with aging shopping centers in other towns like Scarsdale. It can be done here.

The current negligent conditions are not acceptable.

Jessica Haller

The author is a city council candidate.

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Jessica Haller,