The Bedford Park Revolution

Anthony profileFrom The Desk of the NWBxDems
“The Bedford Park Revolution”
by  Anthony Rivieccio

Prior to 1990, Bedford Park was located in the northwest section of the Bronx with a population that was 75 percent Caucasian. It was also 100 percent in the 80th Assembly District.

As a community organization, Bedford Mosholu Community Association (BMCA), has represented the area since 1974. But before then, they were known as the Bedford Park Civic Association.

In 2000, the second redistricting (also known as gerrymanding) of Bedford Park resulted in a lower population of Caucasian’s that went decreased to 40 percent. A decrease was also seen in the amount of land that belonged to the  80th Assembly District, which was down to 20 percent. The redistricting resulted in 80 percent of Bedford Park belonging in the 78th Assembly District.

After the third redistricting in 2010, Bedford Park was; currently is, 15 percent Caucasian with 10 percent being located in the 80th Assembly District. The new majority of Bedford Park is located in the 78th Assembly District at 90 percent. Demographically, 58 percent of residents are of Puerto Rican decent.

During a meeting with BMCA in 2013, Barbara Stronzer suggested she was going to get assistance from Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj. Some community residents politely reminded her that her club boundaries were in the 78th Assembly District and that she should discuss her concerns with the area’s assemblyman, Jose Rivera.

She was in denial for 3 weeks!

As the months and years went by, residents kept suggesting to Ms. Stronzer that she should have a better relationship with Assemblyman Jose Rivera.

Again, this suggestion was ignored!

Bedford meeting

Last month’s BMCA meeting

Due to this, The Northwest Bronx Democrats took it upon themselves to reach out to Assemblyman Jose Rivera. This task was a bit difficult for us. After all, we were the organization that supported 80th Assembly candidate Mark Gjonaj in 2012 over, then Assemblywoman, Naomi Rivera.

But, as luck would have it, Assemblyman Rivera understood completely and he was in agreement that he wanted to meet the group. We agreed that he would come to their next meeting.

And it was wonderful too!

Assemblyman Rivera was able to meet the group as well as some wonderful new advocates that were at the meeting. Samelys Lopez, a new community board member, announced that she was instituting a graffiti artist to paint a mural on a lengthy wall adjacent to P.S. 8 at Briggs Avenue and 202nd Street. Assemblyman Rivera said he would try to help.

Assemblyman Rivera also met another new community activist and leader of Northeast Bronx Dawah, Aldo Raphael Perez. Mr. Perez has been getting involved in a new group, Friends of Oliver Place, in order to clean up an empty lot on 197th and Decatur Avenue. Now with the help of Councilman Ritchie Torres, they are attempting to create an open green space and park for children.

Along with the usual community meeting agenda, the 52nd police precinct went over its monthly police stats. Elizabeth Quaranta, President of Friends of Mosholu Parkland, discussed some results of their recent “town hall” meeting and Norwood community activist, Sheila Sanchez, talked about how the neighborhood was being effected by Mayor deBalsio’s recent affordable housing program.

Bedford meeting 1

Assemblyman Jose Rivera and myself shared some laughs after the meeting

At the end of the evening Assemblyman Rivera was mobbed with even more questions while some of us (Northwest Bronx Democrats) walked out and smiled.

The assemblyman turned to us and said, “I didn’t know I wasn’t until you reminded them that I am their assemblyman. All the glory goes to you and I thank you, as well as The Northwest Bronx Democrats.” We gently reminded him that, “Some of us have lived here for over 30 years. Whether it was the 80th or now, the 78th district….welcome to Bedford Park!”

The Revolution has begun!

Anthony Rivieccio is a long-time northwest Bronx resident and business owner.  And past president of the 204th Street/Bainbridge Aveenue Merchant Association, Committee of 100 Democrats, former member of Community Board 7, and Founder of both the North Bronx Thinktank and the Northwest Bronx Democrats.

Anthony has written columns for The Norwood News, The Riverdale Press, The Bronx News, Parkchester News, The Bronx Times and The Bronx Chronicle.

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