Ian Amritt will enter second term as board chair
Five members of Community Board 2, the advisory board that represents Hunts Point and Longwood, are running unopposed in this month’s election and will retain their positions.
Dr. Ian Amritt will serve a second term as chairman of the board. The board elected him chair last spring to replace Orlando Marin when Marin accepted a nomination to the city’s influential Planning Commission.
The 50-year-old Amritt, who since 2000 has been executive director of local educational group UNITAS, which provides counseling to area high school students, says he wants residents to see what the board is doing on local issues ranging from housing and health to safety and schools.
“We’re going to be more visible as a community board, to the public,” said Amritt, whose new term is for two years.
As part of his push to involve residents in the board’s affairs, Amritt has opened up the board’s books so anyone can see how it spends its money. For the first time, board members were asked to revise and approve the board’s budget.
Amritt says helping bring in businesses and jobs to help chip away at the neighborhood’s high jobless rate is a priority, and that the board will continue working to ensure incoming employers hire area residents, to as many as 2/3 of their available jobs in some cases.
Making sure housing remains affordable to low-income area residents while still making the neighborhood inviting to newcomers is another challenge Amritt says the board should take the lead on. He says there should be a place for tenants of differing income levels in new housing developments.
“Gentrification is a means of improving quality of life. Progress is not just economic progress,” he said, adding the board must be vigilant in ensuring affordable housing is made available for middle-to-low income residents, as well as veterans and seniors.
The board will continue battling the neighborhood’s grittier realities, like prostitution and crime, Amritt added. Recently, the board has had some success pressuring the state’s Liquor Authority to deny licenses to strip club owners who lack solid security plans for their bars, or whose clubs have been the site of crimes or violence.
Robert Crespo will continue to serve as the board’s first vice chair under Amritt. A Longwood homeowner since 1995, Crespo grew up near Freeman and Bryant Aves. He served as District Manager of Community Board 1 in Mott Haven between 1994 and 1998. Crespo is also a board member on the Yankee Foundation, where he helps to ensure South Bronx foundations get their fair share of that organization’s allocations. Next year will be his fourth as a member of Community Board 2.
Julia Cruz will be serving her second term as the board’s 2nd vice chair. Cruz has been a board member since 2006, and has served on health and special events committees, “giving back to the community I grew up in.” She is director of social services and admissions at St. Vincent DePaul Nursing Home in Longwood, where she has worked for 20 years. Cruz says the health committee will have “even more of a focus on environmental factors” that contribute to health problems common to many residents, such as obesity, diabetes and asthma.
Paula Fields will continue to serve as treasurer. Fields, who lives in Longwood, works as a teacher for special needs students in the neighborhood, and has served as a tenant leader. This will be her second term as treasurer.
Ralph Acevedo will serve his second term as board secretary. Acevedo, a Hunts Point resident, is director of outreach for the non-profit social service organization Bronx Works.