Jobs / Politics

Stimulus funds are hard obtain and late to be spent

By Joseph Gallagher

Some of the federal stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will save or create jobs in Hunts Point, but obtaining those funds was difficult, and some of the projects they will pay for are behind schedule.

Kellie Terry-Sepulveda, executive director of The Point CDC, a non-profit dedicated to youth development and the cultural and economic revitalization of Hunts Point, worked tirelessly and successfully to acquire $50,000 in stimulus funding to keep The Point’s “Live From The Edge Theater” in operation.

“I didn’t sleep,” Terry-Sepulveda said. “We did our research and applied for the funding through the National Endowment for the Arts. Three people were able to keep their jobs in our theater.”

The paperwork was extensive, Terry-Sepulveda said, and she had to prove that the stimulus funding was essential to those employees.

In March, Mayor Bloomberg announced a list of city projects in line to receive funding because of the Recovery Act. One of those projects was the South Bronx Greenway, designed, said the mayor’s announcement, “to help improve air quality, encourage recreation and reduce pollution in an area plagued with high asthma and obesity rates.”

But though the announcement said bidding would start for construction of the greenway last spring, according to Janel Patterson, spokeswoman for the New York City Econonic Development Corporation, the city will now begin bidding out the first phase of the project next month, with construction slated to begin in early 2010.

“The first part will be for streetscape improvements to Lafayette Avenue,” Patterson said, leading to Hunts Point Riverside Park.

Philip Schmidt, a spokesman for Rep. José Serrano, says that tracking stimulus funding can be confusing.

“Nationwide the funding is skewed towards highways and away from transit and away from city urban landscapes in a way that the Bronx, especially, really doesn’t get much,” Schmidt said. “So that’s been hard. But there are citywide projects that do benefit us.”

A version of this story appeared in the December 2009/January 2010 issue of The Hunts Point Express.

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