THE BRONX — Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. called for new specialized high schools across the city and the possible development of three Bronx train yards during his 2015 State of the Borough address, which he largely used as a platform to tout the borough's economic successes and growth.
In the speech, delivered inside The Mall at Bay Plaza in Baychester, Diaz described the number of Latino and black students admitted to the city's prestigious Stuyvesant High School over the past few years as unacceptably low and called for the creation of new high schools in each borough that would use a portfolio of the students' grades and schoolwork rather than a specialized test to determine who gets in.
"These schools must also guarantee admission to the two top students in each middle public school," he said. "We must ensure that the best and brightest from every community have a chance to excel."
He also announced that his office is studying the possibility of bringing new developments to train yards in The Bronx by 149th Street and Grand Concourse, the Lehman College 4 train stop and the 242nd Street 1 train stop.
Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed building affordable housing over the tracks at Sunnyside Yards in Queens during his recent State of the City address, but Diaz advocated checking out Bronx locations instead.
"Mr. Mayor, if Melinda Katz doesn't want it in Queens, if other boroughs don't want it, come take a new look at The Bronx," he said.
Diaz brought up several new developments on their way to The Bronx as evidence of the borough's economic potential, including the Kingsbridge National Ice Center, a new television and film studio coming to Soundview, and a $550 million, two million square foot office expansion at the Hutchinson Metro Center.
He also pledged to redouble the push for a public felony gun offender registry in the city and state and expressed support for building a new freezer facility in Hunts Point for local food markets and redeveloping the Sheridan Expressway, noting that the West Side of Manhattan had seen success converting highways into boulevards.
"It will not only provide for new housing and development opportunities, but it will improve pedestrian safety and access to parkland along the Bronx River, without compromising access to Hunts Point," he said.
The borough president's office will also partner with the Department of Finance to visit Bronxites at 10 buildings this year and enroll them in rent freeze programs, and members will work with Congress to ensure that the Morrisania Post Office is renamed for the recently deceased former Borough President and Congressman Herman Badillo.
Diaz walked off the stage to a recording of Frank Sinatra's "The Best Is Yet To Come," in keeping with his theme that The Bronx is a borough on the rise.
"We move forward, in the spirit of Herman Badillo and Mario Cuomo," he said. "We move forward, understanding that we can design and enact a transformative agenda for our future while also respecting the hardships and the glories of our past."