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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Delivers Remarks at Bronx Orchard Beach

July 30, 2021

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Everybody, let's get started. I'm going to be showing off the trophy in a moment that Ruben Diaz Jr. is already assuming in a very haughty manner that he will be getting. And I'm here to tell him his dreams are about to be crushed here on Orchard Beach. He is an amazing public servant, wonderful person. I'm going to introduce him in a moment. But when he is crying in defeat, when he's just like huddled up in a ball, I don't want that to be the Ruben Diaz Jr. you remember. I want this Ruben Diaz Jr., this triumphant one I'm about to introduce who has achieved something amazing for his borough, that's who I want you to remember. That's the man we honor today, not the man who's about to lose in volleyball.

So, it is the summer of New York City. Everywhere we go, you can see it. You can feel it. Summer of New York City and if you want the summer of New York City, there is no place better than Orchard Beach. This is our riviera, our New York City riviera. It is a magical place. It is a beautiful place. It is a place, when you come here, it's like you go to another world. And it's an especially beautiful place because the people of the Bronx come here and the culture and the energy and the life of the Bronx is here. So, I love every single time I come to Orchard Beach. And what we've known for a long time is we need to make Orchard Beach as good, as beautiful as the people of the Bronx. And I know this has been an absolute labor of love for the Borough President and the work will be continued by the soon to be next Borough President, Council Member Vanessa Gibson, thank you.

[Applause]

And the work will be continued by the soon to be next Council Member Marjorie Velazquez, thank you.

[Applause]

So, this amazing beach gets well over a million, sometimes close to two million visitors in a year. It is a jewel and the crown of the Bronx. But look over there at the pavilion, you don't see what you should see. And this is part of the tale of two cities we've talked about for a long time. That beautiful, once beautiful, majestic building, the pavilion fell into disrepair over decades. And circa 2007 was shut down altogether. Now the people of the Bronx deserve better. And yes, a lot of disrepair and a lot of work to do on a lot of expense, but they deserved better. And one of the first things Ruben Diaz Jr. and I talked about is how to right this wrong? And we have been putting together the resources and the plans to do that and bringing in other partners so we can do this once and for all. And then right when we thought we were about to make progress, COVID hit and all the big capital projects got slowed down. But now I'm happy to say we are speeding up again because we need this pavilion to be entirely rebuilt and we need it to be beautiful for the people of the Bronx.

[Applause]

And when you look at these renderings, everyone, if you haven't had chance, take a look. It's – they're beautiful, they tell you what must be. If we're going to have a beach worthy of the people of the Bronx, you can see it in these beautiful, these beautiful pictures here. Now we have devoted, with our partners, $83 million, $83 million to ensuring this project gets done once and for all.

[Applause]

And now $83 million which – it's also an amazing coincidence. That is the prize of money for the volleyball tournament too. Yeah, there's a trophy and an $83 million prize. I didn't mention that. I should have said that. He's still going to lose. So, construction begins early in the next year and it's going to be incredibly exciting. And it's going to be, as Ruben said, this is going to have a huge impact on the whole surrounding area. It's going to be not just for the summer that people will be here. People will be able to be here year-round because of the restaurants and the amenities that will be created. That is amazing. So, right here is where something beautiful is going to happen. And I want to say before I turn to the Borough President, that first of all, I'm wearing, as you could see, appropriate Bronx beachwear today. Which was bought at Bronx Native, an amazing store at Lincoln and Bruckner, Bronx Native. I am their spokesmodel right now. Okay.

[Applause]

Oh, is there – I don't even know. Is there something on the back? Oh no. Oh, you mean like –

[Applause]

Now I think a lot of, you know, the way I speak myself, sometimes I'm handed a line by my incredibly hip and happening staff. So, I'm going to now share this with you. Today, I'll be serving looks while serving volleyballs.

[Applause]

I'm like really, really? That's what you want me to say? Okay. There, I said it, are you happy?

[Applause]

All right, I’m going to let the Borough President speak, and then I'll officially kick off a volleyball tournament that might be one of the most energetic, aggressive, violent volleyball tournaments you've ever seen in your life. We're asking the NYPD to turn around and not watch during this tournament so they won't have to enforce various laws. But truly, truly one thing I love is the passion of this man. He loves his people and he wants the best and he has time and time again said, time for the Bronx to get its fair share. And this – we must have talked about this project a hundred times. He cares so much about it. And before you leave office, I'm so happy that you can see it move forward. My brother, well done. The Borough President of the Bronx Ruben Diaz Jr.

[Applause]

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.: All right. So, Mr. Mayor, I'll tell you one thing. The fact that you're here today, making this announcement, no matter what happens in the volleyball game, I will not walk away today as a loser. I am and the Bronx is a winner for this beautiful announcement.

[Applause]

Let me just say, I do have to shout out our wonderful Bronx Commissioner of Parks Iris Rodriguez-Rosa. Shout out to a whole Parks Department team. Let's give them all a short round of applause.

[Applause]

Mr. Mayor, you have to know that they put up with the – the passion that you speak about, they have to put up with it. And so, every Sunday when we can, we come here, we have our salsa concerts. And I'm really, you know, on them and they deal with me and they've shown patience. So, thank you to all of the good folks, all the good men and women from Parks. We really appreciate all of your service. This Sunday, we're going to have Los Hermanos Colon, with the Cover Girls here, just a little plug. September 5th, we're going to have El Gran Combo. Okay.

[Applause]

On a serious note, when it comes to this and I'm so happy that Council Member Vanessa Gibson is not only here with us today, but that she will be the next borough president, because I know that –

[Applause]

I know that there's more that needs to be done. And she's going to need the partnership of the incoming City Council class, where people like Marjorie Velazquez –

[Applause]

And they're going to need to continue to fund the rest of Orchard Beach. Mr. Mayor, the reason why I'm so passionate about this and you see so many of my people here and so many more who couldn't make it here today, is that Orchard Beach to us is all about memories. It's a destination point. It's – we always say the Bronx riviera, but this is where we come on vacation. This is where for me, I always say this – this is a secret. I learned how to drive in the parking lot. Okay.

Mayor: We won’t tell.

Borough President Diaz: This is where abuela and mommy and [inaudible] and all of my cousins, where we come. And when you come to Orchard Beach and you're Puerto Rican and from the Bronx, you come with the entire kitchen to Orchard Beach. Okay. This is where, you know when, as a father and as a young husband, I came with Hilda and the boys. And to see how the pavilion really went downward and going to other beaches throughout the City of New York and the State of New York and beyond, it really was about equity. So, I'm glad that you mentioned that. This is about us deserving more, deserving better, deserving for the very best. And when you look at the amount of money that has been allocated here, it's nothing to sneeze at. We want to thank all of the elected officials. We want to thank your team. We want to thank every single level of government that has helped us out here. And I know that when it's all said and done Orchard Beach is truly going to be not only beautiful, beautiful, aesthetically, but it's going to be a place of pride, even bigger pride in our hearts. And we in the Bronx are going to have bragging rights. God bless you, Mr. Mayor for this.

[Applause]

Mayor: God bless you, brother. This is what the people of the Bronx deserves. Thank you to everyone at Parks Department, everyone at Economic Development Corporation, everyone who's been making this happen. And I know it's been a labor of love for all of you as well. All right. So, now we've talked about high-minded ideals of loving our fellow human and doing right for them and caring for them, and compassion, and all those things. That's over now because it's time for the tournament. You better change, change into loser's clothes.

Borough President Diaz: I’m a bust that –

[Laughter]

Mayor: So, the summer of New York City volleyball tournament – I want to give a special thanks. Also, thank a wonderful store. It doesn't happen to be in the Bronx. It's in my native Brooklyn, Trophy World, who made possible this extraordinary trophy. Now look, in addition to the $83 million, you get – this trophy says it all. Okay. Summer of New York City Volleyball Champions. Who will be holding this trophy in the end? That is the big question. You can look at it, but you won't be holding it. Okay. This is as close as you're ever getting to this trophy. Oh, sorry. It's not going to be yours. So, now that we've established the facts, let the games begin.

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