Ahead of National Night Out, officials break ground on the installation of new, enhanced lighting at Polo Grounds Towers to help deter crime and improve securityNEW YORK—Today, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, were joined by elected officials for the groundbreaking of new, energy efficient LED lighting for the entrances, walkways and parking areas at the Polo Grounds Towers in Harlem. The $4.4 million lighting project at Polo Grounds Towers will replace the development’s current outdated exterior lighting system, which was installed when the buildings were originally built in the late 1960s and does not provide adequate lighting.
The Polo Grounds Towers is part of the Mayor’s Action Plan (MAP) for Neighborhood Safety, an initiative to reduce crime at 15 NYCHA development sites. As a partnership between NYCHA, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, the NYPD and other city agencies, MAP was launched to target crime prevention efforts at the public housing developments that drove 20 percent of NYCHA’s violent crime in 2014.
“Safety and security in our city's public housing is of the utmost priority,” said New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The Mayor's Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety implements key improvements to reduce crime and make NYCHA developments safer places to call home, including much-needed enhanced lighting. The City Council is proud to support New Yorkers in public housing through its investment in the Mayor's Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety. The City Council also committed over $28.5 million in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget for essential security upgrades and community programming. These investments will not only bring down crime at NYCHA developments, but also connect residents with tools, resources, and opportunities for growth and success.”
NYCHA is installing new and improved lighting at MAP sites as part of a comprehensive effort to reduce crime with nearly $80 million in funding from the City Council, the Mayor’s Office and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
“Every New Yorker deserves a safe place to call home, which is why my Office has committed $101 million in criminal forfeiture proceeds toward NYCHA security enhancements,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. “A crime prevented is better than a crime prosecuted, and these security improvements will help make 15 priority developments more safe. This strategic, proactive investment in physical infrastructure will have a tangible impact on the daily lives of thousands of New Yorkers.”
Improving the safety and security in public housing is a key strategy in NextGeneration NYCHA, the Authority’s 10 year strategic plan. While violent crime is down about 8 percent and overall crime is down 19 percent at Polo Grounds Towers over last year, the recent shooting and the death of a teenager at neighboring Rucker Park basketball courts in June, indicates there is more that can be done to increase safety and security in the neighborhood.
This week, digging at the development started, which will enable contractors to run new electrical cables for new free-standing lighting. The installation of 357 new light fixtures at Polo Grounds Towers is expected to be complete at the end of this year. New lighting construction is scheduled to start at Butler Houses, St. Nicholas Houses, Boulevard Houses and Bushwick Houses in the next month. By the end of next year, NYCHA plans to install new lighting at all 15 MAP sites across 18 individual developments.
“Our city has made a commitment to provide NYCHA’s 400,000 tenants with clean, safe, affordable housing, and maintaining safe public spaces in NYCHA developments is part of that commitment,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Installing new lighting, like removing unnecessary scaffolding, is a simple step that can go a long way in improving safety for NYCHA residents.”
Today’s groundbreaking is helping launch National Night Out, an annual summer event held on the first Tuesday evening of August, which brings together the police, community members, civic organizations and local businesses in partnership to prevent crime. In partnership with local PSAs, National Night Out activities are being hosted at several NYCHA developments, including the Whitman Houses, LES II Houses/Hernandez Houses, Wagner Houses, West Side Urban Renewal Site B (Sol Bloom Playground), Morris Houses, Soundview Houses, and the Queensbridge Houses.
"Tonight, we will gather as a city to celebrate National Night Out and recognize the importance of strengthening police-community relationships so that together we can keep our communities safe," said Public Advocate Letitia James. "Equally important to keeping our communities safe are clean and welcoming psychical environments. And today, NYCHA is continuing its promise to residents to improve neighborhood safety by installing lighting at the Polo Grounds."
“Providing adequate lighting to NYCHA developments is a commonsense security measure that can lead to significant decreases in crime. The millions of City dollars that are being directed to security upgrades at NYCHA are a crucial investment in the safety and lives of NYCHA residents,“ said Council Member Ritchie Torres, Chair of the Committee on Public Housing. “In the last two years we have seen a historic increase in City funding for NYCHA and it has been my great honor to work with the Speaker in spearheading this effort.”
“Our NYCHA developments and surrounding neighborhoods are undergoing a resurgence that is gradually improving the quality of life of its more than 400,000 residents. From the removal of under-used sidewalk sheds, to engaging the community and our youth with the expansion of work and educational programs, to the uplifting of the physical appearance of our developments, and finally to the addition of more security lighting, this city is committed to protecting our residents and surrounding neighborhoods,” said Council Member Inez E. Dickens, District 9-Harlem. “I applaud this administration for their efforts and remarkable work it has and continues to do in making New York City a safe place for all.”
“Better lighting helps shine a bright light on crime and violence, and will hopefully help stop it before it even starts,” said Barbara Williams, Polo Grounds Towers’ Tenant Association President. “These improvements are an important piece to enhancing the safety of our community and the security of all our residents.”