Marble Hill all but forgotten by generations of representatives
By Sarina Trangle
Marble Hill residents say they have a problem with the City Council: Too many members of that body are representing them, causing delays in vital projects and obstructing imperative services due to oversights, bureaucratic snares and lack of communication among politicians.
In 1939, years after the channel that had once rendered the 52-acre territory an island was filled, Bronx Borough President James Lyons planted the borough’s flag in a rocky promontory near West 225th Street and Jacobus Place, claiming Marble Hill for the mainland borough.
However, residents petitioned against the annexation and city officials complied, keeping the neighborhood under Manhattan’s control.
In 1971, St. Stephen’s minister and historian Rev. William Tieck proposed shifting the neighborhood’s allegiance to the Bronx. He argued the community depended on the Bronx for services, but had seen its political muscle atrophy under governance from three City Council members and two borough presidents.
Decades later, little has changed.
Three council members – two from the Bronx and one from Manhattan – still represent the approximately 3,300 residents of the Marble Hill Houses.
At times, the politicians’ narrow focus on their constituents has fractured the community, leaving some of the development’s 11 buildings with more resources than others.
Residents say uniting the Marble Hill Houses into one district would empower the community and benefit residents who sometimes traverse from one politician’s office to another’s searching for their representative.
“There’s more power in numbers and we’re broken down,” said The New Marble Hill Tenant’s Association President Paulette Shomo. “We all have different representatives and now we have different people doing different things in different areas.”
Collectively, the 3,371 residents of the Marble Hill Houses would comprise slightly more than 2 percent of the average council district based on calculations by the New York City Districting Commission.