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Rallies Held For, Against Planned Fresh Direct Facility In Bronx

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Supporters and opponents of a proposed Fresh Direct facility in the Bronx held dueling rallies ahead of a public hearing Monday night.

State Sen. Ruben Diaz and his New York Hispanic Clergy Organization led their rally in in the Bronx County Courthouse in favor of Fresh Direct's plan to base its operations in the Bronx.

In what at times sounded like a church service, Diaz and his group called on the borough to get behind the grocery deliver service's plan because of the jobs that would come with the facility on the Mott Haven/Port Morris waterfront, 1010 WINS' Sonia Rincon reported.

Diaz said any concerns he had about Fresh Direct adding more pollution to the borough have been addressed with the company's promise of a hybrid truck fleet.

Bronx Rallies Held Over Planned Fresh Direct Facility

"All those problems have been solved, have been taken care of," Diaz said.

The Bronx has a notoriously high rate of asthma among children.

"We have nothing but the best of intentions when we move to the Bronx," said Larry Scott Blackmon, Fresh Direct's vice president for government and community affairs.

Diaz also blasted critics as being outsiders.

But Harry Bubbins, the director of Friends of Brook Park, said the senator doesn't actually represent the district and shouldn't be satisfied with Fresh Direct's promise of a hybrid truck fleet.

"Even hybrid trucks run mostly on diesel gas," he said. "There's no way that Fresh Direct, with their refrigerated needs, can run on any kind of green energy."

Blackmon promised more jobs, saying Fresh Direct will reveal specifics when it breaks ground.

Neighbor Carmen Santiago, who is with the group South Bronx United, which organized a protest outside Hostos Community College, said that's part of the problem: There has not been enough transparency to date. Her group is urging the state to hold off on subsidies for Fresh Direct until there are more answers.

"This is our home," she said. "You just can't come into our backyard and try to take over."

The Empire State Development hearing is being held at the Hostos gymnasium.

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