ORCHARD BEACH, the Bronx (PIX11) — Contractors began setting up New York City’s first Emergency Migrant Relief Center Monday morning in the parking lot of Orchard Beach.
PIX11 News was first on the scene as workers began driving piles with sledgehammers and jackhammers for semi-permanent tent structures. Others blocked off the area, about the size of at least two football fields, with gates.
The center was promised by Mayor Eric Adams last week. It will be one of at least two built in New York City to welcome and offer services to migrants being bused from the Texas border. Adams has not specified where the second location would be placed.
The mayor has blasted the bussing of migrants by Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other southern GOP leaders as a political stunt. At least 13,000 migrants have been sent to New York City, most of whom remain housed by NYC authorities, by law.
However, the plan to use encampments to deal with the influx of migrants worries some advocates. Folks using the park Monday morning were generally supportive of the city helping migrants get settled, but they also raised a number of concerns with the selection of Orchard Beach as the relief center site.
Some people pointed out that the site means limitations on how residents can use the park. While others questioned the selection of a location close to the water with winter weather only weeks away.
“It’s tough. To have people right near the water and it’s going to get cold. If it’s not that temporary, the cold months are coming on,” said Bronx resident Elliot Hewitt, who used to work for the United Nations as a peacekeeper near refugee camps.