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Recycling the Bronx.

Yolanda Rivera parks her rusty two-toned Cadillac Seville on the cracked concrete driveway at the site of her future factory in New York City's South Bronx. She may not be your typical capitalist entrepreneur, but then the Bronx is not your typical industrial park. Manufacturers have been abandoning the brick factories for decades, leaving only the giant Hunts Point wholesale food market, and Rivera now stands in the 90-acre Harlem River rail yards which have done little but grow weeds since the early 70s.

Rivera and her partners hope to build a $180 million paper recycling pulp mill by 1996 that will harvest 600 tons of office paper per day from the towers of Manhattan. And she promises the plant won't look like the brick monster power plant with four smokestacks across the river. It will be designed by Maya Lin, who did the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC.

As CEO of the Banana Kelley Community Improvement Association, Rivera runs an agency that has rehabilitated over 2,000 apartments, planted vegetable gardens, and even rebuilt a crack house into a boarding school. Now it is trying to create an industry that will provide jobs without polluting the neighborhood. With help from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Banana Kelley has created a joint venture with the Swedish MoDo Paper Company to build the mill, the S.D. Warren company to run it, and Nippon to supply the latest Japanese technology. Banana Kelley will supply the community relations and suffer the headaches of handling New York City politics and regulations. Its share of the profits will pay for a $6.2 million health care facility and family learning center.

But, ironically, Banana Kelley faces opposition from other environmentalists. The Bronx Clean Air Coalition, the New York City Sierra Club and others want the old Harlem River railyards to become a new transportation center for freight trains. New York City moves 90 percent of its goods by truck, compared to an average of 41 percent in other cities, adding diesel fumes to the air and shipping costs to the economy. But Rivera says the railyard has room for both trains and a pulp mill, which will occupy only 21 acres. "This will be a model for how business does business," she says. Contact: Banana Kelley, 863 Prospect Avenue, Bronx, NY 10459/(718)328-1064.
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Title Annotation:environmentalists plan to build a paper recycling pulp mill in New York City's South Bronx
Author:Nixon, Will
Date:Dec 1, 1994
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