November 20, 2006City Initiates Design of First Four Projects and Additional Improvements
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today unveiled the master plan for the South Bronx Greenway, a key component of the Hunts Point Vision Plan that will vastly improve access to the waterfront, provide much-needed recreational opportunities, improve transportation safety and greatly enhance the network of bike and pedestrian paths on the South Bronx peninsula. The City will begin the implementation of the Greenway plan with four short-term projects and additional improvements that will create 1.5 acres of publicly accessible open space and 2.3 miles of green streets. When it’s completed, the South Bronx Greenway will encompass 1.5 miles of new waterfront greenway, 8.5 miles of new green streets, and nearly 12 acres of new waterfront open space. Last week, New York City received a Phoenix Award, which recognizes innovative projects that bring underutilized commercial and industrial sites back to productive use, for the remediation of the new fish market site. Congressman Jose E. Serrano, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, Jr., Assembly Members Carmen E. Arroyo and Ruben Diaz Jr., Council Member Maria del Carmen Arroyo, New York State Secretary of State Christopher L. Jacobs, Economic Development Corporation Interim President Joshua J. Sirefman, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall, Sustainable South Bronx Executive Director Majora Carter and the Point Community Development Corporation Executive Managing Director Kellie Terry-Sepulveda attended the announcement at Hunts Point Landing.
“The Hunts Point Peninsula is a vibrant commercial and residential area, but its residents have been blocked off from the waterfront for far too long,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “By creating access to the waterfront with bike and pedestrian paths, new open space for recreational opportunities and green streets throughout the peninsula, we can improve the quality of life for today’s residents and future generations. An initiative as pioneering as the South Bronx Greenway demonstrates how much can be achieved when the City, State and Federal governments work closely with local community groups to identify needs and address them.”
“This is an especially sweet day for the South Bronx and is in one respect the culmination of nearly a decade of struggle for open space and environmental equity for the southern end of my district,” said Congressman Serrano. “In 1997, The Point came to my office requesting my support for the creation of a ‘green necklace’ around the Hunts Point and Port Morris neighborhoods. At the time, the concept of a ‘South Bronx Greenway’ seemed outlandish to many, but I have continued to support this vision for the future of our waterfront and have secured close to $2 million in land acquisition funds for this greenway. I congratulate The Point and its partners, EDC and Sustainable South Bronx for tenaciously fighting for an outlandish idea and making it the accepted wisdom in planning for the future of my district.”
“Today’s milestone marks a significant step toward achieving our shared goals for increased waterfront access in the South Bronx,” said Secretary of State Jacobs. “The Department of State is pleased to be a partner in advancing South Bronx Greenway projects, including park construction at Hunt’s Point Landing and a pedestrian/bike path to Randall’s Island, both projects supported and funded through our Environmental Protection Fund Local Waterfront Revitalization Program.”
The South Bronx Greenway master plan emerged from the Hunts Point Vision Plan, a comprehensive initiative announced in March 2005 aimed at promoting a competitive business environment and sustainable community on the Hunts Point Peninsula in the South Bronx. Divided into three phases – short-term (five years), mid-term (five to 10 years) and long-term (more than ten years) – the master plan calls for the implementation of a widespread series of projects in the Hunts Point residential and commercial area. The creation of the master plan was funded through a Federal Department of Transportation Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) planning grant of $1 million, $95,000 from Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P., $25,000 in State funds secured by State Senator Jose M. Serrano, $5,000 from Con Edison, and in-kind contributions by Sustainable South Bronx, the Point Community Development Corporation and the Pratt Center for Community Development.
“The combination of vital public investments like the South Bronx Greenway Plan and tremendous private investments like the new Yankee Stadium and Gateway Center at the Bronx Terminal Market are making the South Bronx a better place to live, work and visit,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding Daniel L. Doctoroff. “Thanks to the active participation by the State, local elected officials and the community, we have made tremendous headway realizing our vision of the South Bronx as one of New York City’s most vibrant places.”
“This community-designed Greenway plan is going to make the rest of the City green with envy,” said Borough President Carrión. “We have proven that working together we can create a multi-use waterfront that will be beneficial to both residents and businesses. Being both pro-development and pro-environment is possible.”
The City is initiating the design of the first four projects of the short-term phase that are expected to cost approximately $30 million. The City is allocating about $24 million from the Hunts Point Vision Plan for these projects and additional funding is coming from the State-administered Transportation Enhancements Program ($1.7 million), the State Environmental Protection Fund ($808,000) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ($718,000). The City is working with State and Federal partners to identify additional funding sources.
The first four projects will add 1.5 acres of publicly accessible open space and 2.3 miles of pedestrian friendly public routes designed to improve access and environmental quality. The projects include a waterfront park at the Hunts Point Landing that will create community and recreational space, as well as a sustainable river edge ecosystem; truck traffic improvements on Food Center Drive within the Food Distribution Center to provide maximum use of space; a greenway lane and direct access for pedestrians to the waterfront via jogging and bike paths; and the greening of Lafayette Avenue, in the heart of the residential neighborhood, with streetscaping, a landscaped center median and dedicated bike and pedestrian paths. Additionally, the City is working with the State and local partners to acquire the land to develop a connection to Randall’s Island that will provide safe, convenient and attractive pathways, allowing pedestrian and bicycle access to the Island’s sports and recreational spaces. Construction on the projects is slated to begin by summer 2007 and is scheduled for completion in 2011.
In addition to the four initial projects, the City is also implementing three additional improvements as part of the short-term phase of the Greenway master plan. The Hunts Point Avenue Streetscape and Signage project, an initiative predating the Greenway plan originally championed by the Hunts Point Economic Development Corporation and Greening for Breathing, will provide improved traffic signage, streetscaping and dedicated bike and pedestrian paths. Shoreline improvement and bulkhead repair efforts along the waterfront will allow for future greenway within the Food Distribution Center. Finally, the replacement and beautification of the Produce Market fence will complement the new greenway.
The South Bronx Greenway is one part of the biggest Bronx parks capital program New Yorkers have seen in 70 years. The City is in the midst of a $462 million initiative to improve parks throughout the Bronx over the next five years, including the creation of a new park at an old concrete plant in the South Bronx, the expansion of waterfront access at Regatta Park and the recently opened Barretto Point Park on the Hunts Point waterfront that added a variety of athletic and recreational opportunities. The City is also investing $52 million in the reconstruction of 161st Street and Grand Concourse to improve traffic safety, install distinctive lighting, create dedicated bicycle lanes and transform Lou Gehrig Plaza into a dynamic neighborhood open space. Forty-four of these projects, totaling $100 million, are in design or construction.
New parks complement the tremendous growth experienced over the last several years in the South Bronx. Developments like the new Yankee Stadium, the Gateway Center at the Bronx Terminal Market and The Hub Retail and Office Center are currently underway bringing thousands of new jobs, retail options, waterfront parks and walkways, and traffic and infrastructure improvements to the area. The City invested $110 million at the Hunts Point meat and produce markets and moved the Fulton Fish Market’s 38 wholesalers and 600 employees to a new $85 million facility. The City has also committed more than $190 million since 2002 for new housing that will serve a mix of income levels as part of the Mayor’s New Housing Marketplace Plan to build and preserve 165,000 units of affordable housing over ten years throughout the City, the largest municipal affordable housing plan in the nation’s history. Finally, the Bloomberg Administration is collaborating with community leaders to create a comprehensive development framework to promote the continued revitalization of the South Bronx, while preserving and enhancing what is best about its communities.