City’s Waterfront Plan Vetted at Public Meeting

Comprehensive plan for managing the City’s shoreline unveiled for public comment. On October 12, 2010, the Department of City Planning held a public meeting to present its Vision 2020 Comprehensive Waterfront Plan draft recommendations. Vision 2020 is Planning’s response to a local law mandating the creation by the end of 2010 of a comprehensive plan for the City’s 578 miles of shoreline. The proposal builds on the City’s original 1992 waterfront plan and is part of a broader Citywide initiative to establish a long-term blueprint for the City’s shoreline, known as the Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy. Vision 2020 was created after a public-input process that was formally commenced in April 2010. 7 CityLand 59 (May 15, 2010).

Vision 2020 provides broad programmatic goals for the City’s waterfront and targeted recommendations for specific portions of the City’s shoreline, referred to as “reaches” by Planning. The six programmatic goals include expanding the public’s access to the waterfront and waterways, increasing waterborne transportation and on-water recreation, and supporting port and other maritime industries on the working waterfront.

The site-specific recommendations for the 22 local reaches were based on long-term studies by Planning and local stakeholder input provided during borough-wide public workshops. The draft recommendations included, for example, potentially building a maritime support service hub in Sunset Park, improving canoe portages around waterfalls in the Bronx River, and supporting continued evaluation of tidal energy opportunities around Roosevelt Island.

The October meeting hosted a diverse audience of more than 250 people and featured comments from local residents and representatives of community and business groups. Environmental justice issues were mentioned by several groups in attendance. The New York City Environmental Justice Alliance’s Eddie Bautista noted that the clustering of Significant Maritime Industrial Areas (SMIAs) in minority communities unfairly burdened local residents with pollution. Adam Liebowitz, director of the South Bronx’s The Point Community Development Corporation, requested that the City include “stronger language and a true commitment” to reducing communities overburdened by SMIAs. Tameka Jones, from the United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park, urged Planning to ensure that adequate buffers between SMIAs and nearby communities are provided.

Other speakers commented on protecting the aquatic environment and offered ideas on how to enhance the waterways for recreation and transportation. The Roosevelt Island Residents Association’s Matthew Katz noted the need for waterfront access points and alternative transportation as residential development continues to increase on Roosevelt Island. Regional Plan Association’s Rob Pirani supported the idea of greenways connecting the waterfront and said that the plan should be expanded to include connectivity with upland communities along the waterfront as well. Pirani also echoed the concerns of community members adjacent to SMIAS, but noted that these areas, and the “reservoirs” of jobs they represent, should be strengthened through the use of zoning or deed restrictions.

Planning accepted public comments on the draft recommendations until November 12, 2010, and will release the final plan before the end of the year.

DCP: Hearing on Vision 2020 Comprehensive Waterfront Plan draft recommendations (Oct. 12, 2010).

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.