A new plan is released every ten years. On December 19, 2021, the Department of City Planning released the Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, a 10-year vision for the 520 miles of waterfront citywide. The plan aims to provide more equitable access to waterfronts.
The plan is organized by a framework of six topic areas, and presents ways city agencies can collaborate with waterfront communities and other stakeholders. The six major topic areas are: climate adaptation and resiliency; waterfront public access; economic opportunity; water quality and natural resources; ferries; and governance.
Climate adaptation and resiliency highlights policies that advance climate justice in the fight against climate change. The plan recognizes that many communities and demographics are often marginalized or excluded in climate policymaking. The plan highlights that a wide range of solutions are needed to address climate change, including infrastructure investments like coastal flood barriers and resilient design practices for new buildings; and land use policies like establishing new resilient housing, including affordable housing, and limiting growth in more vulnerable neighborhoods.
Waterfront public access was a major focus in the previous Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, Vision 2020, and the new plan aims to continue these successes. The plan aims to explain access to the waterfront, support growing waterfront communities, and create programming for open spaces near and on waterfronts.
The economic opportunity section of the plan highlights opportunities for economic growth by improving infrastructure, creating green jobs, and utilizing public waterfront space to grow and diversify the city’s economy. The plan cites the Brooklyn Army Terminal and the Hunts Point Food Distribution Centers as examples of spaces that the City can continue to invest in to further reactivate or modernize those spaces. Other strategies include encouraging business development and addressing the need for a variety of types of workspaces to meet changing needs.
Through improving and protecting water quality and natural resources, New Yorkers can safely participate in water-based recreation activities like swimming, fishing and boating. Simultaneously, it is critical to protect local ecosystems while encouraging more activity along the waterfront. The plan promotes education, support for ecosystem services, enhancing biodiversity, and improving water quality citywide.
The plan’s section on ferries includes completing the planned expansion of NYC Ferry, increasing the sustainability and efficiency of ferry services, strengthening the role of ferry landings as hubs to neighborhoods and strategic planning for ferry services within New York City and the region.
The plan’s final section, governance, promotes better management and monitoring of waterfront infrastructure and improved coordination across jurisdiction and levels of government.
Local Law 49 of 2008 requires the Department of City Planning to release a new Comprehensive Waterfront Plan every ten years. The plan is designed by a multi-year public engagement process. Dozens of in-person and remote workshops, waterfront tours and other events occurred over three years to encourage public engagement.
To read the entire plan, click here.
DCP Director Anita Laremont stated, “The waterfront is one of New York City’s most valuable assets. With this latest edition of the Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, we’re looking to the next decade of challenges and opportunities on and along the water. From climate justice to well-paying jobs, ferries to parks, this plan looks at how we can further transform our shorelines and waterways to become even more accessible, resilient, and vibrant. This important document provides a road map for tackling the challenges along our waterfront.”
NYC Parks Commissioner Gabrielle Fialkoff stated, “As the stewards of much of New York City’s diverse waterfront—from natural areas to beaches and esplanades — we understand the importance of a comprehensive plan that considers both the impacts of climate change and prioritizes surrounding communities. We applaud DCP for developing this thoughtful roadmap with climate and equity at its core so the City can take much needed steps to addressing these issues over the next decade.”
By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)