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Bridging the Gaps in Manhattan's Waterfronts

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                                                                                                                         by Dave Hogarty, President Shorewalkers

Shorewalkers know that long journeys are the sum of small steps taken one after another. And last night, we took a small step in opening another segment of Manhattan's waterfront to the public.
Participants in the Great Saunter are well aware that a detour currently must be taken around the stretch of the Harlem River that extends from 125th St. to 132nd St. in Manhattan. This shoreline is currently used by the Dept of Transportation (DOT) and the Tribororough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA). As a beginning step in turning this 11-acre site into a public park, personnel from NYC Parks and landscape architecture firm Starr Whitehouse conducted a visioning workshop Wednesday evening for community members to express their preferences for what features an open and accessible waterfront should contain.
 
An early draft of plans for the new waterfront park features two access points from East Harlem: a staircase and ramp next to the Willis Avenue Bridge and at-grade access beneath an elevated portion of the Harlem River Drive at 127th St.
 
Elise Boudan of Starr Whitehouse laid out the four goals of the project:
1. Provide safe and enhanced access to the Harlem River waterfront.
2. Connect this segment of the waterfront to Manhattan's existing shoreline greenways.
3. Provide recreational and programming opportunities to East Harlem residents.
4. Create enhanced environmental benefits to the Harlem River waterway.
 
Wednesday's meeting was the first of three planned sessions for the project's managers to meet with community members and leaders. The next meeting will be scheduled to occur in September when the working group will present updated plans for the waterfront park based on inputs and feedback gained from the first session.