The Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan is a proposal to provide 100,000+ people access to a public waterfront that, for decades, has been inaccessible. The plan was recognized as a New York State Priority Project as part of the DEC Open Space Plan. It was also included in the NYC Parks Department Harlem River Watershed and Natural Resources Management Plan for the Bronx. It is consistent with three rezonings on adjacent land as well as Vision 2020 NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan; it provides a logical solution to climate change effects on significant maritime industrial areas (SMIAs) located within flood zones; and it gives the underserved community access to open space to counteract health consequences caused by an oversaturation of highways and truck-intensive businesses.
The plan consists of the following projects:
A – Bronx Kill Waterfront
B – Park Avenue Boat Launch/Waterfront Park
C – Lincoln Avenue Waterfront
D – Alexander Avenue Extension
E – East 132nd Street Pier
F – Historic Port Morris Gantries
G – Waterfront Connecting Path
Background on the Land – The majority of these projects are situated on a 96-acre plot of public waterfront land located within a Zone B flood zone and leased in 1991 by the NYSDOT to Harlem River Yard Ventures, Inc. Harlem River Yards currently subleases to a variety of diesel truck intensive industries, including FreshDirect, as well as a 5,000 ton per day waste transfer station, a 2,000 ton per day waste transfer station and several fossil fuel peaker power plants. The effect of such facilities on air quality in the South Bronx, where we have an asthma epidemic, is eggregious. Asthma rates in the South Bronx are eight times the national average; asthma deaths are three times the national average; and it is estimated that one in every five children in the South Bronx has asthma. The Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan would help offset this health crisis.
A Solution to Climate Change Effects on SMIAs in Flood
Zones – Harlem River Yards is part of the South Bronx Significant Maritime Industrial Area (SMIA), which is more than 850 acres in size, stretching from Port Morris on the Harlem River to Hunts Point on the East River. Hurricane Sandy caused significant flooding of the South Bronx SMIA. In Mott Haven-Port Morris alone, upwards of three and a half feet of water swelled Harlem River Yards at Lincoln Avenue, leaving a trail of destroyed businesses and a concerning toxic-appearing residue along the streets. The foundation of the former East 132nd Street pier, which abuts the Long Island Sound and is adjacent to a fossil fuel power plant, was forcefully ripped out of the ground from the pressure of the storm. The Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan would integrate designated open spaces on currently unoccupied portions of Harlem River Yards to help offset potentially toxic effects of inevitable storm surges flooding the current businesses that lease space. The proposal would also help guard against potential climate change effect threats to the borough’s electrical grid infrastructure given that most of the Southern Bronx ConEd power plants are located in and around this area. The potential for the destruction of this grid can be seen in the example of what happened to the 14th Street ConEd station during Hurricane Sandy.
SNAPSHOT VIEW OF THE PLAN
A: Bronx Kill Waterfront Park – site of Native American settlement and burial ground; last significant open green space on the Mott Haven-Port Morris waterfront; lines the Bronx Kill waterway; directly connects to the “Randall’s Island Connector”
B: Park Avenue Boat Launch and Waterfront Park – already green space; one of the few areas with actual water access not blocked by Oak Point Link rail; already being used as an ad hoc fishing and boat launch site
C: Lincoln Avenue Waterfront Park – easily accessible by pedestrians; already being used as an ad hoc fishing site; provides direct access to the waterfront
D: Alexander Avenue Extension of Lincoln Avenue Waterfront Park – easily accessible by pedestrians; vacant and unused site; community blocked by fence and guard
E: East 132nd Street Pier – previously a pier here (and even a floating pool in 1902); in the 1980s, a ConEd explosion destroyed the pier, and the company never replaced it; currently residents crawling through holes in the fence to fish along the banks of the shore; focus of the New York Restoration Project’s Haven Project
F: Historic Port Morris Gantries -stands as a reminder of NYC’s rich nautical heritage; in 1902, the gantries fostered the development of a market, hotels and restaurants; recognized by the Historic Districts Council during its “Six to Celebrate” program on the basis of architectural and historic merit of the area; full revitalization renderings have already been completed
G: Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Connecting Path – the waterfront connecting path would weave through and around existing uses on the waterfront to connect the six interrelated projects, and also connecting to the “Randall’s Island Connector”