The Hudson River Greenway plan could finally bring people to one of Riverdale’s most scenic assets through small waterfront parks and trails.
But getting it going not only requires bringing the community together, but neighbors as well.
One of the biggest obstacles might be found just north where Yonkers city officials have a rather different idea when it comes to the Hudson.
“The riverfront greenway is not a priority for them,” said Bob Bender, chair of Community Board 8’s Hudson River Greenway committee, earlier this month. “They are much more interested in development along the riverfront than they are in recreational amenities.”
The Yonkers plan, as Bender suggests, would complicate the trail plans. But it doesn’t have to, one city official there said.
“We are looking at different areas to redevelop along the waterfront, but it would be a combination of residential and commercial, and have greenspace,” said Louis Albano, a Yonkers deputy commissioner. “You can’t block off access to the waterfront, so the community would still have access to it. We’re just looking to create a walkway and walking paths that will just be slightly nicer, and paved.”
Yonkers also would develop an old Hudson railroad route into a trail. However, instead of it continuing up the banks of the river, it would take travelers into the heart of the city from Van Cortlandt Park.
“The understanding is that no developer is going to take control of the waterfront,” Albano said.
“You can build up to a certain point on the waterfront for your tenants, but then after that, it’s open to the public. And it’s going to connect to the other trails and further development, even along the waterfront.”
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has spent the past several months studying the feasibility of turning land along the Hudson currently used by its Metro-North Commuter Railroad into a trail. While he emphasized the importance of ensuring Yonkers is on board with an overall plan, MTA senior planner David Cuff warned the greenway committee there were other concerns to pay attention to as well.
These include what he called “pinch points” — areas along the Hudson between Spuyten Duyvil and Yonkers that could be in the way of any potential trail. These include places like the Riverdale Yacht Club and a sewage treatment plant operated by Westchester County.
Those places provide little to any room for trails or parks, and getting around those “pinch points” will require some creative thinking in order to keep any trail intact, Cuff said.
“There is not a lot of room to get into these places between our tracks,” he said. “Maybe you can find a way to get around the outside of the waste treatment plant, if somehow you can negotiate with Westchester County.”
Working with county officials, however, could mean a lot more room, a better view, and a better way to get around, Cuff added.
Plans for the trail are far from complete, with the initial MTA study focusing primarily on geographic constraints, Cuff said. The next step is to study those problem areas and develop solutions to overcome them. And after that, the group will begin to consider cost.
Bender, at least, was confident money shouldn’t be too much of an issue. The dismantling of the Sheridan Expressway has given city officials a chance to provide access to both the Bronx River and Shoelace Park in the southern part of the borough.
The cost for that? $1.8 billion.
If the city is able to find those kinds of funds for the South Bronx, Bender feels good about getting the same kind of help a little further north.
MTA will come back with results from the second part of its study later this summer.