‘Vision 2020’ Calls For Easier Waterfront Access

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By Megan Finnegan

A West Side with easier waterfront access as well as more dedicated bike and pedestrian paths along the Hudson River, are just two of the recommendations in Vision 2020: The New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, released last week by the Department of City Planning.

The new draft recommendations come after seven public meetings and working with local community boards, and encompass a master waterfront plan for the city’s 500 miles of shoreline as well as specifying what will be done within individual neighborhoods.

According to Vision 2020, the goals for the Upper West Side area, which includes Morningside Heights, are to “improve access through enhanced streetscape, better signage, and more wayfinding to and within Riverside Park and Riverside Park South,” as well as “explore opportunities for waterborne emergency access.”

The specific recommendations for Riverside Park include creating dedicated bike and pedestrian paths, to possibly develop commercial uses like restaurants and retail stores, and to build more bridges from the park to the waterfront itself.

Mel Wymore, chair of Community Board 7, said that members of the board and Upper West Side residents have been involved in crafting the recommendations, and that the biggest priority is to increase access to Riverside Park.

“There have been huge improvements, but the more ways we create access, the more signage, the more pathways to get there, the more activities the better,” said Wymore. He also pointed out that three main concerns for the park are to complete it according to the original plans, to make capital improvements in order to handle increasing traffic to the park, and to continue ongoing maintenance.

One point on which there has been disagreement, said Wymore, is the proposal to move the Miller Highway underground.

“There are people who would welcome the burying of the Miller Highway and those who think it’s not the highest priority,” he said. “The consensus is that when the time comes and the current highway has come to the end of its useful life, then it will be a good time.”

Still, Wymore said that the community is supportive of recommendations to improve Riverside Park, and consider it one of the best assets of the neighborhood and the city.

A public meeting will take place 6 p.m., October 12, at Rosenthal Pavilion in the NYU Kimmel Center for University Life, 60 Washington Square, to discuss the draft recommendations and other topics, such as expanding public waterfront access and green technology for maritime operations.

The Department of City Planning must submit a final draft of the waterfront proposal by the end of this December.

“I was so impressed and excited that hundreds of knowledgeable and passionate New Yorkers attended our workshops, and I hope everyone who cares about the City’s waterfront continues to work with us to finalize these important recommendations,” Amanda M. Burden, City Planning Commissioner, said in a statement.

For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/waterfront.

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