State to prioritize Port Morris waterfront plan

Advocates call for water parks and boat launches.

A resident fishes near the 132nd St. Pier.
A resident fishes in the East River near the 132nd St. Pier.

Public has until Dec. 17 to submit comments

Mott Haven open space advocates are hopeful their ambitious plans to open multiple public access points along the South Bronx riverfront may soon be realized.

They learned in October that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has included the Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan on its short list of projects across the state it may recommend to receive funding, to protect them from development.

Through its Open Space Conservation Plan, the agency identifies state land needing protection. It voted in October to prioritize the Port Morris plan. If the plan is approved, money would be allocated for lawmakers to put it into effect.

The agency lists the plan’s priorities as: promoting outdoor recreation; addressing climate change; ensuring clean water and air; and protecting and conserving natural resources. The Port Morris section of the report calls for “a logical solution to climate change effects …within flood zones,” adding the plan “gives the underserved community access to designated open space to counteract health consequences caused by an oversaturation of highways and truck-intensive businesses.”

On Wednesday, October 22, a public hearing to discuss the plan will be held at the agency’s city office at 47-40 21st Street, Long Island City, from 2:30-4:30 and from 7:00-9:00 p.m.

The proposal for Port Morris includes:

  • Creating waterfront parks on the Bronx Kill and at the Alexander Ave. extension of Lincoln Ave. A park on the Bronx Kill would link to the Randall’s Island Connector, which is scheduled to be finished in 2015.
  • Creating boat launches and parks at the Park and Lincoln Avenue access points. The Park Avenue site is one of few spots along the riverfront not blocked by the Oak Point rail link. Locals already use the sites to fish and launch boats.
  • Restoring the East 132nd Street Pier, which was destroyed in a Con Ed explosion in the 1980s. Residents regularly crawl through holes in the fence to fish from the rocky shore.
  • Restoring easy access to the historic Port Morris gantries.
  • Creating an east-west connecting path between the Port Morris and Hunts Point waterfronts. The path would connect six interrelated projects in the South Bronx, including Mott Haven, Melrose and the Randall’s Island Connector.

Members of the public are encouraged to submit their comments and suggestions to the DEC through December 17, by sending them to [email protected] Suggested comments are available on the website of grassroots environmental group South Bronx Unite, at www.southbronxunite.com. After the public comment period is closed, the department will review all comments on the proposed plan and issue a final plan of priority projects.

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