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Bridge the gap! Complete Starlight Park to Finish the Bronx River Greenway

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Bridge the gap! Complete Starlight Park to Finish the Bronx River Greenway

Starlight Phase 2: Bridge the Gap!
Top Ten Reasons to Sign the petition.

Overview: The City of New York, as well as the State and Federal Departments of Transportation, have invested a decade and over $140 million in planning and building the Bronx River Greenway, designed to extend for the length of the Bronx—eight miles—and connect to an additional 15 miles in Westchester County. Since the late 1990’s, the New York State Department of Transportation (“NYSDOT”) has been engaged in a project to build a central one-mile mile link in the Greenway in the South Bronx, from Westchester Avenue to E. Tremont Avenue, called Starlight Park. Click here for a map of the link and its regional context along the Bronx River Greenway. A neighborhood scale map of the missing link is available here.  
Click here for an enlarged and printable version of this map.

Phase 1 of this project will open this fall. However, the second phase—a critical link from Starlight Park to Concrete Plant Park—stalled because Amtrak and NYSDOT could not reach agreement concerning indemnification and potential environmental liability for the construction of a pedestrian overpass bridging Amtrak’s Acela line at 172nd St and Bronx River Ave. State-appropriated funding for the project vanished in 2009, when these legal obstacles stalled the project.

Actions needed:
Proceed with the project with New York City as the lead agent
Through the Federal Urban Waters Partnership, the Department of the Interior, prompted by Congressman Serrano, has focused attention and resources on resolving this impasse and convened several conference calls with Amtrak and the State. Both sides recommend that the project be transferred to the City so that it can operate under an existing indemnity agreement between the City and Amtrak that the State does not currently have. The City’s engagement will enable Amtrak to negotiate easements over the track, and work with the State and City to review design, construction, and scheduling plans. Put simply, having the City assume project management overcomes the greatest obstacle that has stalled this project for the past few years and clears the way for work to resume to completion.

Restore full funding for the project
While New York City is well suited to serve as the lead agent, New York State must retain its commitment to funding. The State originally promised to cover all expenses, but now says that the project will need multiple funding sources. The projected costs are $30-35 million:
• Construction of the three bridges = $17-20 million
One bridge over the Amtrak line and two over the river
• Parkland improvements = $13-15 million
This includes earthwork, trail construction, planting, lighting, etc.

The case for action:
This missing link is vital to the overall success of the Greenway as there are no desirable route alternatives. Without this link, neighborhoods will remain cut off from the river and from the new parks, playgrounds, ballfields, and paths along its banks. In a community deficient in open space, cut up by truck routes and beset by asthma, diabetes, obesity and other health problems that open air exercise can reduce, government action is essential to complete this healthy, green transportation link.

The development of the Bronx River Greenway is an economic driver in the Bronx and has already begun to attract private investments along its corridor. One example, the Signature Urban Properties development on West Farms Road, is planned to include 1,325 units of housing and 46,000 square feet of retail space overlooking Starlight Park. In a NY Times article, Signature Principal Gifford Miller cited “signs of the area’s potential, including … the extensive restoration work in progress on the 12-acre Starlight Park” as a reason for choosing this area for redevelopment. Conversely, two parcels acquired by eminent domain for the greenway link and a stretch of undeveloped land on the east bank will sit vacant, potentially blighting the surrounding area and inviting illicit activities until the link is constructed.

This $30+ million project is virtually shovel-ready: environmental reviews have been completed, permits secured, and major properties acquired. The construction of the link will create or save 780 direct, indirect and induced jobs, according to NYSDOT’s construction job calculator. Once constructed, the greenway link will attract concessionaires and vendors on and near the greenway, serving the thousands of people who will bike, walk or play on the greenway.

Click here for an enlarged and printable version of this map.

Project details
Phase 2 of Starlight Park encompasses 11 acres of parkland, three bridges (one over the Amtrak line and two over the river), and a seamless link to Concrete Plant Park, the new waterfront park that opened in 2009. Phase 2 provides essential access for residents of South Bronx neighborhoods to the entire Greenway and will open up a half-mile jogging loop around Starlight Park.

Sign the petition to make this vital link happen!

Top Ten Reasons to sign your support: 
1. Without this link, over 100,000 residents will remain cut off from new parks, playgrounds, ballfields, and paths along the Bronx River.
2. Because the Bx River Greenway is an economic driver for the Bronx, already attracting private investment
3. Because South Bronx communities are deficient in open space and cut up by truck routes
4. Because people will use this link to reach jobs, businesses, homes and schools (without a drop of oil)
5. Because without this link, access to Starlight Park and Concrete Plant Park will be dangerous and uninviting
6. So NY State will fulfill a pledge to Bronx communities made more than a decade ago
7. Because South Bronx communities are beset by asthma, diabetes, obesity and other health problems that open air exercise can reduce
8. Because this project is shovel-ready: design documents are complete and properties are ready for construction
9. Because this project will create or save 780 jobs according to NYSDOT’s job formula.
10. Because the Bronx deserves a continuous waterfront greenway!