Building Greenways and Community in the Bronx
The Bronx River Greenway and South Bronx Greenway plans apply community-driven design strategies to help undo years of top down, auto-centric planning and development in the Bronx. The greenways, when completed, will create a network of safe bicycle and pedestrian paths and routes, parks, and waterfront access points throughout the borough. See the Bronx River Alliance's 2009 calendar for a list of events and activities planned on or around the Bronx River. Also be sure to check out Sustainable South Bronx and The Point Community Development Corporation for more information about the projects and for ways to get involved.
Tatianna Echevarria: [0:04] The Greenway for me represents power in the community.
Roger Weld: [0:08] Something that encourages walking and biking. It encourages economic development surrounding the community.
Tawkiyah Jordan: [0:14] It's we connect with people in the community along the Bronx River with the natural environment.
Amilcar Laboy: [0:19] I feel great because I'm giving back to the community where I came from.
Roger Weld: [0:24] So, it's something we use for schools or access in transit, for just traveling through the middle of the Bronx by bicycle or walking. So, you can go from park to park or to even with the South Bronx Greenway and Lincoln Place to get to Manhattan.
Speaker: [0:38] The Bronx River Greenway goes from Westchester County's border with the Bronx all the way down to the East River.
Adam Liebowitz: [0:46] The Bronx River Greenway is connected with the South Bronx Greenway near Riverside Park. The South Bronx Greenway will be connected to Randall's Island and once that connection is open, you're connecting via greenways to all of the New York City Greenways. The Bronx River Greenway and the South Bronx Greenways connect to the larger vision of having a continuous East Coast Greenway.
Astrid Glynn: [1:06] Well, Greenways, particularly in areas such as this that are not otherwise rich in green spaces, are very important, not only to actual mobility to provide bike paths, pedestrian paths, ways for people to move about in green spaces and go from point A to point B. [1:27] But, it also provides a community focus. It provides a spine around which a community can work to build itself, work to connect itself and really find a common ground and a common green ground that can be useful for a variety of people who have a stake in the community, either because the live there or they work there.
Tawkiyah Jordan: [1:52] This is one of the poorest Congressional districts in the country with very little open space. And now you have a place where people can not only come to share with the people in the community, share good times with them but also to learn about the river, to get on the river which is a rare opportunity anywhere in New York City, not just in the Bronx. [music]
Joan Byron: [2:20] The river was used as a piece of industrial infrastructure. There were mills built along the river going back to the 1600, 1700s in the Bronx. Through the 1800s and 1900s railroad tracks were built alongside it. Industrial facilities and a coal gasification plant stood where Starlite Park now is. [2:41] The land uses right along the river were industry, and all around those industrial areas were tenement houses where poor working class folks came to live.
Dart Westphal: [2:51] What do we do with these places, and how do we make them be beautiful, natural places where the industry once was? Or how do we fit a beautiful natural place along the river into the industry that still remains in a way that's responsible and sustainable? And that's a big part of the Bronx River Alliance and all of the groups working along the Bronx River are trying to do.
Sheila Somashekar: [3:10] People who live here feel the effects of really poor planning. There's high asthma rates here and limited access to physical activity, to the opportunities to be outdoors, to do physical activity. The environment here is a barrier to healthy living, both in terms of pollution in the air and the water, in terms of attractive and usable and healthy spaces for people to spend time in. [3:38] So, the Greenway will help to remediate some of the environmental problems. With increased vegetative infrastructure, that's going to help with storm water capture to keep the Bronx River from getting even more polluted than it is and then to help clean it up. And with increased trees, that captures air pollutants.
Tatianna Echevarria: [3:56] The features that are included in some of these areas are really great for the community in terms of historically what the community values. What used to be a little fishing area for the community at the Hunts Point Landing Site, they are going to develop it into a little fishing area and there's going to be a little ramp where the boats can go down. [4:12] I think that's pretty cool because historically people at Hunts Point, they love things like that.
Joan Byron: [4:17] The Greenway needs to provide good skilled, living wage jobs and careers there so that folks might come in and do a very basic level of maintenance and environmental preservation and restoration and graduate and learn a series of skills. As we get more greenway than what we have now, there's going to be more and more jobs and more and more need for a stream of revenue that supports those jobs.
Amilcar Laboy: [4:45] It's going to open up a lot of doors for those who want to work in green collar jobs. I take care of the tree network at Hunts Point. It's like a new title. Instead of construction and maintenance, green collar jobs.
Tatianna Echevarria: [5:01] And I think when people lose the things that they value, it hurts. And to get it back, it's wow. We have this skill. We can use it. And then, future generations can learn from that and the sort of culture of Hunts Point can build on it a little bit more.
Adam Liebowitz: [5:14] It is the antithesis of the old planning for Hunts Point, the way planning was done to this neighborhood as it now, the way planning is done by this neighborhood for this neighborhood.