Opinion: ‘Hands Off Harlem River Parkland’

The master plan for Mill Pond Park from Rogers Marvel Architects shows the undeveloped land to the south as the site of a future skate park, kayak launch, recreation building and lawn. (Image via Mott Haven Herald)

Along Harlem River in the Bronx, there are two parks north of Mill Pond, but none south of it. For the residents of Mott Haven, Morrisania and Highbridge, the need for more open spaces and attractive parkland is indisputable, and any number of studies by nonprofits, academics and community organizations has laid out different proposals. Now, Mayor Bill de Blasio is proposing to take land that had been earmarked to expand Mill Pond Park and use it instead to build apartments buildings.

In an editorial entitled “Hands Off Harlem River Parkland, “Mott Haven Herald editor Bernard Stein argues that in his eagerness to secure and build affordable housing, the mayor “appears to be blind to the value of human scale, open space and community character.”

To gain an understanding of what is being stolen from local residents, cross the 145th Street bridge and stroll south through Harlem River Park, a broad esplanade lined with trees and benches and affording river views. Turn north to check out the progress on Highbridge Park, from 155th Street to Dyckman Street.

As long as you’re in Manhattan, take a stroll on the 35-block long East River esplanade, part of a city-state plan to create access to all of Manhattan’s waterfront. Ironically, on the same day that the city asked Community Board 4 to approve the mayor’s plan to re-purpose the land next door to Mill Pond Park, the mayor announced that the city would spend $100 million to close an eight-block gap in the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, between East 61st and East 53d streets.

A decade ago, the Bloomberg administration had a plan for high-rise apartments along the Bronx River. Go to Mott Haven Herald to read what happened when community groups got together to fight the plan and promote parkland.

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