NYC Parks Launch East Harlem Esplanade Project

May 12, 2016

esplanade east riverNYC Parks and the Randall’s Island Park Alliance (RIPA) today announced the launch of the East Harlem Esplanade Project. In support of NYC Parks’ Community Parks Initiative (CPI), through the East Harlem Esplanade Project, RIPA will facilitate the creation of a strategic plan to guide reconstruction advocacy, stewardship and programming best practices for an improved Esplanade along East Harlem, including a span from E. 96 to E. 125 streets. The East Harlem Esplanade Project is supported by New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, New York State Senator José M. Serrano, New York State Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

As part of the East Harlem Esplanade Project, in 2016-2017 RIPA will create a strategic plan outlining the use of allocated funds to maximize usable life of the 107th Street Pier, and will assist in planning toward securing additional funds for the pier’s complete reconstruction and expanded programming. RIPA will lend expertise and support toward formation of a new, dedicated stewardship entity tasked with long-term development, maintenance, programming and resiliency measures along the East Harlem waterfront.

The Community Parks Initiative is a Mayor Bill de Blasio-funded, citywide program to improve historically under-funded parks in densely populated and growing neighborhoods with higher-than-average concentrations of poverty. In total, CPI invests $285 million in capital dollars through 2019 – along with a sustained annual commitment of over $2.5 million in expense funding – to improve neighborhoods’ quality of life by revitalizing 67 community parks that have not undergone significant improvements in decades.

“Conservancy partners like the Randall’s Island Park Alliance enhance New York City’s key public spaces with their expertise, resource and passion,” said Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “Now, with their generous commitment to create a strategic plan for the East Harlem Esplanade, RIPA is extending its influence to one of our city’s most densely populated communities, and providing expertise that will drive green equity and sustainability for the neighborhood.”

“East Harlem is a thriving, growing community that deserves world class waterfront access,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “For far too long, our esplanade has been neglected and has fallen into disrepair, which is why the Council has made a priority of allocating millions of dollars in capital funds to address these needs, including the reopening of the 107th Street Pier. Working with community residents and local stakeholders, the East Harlem Esplanade Project will help create a comprehensive plan to fully revitalize this important public space for generations to come.”

State Senator José M. Serrano said, “Through the collaborative efforts of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez, the Parks Department and now the Randall’s Island Park Alliance we have a dynamic team that will transform the East Harlem portion of the Esplanade into a beautiful piece of parkland. Together we will be able to strengthen the East Harlem Esplanade and give the residents of El Barrio a much needed green space that will create economic growth for the surrounding neighborhood.”

Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez said, “We are immensely grateful for the opportunity to be able to work with Randall’s Island Park Alliance as we seek to revitalize the East Harlem Esplanade. Their work on improving Randall’s Island has been remarkable, and we look to build on their successes with a shared vision that expands recreational activities and green spaces, enhances resiliency, and gives East Harlem the waterfront it deserves.”

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“The East Harlem waterfront is a neighborhood treasure, especially the 107th Street Pier, and we all need to work together to protect and enhance it,” said Manhattan Borough President, Gale A. Brewer. “The Randall’s Island Park Alliance is the right organization to lead the East Harlem Esplanade Project, and I look forward to working in partnership with the Alliance and local residents to realize the esplanade’s potential.”

RIPA President Aimee Boden said, “The Randall’s Island Park Alliance is looking forward to reaching across the river to work with our nearest neighbors, and to helping to plan for and facilitate improved access and long-term resiliency along the East Harlem Esplanade.”

RIPA is engaging public agencies, advocacy groups and local stakeholders to gather and coordinate East Harlem concerns as well as referencing existing studies to develop the plan.

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