The master plan for the Sherman Creek Esplanade was unveiled by the City’s Economic Development Council (NYCEDC) this past week to local residents. The plan calls for an ambitious renovation of the Harlem River waterfront from Sherman Creek inlet to West 208th Street, and is projected to cost $83 million to execute.
Story by Cassandra Gallese
It seems that El Malecón, the famed coastline, will no longer be a waterfront destination to visit only in Cuba, or the Dominican Republic, but might soon be a little closer to home for residents of Washington Heights and Inwood.
In a final advisory committee meeting at the P.S. 5 Ellen Lurie on 10th Avenue this past Wed., July 13th, representatives from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) unveiled to local residents the final master plan for the Sherman Creek Waterfront Esplanade, the culmination of a two-year planning period in collaboration with local stakeholders, elected officials, and the community.
The plan calls for an ambitious renovation of the Harlem River waterfront from Sherman Creek inlet to West 208th Street that would include a continuous pedestrian walkway connecting existing street-end parks as well as new spaces for recreation, performance, environmental education, and other activities.
“Having worked together with the local community on this plan for the past two years, we’re excited to release the completed Sherman Creek Waterfront Esplanade Master Plan, which lays out a vision for the Sherman Creek waterfront and complements the city-wide goal laid out in WAVES 2020 of increasing waterfront access,” said Kyle Sklerov, spokesperson for the NYCEDC, referring to the City’s comprehensive waterfront plan released in March 2011.
Noting that Sherman Creek is a ten-minute walk for over forty thousand Inwood residents, Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, who attended Wednesday’s meeting, said, “There’s no question that the Sherman Creek Esplanade project will greatly improve the quality of life for our community. [We] are excited to see more green space, especially when it takes advantage of our little used waterfront. Northern Manhattan residents have one of the lowest rates of exercise in the city, a problem which can be fixed through the increased park space the Esplanade will provide.”
Discussions of renovating the waterfront around Sherman Creek began in 2003, and resulted in a 2004 study recommending the creation of a pedestrian esplanade to provide increased waterfront access for the community.
Since then, NYCEDC and the City’s Department of Parks and Recreation have worked with the New York Restoration Project (NYRP) to clean the area just south of Sherman Creek inlet and create a pedestrian trail next to P.S. 5.
Additionally, five “pocket parks” have been created at the street-ends between West 202nd and 206th Streets.
The planning process for a continuous waterfront esplanade from Sherman Creek inlet to West 208th Street was launched in 2009. In March 2010, approximately sixty local residents participated in a community engagement meeting where they shared their concerns and priorities for the space. NYCEDC considered the community’s input as well as their own site research on the existing built environment, marine infrastructure, environmental and ecological issues, and title and regulatory requirements to generate preliminary options for the waterfront, which were presented at a meeting in August 2010.
The master plan unveiled at Wednesday’s meeting, which NYCEDC expects to officially release in the next month, is projected to cost $83 million to execute. “Unfortunately, as beautiful as these plans are, this project still needs funding to see completion,” explained Council Member Rodriguez explained. “Since the Mayor spent so much energy promoting his Vision 2020 plan for the city’s waterfront, I hope he will spend an equal amount of money putting this plan into action.”
Rodriguez urged the community to work as a team to persuade the administration that Northern Manhattan’s waterfront should be a priority in the 2012 budget.