New York City Wants Sustainable Waterfront

New York City has more miles of waterfront than Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and Portland, Oregon, combined–but for decades, New Yorkers have been cut off from their city’s heritage as one of the world’s “premier waterfront cities” according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He and the New York City Council aim to change all that by increasing access to the water with more parks, esplanades and  water-borne transportation, recreation, maritime activity and natural habitats.

Towards that end,  NYC is moving forward with two components of its overall waterfront plan. The first is a three-year action agenda comprised of 130 funded projects–including the development of more than 50 acres of new waterfront parks, creation of 14 new waterfront esplanades and introduction of new commuter ferry service–and the Vision 2020: New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, a framework for the City’s 520 miles of shoreline for the next decade and beyond.

image via City of New York City

This plan was developed via a year-long public process that engaged New Yorkers throughout the five boroughs, yielding recommendations for every stretch of New York City’s waterfront, as well as for the waterways themselves. Accompanied by maps, charts and illustrations, the 190-page waterfront plan–led by the Department of City Planning–presents specific strategies for improvements for each of the City’s 22 reaches of shoreline bordering rivers, the Atlantic Ocean, inlets and bays, as well as active port areas, residential neighborhoods, wetlands and public open space.

“The greatness of New York City grew directly from our connection to our water,” said New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, in a statement.  “But at some point in our history, we both literally and figuratively turned our back on the waterfront. Now we’ve made a decision to more fully embrace the waterfront, in a way that’s both thoughtful and strategic.” She goes on to note that the plan doesn’t just include recreation and open space, but also focuses on transportation and sustainability, as well as ideas to help preserve and grow the 13,000 maritime jobs in the five boroughs.

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.