Imagine a Beautiful Walk Along the Harlem River

Friday, July 22, 2011 - 4:52pm
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The Future of Waterfront Access in the Sherman Creek Area

sherman creek presentation coverSherman Creek is an inlet on the south side of the Harlem River at Academy Street. As seen on the cover of a recently released plan from the NYC Economic Development Corp., left, "Sherman Creek" also represents the area north of that inlet to West 208th Street. More than 40,000 residents of Inwood live within a ten-minute walk to this waterfront.

sherman creek study areaMuch of the shoreline, edged in green below, is inaccessible, occupied by parking lots, commercial sites and Con Edison. The project area covers more than 175,000 square feet, with 3,400 linear feet at the water's edge. Several pocket parks at street ends were created in recent years, as the EDC worked with the Departments of Parks & Recreation and City Planning and the firm WXY Architecture and Urban Design to transform this waterfront. On July 13, EDC vice president Alejandro Bacquero Cifuentes and WXY principal Claire Weisz presented the master plan to the community.

The main concern, said Ms.Weisz, was pedestrian safety -- "getting there and being there." The goal: continuous waterfront access, linking existing pocket parks at street ends, new docks and a beach with a new over-the-water walkway.

sherman creek walkwayThe new walkway requires permission from Con Edison, whose substation abuts the waterfront near Academy Street. Fences around the station and around the Dept. of Transportation's bridgework (photos at right) also must be worked into the plan.

Sherman creek fencesMr. Baquero-Cifuentes told the bilingual crowd that the project will happen in phases, and that decisions on which sections to tackle first rested on what entity controlled those sections and the cost of the work. "Marine infrastructure is expensive. This cost drives the feasibility of the plan," he said. Adding to the challenge is the diversity of the shoreline. "There are many different types of bulkheads," Ms. Weisz said, naming sheet piling/concrete and riprap (underwater boulders) as two examples, and adding that much of the existing bulkhead is dilapidated and in need of repair.

Snapshot 2011-07-19 11-30-37The Academy Street section is expected to be the first part of the project to get underway. Featuring a green "gateway" to the waterfront, restored wetlands, a wetland walk and lookout, and steps into the water, this section could cost $23 million to build -- or $10 million for a more basic edge with water access. Then the EDC-led team plans to jump to the northernmost site, dubbed North Cove. For the full plan, click here.

Audience members were curious and perhaps distrustful about Con Edison's role. "Is Con Edison part of the planning and will they provide funding?" asked one person. "Con Edison is a partner," Mr. Baquero Cifuentes replied firmly.

sherman creek walkway dusk rendering
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