Last week, Mayor Bloomberg unveiled Vision 2020, a $3 billion plan to transform New York City’s 520 miles of waterfront into a more vibrant open space and valuable resource. Bloomberg believes the sustainable guidelines will revitalize our waterways into the city’s “sixth borough.” The 10-year plan is jam-packed with green design, addressing everything from protecting the water and improving wastewater infrastructure to expanding greenways and building new parks.
This spring, we will see the first implementation of Vision 2020 with the start of the planned commuter ferry service for the East River. The ferry will run between Wall Street, 34th Street, Brooklyn, and Queens, and riders may be able to use their MetroCards.
Much of the $3 billion set aside for the plan will go towards improving the water quality and reducing pollution from sewage overflow. When it rains, New York’s ancient sewage system can’t handle the extra liquid, which results in waste-filled overflow. Stormwater runoff is a large source of pollution in NY’s waterways. The plans laid out in Vision 2020 piggy back off stormwater solutions outlined in PlaNYC. Green renovations to treatment plants and city pipes, along with the installation of permeable pavement and new landscaping will help the water to be absorbed into the ground rather than flowing into the city’s gutters.
Improved water quality is important for making the projects in Vision 2020 successful, many of which have been underway for quite some time. The $700 million needed for the projects has already been allocated. They include the completion of Brooklyn Bridge Park, the East River Esplanade, and more than a dozen greenways that would increase access to the waterfront and make bike transportation between neighborhoods much easier. Other green space developments would include the completion of Transmitter Park in Greenpoint, a 9.5 acre park in Throgs Neck in the Bronx, and a new park on the Bush Terminal Piers in Sunset Park. Many of the parks include plans to increase water recreation like kayaking and sailing.
Cleaner water is also vital for the planned restoration of wetlands and ecosystems. Vision 2020 outlines plans to spend $50 million to restore tidal wetlands and large-scale oyster beds. Major projects include expanding the Bluebelt system in Staten Island and Queens, and restoring natural habitats in and around Jamaica Bay.
Other components of the plan call for boosting the city’s maritime industry by dredging parts of the harbor to make room for larger container ships, increasing climate resilience by working with FEMA to update flooding precautions, and improving government oversight of water-related regulation and activity.
Vision 2020 is the first plan issued by the city that deals with the waterways themselves, and not just the shoreline. As many have pointed out, the comprehensive plan does not include many brand new ideas, but rather consolidates all of the projects proposed or underway to make the waterways more integral to lives of New Yorkers and commerce in the city. You can download Vision 2020 here.
Images © Jessica Dailey