By Nikki Dowling, The Riverdale Press, link to original post
Two possible routes to extend the Hudson River Greenway through Riverdale were presented to the public at an Oct. 20 meeting at the Church of the Mediator in Kingsbridge.
The proximity of the river to the greenway and what would make the best scenic route for all forms of non-motorized transportation were the issues of the night, as attendees voiced their opinions on the options presented.
The greenway extension will link the path that ends at Dyckman Street in Manhattan to the Old Croton Aqueduct trail in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. The project is part of a larger plan to create an “interconnected network of bicycle and pedestrian corridors,” according to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council. Using federal funding providing by Sen. Charles Shumer, NYMTC will study possible routes, recommend one and create an implementation and budget plan. The final product — known as the East Coast Greenway — will run from Florida to Maine. In New York State, the goal is to connect Albany to lower Manhattan.
Proposals for Riverdale’s section of the path have now been narrowed to two routes through an analysis that studied and ranked various possibilities based on their proximity to the waterfront, attractiveness, user comfort and more.
The first plan presented by NYMTC would provide total waterfront access from Inwood Hill Park to Yonkers. It would run next to the Hudson River on the west side of the railroad tracks. The second plan, running largely on Palisade Avenue, would have no direct exposure to the river.
“This community is craving waterfront access,” Yael Levy, of Community Board 8, said at the meeting. “The most important thing is that the path be as close to the water as possible.”
The waterfront route had widespread support while the Palisade Avenue route was unpopular. However, Janice Yuvan, a consultant for the project, said the former was untenable because Amtrak is planning to build a higher-speed rail that would further limit waterfront access and create unsafe conditions for users of the trail.
Paul Elston, president of the Friends of the Hudson River Greenway, suggested that Amtrak, which already has trains that run next to the West side of the river, incorporate the greenway into its federally funded plan to create the new rail.
Since Amtrak’s expansion is likely years away, however, attendees presented a short-term solution that could be implemented within the next three years. In the meantime, negotiations with Amtrak could take place, making way for a permanent waterfront route.
“If you take part of one [plan] and part of the other [plan] we have something that could be done within three years,” Mr. Elson said in a phone interview after the meeting.
The short-term greenway, supported by many at the meeting, would run along Palisade Avenue up to 254th Street. There, it would veer downhill to the Riverdale Metro-North Station, which would mark the beginning of the waterfront stretch. Mr. Elston said the College of Mount Saint Vincent, to the north of the Riverdale Metro-North station, owns five acres of waterfront land that the greenway could run through.
Erin Walsh, director of college relations at the College of Mount Saint Vincent, said a non-profit organization is working on a conservation easement proposal that would preserve “lands to the west of the railroad tracks” and make them available for public use. Ms. Walsh could not comment on the extent to which the proposal would affect greenway construction. She added that the Sisters of Charity also own some of the land in question.
In the coming months, NYMTC, the organization responsible for studying possible routes, will select a preferred greenway and assess it intensely, Mr. Elston said.