Project Will Replace Superstorm Sandy Damage with a Greener, More Storm Resilient Waterfront
New York, NY (September 23, 2015) Governor Cuomo announced the start of construction on $35 million in projects to make Roberto Clemente State Park’s Harlem River waterfront greener and more storm-resilient. The projects will strengthen the park and surrounding neighborhood against flooding, as well as renovate the park’s upper plaza to create a more welcoming gateway for the park’s 1.3 million visitors.
“The work underway at Roberto Clemente State park is yet another example of our work to strengthen vital infrastructure and make our communities more resilient in this new reality of extreme weather,” Governor Cuomo said. “This project will improve a critical coastal protection measure for the Morris Heights neighborhood, helping to protect the area’s residents, businesses and parks from the impact of future storms and flooding.”
The announcement comes during Climate Week, which Governor Cuomo proclaimed from September 22-29 to raise awareness about the challenges we face with a changing climate and to highlight New York’s actions to increase resiliency and curb emissions as global leaders meet in New York City this week. At Roberto Clemente State Park, construction has begun on two major portions of the park’s 1970s infrastructure: replacing the park’s 2,200-foot steel bulkhead and renovating the park’s upper plaza.
The two-year, $28 million project to rebuild the bulkhead with a more resilient design and enhance the adjacent esplanade area comes after discovering severe corrosion of the steel sea wall and loss of backfill beneath the park esplanade in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. The redesigned waterfront will provide enhanced flood protection, storm resilience and green infrastructure. The outdated esplanade will be rehabilitated into a more park-like setting; featuring a shared pedestrian/bicycle pathway; river overlook, new boat launch, new performance area, new plantings and a scenic 9,000-square-foot inter-tidal area that will provide natural habitat for plant and animal life and absorb heavy rainfall. These improvements will provide safe, new access to the Harlem River and spur unique environmental education opportunities.
The project is financed through a Community Development Block Grant Disaster Relief award from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and is expected to be completed by summer 2017.
State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, “I’m very grateful for Governor Cuomo’s commitment and leadership in responding to stronger, fiercer storms by building back better, stronger and smarter than ever before. State Parks is very excited to get started on these critical projects. We are witnessing the beginning of a major transformation of Roberto Clemente State Park that will not only absorb and mitigate the impact of stronger and more frequent storms, but will enhance and improve the enjoyment of the park for our visitors.”
Interim Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery Lisa Bova-Hiatt said,“As we continue our efforts to create a stronger, more resilient New York, we remain committed to protecting communities throughout the state and to enhancing the most critical infrastructure networks throughout the State. With shovels now in the ground at Roberto Clemente State Park, we are a step closer to realizing this dream for residents and businesses of the Bronx. Through this project, we are not only laying the groundwork to combat future storms, but also seeking to restore and reimagine a beloved public space that is at the heart of the Morris Heights community.”
The $7 million project to rehabilitate the upper plaza area will replace its structural steel supports and decking, rebuild the crumbling staircase to the lower level, open up views to the park, improve landscaping and relocate the life-size bronze statue of Roberto Clemente to a more prominent place at the park’s gateway.
These improvements are supported by funding from Governor Cuomo’s NY Parks 2020 initiative, a $500,000 grant from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and a $500,000 grant from New York City Council Member Vanessa Gibson. Work is expected to be completed in late fall 2016 and in 2017, additional work is expected to begin on projects that continue to revitalize the park’s northern shoreline area.
Senator Charles E. Schumer said, “A new storm resilient Roberto Clemente State Park is just the type of project we had in mind when crafting the Sandy Relief Bill in Congress and I am pleased that construction has commenced. This green infrastructure project is an innovative solution for Roberto Clemente State Park because it will help protect communities in the Bronx from future flooding and simultaneously attract more visitors for years to come.”
Congressman Charles Rangel said, “I applaud Governor Cuomo for investing in shoring up infrastructure along the coastline of Robert Clemente Park which is a treasure in our district. The improvements that start today will restore the parkland for visitors and protect our local communities to withstand future storms and floods. I thank the New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for their excellent job and look forward to visiting the Park after the renovation.”
Congressman José E. Serrano said,“I am glad to see this project take off, which was made possible thanks in part to millions of dollars in federal grants. The Roberto Clemente State Park renovation project will make the park and its surrounding areas more resilient to extreme weather. It will also improve one of its principal areas to make it more welcoming to park visitors. After it is completed, Bronx residents will have access to more modern and safer recreational facilities.”
State Senator Adriano Espaillat said, “It is appropriate that we are announcing the start of this project in the middle of Climate Week because this is the type of work we must do around the city and state to protect our neighborhoods from the increasing threat of severe storms due to climate change. I thank Governor Cuomo for making sure this work gets done. We all saw the damage Hurricane Sandy did to this city, rebuilding this bulkhead and renovating the plaza will help stop flooding during the next storm.”
State Senator José M. Serrano said, “Many thanks to Governor Cuomo for working to protect Roberto Clemente State Park and the surrounding communities from extreme weather conditions. This $35 Million influx will surely provide a more welcoming and safe environment for park visitors. As the Ranking Member of the Senate’s Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks & Recreation, I know the tremendous recreational and educational opportunities our state parks provide. An investment in our state parks is an investment in preserving natural beauty, healthier communities and economic growth.”
State Senator Gustavo Rivera said, “This transformation will help revitalize Roberto Clemente State Park’s waterfront in an effort to help protect our residents from major natural disasters and enhance their experience while visiting the park. I commend Governor Andrew Cuomo, the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery and the Office of the New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for leading these exciting efforts.”
Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner said, “Roberto Clemente State Park is an important escape for the Bronx community, its families and our children. People of the Bronx, and residents in my district, are proud to call themselves Bronxites; we are lucky to have such beautiful parks in our Borough. That is why I commend the work of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration to transform Roberto Clemente State Park’s waterfront and protect nearby residents from the harms of rushing flood water in the event of a storm. Superstorm Sandy may have left some bruises on Roberto Clemente State Park, but thanks to additional funding from the Governor, its future as a mainstay in the Bronx will be preserved. I also appreciate the work of my fellow Bronx elected officials, as they have helped to guarantee upgrades for the park’s plazas.”
Assemblymember Victor Pichardo said, “Investing $35 million into Roberto Clemente State Park for storm resiliency is a much needed and historic investment. I applaud Governor Cuomo’s commitment to making this a high priority project for the state and I look forward to working with Speaker Heastie, Assemblymember Joyner and all my colleagues to help see this project through its completion.”
Assemblyman Keith Wright said, “I am excited about the redevelopment of one of our City’s most precious jewels, Roberto Clemente Park. For many years, Bronx residents have used Roberto Clemente Park for family activities, team sports and recreational bliss. The new $35 Million transformation will ensure not only a greener, more scenic landscape, but, with the new infrastructure, promises to protect against super storms and devastation similar to what we saw after Hurricane Sandy. This couldn’t have happened at a better time and I look forward to visiting the park upon completion of the project in the summer of 2017.”
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said, “It is great to see that the Roberto Clemente State Park will get the much-needed renovation that it deserves. This project not only adds greenspace to the vicinity but it will also protects the surrounding area, which is home to thousands residents as well as two public school buildings; as well as the infrastructure surrounding the Roberto Clemente State Park, such as the Metro-North Railroad line in the area, from super-storms such as what we witnessed in 2012.”
City Council Member Vanessa Gibson said, “I applaud the vision Governor Cuomo has brought to the much needed renovation of Roberto Clemente Park. The planned renovation will protect streets and homes from the impact of climate change while increasing storm resilient greenspaces within our community and I very much look forward to seeing the finished product. As construction begins, I thank the Governor for his investment in the Bronx, President Ruben Diaz, Jr. for his continued commitment to our borough, and all the stakeholders, community leaders, and advocates who work to create better, safer parks for all.”
City Councilman Fernando Cabrera said, “Parks serve as venues for recreation, exercise, and social gatherings for city dwellers. The trees in parks improve air quality, and parks increase the aesthetic appeal of urban neighborhoods. I applaud Governor Cuomo for investing in resilient infrastructure at Roberto Clemente State Park to ensure that Bronx residents will have access to green space, a vital component of thriving communities, for years to come.”
The transformation of Roberto Clemente State Park underscores Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s commitment to modernizing State Parks and reversing decades of neglect, especially at popular and heavily visited flagship parks. The Governor’s NY Parks 2020 is a multi-year commitment to leverage a broad range of private and public funding to invest approximately $900 million in State Parks from 2011 to 2020. The 2015-16 State Budget includes $110 million toward this initiative.
Named after the first Latino-American inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Roberto Clemente State Park offers a variety of recreational and cultural activities year-round for youth, adults, senior citizens and the physically challenged. The facilities include a multi-purpose recreation building, an Olympic-size pool complex, ball fields, basketball courts, picnic areas, playgrounds.
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation manages 180 state parks and 35 historic sites which are visited by 60 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visitwww.nysparks.com, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.