FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 4, 2012
SCHUMER: U.S. ARMY CORPS IS LAST ROADBLOCK TO MAJOR PEEKSKILL WATERFRONT DEVELOPMENT – CALLS ON FEDS TO QUICKLY APPROVE PLAN TO CLEAR THE WAY FOR NEW BOARDWALK AND RIVERFRONT PARK THAT WILL TRANSFORM HUDSON RIVER WATERFRONT
Today, at the Riverfront Green Park in Peekskill, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to clear the way for the City of Peekskill’s master plan to transform and redevelop the waterfront, and work with the City to finalize their permit application for several important infrastructure projects along the Hudson River. The City has submitted its joint application to U.S. Army Crops and the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and USACE’s approval of this project is the final hurdle they must overcome before beginning the job-creating work during this year’s construction season. This first phase of the City’s project would develop critical infrastructure including retaining walls, sewage lines and additional erosion prevention, designed to protect the river during construction of the master Waterfront Redevelopment Plan. This larger project, which hinges on this infrastructure work, would construct a new boardwalk and riverfront park, pedestrian trails and river access, new parking decks for downtown businesses and paves the way for additional development. If the permit is not finalized quickly, it could push the City’s project timeline back a year, as local officials require the permits by early summer so that they can make contractor bids before the construction season begins in the late summer of 2012. Schumer noted that that this infrastructure proposal will pave the way for increased recreational and economic activity in the City of Peekskill, all while creating dozens of constructions jobs, and urged the Army Corps to work hand in glove with the City of Peekskill to quickly approve the plans for this transformational project.
“The City of Peekskill has a well-crafted and transformative plan for its waterfront that will drive recreational and economic activity to the Hudson River and create dozens of construction jobs in the coming years,” said Schumer. “But, while the city is ready and waiting to begin work on a series of infrastructure projects that will clear the way for a new boardwalk and riverfront park, the proposal needs the final sign off from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Until the City of Peekskill’s infrastructure proposals are approved, local officials cannot move forward, and further delays could cause the city to miss the upcoming construction season and delay the entire master plan for waterfront redevelopment by a year. The fact that such a transformative, job-creating project could be held back by permitting and paperwork is unacceptable, and I’m calling on Army Corps to work with the City of Peekskill to accelerate approval of Peekskill’s Hudson River waterfront development project. Completion of this transformational project will further contribute to Peekskill’s growing reputation as a destination in the Hudson Valley for dining, music, arts, business, and recreation.”
“Scenic Hudson is proud to count the City of Peekskill as a partner in implementing local strategies that support a regional vision that connect the public with the Hudson River,” said Andy Bicking, Director of Public Policy for Scenic Hudson. “For decades, the city has planned for and developed the community's waterfront in a way that promotes quality of life and makes it a critical component of the Hudson Valley's $4.7-billion tourism and recreation economy. Senator Schumer's leadership in promoting this connection is deeply appreciated, and Scenic Hudson looks forward to working closely with the senator here and in Washington to advance winning regional strategies like this.”
The Riverfront Green South project is composed of several infrastructure projects that are critical to the Peekskill Waterfront Redevelopment Plan. The project would re-establish the existing shoreline stabilization along the Hudson River within the City of Peekskill, for the purpose of constructing multi-use trail ways, a trellis, overlook structures, and a public park area. There is a great deal of infrastructure, including plans for retaining walls, sewage lines, and additional erosion prevention, that will then allow the City’s larger waterfront plan to be set in motion. The shoreline requires extensive improvements in order to be used as parkland on a regular basis and will require the replenishment of stone rip rap along the existing shoreline that is used to prevent erosion. This portion of the project will also prepare the beach area to the north of the park for construction, and will be re-nourished and maintained to continue as a kayak and personal watercraft launch area.
The approach to reclaim the Riverfront Green Park shoreline will aim to rebuild and enhance the riverbank with a combination of placing some larger pieces of rock, coir logs, finer soils and sediments and low growing woody shrubs. Additional necessary park improvements for Riverfront Green South includes the shift of a section of the current roadway and parking area closer to the railroad tracks with the cooperation of Metro North. Schumer said that the upland portion of Riverfront Green South will contain the waterfront trail, as well a secondary path system with decorative lighting, expanded launch parking, entry plaza’s, overlook deck with trellis and seat wall, overlook gazebo, trellis swings, public art installation, tree and shrub planting, picnic table installation and directional signage.
USACE’s approval of Peekskill’s proposal for these infrastructure improvements will then allow the city to move forward with its master Waterfront Redevelopment Plan. The primary goal of this larger plan is to develop a continuous multi-use waterfront walkway from McGregory Brook to Peekskill’s southern border with Buchanan. This walkway will be designed according to Westchester County’s RiverWalk standards. Along the walkway, public amenities will be provided such as picnic areas, kayak launches, viewpoints, and improvements to the existing parkland. The City’s waterfront promenade will continue to the north over the existing McGregory Brook footbridge onto Peekskill Landing, where a pedestrian overpass is proposed to cross the railroad tracks to North Water Street with access to Central Avenue and the downtown. The shoreline trail continues to the north through Annsville Preserve Park and connects with the Paddlesport Center in Cortlandt. At its southern end, the trail will continue past Lent’s Cove along Westchester County’s planned RiverWalk.
Schumer highlighted that a key component in protecting and enhancing the riverfront is promoting development, commerce, and livable neighborhoods in and immediately around traditional waterfront communities. Communities like Peekskill contain concentrations of water-dependent businesses, possess a distinctive character, and serve as regional focal points for commercial, recreational, and cultural activities. Schumer said that smart urban planning and sustainable design like that which is part of the master waterfront redevelopment plan in Peekskill is essential to achieving this goal and to driving economic activity to the waterfront area. Riverfront activity can also be enhanced by providing trails, wide sidewalks, attractive street furniture, and sufficient lighting while employing traffic techniques like narrow driving lanes, street trees, and on-street parking, which foster pedestrian safety and comfort. Schumer pointed out that destination attractions for Peekskill’s waterfront district include the Lincoln Depot Museum and Plaza and a soon-to-be expanded local craft brew pub, the Peekskill Brewery.
A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to the Army Corps of Engineers appears below:
April 4, 2012
General Merdith W.B. Temple
Acting Commanding General and Chief of Engineers
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
441 G Street NW
Washington, DC 20314
Dear Major General Merdith W.B. Temple:
I write to you today regarding the urgent need to approve the permit for the Southern Waterfront Park and Trail in Peekskill, New York. The City of Peekskill is working with your agency on an application for shoreline stabilization and infrastructure improvements and I urge you to act quickly to approve their request.
The waterfront redevelopment plan put forth by the city promotes recreational activity and community development along the shores of the Hudson River. Currently, two parts of the multi-phased plan are seeking approval. The Riverfront Green South section seeks infrastructure improvements for shoreline stabilization, recreational path construction, and the development of other park features. The Travis Cove segment calls for the construction of a boat launch and boardwalk to connect Travis Point to Charles Point Pier Park. It is of great importance that the permits for these projects are granted expeditiously in order to ensure that work can begin during the limited New York construction season.
Peekskill’s waterfront is a vital part of the city’s heritage and it’s development offers a unique opportunity to reconnect the community to the banks of the Hudson River. I thank you for your attention to this request and reiterate my call for you to work with the local community to quickly approve their permit request.