Vision 2020: NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan Drafting Mid-term Revisions

A public meeting was held on October 12th to discuss the new Draft Recommendations to Vision 2020: NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, which will be formalized and published by the end of the year. A wide variety of representatives from community initiatives and industry mariners participated in the negotiation to revise the plan – key topics were zoning regulations,

environmental issues and community needs.  The Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance cited Captain Rich Naruszewicz discussing the need for an emergency refueling plan for maritime vessels while Rob Buchanan, a professor at Eugene Lang College and founder of the NYC Water Trail Association, was requesting for the mitigation of stormwater overflow to be pushed higher on the list of priorities.

Since 1992, NYC has been working on its first New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan devised to “reclaim the city’s edge” – Vision 2020: NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan has provided the framework to intergrade the city’s 578-miles of shoreline into parks and open spaces that will be accessible to the NYC community.  With 10 years to go before completion, the Department of Planning has continued to offer hundreds of recommendations and modifications to the plan (first mid-way Draft Recommendations)  – Outreach and public workshops have been taking place over the past few months to solidify a new draft for the mid-way plan.

The revised Vision 2020: NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan that will be published by the end of the year will have new strategies and consideration for the NYC waterfront inventory.  The review comity put together seven main considerations to discuss during the public meetings (link):

“1) Expand public access to the waterfront and waterways on public and private property for all New Yorkers and visitors alike.

2) Enliven the waterfront with attractive uses, high-quality public open spaces, and publicly oriented water-dependent uses, integrated with adjacent upland communities.

3) Support economic development on the working waterfront.

4) Restore degraded natural wate­rfronts and protect wetlands and shoreline habitats.

5) Enhance the public experience of the “blue network” by expanding waterborne transportation, in-water recreation, and water-oriented educational and cultural activities.

6) Maintain and improve the environmental quality of our waterbodies.

7) Pursue strategies to improve sustainability of the city’s waterfront, including increased resilience to climate change and projected sea-level rise.”

With negotiation underway, the NYC waterfront is in a midway point in its transforming from an industrial waterfront which was at the cornerstone of the biggest industrial port in the country to a fully functioning multi-purpose waterfront with shared recreational and industrial functions.  It is hard to tell what the Waterfront Plan will look like in a decade from now – The Wall Street Journal has commented on Mayor Bloomberg’s first two terms as using the waterfront as a tool for economic development visa vi parting the maritime industrial warehouses to gear up for condos and apartment buildings.   Almost a decade later, the administration has shifted gears to focus on public access and community development.   The administration has been giving a helping hand in securing public access to the waterfront by allocated waterfront space to the parks division and public interest initiatives.   We will have to wait to gauge the plan’s effectiveness in fully adapting NYC’s rivers and harbor into a functioning shared-use multi-purpose waterway.


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