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Harlem River Waterfront to get federal support

Bronx Times

The Bronx’s Harlem River waterfront will be getting an upgrade, courtesy of the federal government.

On Friday, October 28, Congressman Jose Serrano and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar joined local elected officials and parks representatives to announce that the Bronx and Harlem River watersheds will be among seven pilot locations in the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, which is a new iniative by 11 federal agencies intended to both create jobs and improve waterfronts in America’s cities. Salazar also announced Roberto Clemente State Park, which is along the the Harlem River in the west Bronx, will be included in the 100 sites he would highlite in a report to President Obama as being among the best investments as part of the president’s America’s Great Outdoors program. The announcement was made at Roberto Clemente State Park, on the river’s shores.

Congressman Serrano said that improving access to the Bronx side of the Harlem River would be paramount.

Both the Urban Waters Federal Partnership and the America’s Great Outdoors program are intended to promote interaction with natural resources, and in turn create jobs through things that come along with that interaction, such as tourism.

Salazar called Roberto Clemente State Park “one of the top conservation priorities for the Obama administration.”

The Harlem River Working Group has been advocating on behalf of the waterfront area at the grass roots level for three years. Its members envision a greenspace that would allow people to bike from Randalls Island to the Hudson River.

Highbridge resident and HRWG founding member Chauncy Young attended the announcement.

“To have the Harlem River get this much attention is huge,” he said.

But getting people down to the river from the streets of the Bronx (the two are separated by the Major Deegan Expressway and Metro North tracks) presented a challenge.

“Access is horrendous,” Young said.

Congressman Serrano’s son, Senator Jose M. Serrano, attended the announcement.

“We’re in an urban oasis,” he said of the park. “But it’s in need of help.”

Assemblywoman Vanessa Gibson was also at the event.

Bill Weisbrod can be reached via e-mail at bweisbrod@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394.

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