Starlight Park, along the banks of the Bronx River, is currently under renovation and expected to re-open in summer 2012.
The goal of the project, which is being overseen by the state DOT, is to create unbroken green space along the river from Hunts Point and Concrete Plant Park. A bridge over Amtrak railroad tracks is required to make all the parkland connected. But Amtrak has been unwilling to allow construction due to liability concerns.
In mid-October, Congressman Jose Serrano and the U.S. Department of the Interior held talks between Amtrak and the DOT, in hopes of finding a way to build the bridge, which would be at East 172nd Street, west of Bronx River Avenue. More talks are scheduled for the near future that will include the city DOT and the Parks Department.
“Amtrak is communicating with the DOT and has scheduled additional conversations to discuss the matter,” an Amtrak spokesperson said in a statement. “Major construction and recreational pastimes in the immediate vicinity of high- speed intercity passenger rail operations raise liability and security concerns that must be addressed.”
The approximately 14-acre park will be accessible from Edgewater Road, East 174th Street and East 177th Street.
DOT spokesman Adam Levine said talks are “still ongoing.”
Kellie Sepulveda, executive director of Hunts Point-based nonprofit The Point, is strongly in favor of continuous green space for walkers and bikers along the Bronx River. She said the government-overseen talks have given her a reason to be optimistic about the project’s future.
“We consider it a holistic system when you look at the connectivity we hope to gain,” she said. “ And we do see it as an issue that impacts access to this green network. We have had very good signs, at least from the government’s perspective.” Serrano said that the bridge is crucial for the future of the Bronx River waterfront.
“For the green way to be successful it needs to go over a certain parcel of land of land, but there’s this liability issue. We went back and forth and we were able to get the Interior Department to ask them (Amtrak and DOT) to sit down and talk. I’m hopeful that they will resolve the issues.”Bill Weisbrod can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394.
©2011 Community News Group