New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas announced on Feb. 7, the start of construction on a $2.5 million project to improve resiliency at Edgewater Park, a co-op neighborhood in the Bronx.
The improvements, funded through HCR’s Office of Resilient Homes and Communities (RHC), will allow Edgewater Park’s volunteer firehouse and community center, which is also a polling place during elections, to serve as a shelter during extreme weather events.
“Our $2.5 million investment will fund essential upgrades to the Edgewater Park facility, ensuring the firehouse and community center remains a vital link in the emergency response chain and an asset to the surrounding neighborhood,” said Viskauskas. “As New York is impacted more and more by the effects of climate change, our work to improve the resiliency of communities and keep residents safe will take on even greater importance.”
The Edgewater Park project will include installation of a new backup generator for emergency power to provide accessory usage for equipment, support essential functions of both the community center and the volunteer fire department during power disruptions, and provide backup power for street lighting to enhance public safety; upgrades to the heating and air-conditioning units in the community center; ADA-compliant bathrooms in the community center; new windows throughout the entire building that provide increased resiliency to high winds and preserve the building envelope; and new roofing, flashings and waterproofing to mitigate leaks on the roof.
The upgrades will ensure that the facility can function as a shelter during major storms and as a cooling center during extreme heat.
The measures at the volunteer firehouse also improve Edgewater Park’s emergency preparedness.
Many of FDNY’s emergency vehicles are too big to navigate Edgewater Park’s small streets, which often requires the volunteer firehouse to provide essential first response.
“I am delighted to hear about this project finally underway. I know the people of Edgewater Park have been waiting patiently and will rightfully be able to have proper accommodations with these resiliency updates to the firehouse/community center facilities,” said state Assemblymember Michael Benedetto.
Since 2014, the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery has invested more than $64 million in the Bronx, including $2.2 million allocated to renovate the firehouse in Edgewater Park.
Deborah Roff, president of the Edgewater Park Owners Cooperative Inc., told the Bronx Times in December 2021 that the board had also agreed to also renovate the bathroom and make it ADA compliant. So, in 2019, the co-op hired a company to demo the bathroom with the expectation that the state was going to finish the rest of the work.
The state opened bids for the full project in January 2020, but by June 2020 a contract couldn’t be awarded because the lowest bids were more than 50% over budget — leading to substantial delays.
City Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez stressed the importance of finally seeing the project come to fruition following years of starts and stops — particularly since the area is so unique requiring “special attention.”
This project will provide much-needed upgrades to benefit the community during emergencies,” Velázquez added. “Resiliency projects have become necessary and essential to protecting our waterfront neighborhoods. I look forward to the Edgewater Park community getting the support they’ve longed for and will continue working with Governor Hochul to ensure they are not forgotten.”
A statement released by the Edgewater Park Owners Cooperative Inc., said, “The Edgewater Park community is proud to be working with NYS RHC on the much anticipated and certainly needed upgrades to our Volunteer Firehouse to make it a relief center that serves not only the 675 homes in our Park but the surrounding areas as well.”
— Jason Cohen contributed to this report
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