Effort to re-babble Tibbetts Brook’s stream

A parks advocacy group has formed a committee to restore a brook to its original aboveground and natural state, but first it needs to acquire a piece of land, currently in private hands,

Tibbetts Brook, which flows south through Van Cortlandt Park and enters a sewer on Broadway, in the process creating four million gallons of water per day for a Wards Island treatment plant, would flow directly to the Harlem River, according to the activists’ plan.

The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park along with partners announced the formation of the Coalition for the Daylighting of Tibbetts Brook at a cocktail fundraiser at Manhattan College on Tuesday, March 7.

They are calling for elevating sections of the river within the park that are currently buried but once were above ground: a process known as daylighting.

Additionally, joining with Councilman Andrew Cohen and a host of other elected officials, FVCP and their allies announced that they were ready to pull out all stops to have NYC Parks purchase a four-acre parcel that would allow the brook to connect to the river.

Railroad corporation CSX currently owns that land.

Parks and the $41 billion rail company have differing opinions of that parcel’s value, according to FCVP.

“It is critical to put pressure on CSX to either reduce the price of or donate the property,” said Christina Taylor, FCVP executive director.

Spokespeople for both CSX and the Parks Department said that the negotiations regarding a possible land sale are ongoing.

A CSX spokesman stated that the land in question runs parallel to the Major Deegan Expressway between Van Cortlandt Park South and West 230th Street.

“CSX will be pleased to continue those discussions through to the development of a mutually satisfactory sale agreement,” stated CSX spokesman Rob Doolitttle in an email.

A Parks study is currently underway, said Cohen.

According to Parks, the goals of study are “to develop a concept design for wetland restoration, expansion of the surface flow of the brook within the park, and identification of a future pathway for connecting Tibbetts Brook back to the Harlem River.”

The councilman said that an opportunity to restore land in Van Cortland Park to a more natural, pristine state is an opportunity that should not be lost.

“There are also significant opportunities to redirect water away from our combined sewer, which would mean not having sewer overflows into the Harlem River,” he said.

The coalition and elected officials might step up efforts to pressure CSX to sell the parcel at a fair sale price, said Cohen.

The effort, if implemented, is one that is good both environmentally and ascetically, said Cohen, and would help in a variety of ways.

“I think the project has so many benefits as to make the effort worth it,” he said.

Should the land be obtained from CSX and the plan implemented, Tibbetts Brook would run as a babbling brook to West 230th Street and then piped under MTA property into the river, thereby avoiding the sewer, stated Taylor.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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