A new floating dock and gangway on the Harlem River waterfront is providing easier access for residents at Roberto Clemente State Park.
Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner joined by the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, on Wednesday, October 30, announced the $150,000 capital investment that will enhance families’ access to the unique ecosystem at the heart of the Harlem River.
Joyner’s generous allocation was matched by the Land and Water Conservation Fund of $150,000 totaling $300,000 for the boat launch positioned near the park’s living shoreline and picnic grove.
“It expands access to free recreational opportunities for families throughout our community and adds another amenity to the many improvements that have been made at Roberto Clemente State Park in recent years,” Joyner said.
The new feature is part of the $100 million transformation of Roberto Clemente State Park under Governor Cuomo, who unveiled the park’s redesigned waterfront and gateway with newly constructed ballfields in June.
“This is not just a park, it’s a symbol of the new Bronx,” Cuomo said at the unveiling.
The 25-acre waterfront park attracts over one-million visitors a year. The park offers a variety of recreational and cultural activities year-round for youth, adults, senior citizens and the physically challenged.
The facilities include an Olympic-size pool complex, ball fields, basketball courts, picnic areas, playgrounds and a waterfront promenade.
The boat launch will allow for experienced paddlers, kayakers, and canoers in groups on the Harlem River, according to Leslie Wright, regional director, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Those who wish to participate in waterfront activities must apply for a permit.
“Everyone has to have proper equipment. The river has swift currents, and, we certainly want to ensure everyone’s safety,” Leslie said.
For Leslie, the boat launch and renovation of the park is “completely gratifying and a total homerun for the community,” she said.
Francis Rodriguez, director of Roberto Clemente State Park, said they’re “super excited and happy” about the new floating dock, which was designed to take on water storm surges following the destruction of Superstorm Sandy in October 2012.
“We had a much smaller floating dock in the past, but when we got hit by Sandy very hard, water came across the park and caused damages,” Rodriguez said. “With Sandy we had a 6-foot surge and this dock is designed for an 8-foot or 10-foot surge.”
With the new landing dock, local students are able to return to the waterfront to participate in activities, such as canoeing.
The park’s partnership with Wilderness Inquiry, an organization that leads outdoor trips and adventure, teaches children safety and how to canoe on the Harlem River, according to Rodriguez.
Additionally, the dock can also be used in the event of an emergency in the water, where boaters can stop if they need assistance, said Rodriguez.
“We’re just happy for the community and happy that we’re able to have access now,” Rodriguez said.