U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer made his way to the Bronx to get the ball rolling on the long awaited Tibbets Brook Bronx Greenway on Thursday, October 18.
Standing on the West 233rd Street overpass of the Major Deegan Expressway, Schumer joined Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and many other elected officials to explain what’s holding up the project.
The Putnam Right-of-Way, named for the old rail line that this strip of land once served, is a low-line parcel of land that Tibbets Brook runs through. It is privately owned by CSX Transportation, a railroad freight logistics company that has not used the land since the 1980s.
Since that time, the city has tried acquiring the parcel in efforts to create the desired greenway.
Much of the roughly 47-mile stretch that the rail line once made up has been converted to green space north of the borough.
In 2017, after years of stalled negotiations, Schumer along with Councilman Andrew Cohen brought the city and CSX together to discuss the city’s plan to acquire the Putnam R-O-W, according to senator’s office.
Prior to that, the greenway project passed the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure in 2011.
During the negotiations, the two parties agreed to hire an independent appraiser to establish the market value of the corridor.
Both the city and CSX equally split the cost of the appraisal and agreed upon the methodology and scope.
The appraisal was completed on December 19, 2017.
However the city and CSX haven’t agreed on the apraisal’s finding; with the rail company unwilling to accept the appraised value.
While Schumer would not divulge the exact figure, he did call the amount being offered as “very generous.”
“This parcel is the missing piece of the puzzle to connect the Manhattan and Hudson River Greenways and will inject a vibrant green lifeline into the Bronx,” Schumer said. “Stop stalling and give the Bronx something to cheer about!” the senator added.
He went on to explain that the piece that would connect New York City would also provide access to hundreds of miles of biking and pedestrian pathways within the Hudson Valley.
In response to Schumer’s presser, CSX issued a statement saying, “CSX has a long history of working with the City of New York on property transactions that support their long-term goals and allow CSX to focus on its core business. We remain committed to working towards a mutually beneficial outcome.”
Community Board 8 chairwoman Rosemary Ginty has had CSX on speed dial for some time over the Putnam-Right-of Way project.
She explained that the land adjacent to I-87 used to be an illegal dumping ground, filled with discarded household appliances.
“It was a mess, people would dump old refrigerators there and much more,” Ginty said. She along with the rest of CB 8 pressured CSX to clean up the private property in 2017.
“To their credit they answered us and cleaned the entire area up and it has remained clean,” she said while noting the private property and no dumping signs that had been installed.
Though, Ginty continued to explain, CB8 has not been able to make much progress with CSX in regards to the land sale.
“I hope our elected officials can get to them in the ways we can’t,” she said.