Harlem River Brownfiled Opportunity Area (BOA)

September 7th, 2008 Posted in Harlem River BOA, Projects

The New York State Brownfield Areas Opportunity (BOA) Program is the redevelopment planning arm of the Superfund/Brownfield Law. The Harlem River BOA proposal came out of BCEQ’s previous Harlem River conferences, and was developed in partnership with broad community participation. In March 2005, the Harlem River BOA was awarded a grant by the NYS Departments of State and Department of Environmental Conservation for a Pre-Nomination Study, or preliminary description and analysis of the area. When complete, it will be reviewed by the NYS Departments of State and Environmental Conservation to determine if the community should proceed to the next step — assessments of priority brownfield sites and development of an area-wide implementation strategy.

The study is being carried out by the Bronx Council on Environmental Quality in collaboration with the Borough President’s office, the Gaia Institute, and Manhattan College. A steering committee has been formed, which includes representatives of the Borough President; Community Boards 4, 5, 7 and 8; and agencies and community organizations with interests in the waterfront. Hilary Kitasei is the project manager. The Borough President’s office is preparing maps and the Gaia Institute is doing the environmental analysis.

Scope. The Harlem River BOA includes 162 acres of the Bronx shore of the Harlem River, which contains many vacant or underutilized properties whose development is complicated by the presumption of contamination. It includes two sub-areas: 156 acres from the Macombs Dam Bridge to the Bronx border with Marble Hill, and the 6-acre triangle in Spuyten Duyvil at the confluence of the Hudson River. A broader community participation area includes the populated upland areas whose residents have the most direct stake in the future in the waterfront: Concourse, HighBridge, Morris Heights, University Heights, Kingsbridge Heights, Marble Hill, and Spuyten Duyvil.

Background. The Harlem River and its neighboring communities are poised for a long-overdue revival. For centuries, the Harlem provided a bountiful harvest of seafood and a source of transportation for indigenous tribes, followed by colonists and the first generations of the new republic. At the turn of the last century, the river was host to a proliferation of boathouses and regattas, attracting rowers and spectators from around the world. Early 20th century industrialization and planning policies all but eradicated public access to the River and replaced the festive boathouses and sustenance fishermen with factories and power plants, sewage outfalls, miles of bulkheads, roads and railways that turned New Yorkers away from their waterfronts. In the case of the Harlem River, highways and railroads cut the inland communities off from their seven-mile waterfront almost completely.

The Harlem River BOA is presumed to be one large brownfield, with significant contamination throughout all environmental media. Its redevelopment and restoration require thorough planning and analysis of hazardous substance sites, which includes participation at all levels. It is anticipated that targeted brownfields redevelopment efforts will contribute to the expansion of public access opportunities, open space protection, protection of fish habitat and intertidal areas, tourism and recreation promotion, and improving linkages between the waterfront and historic communities.

The Bronx Council for Environmental Quality (BCEQ) is a 501c.3 grass roots community group founded in 1970. BCEQ seeks to establish – as an inherent Human Right – a sound, forward-looking policy regarding ”an aesthetic, unpolluted environment with a natural and historic heritage.” We believe grassroots citizen involvement to be essential in building and maintaining a sustainable present and future environment. We think globally, and act locally — in The Bronx.

For more information, you can view our report here:
Harlem River BOA Report – 10.38 mb (PDF)

Letter of approval – (PDF)

This report is the final product for the funding BCEQ was appropriated to complete the Harlem River BOA Phase I. It is a large file so be patient when you download and open. If your browser is not set to open pdfs or if you want to download it, right click on the mouse and choose SAVE AS, and then place it in the file of your choice. If you have any comments on our report, and/or questions, please contact HarlemRiver@bceq.org

Thank you for your support.

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