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See the South Bronx Waterfront's Green, Park-Filled Future

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All renderings via Civitas Inc.

Joining the newfound impetus to transform the South Bronx, the New York Restoration Project announced this morning a plan to revitalize Mott Haven and Port Morris, two of New York's poorest neighborhoods, both located in the South Bronx. The initiative, called The Haven Project, aims to beautify the area and facilitate a healthier lifestyle for residents of the neighborhoods. Plans include creating a waterfront park at 134th Street, improving street crossings and bike routes to the waterfront and the new Randall's Island Connector, increasing waterfront access, planting trees and other assorted greenery, and installing public art along new trails.

Neighborhood well-being was chief among the concerns of the NYRP in planning this project, which was first announced last fall when NYRP began working with the community. The industrial presence in the South Bronx has had a largely negative impact on the health and livelihood of the neighborhood's residents. Children in these areas are 50 percent more likely to suffer from asthma, and rates of obesity and diabetes are also higher. The Haven Project seeks to overcome and counteract these afflictions by implementing new open spaces, and the NYRP has partnered with Montefiore Medical Center and Columbia University to monitor the benefits of these spaces over time. Safety is also a concern in the neighborhood, as highway clusters lead to more road injuries. The improved streetscapes will hopefully prevent some of those incidents in the future, and The Haven Project also aims to use vehicles from Sportime, another partner, to implement a free shuttle program that transports Mott Haven and Port Morris residents around the neighborhoods and to the Randall's Island Connector.

The project leaders also hope to foster neighborhood identity with these new plans. They reason that a new park and increased waterfront access will encourage locals to spend more time outdoors, in these public spaces, and the public art will bring about community identity as well. Further, community members have been active in the implementation and planning of the projects since last fall as well.

The New York Restoration Project has created dozens of new green spaces in low-income neighbors across the city, and the group has already started beautifying Port Morris and Mott Haven with new trees and landscaping. The timeframe and cost for the project are still up in the air, but the first site—the pier at 132nd St.—is expected to cost $5 million to $10 million, with groundbreaking tentatively scheduled for fiscal year 2017.

—Wesley Yiin
· The Haven Project [official website]
· Mapping the Crucial Developments That Will Reshape the Bronx [Curbed]