By Mayor Bloomberg
New York is one of the world’s great waterfront cities. In fact, our web of bays, rivers, and inlets gives us more shoreline than Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and Portland, Oregon combined. For centuries, this ‘blue network’ was the bloodstream of our City’s economic life. As waterfront industry and commerce declined, New Yorkers turned their backs on this incredible resource. But in recent years, we’ve begun reconnecting to our 520 miles of shoreline. And last week, our Administration released a blueprint for a sweeping transformation of the waterfront and waterways that are, in effect, our ‘sixth borough.’
Our new comprehensive waterfront plan outlines major long-range goals and also a three-year action agenda for starting to realize them. One of our priorities is to build on the progress we’ve already made on Governors Island, at Brooklyn Bridge Park, and our other new shoreline parks. So over the next three years, we’ll invest $360 million to develop and expand waterfront parks and create 14 new greenways and esplanades throughout the City. We’ll also create new recreational access points and ferry service allowing New Yorkers to get on the water; in fact, later this spring we’ll launch new commuter ferry service connecting Brooklyn and Queens to Manhattan and Governors Island.
Upgrades to Brooklyn and Staten Island industrial marine terminals will also keep our waterfront a place where thousands of hard-working New Yorkers make good livings; over the next three years, such projects will create 13,000 new construction jobs and 3,400 permanent waterfront jobs. At the same time, we’ll protect nearby residential areas from the noise and fumes that some industrial activity can create. We’ll invest in the infrastructure that will encourage new development along the waterfront, and also work to make regulations governing waterfront uses easier for property owners to understand and navigate.
Today, thanks to years of investment and hard work, the waters around our City are cleaner than they’ve been in more than a century. Further upgrades to our wastewater treatment plants, investments in runoff-conserving ‘green’ infrastructure, and environmental projects that include restoration of our wetlands will continue to improve the ecology and natural habitats of our waterways and shorelines. We’ll reduce pollution and shrink our carbon footprint along the waterfront, and also work to protect our waterfront infrastructure from severe weather events – all major goals of our PlaNYC sustainability agenda.
City agencies, waterfront experts, and elected officials collaborated to produce our plan and action agenda. Thousands of New Yorkers also contributed their ideas, both on-line and in person, at meetings and workshops. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn deserves special recognition; she championed the legislation that set this process in motion, and she’ll be our partner in implementing the waterfront action agenda. You can read our waterfront plan on-line, at the City’s web site, nyc.gov. It’s a great way to see for yourself how we’re enhancing the waterfront near where you live – and how we’re making sure that our once-forgotten waterfront is never forgotten again.