From: New Directions: A 197-A Plan for Manhattan Community district 11 (Revised 1999)
of this chapter was taken from the comprehensive Manhattan Waterfront
Plan which was adopted in 1997 by the Department of City Planning.
North of 96th Street, the FDR Drive is at-grade and access to the waterfront
is severely limited. Pedestrian overpasses occur at 103rd, 111th and 120th
Streets. The upland areas are developed at a high density and additional
access would ensure greater use of the waterfront. Some of the adjacent
upland uses such as the East 103rd Street Playground, and the Thomas Jefferson
Playground bring a large number of people in to areas immediately adjacent
to the waterfront, but the limited opportunities for access severely restrict
recreational use of the waterfront. In addition, because of limited waterfront
access, neither Ward's Island Park nor Randall's Island Park are used
to their fullest potential by area residents.
A recreation pier is located in the East River at 107th Street, recently rehabilitated. It provides the City with an opportunity to create ferry service linking East Harlem to recreational waterfront areas.
The esplanade comes to an abrupt end at 125th Street at the base of the Triborough Bridge.
Undeveloped parkland, under the jurisdiction of department of Parks and
Recreation lies from East 131 st to West 145th Streets. Pedestrian access
points currently exist at 125th, 127th and 142nd Streets. Existing bridges
to the Bronx and ramps onto the Harlem River Drive at 129th Street (Third
Avenue Bridge), 135th Street (Harlem River Drive access), 138th Street
(Madison Avenue Bridge), 139th Street (Harlem River Drive access) and
145th Street (145th Street Bridge) could be adapted to provide increased
pedestrian waterfront access. This stretch of waterfront is ideal for
expanded recreational development. It is a sizable waterfront property,
averaging over 100 feet in width, owned by the City, and adjacent to a
densely populated community of approximately 18,000 residents.
There has been considerable community interest in developing a waterfront park; the tenants of the Riverton Houses development took the initiative to commission a design for a portion of the area, executed by Harold Thorne. In Spring 1991, the Borough President commissioned a design study of this full area. The resulting design, prepared by the landscape architecture firm Quennell Rothschild Associates, built upon the Riverton Tenants Association proposal. It is entitled "Harlem Beach Esplanade."
Although pollution makes it unsafe to swim in the rivers around Manhattan,
this plan would provide a form of "beach" similar to portions of the Chicago
Lakefront which are used for beach-like activities and which are constructed
to evoke the sense of a beach. (Manhattan is the only borough of the City
without any beaches.) It would accommodate the broadest possible range
of waterfront recreation, such as a wading pool, sprinklers, fishing and
barbecue and picnic areas, as well as such traditional esplanade activities
as jogging, biking, sitting and strolling. Tall beacons, easily visible
from blocks away, would advertise the presence of Harlem Beach Esplanade
and the connections to the City street grid.
A gateway entrance plaza would be located at 127th Street and another between 135th and 139th Streets. They would incorporate pedestrian entrances, vehicular access and drop-off areas, and tree lined seating and picnicking areas. Rest rooms, a building for community events and concessions, a playground and a waterfront esplanade are also planned for these areas. Another possibility to be explored is mooring a pool-barge for seasonal swimming; this would contribute to the area's beachlike character.
Access to the islands, however, is extremely limited. There are only two
points of entry: vehicular access to Randall's Island via the Triborough
Bridge; and pedestrian access to Ward's Island by the 103rd Street overpass.
Pedestrian traffic is discouraged, however, by the location of a homeless
shelter on the island near the overpass.
Non-recreational uses continue to coexist with the Randall's and Ward's
Island's many recreational resources. Public facilities located there
include: DOS and Fire Department training facilities; a State mental hospital;
the previously mentioned homeless shelter operated by the Volunteers of
America; a Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority facility, DIVISION OF
REAL PROPERTY support facilities; and the Ward's Island Water Pollution
Control Plant (WPCP), A State-funded drug treatment facility is also proposed.
The Ward's Island WPCP is located on a 94-acre site. Sludge de-watering facilities there serve the Ward's Island plant and the North River WPCP. A pilot sludge composting facility has been developed there to process this de-watered sludge. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) plans to construct a sludge chemical stabilization facility at the northern comer of the WPCP site.
Randall's and Ward's Islands can accommodate the current number of non-recreational
facilities, while maximizing the recreational use of the islands. However,
the siting of future non-recreational facilities - including an additional
state-run drug treatment facility on the island -- must consider sites
adjacent to existing non-recreational facilities.
Today, Randall's Island plays host to club, league and high school softball, baseball, cricket, soccer games and track meets. Randalls Island was the site of the track events of the 1994 Gay Games, and in 1998 hosted the Goodwill Games' Track and Field events.
However, the island's recreational infrastructure is severely deteriorated. This is clearly evidenced in the poor condition of Downing Stadium. The Randall's Island's Sports Foundation is a public/private partnership formed to rehabilitate these recreational facilities. The partnership has already persuaded the City to commit $20 million in capital monies, a portion of which will be matched by private donors. In addition, the foundation has provided staff and resources to maintain ball fields, furnish new summer day-camp activities, enhance routine maintenance and make other interim improvements.
Certain revenue-generating recreational concessions have been developed
by DIVISION OF REAL PROPERTY in recent years. These concessions provide
revenue to the City and require the concessionaire
to make physical improvements to Randall's Island.
Sections of the 197-A Plan
Maps (all pertain
to Community Board # 11)
Board District # 11 (162K)