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For Release: Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Grants Awarded to Improve Access to Hudson River for Underserved Communities

Kingston, Albany, Yonkers and New York City Will Use Grants to Develop Plans to Provide Greater Opportunities to Enjoy Recreational Opportunities

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Hudson River Estuary Program, in partnership with the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC), has awarded four grants totaling $117,611 to provide access to the Hudson River and its tributaries for underserved communities, including people with disabilities and individuals living in disadvantaged neighborhoods, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. The purpose of these grants is to support the development of plans or projects that will improve public access to the river and estuary for fishing, boating, swimming, hiking, wildlife education, and river watching in environmental justice neighborhoods.

"The Hudson River Estuary Program is helping communities enjoy, protect and revitalize the Hudson River and its Valley," said Commissioner Martens. "These grants support efforts in four communities to develop projects that will make it easier for residents of disadvantaged neighborhoods to enjoy recreational and educational opportunities along the river and its tributaries, while also helping to revitalize river cities. The awards are part of a plan to connect environmental projects to the economic vitality of the region, and these four projects align with Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) goals and strategies."

Ron Poltak, NEIWPCC Executive Director, said, "Providing waterfront access for underserved communities is key to building support for the Hudson. NEIWPCC is pleased to offer support for this important initiative." The four grant-funded projects are located in environmental justice (EJ) neighborhoods in Albany, Kingston, New York City and Yonkers:

  • The City of Albany will receive $30,000 to conduct a community engagement and visioning plan to increase educational and recreational opportunities along the Patroon Creek, a tributary of the Hudson River estuary located within the Tivoli Lake Preserve, The Preserve is an underutilized 80-acre urban nature preserve located adjacent to two high-density lower-income communities -- the Arbor Hill and West Hill neighborhoods - and is the second largest urban nature preserve in New York State (only Central Park in New York City is larger). A related project, previously funded by the Hudson River Estuary Program, involves opening up sections of the Patroon Creek to daylight, in areas where the creek flows underground through culverts. The site is ideal for restoration, and the city will actively engage local residents in developing a vision for its use as a community asset. The project aligns with the Capital District REDC goal of waterfront revitalization.
  • The City of Kingston will receive $30,000 to install a floating fishing pier/dock on the Rondout Creek next to T.R. Gallo Park and neighborhood subsidized housing complexes-one of the poorest census tracts in the city. The dock will provide the first public access fishing dock along Kingston's waterfront at Rondout Creek and will provide opportunities to catch a variety of fish of the Hudson estuary, such as perch, largemouth bass and striped bass. The Federated Sportsmen's Clubs of Ulster County will provide fishing equipment and host fishing classes in the downtown area to teach local residents to fish. The city's goal is to be a regional leader in providing access to disenfranchised citizens who can't access the water because they do not own boats. In addition to providing fishing access for low-income residents, the project includes ramps accessible for wheelchair users. This project meets a Mid-Hudson REDC goal to use of the region's natural infrastructure of parks, preserves and waterways, including the Hudson estuary, to promote recreational and tourism uses of the waterfront. The city office of Community Development is providing $20,000 in matching funds for the project, which also supports the city's local waterfront revitalization plan.
  • West Harlem Environmental Action Inc. (WE ACT for Environmental Justice) will receive $30,006 to develop plans for a new community center for ecological education and recreational activities on the Hudson River at 135th Street, site of the abandoned Marine Transfer Station. This site has the potential to offer access to the Hudson River for residents of Harlem, creating a much-needed green center for northern Manhattan, an area that has been excessively burdened with polluting facilities. WE ACT seeks to turn an area known for community blight to a publicly accessible, ecologically beneficial green center, cultivating environmental stewards for the Hudson. The project will reach out to and seek to involve local schools in the visioning process, including Philip Randolph High School, PS 161, and Mott Hall High School
  • Yonkers, Groundwork Hudson Valley will receive $27,605 to work with residents to develop access plans to the adjacent Saw Mill River for fishing, birding, walking, and environmental education. The Saw Mill River is a tributary stream of the Hudson River Estuary that is being restored as a community asset and habitat for local fish and wildlife. This project will provide access to the stream for residents of Walsh Homes, a senior housing residence, and families at Schlobohm Houses. These public housing complexes have a combined total of approximately 1,000 units of housing. The project will replace rusting chain link fences and imposing blockades that currently impede access, and replace them with small pocket parks and bucolic settings for residents to enjoy vistas of the river. Residents and families will be asked to volunteer their time in the restoration project and create true community engagement. The project will include interpretive signage about the habitats, fish and birds of the area, and will also offer educational and recreational activities such as bird-watching and river cleanups.

For more information on the grants awarded, contact Fran Dunwell, NYSDEC Hudson River Estuary Program, at 845-256-3016.

The Hudson River Estuary Program is a project of the NYS Environmental Protection Fund. Helping people enjoy, protect and revitalize the Hudson River and its Valley, For more information on the Hudson River Estuary Program visit the DEC website.

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