Back in 2009 when Mill Pond Park opened along the Harlem River in the Lower Concourse area, the 11.3-acre site was promised to be a 15-acre waterfront park once it expanded using the empty parcel between the 145th Street Bridge and the finished park itself.
Time went by and many folks forgot about the expansion but we didn’t and neither did other folks in the area seeking park equity in the South Bronx for you see, The Bronx may be the greenest borough but the South Bronx actually has some of the worst access to green spaces in New York City.
Now, last Wednesday, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the same entity that has been shoving FreshDirect down against our will and taking away of more public land, has issued a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) to potentially develop up to 920,000 square foot mixed-use project. The RFEI indicates that up to two towers can be built on the site, one 40 stories, and another 26 stories.
How did this happen? How did the city just take away this land, this much needed open space and now wants to hand it over to developers? In return, we’re supposed to get a small sliver of an extension of Mill Pond Park but the fact remains: We can’t breathe concrete!
If you look on ZoLa, New York City’s Zoning and Land Use online tool, you can see the area mapped as parkland (same in Google Maps) and even NYC Parks website clearly shows the area marked as part of Mill Pond Park calling the area a 15 acre park—but that’s only if the extension were completed. As it stands, only 11.3 acres have been improved.
The city is already going through the process of having the site rezoned to accommodate such a development as current zoning doesn’t allow for it.
Yes, we do need housing and more affordable housing but not at the continual cost of our open spaces. We are already oversaturated with a booming population without the necessary access to green spaces.
We can’t let the city simply get away with consistently taking our public lands and developing them into something that has little to no public benefit especially when it comes to affordable housing. Affordable housing isn’t truly affordable to the local residents who are in the direst of circumstances.
With the Lower Conourse Rezoning Area finally kicking developments into high gear, we need to preserve what little space we have.