Public-Private Partnership Breaks Ground for Scenic Hudson RiverWalk Park at Tarrytown

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 -- Scenic Hudson

TARRYTOWN -- Officials from the Village of Tarrytown, Westchester County, Scenic Hudson and developer National RE/sources were joined by other project supporters in a groundbreaking for the new Scenic Hudson RiverWalk Park at Tarrytown -- a site once marked by heavy industry. When completed in summer 2010, the park will provide new access to the river, recreational facilities and open space against the dramatic backdrop of the Hudson, Tappan Zee Bridge and Manhattan skyline.

The new park will stretch along 3,200 feet (or 0.6 mile) of the village's Hudson riverfront and link to the village's Pierson Park and the 25-acre brownfield that is being redeveloped by National RE/sources as a 238-unit residential community called Hudson Harbor (formerly known as Ferry Landings). The site is adjacent to a Metro-North railroad station, making it convenient to visitors from Westchester and beyond. To make way for the park, the village orchestrated -- with support from the county, Scenic Hudson and National RE/sources -- the relocation of an asphalt plant on the site so that public river access could be opened for the first time in 80 years. The site was acquired and remediated by National RE/sources, while the shoreline was stabilized by the Village of Tarrytown with various grants from federal agencies. Scenic Hudson conducted public meetings that provided residents the opportunity to help shape the park's design.

County's RiverWalk ties together park's unique features

Winding through the park will be a major segment of the Westchester County RiverWalk, which is planned ultimately to connect all riverfront towns along the Hudson from Yonkers to Peekskill with waterfront walkways, bike paths and parks. Scenic Hudson RiverWalk Park at Tarrytown will feature sitting areas, a prominent overlook and opportunities to reach the water's edge. There will be a series of unique outdoor recreation spaces, including a terraced lawn for sitting, lounging, picnicking or informal games as well as protected areas for reading or for families with small children.

Sitting areas marked by wood-deck platforms will be placed at "view corridors" that connect the park with public streets and make it possible to view the river from those neighboring public streets and National RE/source's new residential development project. The park's edge will be delineated by an "eco-corridor" with a series of natural swales and dunes that will provide a natural context for park users to enjoy native plants and wildlife. Interpretive signs throughout the park will impart the unique history of the site, village and Hudson River Valley.

Throughout Scenic Hudson RiverWalk Park at Tarrytown, cyclists, rollerbladers and pedestrians will have chances for social activity, including taking advantage of a series of outdoor "garden rooms" along the esplanade. Grass terraces and lawns in the park's central location will allow for sitting, picnicking and viewing the majesty of the river and its shores as well as the Tappan Zee Bridge and Manhattan skyline.

The park was financed through $3.5 million from Westchester County, $2 million from Scenic Hudson (including $1 million from Tarrytown resident Kathryn W. Davis and The Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation), $1.3 million from the Village of Tarrytown, and $425,000 from the federal government through the efforts of U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey.

Village of Tarrytown Mayor Drew Fixell said, "This project is a great collaboration among many levels of government, nonprofits and the private sector to create a great asset for future generations."

"This project is going to revitalize the Tarrytown waterfront and bring us one step closer to our dream of a continuous walk along the entire Hudson River," said Westchester County Executive Andy Spano, who noted that work is nearly completed through the Pierson Village Park section in the southern portion of the project area. He pointed to a newly paved walkway, lighting and landscaping as an example of what the entire project will look like when completed next June.

About 31 miles of the 51.5-mile RiverWalk trail have been completed so far, including existing paths and sidewalks. A second Tarrytown segment is being constructed through the Kraft Foods and Lyndhurst mansion sites, and design for sections in Ossining and Yonkers is underway.

Parks important part of sustainable economic development

Public parks are important for a sustainable economy for the region. According to the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation and its 2008 survey of 2,000 corporate executives and site-selection professionals nationwide, the valley's unique quality of life is a leading selling point. Also, words most associated with the valley were scenic beauty and nature. Further, according to a 2008 study by Tourism Economics of Wayne, Penn., based on data from the NYS Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Commerce, each year the tourism industry in the 10-county Hudson Valley region is responsible for $4.7 billion in spending, $298 million in local taxes and 80,000 jobs. Westchester County's share of the valley's tourism industry is large -- equating to $1.6 billion in tourism spending every year that is responsible for contributing $102.2 million in local taxes and almost 22,800 jobs.

Speaking for Scenic Hudson, Senior Vice President Steve Rosenberg underscored the project's contributions to quality of life and the local economy. "We've seen it at Scenic Hudson parks up and down the river and through this year's Quadricentennial -- people and communities want to connect with their Hudson River. A new park like this will become a magnet for attracting people seeking opportunities for learning, recreation and rejuvenation. The park's economic and jobs benefits are a direct bottom-line result of the park design and construction contracts, spending by visitors, and by the fact that new residents and businesses are increasingly drawn to areas that boast parks and natural beauty."

Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan thanked supporters who contributed to Scenic Hudson's work on the park. He expressed gratitude for the generous $1 million pledge from Tarrytown philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis. He also recognized The Pew Charitable Trusts for providing a zero-interest loan that made the Davis funds immediately available for the project. He further expressed appreciation for donations and support from the Westchester Community Foundation's Arnold and Olga Feldman Fund, the David Rockefeller Fund and Con Edison.

Congresswoman Lowey said, "We can all take pride in converting this industrial site into a recreational area where families and individuals can enjoy the Hudson River. I was pleased to secure hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funding for this project that was made possible by cooperation between private and nonprofit entities and government at every level. It is a pleasure to join this groundbreaking, and I look forward to enjoying the waterfront for many years to come."

"It's gratifying to be working with the partners in creating a $7.5-million park. Restoring the land, giving the public access to the waterfront, and then creating a transit-oriented, green community -- I think that's a great story," said Joseph Cotter, president of National RE/sources, which specializes in redeveloping environmentally impaired properties.

Mr. Cotter's Hudson Harbor development is underway and employs eco-friendly products and systems, including geothermal heating and air conditioning. "At Hudson Harbor, we've created a visually beautiful destination that incorporates enlightened design with a strong commitment to the river itself," he added.