VAN CORTLANDT PARK, the Bronx (PIX11) — Part of the greenway in the Bronx’s Van Cortlandt Park will be extended as part of an effort to address flooding issues at the park.
“It is a big deal. We’ve been asking for this for 20+ years,” said Christina Taylor, deputy director of the Van Cortlandt Park Alliance.
Taylor and the Van Cortlandt Alliance have a lot to celebrate. For decades, the nonprofit environmental education and advocacy group has been asking New York City to do something about the flooding problem at Tibbetts Brook. The stream starts in Yonkers, runs through Van Cortlandt Park and connects to the Harlem River. It brings with it much more than water, especially on rainy days.
“This is causing combined sewer overflows in the Harlem River, flooding in the park itself along Broadway and the [Major] Deegan [Expressway],” Taylor. “We also have all that combined sewer overflow that goes directly into the Harlem River, making that water extremely unhealthy.”
The flooding reached critical levels back in September 2021, when the remnants of Hurricane Ida caused some of the overflow to rush into the Major Deegan Expressway, leaving panicked drivers trapped. Cars and trucks were stranded there in the days that followed.
“If you see right now, you see how it is. It can get worse later,” said parkgoer Waylin Toribio.
The Alliance believes that was a wake-up call for the city. Last week, Mayor Eric Adams announced a deal to purchase an unused railbed owned by CSX in order to daylight Tibbets Brook, which means extending the greenway and redirecting the flow directly to the sewer system. It also creates additional access to the greenspace in this community.
“This is a neighborhood that really hasn’t had access to the park in the way that it should,” said Stephanie Ehrlich, executive director and park administrator at Van Cortlandt Park Alliance.
The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the Van Cortlandt Park Alliance, together with a local advisory board, are working on a design plan that should be finished sometime this year. The project itself has a planned completion date in 2030.
“This is going to be a huge game changer. First of all, it’s going to be gorgeous, and the Bronx deserves beauty,” said Ehrlich.