On the evening of Tuesday March 7th 2017, the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park (FVCP) hosted over 80 attendees in the Kelly Commons Building of Manhattan College to officially launch the Coalition for Daylighting Tibbetts Brook. Attendees included elected officials, representatives of Coalition members, FVCP Bronx Pass Members, FVCP Board of Directors and others. At the event, presentations to discuss where we are now and next steps were made by Councilman Andrew Cohen, Councilman Mark Levine, Jamie Ong (Project Manager for NYC Parks) and Christina Taylor (FVCP Executive Director). FVCP Board Chair, Christopher Rizzo, wrapped up the evening with highlights of FVCP’s 25th Anniversary Year. Gary Axelbank, Bronx Talk, Emceed the evening.
Daylighting Tibbetts Brook
Water from Tibbetts Brook enters the Broadway sewer at a rate of 4 to 5 million gallons of water per day — and that’s on a dry day. This water is then treated – for no reason- at the Wards Island Stormwater Treatment Plant. Often when it rains, the combination of sewage, street runoff and the brook enters the combined sewer, bypassing the treatment plant and flowing directly into the Harlem River. This one Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO), WI-056, connected to the Broadway sewer makes up more than half of the CSO water entering the Harlem River. Daylighting will remove this clean water from the sewer, help to reduce CSO occurrences on the Harlem River and help with flooding issues along Broadway and other areas of the Tibbetts Brook Watershed.
NYC Parks currently has funding to develop a plan for wetland restoration work in Van Cortlandt Park to help remove a small portion of the water from the City’s sewer system. The second phase would involve true daylighting by having the water run down the abandoned CSX property just west of the Major Deegan. However, NYC Parks and CSX disagree greatly on the value of the property- CSX believes the land is worth $13 million and NYC Parks currently has $1.5 million to purchase the land. CSX’ position defies logic—the right of way will never again be used for rail service (it dead ends at the park) and is not developable (it is too narrow). If anything, it serves a liability for the owner.
At the event, Councilman Mark Levine, Chair of the NYC City Council Parks Committee, announced that Daylighting Tibbetts Brook is one of the 5 Key NYC Parks projects that he is advocating for.
During her presentation, Christina Taylor Executive Director of FVCP, said: “it is critical to put pressure on CSX to either reduce the price of or donate the property. CSX recently donated the Highline to the City. The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park refuses to raise (and the City should refuse to spend) $13 million pay for property that can no longer serve any commercial purpose. Any funding we raise will go towards the actual daylighting project.”
Ways to support the Coalition efforts include: (1) Organizations and Elected Officials can join the Coalition, (2) Individuals can sign the online petition (link below), (3) Call 311 to report garbage and rat sightings on CSX property and (4) show support by attending NYC Parks’ presentation on Wetland Restoration project later this spring.
Friends of Van Cortlandt Park
Bringing Youth, Community and Nature Together! Founded in 1992, the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park is an independent community based organization that actively promotes the conservation and improvement of Van Cortlandt Park, the third largest park in NYC, through environmental education and restoration and enhancement of Van Cortlandt Park, its forests and trails.
For more information:
Christina Taylor, Executive Director of Friends of Van Cortlandt Park
Coalition Statement & Members: http://vancortlandt.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Coalition-Daylighting-Tibbetts-Brook.pdf
Petition in Favor of Daylighting Project: https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/free-tibbetts-brook-coalition-in-support-of