Wednesday, November 23, 2011

$9.9 million restoration coming to Soundview Park

Here's a story from this week's Bronx Press.

By Brendan McHugh 

Groundbreakings, am I right?
The mouth of the Bronx River is getting a makeover. 

The US Army Corps of Engineers, the same group that oversaw the highly necessary reconstruction of Orchard Beach, is restoring the Soundview Park wetlands, lagoon and upland forests. 

The $9.9 million restoration should take about a year, officials said. They added that the wetlands would help curb flooding during heavy storms, something that was all too obvious to area residents during Tropical Storm Irene. 

The ecological restoration will include the excavation of approximately three acres immediately north of the park’s lagoon area and the creation of tidal wetlands in its place. Aside from preventing flooding, restoring the tidal wetland will provide a habitat for birds and marine life, improve water quality and promote a healthier ecosystem.

Jump below for the full story.

Fill from the excavation will be used as part of the creation of several acres of wooded and grassland areas to the northwest of the lagoon, and two areas of existing upland forest will be cleared of invasive species and planted with native wildflowers, grasses, and trees. In total, more than 15 acres of tidal wetlands and upland forest will be restored, and 5,000 new trees will be planted. 

U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano, who once found a Jeep in the Bronx River, was happy to see the cleanup of the Bronx’s waterways continue. 

"Though it took many years to round up the federal funding, the local partners were quick to join forces when we did, and the result will be one of the largest restoration projects on the Bronx River in all of our years of activities,” he said. 

Despite the fact that Soundview Park is not in Serrano’s district, he sees the restoration of the wetlands as an important investment for all Bronxites. 

“Cleanup of the river has became a movement,” Serrano said, crediting the various community groups that have helped the Bronx River over the last few decades. 

Fellow U.S. congressman Joseph Crowley joined Serrano in allocating $4.5 million of federal funding for the park. 

“We’ve been blessed to have access to water that was denied to our parents and grandparents,” Crowley said, stressing the importance of the water in the Bronx. “We are telling Bronx residents that your community and your future matter.” 

Local residents, who officials thanked for their continued patience, said the construction is not all that bothersome and that the outcome will be worth the wait. 

“It was just woods and trees, so clearing it out will give us a better view and a better park,” said Soundview resident Cathy Park, who lives a few blocks from the area under construction. 

Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, who joined with state Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz to allocate state level funding, said the renovation will be critical for years to come. 

“Educate the next generation about what happened here, what this was like, what its become and what needs to happen so we maintain it so that Soundview is not an example of environmental injustice but a classroom of ecological revitalization,” he said.

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