New York City’s “Vision 2020” Waterfront Plan

Did you know that, New York City has more miles of waterfront than San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, and Portland combined? New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced a new vision for the city’s 520 mile shoreline. The new comprehensive waterfront plan aims to integrate the waterfront into the daily lives of New Yorkers. The new 3.3 billion dollar, New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan or “Vision 2020” is the culmination of years of planning. The main goal of the plan is to open the waterfront for parks, economic and housing development, waterways for transportation, recreational activities, and natural habitats. The new 10 year plan highlights a vision of the future for New York City, implementing both new citywide policies and specific recommendations. The plan hopes to achieve its goals by the year 2020.

The plan consists of the city achieving 8 specific goals. The first goal is to expand public access to the waterfront and waterways on both public and private property for all New Yorkers and visitors. For many New Yorkers the waterways are their main connection to the natural world– providing a getaway from the daily urban jungle. The second goal is to enliven the waterfront within the means of the adjacent communities. This may include, creating new various historical sites or attractions creating both new jobs and housing within the city. The third goal is to support the working waterfront development by means of expanding the capacity of port facilities while still protecting the neighboring habitat environment, harbors, and reducing air emissions.

The forth goal is to improve the city’s overall water quality by identifying pollutants. The new green infrastructure and other sources of control will greatly aid in capturing rainfall, reducing sewer overflows, and other environmentally harmful discharges. The public will be asked to improve individual monitoring and aid in keeping the waterfront clean. The fifth goal is to restore degraded natural waterfront areas while still protecting wetlands and shore front habitats. The city hopes to do this through increasing scientific understanding, public awareness, and aid from locally based community groups near natural ecosystems.

The sixth goal is to enhance the city’s Blue Network or public experiences of the waterways surrounding New York. The city will provide water for recreational activities such as swimming, snorkeling, windsurfing, fishing, and city boat tours. The waterways will be used once again for education to explore New York’s history, environmental issues, climate change, and aquatic habitat. While, still looking to advance marine based alternative energy in the tides, offshore wind power, and aqua-thermal heating and cooling. The seventh goal is to improve governmental regulation, coordination, and oversight of the waterfront and waterways by means of environmental regulatory processes. The eighth and final goal is to identify and pursue strategies to increase the city’s resilience to climate change and sea level rise. This will be done through a citywide strategic planning process in which climate change projections will aid in planning for citywide emergency preparedness.

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