Project for public spaces gives quite a few good ideas about rebuilding public space.
The waterfront section is particular interesting and relevant to the Yonkers issue. This issue is now getting bigger than the Alexander street master plan, but is addresses the whole Yonkers waterfront. I have been at the public meetings with the mayor, where time and time again people from the audience question the privatization of the waterfront and how they already see the Yonkers waterfront becoming the private front yard and dog walking area for the new Yonkers residents. The mayor repeatedly states that this isn’t so, but the evidence isn’t supporting him, the historic Yonkers pier was privatized and chopped up for a high end restaurant, a good restaurant so I hear, but with prices so high very few from the local non city hall community are going to be dining there. The fireworks display this fourth of July was more like a private party for X2 Xavier opening crowd than the normal Yonkers affair, the banners advertising the fireworks were missing and there was no mention of the fireworks on the city of Yonkers website. Kind of like it was invitation only event. Questions about the no fishing signs that appeared at the pier are answered as a temporary thing due to the ferry , I think it has more to do with X2 Xavier, they don’t want the place to look too common. The mayor promise a fishing pier, but it is not on the DGEIS plans submitted , at least not in downtown Yonkers, yes there is one proposed for the JFK marina, but that’s not downtown Yonkers, that is probably the location they figure on having the affordable housing, they plan on building a full service marina there, full service marinas are very noisy, that will be where the section of affordable housing may be ( if any). Stick the fisherman down there too, that will be their section of the waterfront, they did put in the DGEIS that the oldest canoe club in the USA was also being relocated, but didn’t tell the canoe club. Now they promise that was only a mistake by AKRF, it will remain in downtown Yonkers, where it is, so they promise.
So we have the Yonkers pier, the missing fisherman, secret fireworks for X2 patrons all pointing to privatization of the waterfront as an esplanade for the new Yonkerites, the wealthy condo buyers they are trying to draw into Yonkers.
The project for public spaces waterfront guidelines had a couple points that jumped right out at me
1 . Residential units in close proximity do not mix and are contrary to a successful public waterfront. I frequent the revitalized Manhattan and Brooklyn waterfronts, they have free concerts, movies, music, dancing, and children’s activities all planned for the spring, summer and fall. The riverfront greenway park isn’t shut down at dusk like these non functioning systems. Residences along the waterfront are going to try to limit that proper public use. A successful waterfront is going to be the more nighttime use the better, the safer it is. Every night you will have a choice of destinations, this has happened in Manhattan. Why are there no dance lessons and free outdoor dancing on the esplanade now and planned for the spring and summer summer? It is built , it is there, there are dance studios that I am sure would want to get involved, the esplanade has been there for years now and it hasn’t been put to its proper use.
Outdoor movies could be shown on the pier, esplanade or sculpture garden too, all on the same night, a blues band could be performing on the lower level of the pier. There should be four activities every warm weather night down there
There is all this alleged public space, already built, that has not been put to its proper use. I have seen the mayor speak at a couple of these public meetings, he has great personality and is very likable. He keeps stating he wants people down there to use the place; they cannot get a coffee house to set up shop since no one goes down there. Actually that is false, your waterfront development wont confirm the space they need to run a business, they want to wait until the gap or some big user leases out the big chunk , and then give the coffee house people what is left over. The coffee people cannot come up with a business plan that way, I spoke to the client.
Mayor Amicone , it is time to light a fire under your recreation, waterfront development personal, a layman can figure out what is wrong with this waterfront.
It is already not being put to it proper use, 400 hundred yards of beautiful finished product. It can host a lot of activities, This isn’t the front yard of the imported new Yonkers wealthy, it is still Yonkers front yard and we need to start using it this spring, and your recreation/ waterfront people should be lining up dance studio’s, setting up movie nights, invite a blues or jazz band to set up shop. Plenty can be accomplished now on the established waterfront. A successful waterfront should be a busy thriving area; it should be the place for concerts, outdoor movies, music and dancing. It should be open late, well into the nighttime and early morning hours “residential development limits the diversity of waterfront use and creates constituencies invested in preventing 24-hour activity from flourishing”.
2.) Don’t let the developers set the goals, I have been to about every waterfront meeting, and speaker after speaker has said the same thing, do not let the developers ruin our waterfront, it is one thing that Yonkers still has. Put community goals first, not developer’s goals, plans must adhere to the concept that the Yonkers waterfront is Yonkers public asset.