The NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) and Economic Development Corporation (EDC) are currently pursuing plans to reconstruct the Vernon Blvd Street End at Newtown Creek.
In the past 20 years, numerous community driven plans for this location have been developed in an effort to reconnect Long Island City to their waterfront (see renderings above). While the Brooklyn side of this former bridge crossing received city investment in the form of a pocket park and boat launch (Manhattan Avenue Street End Park, completed 2009) the end of Vernon has been left in a state of disrepair and neglect until a major bulkhead collapse in early 2016 forced the City’s hand to consider an investment that will prevent further erosion and protect infrastructure running beneath the street. After 4 years of a fenced off and crumbling shoreline, the DOT and EDC presented their plans to Queens Community Board 2 in April 2020 (see above).
Building upon previous community led planning projects, Newtown Creek Alliance, along with Queens Community Board 2, Councilmember Van Bramer, and HarborLAB (a community boating organization that operates at this location) have all expressed interest in a shoreline redesign that provides real access to the water, as well as upland accommodations for both the public and wildlife (in the form of seating, trees, pollinator garden, etc), while protecting against future flooding. The current plan does not offer any of these benefits. The DOT’s offer of “continuing discussions about options to enhance the spaces and access to the waterfront following this essential construction” does not go far enough and all but closes the door to real opportunities to rebuild with the community and resiliency at the core of this important project.. The options to incorporate shoreline access post construction will be more complicated, more expensive and thus less likely. Additionally, an offer to continue discussions is not an actual commitment towards achieving community benefits.
- Reconfigure the current plan to provide true access to Newtown Creek
- Make a binding commitment to add upland amenities (including seating and ecologically beneficial greenery) following construction.
The shorelines of Newtown Creek have been too long neglected, polluted and inaccessible. We must seize every opportunity to improve publicly owned shores, like Vernon blvd, for community and environmental benefit.