As construction at the new waterfront development at the former Navy Homeport in Stapleton gets underway, we turn our attention to the shoreline. What will the new waterfront esplanade look like?
One rendering on the NYEDC website is of a charming inlet of restored wetlands,
but a larger view in the next rendering shows that the wetlands area is just a small part of the esplanade,
and that most of the waterfront will consist of concrete walkways and hard edge sea walls. Is this consistent with the stated goal of creating soft edged shorelines within the harbor? To learn more about the NYEDC’s Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy click here.
Let’s look at what is there now. The shoreline is in terrible shape and will need a complete restoration. However, it is easy to see that there is much potential for a pleasant interface of land and sea. In fact, a far larger segment of the waterfront could be dedicated to wetlands than is shown in the renderings.
This waterfront was an active longshore area in the past. Debris from the light rail line that serviced the dock facilities are still there, including rusting rails and ties. Around these old rail lines are many discarded cobblestones, now green and wet. It is probably too much to ask for a restored light rail service, considering that the Staten Island Railroad is just 100 yards away, but perhaps the cobblestone pavement can be reinstated to give a link to the waterfront past.
Here is where the hardedge presently begins in front of the Ironstate construction site. It is clear that this seawall is a far less satisfying aesthetic experience than the wetlands. If there must be such a section of wall, are there ways to mitigate it, as is being done on Governor’s Island? Additionally, are there plans for a ferry dock here to connect Stapleton by sea with the rest of the harbor? If there is any hope of modifying the present plan for the waterfront, we should be discussing these things now and engaging the EDC on possible changes.
Welcome To Port Richmond (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Residents of places like Brooklyn Heights and the West Village know film crews as that plague of self important invaders who swoop down on a neighborhood and disrupt parking and access for days or weeks without benefiting the community much at all. But for a fringe community on the tattered fringe of the city, the arrival of these exotic outsiders can be a pleasant change. Beryl Thurman of the North Shore Waterfront Conservancy shared this letter she sent thanking Boardwalk Empire for their use of Port Richmond locations.
Something unusual has been happening in Port Richmond down by the waterfront. The place that time forgot so to speak with its Victorian homes and old store fronts. This section near the waterfront was discovered by the cast and crew of Boardwalk Empire an HBO T.V. series.
It was movie magic that brought the area back to life not just with the activity of seeing the actors walking around in period custom. It was also seeing the many different kinds of jobs that the movie industry creates in filming a production. Having the crew here allowed many of the residents to not only see what happens behind the scenes in making a film. It allowed the young people to ask questions about what the crew was doing? And a introduction to asking how would a person get a job like that?
People were walking and driving by all day and night taking pictures of the Ford Model T cars that lined the streets and wondering how something that was made back in 1924 is still working in 2013 when nothing made today is actually made to last beyond 3 years.
Boardwalk Empire did something for the people of Port Richmond that will leave an indelible memory that may even lead to them recognizing, that there is a whole world out there just waiting to be explored, as well as career opportunities that were never imagined. NSWC has often told Staten Island politicians and economic development corporations that Staten Island must diversify in the kinds of businesses and industries that we have here on the island. There are many kinds of careers that can be tapped into if we have the imagination to do it.
Boardwalk Empire’s presence here was a impromptu career day and for the residents a positive learning experience that was very meaningful on many different levels.
Pass It On…
Beryl A. Thurman, Executive Director/President
Creating Livable Communities