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578 Miles of NYC Waterfront

With increased use of our harbor and shorelines for recreational pursuits that recognize the value of unbroken waterfront vistas to our psyche, we can turn our city into a better place to live for our 8 million residents and a glorious watery playground for our 17 million annual visitors.

We must increase opportunities for fishing, swimming, small boating, al fresco dining and other waterfront activities.

Our waterfront  represents our largest underutilized open space resource. The containerization of cargo has freed much of our harbor and estuary from the needs of commerce, and better sewage treatment is responsible for significant improvements in water quality. Much of our harbor, including the Hudson above the George Washington Bridge and below Greenwich Village, is now designated clean enough for swimming.

Our waterways are, by law, part of the public common. However, land along the waterwaysóboth privately or publicly held ó is often managed in a way that denies New Yorkers their rightful access. Improving access to the water's edge can play a major role in changing the perception of New York City from a place that offers an inadequate quality of life to a world leader in that arena.

Except in the case of water dependent industrial or cargo transportation needs, the Neighborhood Open  Space Coalition will continue to work for continuous public access. We hope this includes opportunities for small boating, especially non-motorized boating, and more commercial pleasure boating, ferry and water taxi service. And yes, we hope that New York will take advantage of those cleaner waters with more swimming and bathing places in all five boroughs of New York.

Thanks, in part to the Coalition's leadership, some of the fences that block waterfront access have already been removed.  New waterfront open space opportunities in the next few years will include development of the Hudson River Park in Manhattan, which NOSC has played  a major role in planning; the new Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn, the recycling of Governors Island and Fort Totten in Queens, and improvements to Gateway National Recreation Area. New waterfront greenways are planned in all five boroughs. In addition,  various residential and commercial developments are also under way that would benefit from including public access to the waterfront.

Lack of access to outdoor recreation is a consistent complaint of the people who relocate to New York. Quality of life concerns are the largest single reason given for leaving the city, according to an NYU/ Lou Harris study. Making our waterfront accessible can be an important part of the salvation of our city in an era of portable corporations and wired-in work. Every resident of New York City lives within 5 miles of our  City's magnificent waterfront. Because of this, New Yorkers potentially have  by fact of geography a  luxury that is available to few Americans.

Join with us and help make your waterfront bloom.

Urban Outdoors
March 2008
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