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City OKs Columbia Plan to Build Public Waterfront Park

By Carla Zanoni | May 16, 2012 12:49pm

INWOOD — Columbia University plans to break ground on its promised public waterfront park at the mouth of Inwood Hill Park after receiving city approval to move ahead with the project, officials said. 

The university received “preliminary approval” on the project during a public hearing on Monday, according to a city’s Public Design Commission spokeswoman.

Columbia plans to break ground as soon as all required permits have been secured, University spokeswoman Victoria Benitez said.

“We continue to work towards the building of the environmentally-friendly park where families will be able to enjoy passive recreation at this waterfront area," she wrote in an email. 

“We anticipate the park being substantially complete in the fall of 2012," Benitez added. 

Residents recently voiced concern about the University’s slow pace moving forward with the park project in comparison with the building of its 47,700-square-foot field house at 218th Street and Broadway, which was erected over the winter.

The school agreed to build a public waterfront park in order to build a larger facility on its complex. It had to request a modification to the city's waterfront zoning rules, which normally require 15 percent of the project's land be turned over for public use.

The City Council backed the city's Planning Commission approval of the modification, which allowed Columbia to set aside just 1.5 percent of its property for public use.