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Mark-Viverito's District Could Get Waterfront Makeover

By Gustavo Solis | April 14, 2015 6:53pm

EAST HARLEM — A nonprofit trying to revitalize the East River waterfront is turning to City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito's constituents for help.

The reconstruction of Pier 107 is just one of 27 projects that residents in the speaker’s district will be able to vote for under the participatory budgeting program until April 19.

The pier project, offered by nonprofit Civitas, involves reconstructing the pier — which has been closed to the public because of the unstable roof and uneven flooring — and making the area more attractive to the public, according to the group's Executive Director Emma Bologna.

“We are just so happy that it was picked up,” she said. “At one of our meetings one resident took one of our renderings and walked around the room saying, ‘This is what we need in East Harlem.’”

Civitas is a nonprofit that promotes environmentally sound development.

The project was originally unveiled in February, when Civitas released its study of how to develop the East River Esplanade. Long-term projects involve adding public beaches and building large piers along the waterfront.

Civitas is also searching for alternative revenue sources for the project, Bologna added.

Mark-Viverito is committing $2 million to fund the proposals. The funds will be split evenly between East Harlem and the South Bronx, her spokeswoman Amy Varghese said.

Projects that receive the most votes will be approved until funds run out, she added.

Some of the other projects include adding an ADA ramp to Carter Burden Senior Center, reconstructing the 100-year-old windows at Augilar Library, and installing air conditioning systems at P.S. 197X, P.S. 369X and P.S. 352 X in Mott Haven.

Marie Winfield, who has been advocating for improvements at Thomas Jefferson Park, proposed using some of the funds to install an irrigation system throughout the park and upgrade the local dog run.

“There’s a big interest in the parks and community gardens,” she said. “People may have specific interest like NYCHA projects were they live or a senior center but in addition to that people also look to improve public spaces used by everyone.”

Installing an irrigation system would help make the park greener, allow groups like schools to plant vegetables and keep dust from the dry dirt and baseball fields from going everywhere in the park, she added.

The doggie park would also benefit from a new gate and fence, a separate area for small dogs and a water fountain.

“Right now people in the dog run bring gallon bottles of water for their dogs,” Winfield said.

Any resident of Mark-Viverito’s district 14 years or older is eligible to vote for the projects until April 19. A list of voting sites is available at her website.