The NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation (DPR), in January 1999, recommended a pedestrian and bicycle path through Riverdale Park. The trail was to be part of NYC’s Hudson River Trail, running from Battery Park to Yonkers, connecting Riverside, Fort Washington, Inwood and Riverdale Parks and the Riverdale Metro-North station. Most of the trail in Riverdale was proposed for local streets. However, the question of how to connect the trail from Palisade Avenue at Spalding Lane to the Riverdale Metro-North station was contentious. While the community favored keeping bicycles on the street and going around the Riverdale Country School, Wave Hill, and the Riverdale Historic District, Parks favored a more direct route straight through Riverdale Park.
The trail was to be designed and built by the DPR with federal air quality mitigation funds (Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) program of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA)), therefore a primary goal of the trail was to reduce air pollution due to auto traffic.
As of 2006, the DPR did not have funding in hand. The Preservancy requested inclusion in the public participation process, including the scoping meetings, for the path.
October 1998 – Bronx Advisory Committee to the Hudson River Valley Greenway recommends a pedestrian route along Palisade Avenue
The Committee report recommends “That the appropriate agencies of the City and State of New York along with the Hudson River Valley Greenway Communities Council and Conservancy designate a pedestrian (emphasis added) Hudson River Valley Greenway route along Palisade Avenue from 232nd Street to 261st Street extending to the north along Riverdale Avenue to the Yonkers border, and south to Manhattan via Independence Avenue, Kappock Street and the Henry Hudson Bridge, with consideration toward implementing traffic control measures to resolve safety issues, receiving community approval of signage and other safety measures to be placed along such a route.”
January 1999 – NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation (DPR) recommends a pedestrian and bicycle path through Riverdale Park
The DPR’s trail planning study was funded through the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) program of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) and so must consider transportation needs.
May 2002 – Bronx Community Board 8’s Parks and Recreation Committee public hearing on the path.
The Preservancy’s comments center on issues of safety. Representatives of bicycling groups testify that their members currently ride on Spaulding Lane, Independence Avenue and W. 254th Street and consider the route to be acceptable.
May 2002 – Presevancy submits position paper to the Chief of Planning at the Parks Department and the Chairman of Bronx Community Board 8, opposing a bicycle path through Riverdale Park:
Position on Bicycle Path through Riverdale Park
The Riverdale Nature Preservancy (the Preservancy) opposes the proposed bicycle path through Riverdale Park for the following reasons:
1. Having attended the public meeting, heard community input, and reviewed the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation’s (the Parks Department’s) plans for the proposed path, the Preservancy believes that the Parks Department’s plan is flawed.
2. Our membership insists that the “Forever Wild” status of Riverdale Park be preserved, and is concerned that the Parks Department’s plan would jeopardize this status. The removal of vegetation, improvement and widening of the path to accommodate bikes, and erection of a fence cannot be allowed in the park.
3. Riverdale Park should continue to be used for passive, not active, recreational purposes.
4. Our previous concern for the safety of the alternate bicycle route via Spaulding Lane was allayed by the testimony of the bicycle representatives, who conceded that it was a viable option.
We conclude that the Parks Department should pursue alternatives for a bike route that do not include a path through Riverdale Park.