The only safe and legal access to the Hudson River in Riverdale is the small park at the Riverdale Metro-North station, at W. 254th Street. There is a small fee for parking at the station. Access to the park itself is free. Cross the tracks via the overpass (stairs or elevator), and walk north (with the river on your left) along the platform to the park gate. The gate is locked each evening and unlocked in the morning.
Between 1998 and 2005, community, city and state entities studied issues around design and operation of a park at this location. From the community’s perspective, the park was seen as a pilot project, a prelude to the future opening of miles of riverfront by the Hudson River Valley Greenway.
As part of its rehabilitation of the Riverdale station, Metro-North has created this small park. It is part of a larger program by Metro-North to remove barriers to the Hudson River shoreline that have been created by the rail lines.
The project is a cooperative effort of several agencies. Metro-North agreed to creation of the park, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) funded design and construction and designed the park with community input, Metro-North contracted for the construction, and New York City’s Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) operates and maintains the park.
October 1998 – Bronx Advisory Committee to the Hudson River Valley Greenway recommends a park at the station.
Click here to read the Committee’s report.
The Bronx Advisory Committee to the Hudson River Valley Greenway found that while residents value proximity to the river, the question of access is contentious. Access is variously defined as the ability to enter, touch, hear, or simply see the water. The need to protect park users from speeding trains conjured images of unsightly fencing. The ability of the city to maintain and patrol the park was questioned. Conflicts over whether and how to provide parking were complex. Overall, no one could say for certain whether problems associated with illegal use of the waterfront would increase or be eliminated by a new park.
Given the many unanswered questions surrounding waterfront access, the community offered cautious support to access at the Metro-North station. The Advisory Committee recommended that DPR and Metro-North, “working in full cooperation with the community at each stage of the process, provide access to the Hudson River at Riverdale Station in a manner compatible with the residential area surrounding it, seeking ways to design and manage it so that it is not a disturbance to the community—and evaluate the environmental and community impact of such access.”
The Preservancy tied support of a shoreline park to assurances from public authorities that security, maintenance, and policing will be provided.
The Advisory Committee also raised the possibility of removing the non-electrified rail that presently serves two manufacturing plants in Yonkers. Removal of the rail would increase the size of the park from one-fifth of an acre to one full acre.
January 1999 – NYC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) makes recommendations for park.
The DPR recommends a park near the Riverdale Station with access to the Hudson River, as part of phase II of its Hudson River Trail in Riverdale.
February 2001 – DEC presents plans for park
The DEC presented its draft plans to community representatives, including the Riverdale Nature Preservancy. Plans include a fishing pier 80’ out into the water, far enough to reach striped bass. State planners are not aware of Advisory Committee’s Greenway report. The community strongly objects to the fishing pier. DEC’s revised plan, presented at a second meeting, deletes the fishing pier and adds a pedestrian promenade.
March 2001 – Community Board 8 Parks Committee holds a public hearing and Community Board votes to support DEC plans.
Preservancy statement supports the concept of a park but stresses the need for adequate maintenance, security, and safety. The Community Board supports the plan, provided adequate plans are presented for maintenance, security, and safety.
April 28, 2003 – Riverdale Nature Preservancy writes to Gov. Pataki regarding removal of the freight track at the station.
The Preservancy’s letter requests the governor to “insist that Metro-North and CSX provide a realistic and complete explanation of the need for the whole length of this CSX track. We then ask that you carefully weigh the merits of those needs against the potential benefits to our community”.
May 28, 2003 – Metro-North responds to the Preservancy’s letter to the Governor
The response outlines expected increases in demand and states “We believe there is a compelling need for preserving the track”.
September 2003 – Preservancy meets with MTA regarding removal of the freight line.
The Preservancy discusses with Metro-North’s President alternate ways to meet the needs currently served by the rail. The railroad maintains, however, that significant growth in both freight and passenger traffic is expected in the near future, making it impossible for them to remove the rail.
August 4, 2005 – Park officially opens
After long and difficult discussions, officials responsible for the park agree on operating and management policies, allowing the park to open.