YONKERS, N.Y. – Daylighting the Saw Mill River in Yonkers is a project that has been in the works for nearly 10 years, but the city is just now starting to see some of the finished product.
“Two years ago if you were here, you’d be standing in a parking lot feeding quarters into a meter,” said Ned Sullivan, president of Scenic Hudson, of the now open river. Scenic Hudson, he said, “developed the initial design for the project and secured some critical funding for it so it’s been almost a 10 year process.”
The portion of the Saw Mill River in downtown Yonkers had been buried under pavement for nearly 100 years. Last December, there was a groundbreaking to uncover this portion of the river that had been covered since the 1920s. Sullivan sees several benefits of the project aside from just the view of the water in place of pavement.
“This is going to be a magnet for people,” he said. “It’s going to be a magnet for investors. Already, developers are purchasing land all around this and are seeking permits to redevelop it. So this is going to transform this little area and help create jobs.”
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano described it as a key project that will benefit the city and the waterfront in a variety of ways.
“The Yonkers waterfront is thriving,” he said. “We have restaurants, we have a school, a newly redone train station and we have housing. There is so much happening here, it truly is a mecca for the future.”
Wilson Kimball, director of the office of downtown waterfront development for the city of Yonkers, pointed to both environmental and economic advantages to the daylighting.
“It’s been a real boon to the city to have this kind of environmental tourism, I would call it,” she said. “Lots of people are coming from all over New York and frankly all over the world to see what we’ve done here. So I think that’s a big benefit to the city and we hope it spurs economic development.”
There are plans for the area surrounding the now free flowing river to create new restaurants, shops and other business, Sullivan said. While the daylighting still has another block to go to complete this phase of the project, Sullivan said he expects it to be finished sometime over the summer.