Home Combined Push underway to bring $5.4M to Yonkers for greenway

Push underway to bring $5.4M to Yonkers for greenway

Smith O’Hara Levine Memorial Park on Lawrence Street in Yonkers served as the background on Jan. 20 for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to announce a push to obtain $5.4 million in federal funding to convert a section of the abandoned New York & Putnam Railroad right-of-way into a greenway. Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, U. S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman, State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Groundwork Hudson Valley Acting Executive Director Ellen Theg and Yonkers Housing Authority President and CEO Wilson Kimball were among those attending Schumer’s announcement.

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, left, listens as Sen. Chuck Schumer speaks on Jan. 20. Rep. Bowman is at Schumer’s right.

A playground on part of the former railroad property was dedicated by the city in 2019. At that time, the city described the playground as the focal point for the Yonkers Greenway, a 2.4-mile walking and biking trail along the abandoned right-of-way that would connect Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx to the Yonkers downtown train station.

Schumer said he’s asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to use its Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program to fund construction needed to complete the greenway. He recalled that the railroad at one time was heavily used by workers in Yonkers, many of them immigrants, who needed to commute to the Bronx and back.

“This all changed when the Saw Mill River Parkway divided the city, relegating low-income housing projects to the west side of the parkway, and more expensive, split-level homes to the east,” Schumer said. “Soon after, the Old Putnam Railroad ended service, not only separating Southwest Yonkers’ historically redlined communities, but also suddenly removing the jobs, education, and services in New York City and Westchester.”

Schumer explained that the Reconnecting Communities Program would have $1 billion to spend over the next five years.

In a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Schumer said, “The project also makes a comprehensive set of streetscape improvements to revitalize South Broadway, Southwest Yonkers’ central business corridor, including new sidewalks, road paving, bus stops, lighting, trees and plantings, resulting in a multimodal Complete Street. This will connect the commercial corridor on South Broadway to the Bronx and ultimately its 242nd Street subway station. ”

Bowman said that he had heard from the first day he took office as a congressman that getting federal funding for the greenway project was a priority for the community.

“We worked directly with the city, with the mayor and the city council when I first got in to make sure we continued to advocate for this project,” Bowman said “We actually got it included as one of my member-designated projects during our first year and Sen. Schumer was a major supporter of that. Unfortunately, our colleagues on the other side of the aisle in the Senate got it taken out. We are here again to continue to fight to get this done.”

Spano said that the city and county have invested in the site but deep pockets are needed to make completion of the greenway a reality.

“We’ve invested probably five or six million in this project already. I love this particular project. This is a community I was born and raised in,” Spano said.


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