City to Spend $11.5 Million Towards Fixing Riverside Park Flooding Problem


Riverside Park has a serious flooding problem. Photo by Ernie Fritz.

By Carol Tannenhauser

Riverside Park has been awarded $11.5 million by Mayor Bill de Blasio to address current and future drainage and flooding problems in the northern part of the park, according to a press release issued by NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver on Thursday. The flooding is sometimes so bad that engineers worry it could affect the train tunnel below.

“The drainage infrastructure in Riverside Park dates back to the 1930s and has not received a significant investment until now,” the release stated. “The deterioration of these systems has affected the park’s usability, including damaging staircases and other access points; contributed to erosion; and created an appearance of disrepair in the park.”

The mayor’s investment will fund a comprehensive engineering study, to be conducted in the summer of 2020, of the park’s storm water drainage systems, current and future capacity requirements, and strategies for long-term maintenance. Restorative work in the most flood-prone areas of the park, between 108th and 116th Streets, is scheduled to begin in 2022. The park-wide study will also identify drainage problems in other areas of the park with cost estimates to inform future projects, according to the release.

“The historically underserved northern areas of Riverside Park that span the communities of Morningside Heights, West Harlem, and Washington Heights have seen inadequate investment from the City for years and needed urgent help,” said Council Member Mark Levine. “This significant investment from the de Blasio Administration and the Parks Commissioner…will ensure that Riverside Park will continue to be a cornerstone of inclusion and equity for all New Yorkers.”

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 10 comments | permalink
    1. Ben Orlove says:

      glad to see this news! I usually bike through Riverside Park to my job at Columbia, from my home at West 92nd, but after rains, I have to plan my route carefully. I look forward to not having to worry about getting stuck on muddy paths.

    2. M&J Riservato says:

      Bravo !

    3. Jerome36 says:

      Typical NYC bureaucracy. Study the problem for a year. Then wait a year. Then start the work. We will have 3 more summers of the flooding. Ridiculous!!

      • Mark Moore says:

        The engineering study is necessary to design a good solution. Once you have the design it takes 9-12 months to put it out for bid and get a contractor on board to start the work. So yeah, that’s typical.

    4. Scott says:

      This is years overdue. I’m no engineer but you look at that picture and you realize how precarious that area is. You’ve got a flooded area over a train tunnel alongside a 15 foot retaining wall where water can’t escape. Kids play on the other side of that wall.

    5. GrumpyOldMan says:

      And the question in response to Mr. Levine’s statement “The historically underserved northern areas of Riverside Park that span the communities of Morningside Heights, West Harlem, and Washington Heights have seen inadequate investment from the City for years and needed urgent help,” is why? Simple hypocrisy? And why now? Wondering if this fix would have been budgeted had there been no concern of the grave threat to AMTRAK that appeared in the NY Times several months ago? https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/21/nyregion/riverside-park-nyc-flooding.html

    6. Adrian Benepe says:

      The “historically underserved” area is the one between 96th and 125th–Mayor Bloomberg put $40 million into West harlem Piers park and Fort Washington Park.

    7. Corinne says:

      Why hasn’t the Riverside Park Conservancy done anything about this over the years? I have written them to no avail. The Central Park Conservancy would never let this happen.

      • lizzie says:

        Re RPC not doing anything: the structural parts of the park are the responsibility of Parks, not the RPC. And this a massive $11 million project! the Conservancy’s entire annual budget is $6 million.

    8. Paul Fischer says:

      long time coming , grateful for it