By Marie Holmes
A detailed reconstruction plan for the waterfront path in Riverside Park between 99th Street and St. Clair Place known as Cherry Walk, was presented by Dan Sullivan, a landscape architect with the NYC Parks Department, at the Community Board 7 Parks & Environment Committee meeting on Monday, March 21.
The mile-and-a-half stretch, popular with both cyclists and pedestrians, has sustained bumps and cracks over time caused by the growth of tree roots and other damage. The reconstruction plan involves repairing the asphalt and re-doing the striping and symbols to make the path “safer and smoother for all users.”
Work would not begin until next year, but is forecasted to be brief, lasting only three to four months. Sullivan said that the Parks department will coordinate with Riverside Park to ensure that signs marking the detour are clear. Several committee members noted that the detour signage for work done last year could have been better. Sullivan said the Parks department would be happy to work with “anyone interested” to make sure that signage is “crystal clear.”
An arborist on site will help ensure that repair work does not damage the Cherry Walk’s trees. Sullivan mentioned that careful excavation and filling around roots is one strategy workers may use to protect trees.
The striping currently visible throughout the Cherry Walk divides the path into four sections, with north and southbound lanes further divided into separate lanes for pedestrians and bicycles. New striping will instead divide the whole path into two lanes, north and southbound, to be shared by both pedestrians and cyclists.
Several committee members expressed doubts about this change, citing concerns about conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians. “I’m afraid nobody is going to know where they’re supposed to be,” said committee member Ken Coughlin, adding, “it’s a mile and a half straightaway for cyclists, they build up a lot of speed.”
In response to these concerns, Margaret C. Bracken, a landscape architect for the park, explained that the striping currently visible is more than 20 years old. The decision to scale down to two lanes was made based on the available width, which was viewed as too narrow to accommodate so many lanes. In addition, the dual north/south lanes are standard on other paths throughout the city.
When asked about the potential for flood damage, Sullivan explained that “asphalt allows water to move through it upwards and downwards” and is thereby resistant to flood damage. He said, “I foresee it lasting at least two decades.”
In other news, the multi-use courts at 105th street will be getting a new surface, to be applied directly on top of the pavement. There are no plans to charge a fee for using the courts or otherwise exclude anyone from using them.
Several members also reported that the increased ticketing of dog owners who allow their pets to roam the Theodore Roosevelt Park lawns off-leash has been highly effective at keeping the pooches in line.