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Harlem River environmental boat tour highlights disparities between New York City neighborhoods


By Jessi Mitchell

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    New York (WCBS) — On Monday, local, state and federal leaders joined environmental activists to tour the Harlem River by boat. They hope to tackle disparities between different parts of the city.

New York City has more shoreline than Miami, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco combined, but access points to the waterways are not distributed equally.

Dozens filled the deck of a Circle Line boat to discover a new perspective of home. This is the second year Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) and the Harlem River Working Group have organized the tour to call for more support. The group also included Bronx and Harlem River Watersheds Urban Waters Federal Partnership, Bronx Council for Environmental Quality, Hudson River Foundation and WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

“They are the foot soldiers in this effort to bring about the changes that we need to see and save Mother Earth,” Espaillat said.

“I was hoping to see a dolphin or something,” said District 10 Council member Carmen De La Rosa.

Instead, De La Rosa saw a vast difference in her district along the Harlem River compared to the developments farther south along the Hudson.

“Especially on the Bronx side, you see that infrastructure is very decrepit,” De La Rosa said. “It looks like it hasn’t been touched in so long.”

Advocates have worked not only to increase the activities available on the upper waterways, but also to address tributaries like Tibbett’s Brook in the Bronx, which was covered more than a century ago.

“The rainwater mixes with the sewers, and when they can’t manage it, that sewer water goes out into our rivers,” explained Chauncy Young from the Harlem River Working Group.

The city is now working to uncover the creek and has greenlit the Harlem River Greenway. Once complete, the $227 million project will include a renewed seawall and environmental investments, a healthier habitat for all.

Espaillat emphasized the need for speedy action against the current climate crisis, with the tour previously postponed due to the Canadian wildfires’ impact on air quality.

“Mother Nature is talking to us,” Espaillat warned. “We’d better listen.”

The Harlem River Greenway is part of a larger project to fill gaps in the riverside routes around Manhattan. To learn more and provide feedback, visit:

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