at Beczak Environmental Education Center, on the Hudson in Yonkers, NY

Yonkers’ Big Dig: The Saw Mill River Daylighting Project

Everyone knows about San Antonio’s spectacular River Walk . . . but do they know about the one being created in Yonkers?!

Get a first-hand update on the Saw Mill River daylighting project including surprising finds, final plans and more with Jim Pinto, Director at City of Yonkers Office of Downtown and Waterfront Development. “Yonkers’ Big Dig: The Saw Mill River Daylighting Project” on Saturday, October 1 at 7 PM at Beczak Environmental Education Center

San Antonio, TX  . . . Providence, RI . . . Vancouver, Canada . . . Cheonggyecheon, Seoul . . . these are part of the short list of visionary communities that decided to peel back pavement and “daylight” rivers. One of the most recent to make this bold move is Yonkers, New York, on the southernmost portion of the Saw Mill River. 

Jim Pinto, City of Yonkers
Jim Pinto, Director at City of Yonkers Office of Downtown and Waterfront Development, is the Director of the Saw Mill River Daylighting Project. At Yonkers Big Dig, he will give first-hand updates on this massive project including timeline, costs, surprising finds, final plans and more. Pinto says, “Unearthing the Saw Mill River from its underground grave is one of the most significant habitat restorations in the Region.”

In December of 2010, the City of Yonkers broke ground on daylighting the first 800 feet of the Saw Mill River—the final portion of the river before it empties into the Hudson. It was buried it in the early 1920’s for flood mitigation and sanitation management by the Army Corp of Engineers. The total cost of daylighting the river at both locations has been estimated at about $60 million, of which $10 million has been provided by the state.

Yonkers Big Dig - as of August 2011
While programming plans for the Saw Mill River will include a Library reading room and story-telling area, a wildlife play kiosks, gathering space and more, its current state reminds one of the adage “it’s going to get worse before it gets better.” The former parking lot has been turned into an excavation site rimmed by chain-link fences, concrete barriers, and stock piles.

But the benefits of a natural, sunlit river to fish, plants and people have drawn many partners to support the daylighting project, including Scenic Hudson, Yonkers Committee for Smart Development, Beczak Environmental Education Center, and others.

 “People in downtown Yonkers will have access to the Saw Mill River for the first time in generations, “ says Ann-Marie Mitroff of Groundwork Hudson Valley, the environmental habitat and ecological interpreter for this site. “One of the things I like best about the Saw Mill River daylighting is that its going to benefit Yonkers residents—the people that use the nearby bus and train stations and work in the area. It will be a place to hang. You will be able to hear and see the river and that feels good.”

·      Daylight in Yonkers (New York Times editorial, August 21, 2011)
·      A River Runs Under It (New York Times, 2009 By Andrew C. Revkin)

·      Yonkers Pursuing Plan to Take the Lid Off a River (New York Times, 2007)
·      Yonkers Plans to Uncover River Running Through It  (New York Times, 2005 By Kirk Semple) 

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