YONKERS, NY — October 11, 2021 — A headline in the September 7th edition of the Yonkers Times declared, “The Future of Glenwood Power Plant Redevelopment at Standstill.” The article reported that the developers of the Glenwood Power Plant, an abandoned industrial site perched on the Hudson River south of JFK Marina, had not made good on its promise of a Community Benefits Agreement that would guarantee jobs and other favors to the Yonkers community–a promise, community members have pointed out, that garnered crucial local support for the project at a time when the developer was confronting vocal opposition to its proposal to build a private parking garage in the middle of Trevor Park–and, when that plan was rejected–to build the facility in JFK Marina, the last open, public green space on the Yonkers waterfront. After winning City approval to build their garage in a third location–a long-closed-off region at the south end of Trevor Park– the developer backed away from its community outreach. Then, on July 29, the Plant submitted an Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) to the City of Yonkers, quietly signaling its intention to press ahead with the project.
Last month, the Yonkers on Hudson Alliance (YOHA)–a coalition of groups
a letter urging the City of Yonkers to reject the EAF (Environmental Assessment Form) as inadequate. The City, YOHA contends, must require the Plant to conduct a far more extensive New York State Department of Environmental Conservation study known as an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
“The EAF is glaringly insufficient,” says Stephen Wagner, vice president of the Yonkers Committee for Smart Development, one of YOHA’s core groups. “An EIS is standard operating procedure for a project of this magnitude and environmental sensitivity. We want to know:
We want to know: Why should the plant should be given a pass? The City should prioritize its residents, not the interests of of developers.”
YOHA’s letter to the City asserted that proposed development within and adjacent to Yonkers parks and neighborhoods must pass through a far more in-depth, thorough analysis, and must afford the public opportunity to understand the project’s effect on the physical environment and upon the health and quality of life of those who live, work, commute, attend school, and visit the areas surrounding the development’s owned, leased, and alienated properties. Such an analysis must thoroughly address traffic, air quality, noise, safety, financial and aesthetic impact, among other factors.
The problem is not only that the project is too complex to bypass an EIS, YOHA maintains. The Plant’s history of abandoned commitments and its questionable track record on a nearby project also present strong arguments for requiring the EIS. “The developer now states that one of their principal goals for the Plant is to hold outdoor events there,” says Barbara Smith, president of the Hudson River Community Association, another of YOHA’s anchor organizations. “Well, they already have an event space up on North Broadway–Alder Manor–and they’ve done very little with it. Why should we believe a word that they’re saying about what they want to do at the Plant?” An EIS builds in a public comment process, providing critical opportunities for the community to ask questions and have a say in the direction of development. “The EIS will require the Plant to engage with the community around plans that impact us all so directly,” says Smith.
After a careful review of the EAF, YOHA also identified a host of unfounded assumptions and blurred facts, concluding that the proposal skates over major areas of potential concern. “The proposal is not only too thin for a project of this size, but it’s riddled with inconsistencies,” says Dominique Surh, co-founder of the Friends of Trevor Park, another core YOHA group. “The EAF leaves us with more questions than answers.”
Mike Hertz, of the Rivers Community Coalition of Yonkers and the fourth core YOHA association agrees. “It’s hard to pick just one example of the report’s many insufficiencies and errors,” Hertz says. But one issue that strikes closest to the heart of YOHA’s mission is the plan for a new street in JFK Marina leading from JFK Boulevard and across the Marina’s south lawn to the north entrance of the Plant. The plan briefly presented in the EAF includes a looped turnaround and a paved area with 17 private parking spaces. “From what we can see, public space is reduced to a sliver of green in an area dominated by concrete roadway, traffic, and parking,” continues Hertz. “Giving up all of this green deprives the Yonkers public of its most needed open space at the Marina.
YOHA is clear-eyed that the Plant, if the owner moves forward with its development, is going to require some kind of a road and driveway through the Marina. “What we are asking is: what is the absolute minimum that the developer would need for basic access to the Plant?” says Terry Joshi, president of the Yonkers Committee for Smart Development. “Why does the developer’s proposal take up so much area? Why 17 parking spaces? These and so many details go unexplored and unexplained in the EAF. This is exactly why we need the EIS. We’re saying to the City: don’t give the developer what they want without asking them to explain what they want to do and why they need to do it in a particular way. Hold them accountable. And above all, do this work with a mind to protecting scarce public space on the Yonkers waterfront. Anything else is overreach.”
“If you thought that the parking garage being moved meant public space in Yonkers was protected, think again,” adds Wagner. “The story hasn’t actually played out yet. The Plant developers may hope that we look away, but we will not be looking away.”
Yonkers on Hudson Alliance
Dedicated to the preservation, improvement and expansion of open, public greenspace along the Yonkers waterfront. firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Friends of Trevor Park (FoTP), Hudson River Community Association (HRCA), River Communities Coalition of Yonkers (RCCY), and Yonkers Committee for Smart Development (YCSD) collectively represent thousands of Yonkers residents.
The Friends of Trevor Park (FoTP) represents more than 100 renters, homeowners, and families in the Woodstock Park and Trevor Park neighborhoods of Yonkers. Formed in October 2020, the group’s mission is to protect and improve open, public parkland in northwest Yonkers.
The Hudson River Community Association (HRCA) has endured and grown for forty-two years, which makes it the senior neighborhood association in Yonkers, representing over 100 households. Over the years HRCA has been able to bring together elected officials, business leaders, community members and law enforcement to tackle the challenges to our quality of life such as crime, housing and drugs. Responsible development has also become a focus. HRCA makes every effort to adopt new strategies while working with our elected officials and others in the community. We must all find a way to cooperate with one another in order to solve the problems we face in our community and not only maintain but strengthen our control over local affairs.
The River Communities Coalition of Yonkers (RCCY) is the neighborhood association representing the shared interests of the 1500 families living in the Greystone section of Yonkers. Over the course of more than 20 years RCCY has advocated for, collaborated on, and most importantly achieved, many quality of life improvements not just in Greystone but throughout the City of Yonkers. They are steadfast in the commitment to a better Yonkers for all.
Yonkers Committee for Smart Development (YCSD)/began as an Ad Hoc Committee in 2003. YCSD is a volunteer organization of private citizens which advocates for smart economic development in Yonkers that balances civic economic gain with respect for the natural environment, social history and varied cultures of the city. YCSD believes that truly successful development must benefit as many people as possible within a diverse community. YCSD has citywide membership on its Board of Directors and is a citywide organization to which residents turn for guidance around economic development, historic preservation, and cultural issues that affect their quality-of-life.