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Yonkers park delivers massive returns 

Yonkers park delivers massive returns 

A public park designed to accelerate green renewal in Yonkers’ downtown has spurred more than half a billion dollars in private investment a decade since its inauguration.

The $48 million daylighting of the Saw Mill River at Van der Donck Park—dedicated in 2012—led to $582.6 million in surrounding development, including the recent opening of the Great Point Studios/Lionsgate facility just a block from the park.

“Yonkers’ commitment to green redevelopment didn’t end with uncovering the Saw Mill River at Larkin Plaza,” said Mayor Mike Spano. “Since taking office in 2012, my administration has “daylighted” two more sections of the river and expanded recreational opportunities with new fitness centers in parks, renovated playgrounds, and new sports fields like the soccer mini-pitch at Pelton Park, which opened in September. The city now has the resources to build a new, 3-acre waterfront park near the Ludlow Station and a new athletic field near the Boyce Thompson Center.”

With funds allocated by former Gov. George Pataki, Yonkers officials and Groundwork Hudson Valley began planning to uncover the river in the late 2000s.

After the park opened, rising property values around Van der Donck Park lifted Yonkers’ finances. Spano said that Yonkers leveraged the new revenue streams from this responsible development to improve public schools and infrastructure. For example, Yonkers’ current adopted budget of $1.4 billion is about 46% higher than the budget adopted the year the park opened.

In its September issue, National Geographic celebrated the success of Van der Donck Park, which has won landscape and architectural design awards. The magazine stated that “Nothing illustrates the promise of urban conservation more poetically than ‘daylighting’ a creek.”

Spano called the park’s success a vindication for his predecessors who at times faced skepticism and ridicule for envisioning a new downtown.

“Thanks to what was once considered a crazy idea of sacrificing parking to uncover a buried river, the city is delivering on a promise of greener urban spaces, upgraded parks and better access to magnificent waterfronts,” said Spano.