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Restored River Keeps NY's Fourth-Largest City Afloat

Elsa Brenner looks at the boon for developers, and residents, that a city-and-state-funded effort to daylight the Saw Mill River has provided for the New York City suburb of Yonkers.
August 13, 2012, 2pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Cities around the country have found creative means to stay buoyant during the Great Recession - from single-minded developer led initiatives to diversifying their economies by attracting medical and university facilities. For the city of Yonkers, focusing on reinvigorating the city's long-hidden natural resource has proven to be a successful approach. 

While development in the decade before the recession brought new construction, adaptive reuse, and public amenities to the city's Hudson River waterfront, with the daylighting of the Saw Mill River, the city's redevelopment efforts are being shifted downtown. Developers are now flocking to "A two-block section of the Saw Mill, a tributary of the Hudson River buried under concrete for nearly a century, [that] has now been uncovered and surrounded by benches in a parklike setting," writes Brenner. "When the next two phases of the $48 million daylighting project are completed in about three years, the river will meander through a six-block-long section of downtown Yonkers for all to behold."

"At Scenic Hudson, a Poughkeepsie environmental group that worked with Yonkers to undertake the daylighting project, Ned Sullivan, its president, described the Saw Mill River, which had become polluted before it was covered over, as 'no longer a resource people want to hide.'"

"Not only is it a catalyst for revitalization of the downtown," he said, "but now it will become the centerpiece of the city."

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Published on Thursday, August 9, 2012 in The New York Times
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