Creating a healthier, more equitable environment requires years of hard work, plenty of helping hands, and no small amount of funding. Success comes one small victory at a time, as with the future Yonkers Greenway, a pedestrian/bike corridor connecting Yonkers’ neighborhoods and communities that has been a decade in the making.
Funding Action Plan
For 10 years, the Yonkers Greenway project team engaged multiple stakeholders—including leaders in local government, residents, nonprofits, corporate and philanthropic funders, students, and countless others—to keep their Greenway dream alive. In the end, a patchwork of funding was stitched together to drive the project from vision to reality.
It began in 2008, when a coalition of community residents and nonprofit sought to improve quality of life in Yonkers’ Lawrence Street neighborhood, including the rebuilding of Smith O’Hara Levine Park that was abandoned 20 years earlier. Renewal of that long-defunct park became the top priority, affirming a sense of place, choking off illegal dumping, and attracting new visitors.
A full five years later, nonprofit partner Groundwork Hudson Valley successfully secured a cluster of federal, state, and local grants to launch project planning. A US EPA Brownfields Area-Wide Planning grant yielded a feasibility study into cleaning up and redeveloping contaminated properties along the former Putnam Rail corridor. Then, a New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation study grant appraised the corridor’s potential as a Greenway, a multi-modal transit hub, and a neighborhood economic development driver. Last, a Westchester Community Foundation grant ensured that residents would be able to contribute to the project’s design and development process.
When shared resources and cross-sector partnerships coalesced in 2015 and 2016 to support design of the Greenway, the Yonkers Greenway project became “real” in the eyes of its stakeholders. Groundwork Hudson Valley soon secured a flurry of public and philanthropic grants totaling over $710,000 from the likes of the City of Yonkers, Bank of America, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Impact100 Westchester, and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.
A major public-private partnership blossomed in June 2016 when the City of Yonkers approved $500,000 in capital funds to support the the Greenway. Less than a year later, the city collaborated with Groundwork Hudson Valley to win $3.3-million grant from the New York State Department of Transportation supporting design and construction of the entire Yonkers portion of the Greenway. It was a game-changing moment that supported a long-term unified plan over a phased approach.
In June 2018, the City approved another $500,000 for the Greenway and $100,000 for a playground in Greenway Park. At the same time, Bank of America awarded $50,000 for a survey of local stakeholders to assess desired features and amenities along the Greenway.
The City of Yonkers then awarded a $70,000 Community Development Block Grant for sculptures for the park reflecting the rich culture of the Yonkers Greenway neighborhood. Then, when construction bids came in higher than anticipated, the City of Yonkers found an additional $100,000. Finally, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets awarded $23,000 for a community garden.
Success Builds Success
On October 24, 2018, after a solid decade of close coordination, the Yonkers Greenway Park broke ground. Momentum from early successes soon attracted new resources. Groundwork Hudson Valley secured multiple grants in support of community engagement around connecting the Yonkers Greenway to New York City, including $50,000 from Bank of America to support continued community engagement, a City of Yonkers Community Development Block Grant of $45,000, and a $100,000 grant from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Environmental Justice for water infrastructure to sustain community gardening and landscaping. In 2019, Groundwork Hudson Valley delivered the results of its community survey of local residents’ needs and desires for the final Greenway design. Meanwhile, witnessing the success in Yonkers, New York State awarded a grant to support planning for the New York City side of the Greenway.