After almost 18 months of construction, the Waterfront Esplanade at Skyview Center on Flushing Creek was officially opened Thursday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony by community advocates and city/state officials.
Councilman Peter Koo and state Senator John Liu were joined by General Property Manager of the Shops at Skyview Darin Grigg, Managing Director at ONEX Real Estate David Brickman, former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman and other local community leaders by the Flushing Creek Esplanade, opposite 131-04 40th Rd.
“For too long, our community has been completely cut off from the Flushing Creek. With the opening of this public waterfront esplanade, we are getting a glimpse of what the waterfront of the Flushing Creek from 40th Road to Northern Boulevard will look like in the future,” Koo said. “Many thanks to the Shops and Skyview Center, ONEX Real Estate, Senator Liu, Riverkeeper and all our community partners who have long advocated for a shared public space that connects the Flushing community to its waterfront.”
This will be the first public access to the Flushing Creek waterfront, featuring beautiful plantings and hardscape/landscape elements and benches, in decades and the first piece of the larger revitalization plan for Flushing Creek and Bay. The Shops at Skyview and ONEX Real Estate will gather key community stakeholders and interested parties to encourage and facilitate community buy-in, volunteerism and partnership.
A focused strategic plan will foster a cooperative and collaborative atmosphere and relationship with concerned environmental groups, gardening clubs and schools toward maximum use for positive, recreational and educational programs.
In 2017, the Department of City Planning (DCP) had launched the Flushing Creek Plan to explore opportunities to support the ecological health of Flushing Creek. The plan will identify the barriers to improving the health of the creek, outline the steps to remove such barriers, and examine where funds for future ecological restoration projects could be directed.
The Flushing Creek Plan is made possible by a grant from the New York State Department of State under Title 11 of the Environmental Protection Fund.
The energy behind the organizations driving the Flushing Waterways 2018 Vision Plan also include Riverkeeper, Guardians of Flushing Bay, Friends of Flushing Creek and Community Board 7. According to Councilman Constantinides, the overarching goal to clean up the creek and bay through long term and sustainable strategies designed with stakeholders and community involvement will take at least 10 or more years to accomplish.
“Generations of kids grew up thinking that the Flushing River only existed in fantasy, since none of us could ever get near or even see it. Today’s opening is a huge step towards achieving a lifelong dream of having community access to our Flushing waterfront. People kayak and swim in the Hudson River off Manhattan; no reason why we can’t do the same in the Flushing River — someday soon,” Liu said.
Shulman, of the Flushing Willets Point-Corona Development, added, “It’s an absolutely marvelous project and I walked the whole length of the promenade and it’s very beautifully done.”
According to Shulman, the Flushing Willets Point-Corona Local Development Corporation is working on a project to construct a promenade from Roosevelt Avenue to Northern Boulevard that will eventually connect to the Skyview Flushing Creek promenade.
“The 40 acres will be developed and we’re doing a lot of things to clean up the water so we can have modest maritime use off the promenade,” Shulman said.