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Acquisition Update: January, 2007

The City of New York is proceeding with acquisition of seven additional parcels within the Udalls Cove Ravine, totaling about six acres. When these acquisitions are completed, all but about two acres of the Ravine will be in City ownership as part of the Udalls Cove Park & Preserve.

The City Parks Department held a public hearing in Spring, 2006 asking for comments on its plan to acquire, by eminent comain, three parcels � Block 8114, Lots 160 and 187, and Block 8116, Lot 130. Many local residents attended the hearing, and all who spoke were strongly supportive of the City�s plan. At this writing, the City is waiting for a court date to take title to these properties, totaling about three acres. These lots are in the center of the Ravine, between 42nd and 43rd Avenues.

The Parks Department filed an application to map and acquire three additional lots: Block 8112, Lots 70, 170 and 184. We expect the City Planning Department to hold a public hearing on that application sometime during the first half of 2007. Once the map is adopted, we expect the City to proceed with acquisition (by eminent domain, if necessary) of these parcels, totaling about two acres. These lots are on the east side of the Ravine, adjacent to and south of the lots discussed in the previous paragraph, extending almost to 44th Avenue.

The City is preparing to acquire by eminent domain Block 8116, Lot 170. A public hearing on that acquisition is planned for early 2007. This one-acre parcel is located on the east side of the Ravine, on the east side, between 41st and Depew Avenues.

Although the remaining two acres of privately owned land within the Ravine are not yet in the acquisition process, the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee will continue to urge the City to move forward on those parcels as well. And, of course, we will remain vigilant to any threats of development anywhere within the Ravine.

Acquisition Update: September, 2004

With the strong support of City Councilman Tony Avella and New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, and with active encouragement from State Senator Frank Padavan, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York City Council included in the Fiscal Year 2005 New York City Budget $2 million for further acquisition of privately owned parcels within the authorized boundary of Udalls Cove Park. These parcels are in the Ravine portion of the Park. During the previous two years there was intense pressure to build houses on these properties, which would be disastrous for the Park and the integrity of the Udalls Cove watershed.

The new funding is in addition to a similar amount that was restored to the 2003 City Budget after UCPC and our local elected officials mounted a strong Campaign to Save the Ravine. Councilman Avella also secured $350,000 in the 2004 City Budget. Using these earlier appropriations, the Parks Department is currently in the process of acquiring about 4 acres that were seriously threatened with development last year. The newly authorized $2 million in the 2005 budget will go a long way towards finally completing the acquisition of the remaining 4 - 5 acres still privately owned.

Once the entire Ravine is acquired, UCPC will turn its full attention to much-needed restoration work. Some major restoration projects are already underway (see related News stories), but much more remains to be done.

Good News on Acquisition!  

July 2003:

 Proving that grassroots citizen action works, on May 17, 2003 the New York City administration once again reversed position, and restored $1.2 million in Fiscal Year 2003 funding for acquisition of parcels in the Udalls Cove Ravine that were being threatened with immediate development.  The planned acquisition had been announced in January 2003 [see �Additional Parcels to be Acquired for the Park�], but the funding was withdrawn on April 2 [see �Urgent Community Alert�].  The restored funding will be used to acquire two large and important parcels in the southern portion of the Ravine. 

The change in the decision came after an intense campaign to save the Ravine.   Despite sometimes heavy rain, over 100 people, including State Senator Frank Padavan and City Councilman Tony Avella, attended UCPC�s annual meeting on April 12.  There they had the opportunity to express their support of protecting the Ravine to NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe (who also participated in the annual post-meeting wetlands cleanup).  Nearly 200 people signed a petition asking our government officials to do whatever is necessary to save the Ravine.  Many people wrote letters to the Mayor and other officials.  Local newspapers carried stories and published some of the letters.  UCPC spoke to and met with staff at City Hall, the Parks Department, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (in charge of federal wetlands permits).  We wrote to the owners of the parcels that were to be developed, and reminded them that federal and state wetlands permits had to be secured before any clearing or construction activity could take place.  Senator Padavan, long a strong supporter of acquisition, was instrumental in persuading the Mayor to restore the funding. 

The City has now made offers to purchase the two parcels, the first step in the acquisition process (which may include condemnation, if necessary).

And more good news: on June 27, Councilman Avella was successful in his efforts to include a line item in the City�s Fiscal Year 2004 budget (effective July 1, 2003) for an additional $350,000 to acquire two more key parcels in the Ravine!

 Where do we stand?  As of July, 2003 the City owns about 40% of the property in the Ravine.  After acquisition of the four additional parcels using the FY-2003 and FY-2004 funding described above, the City will own 65% of the Ravine.  This is great news, and we thank the government officials who worked hard to make it happen; but we won�t rest until the entire Ravine is protected forever.


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