CIVITAS Release: Community Vision for an Improved John Finley Walk


In furtherance of CIVITAS’s Reimagining the Waterfront initiative, we are pleased to announce a new community-based vision for the John Finley Walk section of the East River Esplanade (81st-84th Streets). During May and June, CIVITAS, with support from Council Member Ben Kallos, facilitated two visioning sessions for community residents to solicit priorities for possible improvements to this section of the Esplanade. Residents of buildings facing John Finley Walk filled out an extensive survey that enabled CIVITAS to collect data and statistically measure how the neighborhood would like to see improvements implemented. A concerted effort was made to focus on and recommend those improvements that received the most support from these immediate neighbors and from a majority of other community residents that participated in this visioning process.

Survey questions revolved around issues of access, seating, vegetation, demarcation of passive versus active uses along John Finley Walk, lighting, gate removal, and the city structure currently used by the Brearley School. Strong support emerged for increasing vegetation, improved lighting, demarcation of uses, removal of the gates between 83rd and 84th Street, and remediating or removing the city structure used by Brearley.

Based on the survey results, CIVITAS recommended that Council Member Kallos provide support and seek funding for a series of improvements. He will be making those recommendations to both the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and Department of Transportation. Drawings produced by CIVITAS consultants, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, will be used to communicate these recommendations to the aforementioned city departments along with Council Member Kallos’s allocation of funding for this purpose.

"We are rebuilding the East River Esplanade brick by brick and dollar by dollar to connect 60th street to 125th street in one seamless park. John Finley walk from 81st street to 84th will receive the attention it needs to go from roadway to greenway," said Ben Kallos, Co-Chair of the East River Esplanade Task Force with Congress Member Maloney. "Thank you to CIVITAS for convening the community and providing a shared vision for the East River Esplanade."

The reimagining of John Finley Walk adds to important improvements currently in progress along the Esplanade, including the dedication of funds by New York City and State elected officials to the restoration of Pier 107 in East Harlem and Rockefeller University’s renovation and enhancement of the Esplanade from 64th to 68th Street on the Upper East Side.

To view the John Finley Walk Community Visioning Session documents, please visit

Join CIVITAS for City of Water Day!

Thomas Jefferson Park 
2180 1st Avenue 
10 am to 2 pm 
July 16, 2016

Come join CIVITAS and the Harbor School for City of Water Day as we show you firsthand the research being conducted to determine the current state of the water in the Harlem River. Come out and get your hands dirty – gloves provided!

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