YONKERS, N.Y. – Yonkers is earning high praise from a group of engineering professionals for daylighting the Saw Mill River.
The city and its engineering department will be presented Project of the Year on Friday by the Westchester/Putnam Chapter of the New York State Society of Professional Engineers for their work in uncovering the downtown Yonkers river.
The award, which is part of National Engineers Week across the country, will be presented to Deputy Mayor Sue Gerry and City Engineer Paul Summerfield at a ceremony Friday evening at the Westchester Manor.
“I look forward to this urban gem becoming the centerpiece to our downtown area’s revitalization,” Mayor Mike Spano said. “Congratulations to all those involved in making this project Yonkers’ biggest success in recent years.”
In the 1920s, the Army Corps of Engineers undertook a project to bury the Saw Mill River in downtown Yonkers in order to manage sanitation and floods. Nearly a decade ago, the city and a handful of community groups began working to undo that project and expose the river throughout the area.
Then, in September, elected officials opened the newly daylighted river and its surrounding park, named Van Der Donck Park.
But it wasn’t easy.
The city, which partnered with consulting engineer PS&S and contractor ELQ Industries of New Rochelle to execute the project, faced several challenges, including river flows, peak flooding conditions and tidal influence of the Hudson River.
“As a result of the innovative thinking and planning of our engineers, the daylighted Saw Mill River, now known as Van Der Donck Park, is a more natural, open-air environment that provides ecological as well as community benefits and advances the city’s plan for social and economic progress,” Spano sad.
In the meantime, the city continues to work on the next phases of daylighting, with the goal of exposing the river from Larkin Plaza up through Mill Street courtyard to River Park Center.