Saratoga Associates is thrilled to receive a national Honor Award presented by the National Waterfront Center, for our 2012 project Daylighting the Saw Mill River.
The project was selected for the Parks/Recreation/Walkway award category due to its innovative and sustainable design supporting people, environment and the local economy. On land, plazas and walkways provide a hierarchy of spaces that support recreational and civic activities, such as the weekly farmers’ market, annual music festival and environmental education outings. Within the River, carefully positioned riffles and weirs help oxygenate the water and improve microclimate for fish and other riparian wildlife. A fish ladder and rockscape assist movement of anadromous fish, and has facilitated the return of native species, including eels and alewives. Naturalistic stone embankments protect plantings. What’s more, the city is enjoying an economic boost with a residential high-rise and office development across the street from the park and the newly completed Millstreet Plaza. Restoration of the River and the park has boosted civic pride and connection to place.
The design carefully knits the park into the daily 24-hour fabric of city life making the park fit into the circulation pattern of the city streets and transportation system. All park amenities were made fully ADA-accessible through careful design of walkways, overlooks and gradient changes. The park pays homage to the industrial past of the city and provides a foreground for significant historical structures. People experience nature in a deeply personal way without having to leave the convenient and urban context of the city.
The daylighting of the Saw Mill River, and the creation of Van der Donck Park, is the realization of a long-term goal by Yonkers environmentalists and grass root education groups, including Groundwork Hudson Valley who was instrumental in securing funding for this ambitious and successful project.