March 26 discussion on repurposing empty lots

Courtesy of Hunts Point Studio

One of 100 vacant lots a team of Hunter College researchers has mapped. The research team will meet with residents at The Point on March 25 at 7 p,m. to discuss possible public uses for the vacant spaces.

Students from a Hunter College planning class invite residents to come to The Point on Thursday, March 26 at 6 p.m., to participate in What Do You Want In That Vacant Lot?, a public meeting to discuss their results so far in a year-long study of the neighborhood’s empty lots and their possible uses.

Environmental nonprofit Sustainable South Bronx asked the team to to develop feasible, fundable recommendations that residents can help bring to fruition. Hunts Point, says the research team, is a “notoriously over-planned” neighborhood, due at least in part to health, economic and environmental concerns.

The team, which calls itself Hunts Point Studio, says it started the project in the fall by asking residents  to identify on a map areas of Hunts Point they felt were safe and well maintained, as opposed to others they found unsafe and grungy. The results led them to conclude that the fate of the peninsula’s vacant lots are an important, and underrated, land use issue.

Over several months, the researchers walked each block of the peninsula, surveying every vacant lot. They identified the characteristics of each one: paved or overgrown; in use by an active business; being used illegally for the storage of cars or dumping; or completely empty. They then cross-referenced their findings with  city data, identifying ownership and zoning, then produced a map of every last one.

In addition to its survey, the group also developed a 23-question survey instrument, designed to gather data about residents’  access to healthy food and parks.

The team says its goal is to develop a comprehensive set of environmentally-friendly recommendations for the 100-plus empty lots they found, by focusing on three key areas:

(1) Re-envisioning vacant and underutilized space.

(2) Improving access to healthy and affordable food.

(3) Increasing public connections to parks and open space.

Hunts Point Studio is developing recommendations based on the data it gathered from its research and community input. To follow their journey and view the final report, click on huntspointstudio.org.

Above all, it urges residents to come out on Thursday to discuss their findings at The Point, 940 Garrison Ave.

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