spotlight stories

spotlight on soundview park

Rocking the Boat students are industriously helping to monitor and maintain a 3.5 acre salt marsh, an oyster reef, and a tree swallow sanctuary, all on the site that was destined some 80 years ago to become Soundview Park. It was the vision of none other than Robert Moses—whose public works projects cast many long and contentious shadows—to redevelop this waterfront area known for its expansive river views as a public park. In 1937, his Parks Department got started by building over 6,000 linear feet of earth, bulkheads, and steel sheeting and backfilling them with more than 50,000 cubic yards of earth, ash, and garbage. The park was never finished due to the outbreak of World War II, but the coastal filling and shore hardening inflicted terrible damage to the ecosystem that only worsened as the years passed.
Skip ahead to the early 2000s, a time of increased ecological awareness of coastal vulnerability due to climate change as well as a series of punishing storms, culminating with Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. To protect exposed shorelines, Mayor Michael Bloomberg began to focus attention on coastal resiliency and in the spring of 2013 Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the $700 million coastal redevelopment program. Soundview enjoyed a stunning capital reinvestment including a $9 million restoration of its saltwater marshes, tidal wetlands, and grassy uplands. Enter Rocking the Boat and our Environmental students and apprentices who, working in collaboration with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, are removing invasive plants so they don’t choke out the replanted native species; recording data on oyster growth and mortality at the Soundview reef—one of the most successful sites in the multi-state project designed to bring native oysters reefs back to the New York Harbor region; and building nesting boxes for returning tree swallows as well as monitoring the fledglings. Rocking the Boat is grateful to the Royal Bank of Canada’s Blue Water Grants Program and Entergy’s Environmental Initiatives Fund for generously supporting its work at Soundview Park.

“I learned from Danica how to identify cottonwood seedlings and remove them from areas where they were not wanted. They are a strong pioneer plant and take over areas where we want other plants to have a chance. It was a good experience because I’ve never done any work like this before. It was great to be able to make a difference.”

“Having local and reliable support from the students at Rocking the Boat for our restoration efforts at Soundview Park has been an incredible resource. Their enthusiasm and hard work caring for the salt marsh and providing additional habitat for wildlife in this park have helped us to meet our restoration goals. ”

kids don’t just build boats, boats build kids

rocking the boat
812 edgewater road
bronx, ny 10474
phone: 718.466.5799
fax: 718.466.2892