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Bronx Kill is a narrow strait in New York City delineating the southernmost extent of The Bronx and separating it from Randall's Island. It connects the Harlem River to the East River.
The Triborough Bridge's Bronx span crosses from the toll booths at Randall's Island atop the kill into the Bronx.
The Bronx Kill is among New York City's most overlooked waterways. Indeed, this mile-long tidal strait, which links the East River north of Hell Gate to the Harlem River entrance, is best known by inference: it puts the "island" in Randall's Island and necessitates the third leg of the Triborough Bridge. The waterway itself is unknown to many of those who could become its best allies.
For now, the most dedicated steward of the Bronx Kill is Friends of Brook Park, a group of community gardeners who tend to a Mott Haven plot several blocks inland. But their connection to the Bronx Kill isn't as fanciful as it might seem: the eponymous brook is the long-interred Mill Brook that once emptied into the Bronx Kill.
The Bronx Kill is an accessible part of the estuary that happens to offer quiet, intimate beauty for kayakers and other human-powered boaters without the worry of larger vessel traffic. Canoe and kayak expeditions through the waterway begin on the Harlem River, near the Third Avenue Bridge. Crossings must be well timed for the tides, to ensure both the correct current direction and sufficient water height: at low water, parts of the Bronx Kill entirely bottom out, revealing mucky stretches, castaway cars and other assorted junk. Consequently, no commercial vessels navigate the kill, with local businesses mostly opting instead for rail and truck transportation.
The Bronx Kill blipped onto the public policy radar screen several years ago when the New York Power Authority offered to construct a pedestrian bridge linking the Bronx with Randall's Island -- part of the agency's mitigation and community giveback for building two new power plants in the South Bronx. That plan, however, fell by the wayside when local officials argued that an improved Triborough Bridge path would be sufficient. The state authority instead committed millions of dollars to energy efficiency measures in the borough as a whole, including a recently unveiled green roof on the county courthouse. Unrelated state funding announced in April will extend Randall's Island bike paths to the Bronx Kill.
The Bronx Kill may yet find itself in the spotlight in coming years, as controversy grows over plans to build a water park -- the first in the nation for a large city -- on the northwest corner of Randall's Island. Announced by the Giuliani administration as a $48 million, 15 acre project, the project has ballooned to encompass 26 acres at a projected cost of $168 million. While civic watchdogs are concerned that Aquatic Development Group (ADG), a firm based in upstate New York, was awarded the contract to build the park without a formal bid process, ecologists worry about wetlands destruction, the cutting of trees, and chlorinated water from the attractions entering the Harlem River, Bronx Kill, and East River.
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