June 4, 2021
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced the completion of a $5.5 million project to rebuild a stream and wetlands on the site of a former bowling alley in Westchester County, expanding a natural area that protects a vital source of unfiltered drinking water for the metropolitan region.
The project restored a 3.13-acre parcel of land that was the site of the Armonk Bowling Alley before it closed in 1999. DEP purchased the property in 2008 through its land acquisition program, which seeks to preserve sensitive lands around the unfiltered portions of its reservoir system. The bowling alley was demolished in 2011, setting the stage for a multi-year project that would restore the neighboring creek and establish wetlands to protect water quality and support native wildlife.
“New York City is world-renowned for its science-based programs to protect its unfiltered drinking water,” DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza said. “Our project at the former Armonk Bowling Alley is a great example of our programs at work. Our experts harnessed sound science and careful engineering to transform a vast swath of pavement into a preserved area of streams, wetlands and trees that will protect a critical source of drinking water for more than 9 million New Yorkers.”
The former Armonk Bowling Alley off Route 22 was located approximately 2 miles north of Kensico Reservoir, a vital source of unfiltered drinking water for New York City and approximately half of Westchester County. When the bowling alley was built in the 1960s, the neighboring Bear Gutter Creek was pushed aside and confined to a ditch, making room for the business’s large parking lot. Aerial photos suggested the parking lot and building were likely constructed on a former wetland.
Demolition of the parking lot and restoration work began at the site in 2019 and finished earlier this year. Experts re-routed Bear Gutter Creek and gave it a more natural design with meanders and grade controls, taking it out of the ditch that confined it for more than 50 years. Wetland habitat was constructed in the creek’s floodplain. The wetland complex includes small pools that, in their first spring season, have already become a home for American toads, spring peepers and other native species. Hundreds of native trees and bushes were also planted in the area, including willow and red maple trees, and chokeberry bushes. DEP scientists will monitor the site for the next five years to ensure the native plantings grow well and remain healthy.
As part of the project, DEP also constructed a small parking lot that will be turned over to the Town of North Castle and used to support local businesses along Old Route 22.
The newly restored area adjoins a 4-acre wetland complex that DEP previously constructed in the 2010s. Engineers on the latest project studied elevation maps and carefully designed the new wetlands to ensure they matched the hydrology of the previously restored site. These restored streams and wetlands, along with the Town of New Castle’s 169-acre Whippoorwill Park, establish a natural buffer upstream of Kensico Reservoir that will continue to protect the region’s drinking water for decades to come.
DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing more than 1 billion gallons of high-quality water each day to more than 9 million New Yorkers. This includes more than 70 upstate communities and institutions in Ulster, Orange, Putnam and Westchester counties who consume an average of 110 million total gallons of drinking water daily from New York City’s water supply system. This water comes from the Catskill, Delaware, and Croton watersheds that extend more than 125 miles from the City, and the system comprises 19 reservoirs, three controlled lakes, and numerous tunnels and aqueducts. DEP has nearly 6,000 employees, including almost 1,000 scientists, engineers, surveyors, watershed maintainers and other professionals in the watershed. In addition to its $70 million payroll and $168.9 million in annual taxes paid in upstate counties, DEP has invested more than $1.7 billion in watershed protection programs—including partnership organizations such as the Catskill Watershed Corporation and the Watershed Agricultural Council—that support sustainable farming practices, environmentally sensitive economic development, and local economic opportunity. In addition, DEP has a robust capital program with $20.1 billion in investments planned over the next decade that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year. For more information, visit nyc.gov/dep, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.