THE BRONX - Plans to upgrade North Riverdale have continued to move forward, in hope of attracting more visitors and businesses in the near future.

A $100,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will help Gary Wartels, the president of the North Riverdale Merchants Association, try to bring the energy and curb appeal that he says the area currently lacks.

Wartels has three goals for his streetscape plan: Increase pedestrian safety, make the area environmentally friendly and attract more business.

Businesses have expressed interest to Wartels, but he says he's heard concerns from current area owners, including some worried about losing parking spaces.

Other ideas such as narrowing lanes, adding medians and raising beds to plant trees has drawn concerns as well. But he is only through his first draft of the plan, and says he has a long way to go.
 
"In general we'd like to slow traffic down so this is a more pedestrian friendly, walking place," says Wartels.
 
The Merchants Assocation is hoping to finish a second draft for its streetscape plan in October, and have it approved early next year.