BY JANIE ROSMAN
Tuesday night South Nyack residents learned possibilities for land currently being used as a staging area for the bridge project.
“Several years ago we began thinking about what we can do to protect the character and integrity of South Nyack, promote the village’s economy, along with trying to make it an affordable place for residents to live,” she said.
Using its $250,000 grant from the New NY Bridge Community Benefits Program, the village board commissioned a feasibility study for the village’s future. Holly McKay, Principal Consultant at Willdan Financial Services, and Valerie A. Minastra, AICP, Senior Project Manager at Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc., discussed the results of that study and the village’s next steps.
“One thing I would like to make clear is that this study is separate from the shared use parking plan that the village is currently working on with the New York State Thruway and with the state,” Christian said. The parking plan must be in place before the bridge opens in 2018, she said, “and this study is for the long term.”
Last month the Tappan Zee Bridge Task Force members presented four plans designed by Thruway Authority engineers to minimize impacts of the new bridge’s shared use path and ranging from $11 million to $24 million. The task force recommended Concept F, which village trustees approved at their January 12 meeting.
Feasibility study committee chair Jerry Ilowite spoke about the village’s history and provided background to the present time.
While it has the largest percentage of historic homes in the region, “the village lacks an identity of its own that distinguishes it from its neighbors,” Ilowite said. Residents shop in neighboring Nyack, “and while it’s a riverside community, there is no access to the river” from the village.
Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC has been using Exit 10 land as a staging area for the new bridge, which opens in two years.
“The village has long maintained that this use is incompatible with our village character,” Ilowite said. The Village of South Nyack Economic Sustainability Initiative to redevelop this lane “is first and foremost about economics and what we might be able to do to bolster our village’s revenues and at what cost.”
It would also reconnect the upper and lower portion of the village, possibly by decking over a portion of the Thruway. A new village green might serve as a hub and connect to the new bridge’s walking/bicycle path.
“The first step is economic, and then comes the real estate market,” McKay said. “There’s a lot of engineering, urban design and planning that is running concurrent with market analysis.”
As South Nyack is a gateway to the Hudson River Valley, “the village is being forward-thinking in evaluating all possibilities to attract the right kind of redevelopment and focus on urban revitalization,” she said.
McKay introduced her colleague Adrienne Teleki from the Willdan New York office and Robert Dennison, York State Regional Director of Design at VHB.
“Adrienne and I have been on the ground meeting with developers and real estate brokers, with Rockland County economic development officials and other stakeholders in the region to better understand the health of commercial and retail,” she said. They’re taking a best-use approach to this site, she said, to attract private development while retaining village character, and attract residents’ children to live in South Nyack after college.
“The first thing to do is look at options to generate new municipal revenues,” Minastra said, “and one primary way is through new development. The village’s two options are (1) to find vacant land that can be developed or (2) find land and reuse (repurpose) it to generate different revenues and a larger tax base.
Depending upon the reconfiguration of Exit 10, between nine and 14 of it 33 acres can be developed. With an average of 137,000 cars passing it each day, Minastra said, its visibility and accessibility from the Thruway and local roadways make it favorable for economic redevelopment.
These include decking parts of the area to join both sides of the village and, as Ilowite said, the village has river views. “This is the time we dream big with the understanding that we have some real estate economics behind these ideas,” McKay said.
Minastra said the next steps are to identify alternatives for Exit 10, come up with urban designs to accommodate the economic development areas and then find ways to implement the ideas.
“It was a very informative meeting, and I think we all got something out of it,” Christian said the next day. “We’ll all be looking forward to the spring, when they have the second part of their analysis for our feasibility study . . . to tell us what we can do.”
Exit 10 land currently belongs to the state Thruway Authority, which continues to work with the village of South Nyack on its future use.