BY MICHAEL RICONDA
NYACK– Congresswoman Nita Lowey met with Salisbury Point residents on Saturday morning, October 20 to introduce herself and receive feedback on the community’s continued efforts to make their voices heard on the new Tappan Zee Bridge project.
Despite the attention of local officials and numerous meetings with bridge authorities, Salisbury Point residents expressed frustration and impatience with state officials, whom they claim have been unresponsive to their comments and concerns. Lowey, who will represent Nyack residents if she is re-elected, was joined by Nyack Mayor Jen White, both of whom promised to carefully review the resident’s concerns about the bridge.
Specifically, Lowey promised to follow up and report back on several concerns, including construction which would occur on nearby Exit 10 on I-87/I-287. She also promised to evaluate the community’s proposed Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, which focuses on potential noise problems.
“I think that [Salisbury Point’s requests] are reasonable and I think the fact that you are calling people together to see what you can do to mitigate the impact of the bridge on this magnificent place is exactly the right way to go,” Lowey said.
In an effort to spur authorities to action, the Salisbury Point Board of Directors consulted acoustic engineer Brook Crossan and civic engineer Nat Parish to independently evaluate the bridge’s impact upon the community.
The engineers concluded that to protect residents, various mitigation measures were necessary, including measures to shield buildings from noise and the appointment of an independent ombudsman and monitor to assess and provide solutions to any problems which might arise. In particular, Parish stated that the community needed mitigation “to the maximum extent feasible.”
In response to concerns, Crossan and Parish prepared a list of over one hundred inquiries on the bridge’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), a document which became the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.
“Our professionals felt that some of the mitigation requests such as window repair or something for soundproofing are valid and that assurances of the quality of the air is valid and should be an observed concern,” Board of Directors member Susan Farnum stated.
Salisbury Point Cooperative President Catherine McCue reported that over one hundred comment letters had been sent by residents, most of which received no response or addressed with form letters which did not provide adequate answers. The inquiries made by Crossan and Parish had not been addressed either.
“Many comments we made were ignored or not adequately addressed in the final document,” McCue stated. “Our consultant, again, submitted thirty-eight pages of text with more than a hundred discreet comments on behalf of Salisbury point and the village of Tarrytown, and still nothing.”
Salisbury Point Resident and South Nyack trustee Tom Neff stated that state representatives, particularly Special Advisor to the Governor Brian Conybeare and Secretary to the Governor Larry Schwartz, have ignored taken virtually no action upon their concerns, resulting in a glut of fruitless meetings rather than real progress.
“Nothing of substance has come out of these meetings,” Neff said. “If it wasn’t for the fact that the people here in Salisbury started the actual ball rolling on the problems that the village is going to have here, nothing would have happened. Every politician in Rockland County has been in lockstep in adoring this bridge.”
Though they report few allies among the bridge authorities, McCue stated that the cooperative had found common voices with Tarrytown residents and the environmental organization Riverkeeper, which will participate in a fundraiser to support Salisbury Point’s efforts.
“We believe that Riverkeeper will have a public voice and comment about this project that employees of this state do not have,” McCue said.
Conybeare declined to comment on the issue of a supplemental environmental impact statement, but said that the state is working with Salisbury Point and other residents on sound, vibration, and air quality and is open to additional mitigation efforts.
“This is literally in their back yards and they do have concerns, but we are working with them, we are having an ongoing dialogue, and we hope to have them as a part of the process, bring them in, talk to them, discuss it all with them, and come up with some extra measures for them,” Conybeare said.