STORY AND PHOTOS BY JANIE ROSMAN
Disappointing news rankled South Nyack residents, who learned Monday that the terminus of the new bridge’s “shared use path,” aka bike and walking path, will be at the corner of South Broadway and Cornelison Avenue.
Village officials and residents joined Mayor Bonnie Christian yesterday afternoon to criticize the state’s recent decision after months of waiting while engineers studied the concepts submitted.
“The shared use path is a critical issue for South Nyack,” Christian said. “A major tourist destination is planned, and we need the governor to review the plan for the terminus so that it meets the needs of those using it while protecting the character and integrity of the village.”
“Shocked is an appropriate word,” Legislator Nancy Low-Hogan said, concerned. “I’m really disappointed and hoping there’s more to the story that I haven’t heard yet. It’s not a good location, there were other plans for other entrances, and this (decision) raises a lot of questions.”
From the start, the village maintained the terminus can only be successful if done in conjunction with its plans for redevelopment, Planning Board Chairman Jerry Ilowite said. This is precisely why the village was awarded a $250,000 grant from the $20 million Community Benefits Program to study how to best develop the 25-acre parcel (Interchange 10).
The terminus was initially planned for Smith Avenue, a tiny dead-end street off Piermont Avenue. It was later agreed upon to move the SUP one block north to the intersection of South Broadway and Cornelison Avenue, with the Village Hall site slated for parking.
A concession/refreshment stand and bathroom facilities would be constructed, and extensive landscaping installed. The SUP would essentially connect with the existing Esposito Trail, located behind Village Hall that runs from Nyack through South Nyack and Grand View to Piermont.
No way, South Nyack residents said, some of whom are old enough to remember their village being negatively impacted by the original Tappan Zee Bridge.
After the March 20 meeting, where residents blasted project officials, and called those plans “insensitive and destructive of South Nyack’s residential way of life,” the state changed direction and supported relocating the terminus to the Exit 10 Interchange.
Remember when the village and media were told engineers were studying concepts? They were! The purpose was to accommodate visitors to the shared use path with parking and limited facilities with these objectives:
- Provide parking accommodations and limited facilities while minimizing impacts on the community and local long-range plans and initiatives.
- Provide safe, designated pedestrian and bicycle connections from the proposed parking areas to the shared use path.
- Maintain or provide adequate emergency service access to the shared use path and to any connectors between the parking areas and the shared use path.
- Provide cost-effective and sufficient parking accommodations for shared use path visitors based on estimates of its potential parking demand.
After months of intensive questionnaires and data collection, it was determined that the Westchester side needed 97 parking spaces, and the Rockland side needed 54.
South Nyack Task Force member Greg Toolan, a land surveyor, was concerned about the intersection’s engineering and submitted one of the concepts — a reworked plan for Exit 10 at a cost of nearly $9 million ($8,850,000). It would put parking at Interchange 10 and on Route 9W Bridge, and connect to the SUP via a closed on-ramp to the Thruway eastbound.
“I designed it to maintain the 14-acre staging area, and the on- and off-ramps, and when the project is done, you can give something back to the village,” Toolan said. It was the second most expensive concept; the first weighed in at $9,400.000.
At that, the state said no.
“We have been working collaboratively with South Nyack, its task force and other stakeholders for months on this issue and — at the village’s request — the project team already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to relocate the end of the shared use path once,” special project advisor Brian Conybeare said.
“Now the mayor wants to move it again, at an estimated cost of nearly $10 million, and her plan would require a year-long closure of the South Broadway Bridge in the heart of the village, disrupting traffic and emergency services,” Conybeare said.
He reasoned the state sees no reason to opt for a plan that would cost taxpayers highly, only to find that it may have to be redone in the future once the village decides its plans for the Interchange. “While we will continue to work with the village on reasonable solutions, we also have a responsibility to protect taxpayers and tollpayers,” he said.
Each of the concepts will undergo an environmental review, same as the bridge project. While the twin spans, shared use path and its terminus will be open in 2018, South Nyack only recently released its feasibility study RFP.