By Rockland County Executive Ed Day
I was encouraged to learn of a recent state initiated meeting between Acting Thruway Executive Director Robert Megna, Deputy Director of State Operations for Programs Joseph Rabito and Village of South Nyack Mayor Bonnie Christian regarding the access point to a bicycle and walking path coming with the new Tappan Zee Bridge.
With South Nyack leaders and top members of Governor Cuomo’s administration now engaged in a productive dialogue, I am hopeful that all stakeholders will soon reach consensus on the proposed site.
Mayor Christian has been adamant that any shared path designed to draw visitors to the New NY Bridge must enhance both the economic and cultural sustainability of her historic village. As County Executive, it is my responsibility to make certain this project – one component of the overall $3.9 billion bridge replacement – is designed and constructed in the best interest of all 320,000 Rockland residents, not only South Nyack’s population of 3,500.
As I see it, the thoughtful development of the shared use path provides New York State a shot at redemption. Construction of the existing Tappan Zee Bridge in 1952 obliterated most of the Village of South Nyack and the Hamlet of Central Nyack. Hundreds of residents lost their homes. Dozens of businesses were bulldozed. Stores, churches, a train station and even cemeteries were razed. Appeals to then-Governor Thomas E. Dewey to spare the village and hamlet were turned down in the name of progress. In less than three years, the heart and soul of South Nyack – its bustling downtown – was torn in half, paved over and lost forever to a six-lane interstate highway.
Today, Governor Cuomo can make amends with local residents, many of whom still remember the callous treatment by the state back in 1952. As concrete footings for the twin-span Tappan Zee replacement continue to rise this spring, bridge planners must continue to work in collaboration with village stakeholders toward an outcome we can be proud of, not scorn for decades.
Since taking office as County Executive more than 15 months ago, the New NY Bridge project has been a part of my daily dialogue. I have met regularly with officials from the New York State Thruway Authority and the state Department of Transportation; I have heard the concerns of Mayor Christian and her South Nyack neighbors; I have talked with concerned stakeholders at community meetings and task force gatherings; I even partnered with Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino in calling on the Governor to keep the already high bridge tolls from rising higher. As the leader of this county, it is my responsibility to make certain this historic bridge replacement works for our residents and our businesses.
State bridge planners have the unique opportunity to bring significant economic growth to Rockland County and new community amenities to the village, furthering my administration’s mission of revitalizing and enhancing our growing communities. I urge all parties to continue the positive discussions to help realize a unified vision for an integrated, sustainable South Nyack neighborhood that will provide an extraordinary Hudson River gateway to our county.