STORY AND PHOTO BY JANIE ROSMAN
After village residents objected to plans presented by the state and South Nyack village officials last year, Nyack Mayor Jen Laird White said, “We immediately reached out to both South Nyack and the state to see if Nyack might offer some solutions.”
Shortly after, she met with the Thruway Authority and South Nyack Mayor Bonnie Christian to discuss long-term parking solutions. While one of the ideas was incorporated into a parking concept, none of the eight proposals for Rockland places the terminus at Exit 10 land.
Christian asked residents to reject the concepts and to copy her on correspondence to Special Project Advisor Brian Conybeare.
During a project update/presentation in Greenburgh last week Conybeare talked about the shared use path — the extensive safety measures built into the bridge and belvederes, the scenic views it will afford, and parking and access in both counties.
“We’re working on finding solutions in South Nyack and presented several parking options that include Nyack,” he said. “The (Nyack) mayor is on board with it, the (Nyack) Chamber of Commerce is on board with it, and we’re hoping to find a solution that will work for everyone.”
The Thruway Authority and Federal Highway Administration are undertaking an Environmental Assessment to study those options.
South Nyack received a $250,000 grant through the bridge project’s Community Benefits Program to study the feasibility of redesigning and redeveloping Interchange 10. The village is now considering several proposals from engineering firms and hasn’t awarded the contract. Project officials have a mid-2018 deadline for the bridge’s opening.
“A workable solution is important for Nyack residents as well,” White said. “We are the closest place on this side of the river for those visiting to get food and beverages after they visit the new bridge.”
She emphasized that as South Nyack discusses implementing residential parking, “a reasonable idea under the circumstances, Nyack welcomes the visitors. We just want to make sure we can handle the parking needs.”
The two mayors meet for lunch every few months, White said. “I continue to stress that any help in the search for a successful resolution is there should South Nyack want it. South Nyack believes strongly that this is their issue and theirs alone.”
While unsure if she agrees, White emphasized Nyack “will continue to respect their position on this issue. Were they to ask for help from their neighbors I am sure we would all be there.”
Visit Nyack, Inc. Marketing Director Meg Mayo said the village is “promoting Nyack as a destination and is happy to work with the state to find a reasonable way to handle the parking for the shared use path.”
It makes sense, Mayo said, because “we already have a business district, and the shared use path, we believe, is going to be an attraction and will draw people to Nyack.”
While the SUP is unlike Walkway Across the Hudson it shares similarities.
“It shows there is an interest in having access to the river and having the experience of walking across it,” she said. “One doesn’t have to walk all the way across the new bridge. The designs we have seen will have seating areas and themed message, and people can walk to one of the areas and walk back.”
The DEC is currently reviewing a letter Christian wrote to agency Commissioner Joseph Martens last month requesting the village be appointed lead agency for the shared use path. Last month she and task force member Richard Kohlhausen met with Thruway Authority Acting Executive Director Robert Megna and Deputy Director of State Operations for Programs Joseph Rabito.
Megna called that meeting constructive. “With new leadership at the Thruway Authority, we wanted to sit down with Mayor Christian in order to better understand the issues affecting her community,” he said.
This week Megna said via statement that renewed discussions with South Nyack about parking options “are making substantial progress.”
State and project officials “want to continue working proactively” with the village’s mayor and task force on solutions “that will work for all the parties involved while protecting New York taxpayers and toll payers at the same time,” he said.
“Hopefully, we will be able to come to an agreement that benefits the residents of South Nyack, the Thruway Authority and the people who will use the path in the future,” Christian said.
She did not reply to email.