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Superblock To Get More Study

superblockNyack’s Village Board will seeks funds to conduct a feasibility study for the Superblock before bidding out the project.  Riverspace board members Josh and Debbie Goldberg say this process will take too long and that Riverspace’s options on the theatre and M&T bank property will expire before the study is complete leaving the Village to pursue the process on its own. Riverspace backers had hoped the board would issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) or Qualifications (RFQ) without the study.

Everybody was using the Citizen’s Advisory Committee’s (CAC) recommendations as a blueprint.  The problem was that people were reading it differently.  Last night, the Village really had the following choices:

  1. Start with the CAC’s first recommendation– search for money to pay for a “feasibility” study, thus losing Riverspace as a partner.
  2. Skip step 1 of the CAC recommendations and go to a RFQ/RFP process with Riverspace as a partner.
  3. Do nothing.

The Board chose option 1, which is to take a “cold hard look” (John Shapiro’s words to the CAC) at the site and go through a structured process to determine the uses of the site.  This process will take time, many months, if at all, to find the funding for the study which will be many months.  An optimistic timetable, just guessing, will be a year to complete the feasibility study. Riverspace will be long gone by then.

Part of the problem is that the CAC recommendations put the Board in a lose/lose situation.  The report said the Village had to move quickly with timelines and deadlines, and then recommendation #1 is a process that will take a long time that is impossible to control. Recommendation 1 is to “search for funding from grants, government, etc. for the feasibility studies.”  The problem is that searching for grants takes time and there is no way to predict or control the timing.

Riverspace wants to skip recommendation #1 and go right to #2, which is to retain “an expert to design and manage the Request for Proposals (RFP) process.”  This makes sense if the Village feels confident in its plan on what uses it wants for the site.  The Village has been “studying” the site for a couple years now, although not in the “cold hard” manner of a formal process lead by an expert.

The Board basically decided to follow the first recommendation, to search for funding for undefined feasibility studies, which will take a long time.  And Riverspace has been clear that it can’t wait that long.  The decision was definitely a cautious one, and reflects an unease about  moving ahead with the Riverspace vision.

Riverspace started the whole process of the superblock’s redevelopment.  The question is if Riverspace is not going to be a partner, and the Village is basically going to start over with the superblock’s planning, then is its redevelopment the top priority?  Perhaps improving the sidewalks and streets downtown, but implementing the streetscape plan, is a better use of limited resources.

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