by Owen Voutsinas-Klose
Residents and politicians at Wednesday’s second and final meeting dedicated to public discussion about the Thruway Authority’s Shared Use Path (SUP) plan for the new-NY bridge voiced resounding support for Concept F. Rockland County Legislator Harriet Cornell, for instance, called it the “compromise” solution; it would modify the original plan (Concept E), which had, much to the chagrin of locals, placed parking for the SUP in residential neighborhoods, and potential create more local traffic. Concept F relocates parking to Exit 10 (DOT-owned land), away from residential South Nyack. The plan also moves more traffic onto 9W, pacifying concerns about too much vehicle traffic. The public comment period will last until April 1st (no fooling!), at which point the Thruway Authority will begin the construction process for the SUP.
The meeting was held at Nyack Middle School. And other notable local politicians, including New York Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, State Sen David Carlucci, South Nyack Mayor Bonnie Christian, spokespeople for Rep. Nita Lowey, and Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart also urged the DOT to back Concept F. Stewart recommended that the DOT representatives look further into an overhaul of the entire interchange in order to improve traffic. Mayor Bonnie Christian, though, was the most vociferous in her support for the plan; she vowed not to support any proposal other than Concept F. One resident in attendance backed Christian and threatened to sue the DOT to stall the project unless Concept F was used.
The one dissenter, a resident who lives near Old Mountain Road, had concerns about a potential increase in truck traffic brought on by the bridge; however, he expressed openness to Concept F if his concerns were resolved.
Many residents were constructive in their comments. One person requested that a 24/7 New York State trooper be stationed in the parking lot to discourage crime and vandalism in the surrounding neighborhoods. Others urged the Thruway Authority to take steps to ensure the cleanliness and regular maintenance of the bathrooms in the parking lot, expressing fears for public health.
Residents’ greatest fear, though, was that the new bridge could have a similar effect to the 1955 construction of the original bridge. The 1955 bridge construction destroyed the downtown area of South Nyack, leaving it devoid of any commercial activity. This led to a shrinking tax base for South Nyack, which still has ramifications today in the form of a less diversified economy and a higher tax burden for residents. However, residents and the state seem to have reached a lasting peace over the SUP, and Concept F should proceed as planned.