A special “thank you” to the 200+ people who attended and to those who spoke at the village meeting this past Tuesday evening. Your comments and concerns were heard not only by the Board of Trustees and the South Nyack Task Force, but also by the elected County & State officials in attendance. You will be kept informed as to the Village’s next course of action.
P.S. For those who were unable to attend, I am including below the opening remarks that I made on Tuesday. To see a video of the meeting, click here: http://184.108.40.206/~southnyackny/2015-02-24-trustees-open-session-sup/
Opening remarks for February 24, 2015 Village meeting
Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for coming tonight.
We face a tremendous challenge with the installation of a Shared Use Pedestrian/Bike Path and we need your help, your views, your voices, in our fight to protect South Nyack.
The future of our village is at stake.
Ever since the State decided to put the Shared Use Path on the new bridge, our goal has been to carefully plan for the terminus of the Path so that it actually brings benefit to our village, not just problems.
Our village is a quiet, residential community of only 3,500 people, but we face a challenge:
- How can we protect our village from the impacts of the new path and, at the same time, leverage the SUP to capitalize on the new visitors that it is sure to attract?
- We developed a vision where we might reclaim wasted space at Exit 10. If we could bring the path to that area, we would have the space to develop facilities for Path visitors.
From the start, we asked the State to work with us and assist us in planning for the new path. Unfortunately, they dismissed our concerns. Then, back in the fall of 2013, the State began to listen. They met with us to hear our concerns and offered to help plan for the SUP. We told them of our plans to conduct a study for the village’s sustainability as well as economic development of the excess land within the Exit 10 interchange, but they refused to wait for our Exit 10 plans. They told us that the path would open to visitors long before our vision for Exit 10 could be developed. Subsequently they provided the Village with a $250,000 grant for our study.
Last March at a meeting hosted by the State, your feedback pointed out many problems and issues with the concept for a South Broadway and Cornelison terminus which included the taking of Village Hall to create a parking lot and would bring the path closer to, but not completely into Exit 10. The residents of South Nyack re-soundly rejected that plan. Some of you suggested some other possibilities and we asked the State to help us explore them. A year has passed since that concept was rejected by you, yet the State insists that the path terminus remain at the corner of South Broadway. We had asked the bridge team to work collaboratively with the Task Force to present reasonable alternatives to our residents. Instead they cut off negotiations last November and are pushing ahead with incomplete and ill-conceived plans.
On the Tarrytown side, the Thruway is providing a centralized location on Thruway property, where the path’s entrance, parking and restrooms are all in one location, without disrupting a residential neighborhood. South Nyack and Rockland County deserve the same consideration and respect.
With the help of a concerned resident, The Task Force and I recently contacted and met with the regional director of the Federal Highway Administration who is responsible for conducting an environmental review of the State’s current plans.
- We stressed to them that it is premature to begin that environmental review until the plan for the Path terminus is truly supported by the whole South Nyack community.
- It is not up to the Thruway Authority or the State to decide what is best for South Nyack. This must be our decision.
We have said that the SUP can be successful only if it is planned carefully to meet the needs of our village not just now, but for generations to come.
Last week we received bids for conducting our feasibility study for these long-term goals. The study will explore ways to connect the SUP to a comprehensive redevelopment of Exit 10. That redevelopment could bring new sources of revenue to South Nyack to offset rising taxes. It could also promote connections between the SUP and downtown Nyack and provide options for mass transit to better serve our region.
The State has told us they can’t wait for our study because the Federal funding for the new bridge requires that the path open when the bridge opens. Therefore we have submitted a formal request on our behalf to the Federal Government for a temporary waiver of that requirement, to give us time to complete our study.
The future of our village is at stake. The character of our village is at stake.
We need to remain united to make sure that whatever plans are developed will provide sensible solutions that work for South Nyack and are accepted by South Nyack residents.
What we plan must maintain the character of the South Nyack that we love, and be able to sustain our village for decades to come.
Over these past many months, the Task Force and I have spoken with many of our Federal, State, County, Town and neighboring Village representatives, including:
- Congresswoman Nita Lowey
- Senator David Carlucci
- Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee
- Rockland County Executive Ed Day,
- Chair of the Rockland Legislature Alden Wolfe
- County Legislator and South Nyack resident Nancy Low-Hogan
- Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart
- Nyack Mayor Jen Laird White
- Grand View Mayor Larry Lynn
They are lending their support to our cause to get the impacts of the Path terminus off our village streets. They recognize that the replacement bridge and Shared Use Path could, if done right, be celebrated as the new “Gateway to Rockland”. But the current plans that the State has put forward would instead present a poor welcome.
Many of those representatives or members of their staff are with us tonight including Rockland County Executive Ed Day, Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart, Grand View Mayor Larry Lynn, Dustin Hausner representing US Senator Ken Zebrowski, Patricia Keegan representing Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Darcy Castellano representing Rockland County Legislature Alden Wolfe and Michael Hogan representing County Legislator Nancy Low-Hogan
We have invited the new Executive Director of the Thruway Authority, Bill Mulrow to come to South Nyack and talk with the Task Force. And we continue to press for a meeting directly with the Governor.
The Board of Trustees appointed village volunteers to serve on the Task Force to help advise the Board on the complex issues surrounding the SUP. It is important that the Trustees and the Task Force get as much input as possible from you, our residents.
For the next two hours of this Open Session, we want to give everyone a chance to voice their concerns and ideas about the Shared Use Path. We are giving priority first to South Nyack residents. If time remains, we’ll hear from people outside our village.
If you wish to have your voice heard, please make sure to have signed up on the sheets. Our moderator will take those lists and call people to come to the microphone at the front. To ensure that we hear from all those who wish to speak, we ask that you keep your comments to two minutes or less. After your voices have been heard, we will end the Open Session and continue with the regular part of the Board of Trustees meeting.
Up on the stage are the Board of Trustees and the members of the Task Force. I assure you that your contributions tonight will have an impact. Your ideas and comments will help to guide us in fighting for the solutions that work best for our village.
Thank you. And now I will hand you over to our moderator, South Nyack resident Denise McCue.