GREENBURGH, N.Y. – A small crowd of about 30 people gathered Wednesday night to figure out how to make Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner's “crazy idea” of a Tappan Zee Bridge park into reality.
“We have to show them that this is not impractical,” Feiner said at the beginning of the meeting.
Feiner proposed turning the current Tappan Zee Bridge into a park such as the High Line in New York City in October as it was announced that plans for a new Tappan Zee Bridge had been expedited. Westchester residents surrounding the bridge have had mixed reactions to Feiner's proposal.
Wednesday's meeting was the first time residents have publicly discussed how such a park could and should be built. Officials identified several issues that the group will have to figure out, such as the structural stability of the bridge, how they can raise public support for the project and parking.
“This is not a rally,” Feiner said. “This is an initial organizational meeting.”
Feiner said the group needed to conduct feasibility and economic impact studies, which will help them figure out how the park could be constructed. The studies, he said, will also help the public decide for themselves whether they want a Tappan Zee Bridge park.
Feiner didn't discount variations on his proposed plan. He said transportation officials could also build one new bridge and the current bridge could then be split into half a park and half automobile traffic.
Officials praised the potential economic and health benefits of the park. Walkway Over the Hudson Board Member Fred Schaffer said the park would “draw tourism from all over the place.” Schaffer also noted he would expect the park to draw even more tourists than the Walkway because the Tappan Zee Bridge is so much larger.
Officials also praised the fiscal savings that could come out of saving the park instead of tearing it down.
“Dismantling the bridge will cost hundreds of millions of dollars and consume huge amounts of fossil fuel,” David McKay Wilson said. Wilson is the executive director of the Bike Walk Alliance of Westchester and Putnam, as well as the advocacy director for the Westchester Cycle Club. “Taxpayers would be paying to take down the superstructure that we just spent $1.8 billion fixing.”
White Plains Council member Milagros Lecuona stressed that one of the first things the group needs to do is identify how transportation officials will be doing with the bridge's landings in Tarrytown and Nyack, since residents and tourists will need some way to get into the park.