Riverdale is usually a place of diverse opinions, but at a joint meeting of Community Board 8’s Traffic-and-Transit and Parks Committees on Feb. 25, nearly one hundred voices rose as one to call for the rejection of a long-awaited official proposal for development of a scenic biking and hiking link between northern Manhattan and the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail in Yonkers.
The only Riverdalian heard to defend the plan was the man who had come to present it, Jerry Bogacz, Planning Director for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC).
Even before he began his presentation, at least three community groups distributed flyers denouncing his agency’s efforts to the throng that packed a large meeting room at the Riverdale YM-YWHA.
Mr. Bogacz explained that NYMTC, a consortium of local and state agencies, had been charged with promulgating a route that would be part of a larger Hudson Valley Greenway mandated by the state in 1998. The route, he said, should be continuous and safe and offer access to the waterfront.
His agency’s $1 million study, funded under the 2005 Federal Transportation Act, noted the difficulty of creating a local path directly along the Hudson River shoreline, as other communities have done, because the land closest to the water is controlled by the Metro-North Railroad and private landowners while the only water-level bridge to Manhattan belongs to Amtrak.
NYMTC, instead, suggested a three-stage grab bag of alternate temporary routes, which could be in place for a decade or more during which agreements might be hammered out for a riverfront route. But each of these carried with it a hefty price tag, and some threatened to alter the bucolic nature of Palisade Avenue and Riverdale Park. Other aspects of the plan, with acknowledged “pinch points,” raised safety concerns for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists alike.
Mr. Bogacz tried to assuage the fears of his audience by emphasizing that, “ultimately the community board and the community will have a lot to say about the final plan.”
Concept plans and interim proposals are available on NYMTC’s website, he said.