Leaders push for pedestrian pathway over the Deegan
By Adam Wisnieski
The promise of a footbridge across the Major Deegan Expressway in Van Cortlandt Park was part of a mitigation package approved by the City Council along with the Croton Water Filtration Plant in 1999.
The Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) agreement says the borough is entitled to more than $240 million for its parks and that as long as it was feasible, the Department of Environmental Protection would fund a pedestrian bridge in Van Cortlandt Park, the same park where the plant is being built.
But it still has not made good on that promise and Community Board 8 chair Bob Fanuzzi says that in the end, Van Cortlandt Park users will have suffered the greatest inconvenience of the construction of the Croton Filtration Plant, but will have least to show for it.
“Will you be able to look back and say Van Cortlandt Park is better because of the filtration plant? You can’t say that,” Mr. Fanuzzi said, adding that the pedestrian bridge would be the “one true improvement for Van Cortlandt Park that the filtration plant has created.”
Out of 10 construction projects in Van Cortlandt Park, Mr. Fanuzzi argues the money is mostly being spent to either reverse the effects of deferred maintenance, like Van Cortlandt Park’s Parade Ground and comfort station, or to rebuild parts of the park destroyed to create the plant, like the golf house or driving range.
The city released a study by Philip Habib and Associates in 2010 that determined it was feasible to build the bridge and outlined three options, ranging in cost from $3 to $6 million, depending on where it was constructed.
The study concluded that the best option would cost $3.6 million option and would connect the southeast section of Vannie with the west side of the park and also reconnect the historically significant Old Croton Aqueduct trail, which was severed by the construction of the Deegan in 1956. The bridge would connect the east and west sides of the park that are mostly inaccessible from one another.
But the DEP has said it is unable to fund the project.
Mr. Fanuzzi and Councilman Oliver Koppell are planning to ask the City Council’s Bronx delegation for help putting pressure on the city to find the necessary funds.
Mr. Fanuzzi and CB 12 chair Father Richard Gorman were invited to speak to Bronx councilmembers on May 21, but the meeting was cancelled due to an emergency. The meeting had not been rescheduled as of press time.
Though the study concluded the bridge would cost $3.6 million, the city has recently said at Croton Filtration Monitoring Committee meetings that the bridge would cost between $9 and $15 million. It is unclear where these numbers came from.