Let us look at a few arguments from the other side of the issue.
The southern side of Riverdale Park abuts West 254th Street and what would be West 255th Street — if there were a through-street there — is its northern border. Its eastern border is Riverdale Avenue, and western border is Arlington Avenue.
What the Feb. 15 story referred to as “a cinder block wall and a row of dumpsters” is on the Riverdale Park side, a wall with plant enclosures designed not only to hide our refuse, but to maintain a clean environment for garbage until it is picked up by the city. It is that wall and its plantings that are the focus of the story.
We are worried about the fact that the proposed pathway would go through — or in some way, go around — our wall, so that pedestrians can walk through Netherland Avenue, and make Netherland a passageway north and south.
The proposal for this pathway may be found in the Riverdale Streetscape Report, which is part of the Riverdale Bronx NYC Smart Growth Plan. The goals of the plan include finding solutions for speeding traffic, unsafe pedestrian conditions, a lack of greenery, and empty storefronts. None of these have anything to do with the pathway proposed.
The mission statement of the North Riverdale Merchants Association argues for “provision for a community-friendly shopping area while expanding the economic growth and vitality of North Riverdale.” Looking to beautify North Riverdale and advocating for businesses are both excellent goals. However, they have nothing to do with the proposed pathway.
Other issues that may well have an impact on both Riverdale Park and Riverdale Gardens include an increase in litter and dog poop, an increase in pedestrian traffic as well as the destruction — or partial destruction — of the wall on the Riverdale Park side that would interfere with our garbage pick-up.
In addition, there is a more subtle issue involved. In the past, Riverdale was more bucolic than it is today. Time changes all things, but there is still a sense of community, almost a sense of a small village, in both Riverdale Park and Riverdale Gardens. With the opening up of this sidewalk or “pathway,” both cooperatives would lose that feeling of community.
In the Feb. 15 story, Mr. Steven Chait states that opening up this pathway would give Skyview residents an easier approach to Metro-North as Skyview residents would not have to walk to Riverdale Avenue to approach West 254th. The ease of those Skyview residents does not outweigh the atmosphere, the property values, and the sense of community that both Riverdale Park and Riverdale Gardens residents currently enjoy.
And let’s not forget that Riverdale Park already has the burden of having West 254th as its border. The traffic, the litter, the pollution and the noise from cars on West 254th all impinge on Riverdale Park residents. We do not need further problems.
Lastly, there is the issue of whom the North Riverdale Merchants Association serves. It ought to serve the merchants, its mission — to enhance business in North Riverdale — does not, and should not, include asking the city “to explore the creation of a safe sidewalk” for the convenience of a particular group of people over the preference of another group when none of this has anything to do with commerce or beautification.
According to the streetscape report: “Several residents have asked the association to ask the city to explore the creation of a safe sidewalk path in cooperation with neighboring cooperatives.”
There already exists a safe sidewalk. It is Riverdale Avenue. And who are these “several residents”?
The authors are residents of Riverdale Park.