This time, the city Department of Transportation was welcome on City Island.
After fighting its former commissioner under Mayor Bloomberg over an unwanted bridge design, islanders gave the agency a warm welcome at an open house on a newly designed simple causeway to the island.
Islanders who showed up at P.S. 175 on Wednesday, May 14, had even more suggestions on the design of the causeway bridge pushed through by new DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. It was recently approved by the City Planning Commission.
Representatives from the city Department of Transportation, including Bronx Commissioner Constance Moran, and representatives from contractor Tutor Perini, which will build a temporary and new bridge, were at the May 14 meeting to hear community feedback and answer questions.
Ignored by former commissioner
Former city DOT Commissioner Janet Sadik-Kahn never even bothered to meet with the islanders over the controversial originally proposed bridge, a soaring, modernistic cable-stayed affair islanders complained was totally out of character with the quaint island community.
“The reaction I see is all positive,” said Councilman Jimmy Vacca, who attended. “We are still in a state of euphoria that we got this new bridge redesigned. This open house is another indication of DOT being collaborative and open to input from the community.”
Vacca said that even though a battle for a low-rise bridge design is over, he is recommending the creation of an advisory committee of City Islanders to meet on a regular basis while the project is underway to monitor it and see what needs arise.
Keep the welcome sign
Community Board 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns added his own suggestions to the poster-boards, including keeping the historic “Welcome to City Island” sign on top of the existing bridge, and adding fillials – small ornaments on the existing structure – to the causeway design.
Barbara Dolensek, who last year filed a lawsuit with the help of Senator Jeff Klein and the City Island Civic Association to get the bridge design changed, said she thought the open house was “terrific” and allowed people to make points that could matter when it comes in the details on the causeway design.
Impressed with DOT
“I think everybody should have the opportunity to say what they think, and to see these (renderings), and have conversations,” she said. “I am very impressed that DOT has a lot of their people here, and that Tutor Perini is here.”
The structure of the bridge is a done deal, but she was hopeful that DOT would have further meetings with the community on the details, such as the design of the fence along the causeway. Many details are still open for discussion and have to go before the city’s Design Commission, she said.
“They have expressed a willingness to work with us, and what more can you ask at this point?” she asked, adding that the current plan is to have the temporary bridge in place by October.