Lawsuit against new City Island bridge

Lawsuit against new City Island bridge
courtesy of Senator Jeff Klein

With a little help from an elected official, City Island is readying a lawsuit to block the construction of its new bridge.

The lawsuit is being backed by Senator Jeff Klein, and will focus on the lack of a Uniform Land Use Review Process bridge opponents believe was needed.

The suit should contend the ULURP process was necessary because construction of the bridge may require changes to the city map. It will also call for a Temporary Restraining Order against the construction.

Klein announced plans for the lawsuit at a City Island Civic Association meeting on Tuesday, October 29. It was expected to be filed on Friday, Nov. 8.

“We should not have to sacrifice the majesty of City Island in exchange for a 21st century bridge,” said Klein. “As I have said all along, the community should have been consulted throughout this process. But now that the Department of Transportation is moving ahead with a design that does not address some of the community’s biggest concerns, I think it’s important we file this lawsuit to make sure that the City Island community’s voices are heard. This is not a step we take lightly. But I believe it’s the best step for all of us moving forward.”

The city Department of Transportation held a pre-construction meeting at P.S. 175 on City Island on Monday, Sept. 23, with contractor Tutor Perini set to begin preliminary work on a temporary bridge as soon as Wednesday, Sept. 30. A temporary bridge will have to be constructed before the current bridge is removed and the new bridge is built in its place.

The new bridge has a steel-cable design that many at the City Island Chamber of Commerce and the City Island Civic Association feel is out of place because of its modernistic, soaring 150-foot-tall tower. The current quaint but deteriorating bridge is over 100-years-old.

“From the Chamber’s point of view, City Island is successful as a destination because I believe it offers an alternative to the high-rise, high-density area,” said Chamber President Gerard “Skip” Giacco. “I see the new bridge as a beginning of a change there.”

That quaint feel of City Island – which has a 35-foot height restriction on all buildings – is jeopardized because the bridge’s height could set a precedent that might allow developers to build beyond 35-feet in height, he said. This would jeopardize the quaint character of the island that many in its business and residential community say differentiates it from other places.

On top of that, Giacco said, the City Island community is not being treated respectfully because the City has taken little or no input from islanders over the past decade, as planning on the bridge wound its way through the government bureaucracy.

City Island Civic Association’s John Doyle also said that the city took little or no input during the design and planning on the bridge.

“By any objective measure, the DOT’s public consultation has been extremely flawed,” said Doyle. “Since the current bridge is considered an historic property, they are not recommended but instead required to consult with the public throughout the process. However, no public hearing has ever taken place on City Island. Through the efforts of Senator Klein and others we are hopeful that a judge will give our case due consideration.”

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (718) 742-3393