City Islanders will have their say about a controversial new bridge, but not in the courts.
Bronx state Supreme Court Justice Mark Friedlander took the City and the contractor, Tutor Perini, and the residents represented by the City Island Civic Association and plaintiff Barbara Dolensek all to task.
He lifted a temporary stay on construction on the new City Island Bridge imposed in November, but called for a city Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, giving both sides something of a victory.
The ruling seemed to hold out hope that the political process could be of help to islanders. It stated: “a new era is dawning, and a long-time Mayor is being replaced...CICA members might find a change in tone by the new administration which will give more consideration for their desires for a causeway bridge rather than a cable-stayed bridge.”
However, the ruling also went onto say that the bridge’s planning process might now be too far advanced for the changes the CICA urges.
Senator Jeff Klein hailed the ruling – which clarified the city’s requirement under ULURP – as a “great victory for the City Island Community.”
“From the very start of the planning process for the replacement of the City Island Bridge, we’ve been concerned that the City was running roughshod over City Island residents,” said Klein. “With this decision, City Island residents can be assured that their voices are heard. Along with a new year, we have a new mayor, and will likely have a new leader at the Department of Transportation. As we begin a new chapter in New York City, I believe there will be a fresh opportunity to reconsider the proposed design for the City Island Bridge.”
Community Board 10 District Manager Kenneth Kearns has scheduled a hearing on City Island at P.S. 175 on Wednesday, Jan. 15 at 7:30 p.m. on two ULURPs relating to anchorage points in Pelham Bay Park and easements necessary for both construction of a temporary bridge and the new bridge.
Those technical matters, along with the political process, could offer recourse to the islanders to make their case against the bridge design.
The ULURP hearing could help measure of the island’s sentiment against the modern cable-stayed design with a tower soaring over 150 feet into the air.
“This will give us the opportunity to have a vote of some sort,” said Dolensek. “It is not earthshaking, and it is not going to prevent the bridge from being built, I am sure. But at least it will give us a chance, the only chance we have ever had, to be asked our real opinion on this and to vote on it.”
Dolensek noted that in the 15 years of planning, this will be the first and only public hearing to date on the matter.
As part of the ULURP process, the review will consult with CB 10 and Councilman Jimmy Vacca, among others, who have expressed their support against the proposed bridge, she said.
Department of Transportation spokeswoman Nicole Garcia said that the City was pleased with the decision because it can now take steps necessary to building the temporary bridge.