Whoops! CI bridge setback

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It’s back to square one for the proposed City Island Bridge project.

While islanders and local electeds have been fighting the proposal for a modernistic bridge for the laid-back island, a city bureaucrat suddenly discovered the whole process left out the adjoining community board.

While the project is in Community Board 10, the footprint of the proposed 164-foot-tall modern-looking span, will be in Pelham Bay Park, touching Community Board 12.

The issue came out at a Board 10 meeting on Thursday, Jan. 16, with District Manager Ken Kearns announcing the city Department of City Planning and the Department of Design and Construction had just discovered the blooper after years of proceeding with the bridge project.

His announcement came one night after a board hearing where the City Island Civic Association and island’s Chamber of Commerce vented their anger over the bridge and lack of consultation by the city.

Under the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, such projects require advisory votes by the local community boards, the borough president and their borough board of community board chairmen and councilmembers, and the City Planning Commission before an ultimate full deciding vote by the City Council.

“The bridge and park are considered a joint interest area between Community Boards 10 and 12,” said Kearns. “So there will be a new ULURP issued in a month or less, and that usually necessitates another hearing.”

Community Uproar

“The more local input the better,” said Councilmam Jimmy Vacca, adding he will meet with the new city Department of Transportation commissioner to discuss the bridge issue. “Anyone who sees the plans for this bridge knows that it is not in keeping with the nautical character of City Island.”

At the Jan. 15 ULURP hearing on the island at P.S. 175 that doubled as Board 10’s Housing and Zoning committee meeting, CICA members argued that the size of the proposed bridge is both too large and modernist for the island. The hearing was viewed by many as the last chance for islanders to comment on the record about the bridge design.

“This is the first time the community had the opportunity to comment before the community board on the project,” said CICA President Bill Stanton.

He and fellow community association board members called DOT claims of community input into the design of the bridge exaggerated. It also brought into question the validity of approvals from the various levels of government for the new $102 million bridge project, which has been contracted to Tutor Perini.

The Jan. 15 hearing, however, was not so much on the bridge design as on easements and use of parkland related to the reconstruction project.

Senator Jeff Klein, who attended the hearing, called the battle one that keeps “going and going and going.”

“The monstrosity that is being proposed really has no place in the City Island community,” he said.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393
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