South Nyack isn't what it was 50 years ago.
Prior to the 1950s construction of the Tappan Zee Bridge, the village was similar to today's Nyack or Piermont—a cohesive municipality with residential and commercial districts.
But when Westchester and Rockland were connected by the crossing, South Nyack was invariably changed: the village was split in half by the Thruway, over 100 homes were taken and restaurants, churches and a hotel were wiped off the map. Essentially, the village lost its commercial district—which means these days, residents are saddled with higher property taxes.
Now, with a , South Nyack is not only looking to prevent a similar fate, but also regain land and create a multi-purpose green space to reunite the municipality.
On Thursday, local and county officials and outdoor planners gathered at the South Nyack Fire House to discuss the Lid Park project, an initiative that aims to construct a park over the South Nyack portion of the Thruway when the new bridge is built. Lid Park would act as a green space, a hub for visitors and a minor commercial district, explained South Nyack mayor Patricia DuBow and South Nyack planning chair Jerry Ilowite.
"Our divided village became downtrodden, and entire neighborhoods were partitioned," said Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, (D-Suffern), who supports the Lid Park. "We cannot go back and undo it, but we can make the right decision going forward."
The village is working alongside Alta Planning—a company that specializes in green, pedestrian and park designing—to map out the preliminary details. Jeff Olson of Alta Planning described the impact Lid Park could have and how it is similar to other projects in the nation.
"If you encourage pedestrian traffic, you can better business," Olson explained. "You can get people off their bikes and into that ice cream shop."
"[Alta Planning] has redesigned several towns—in Wyoming and Seattle and Connecticut—into place that are free of having to use cars everyday," Olson added. "It's a trend that happening, and we need to be a part of it."
(For a look at a similar project, check out this park construction in Dallas.)
Jeff Anzevino, a planner with Scenic Hudson, was also present at the meeting and is involved with Lid Park research.
"It will be a huge economic asset for the village," Anzevino said. "Right now the [exit 10] interchange is the hole in South Nyack's donut. We can fix that." The exit 10 interchange of the Thruway currently houses construction vehicles and disabled automobiles.
Ilowite noted the project is still in its nascent stages. The village still must gain the support of the Thruway Authority and create a concrete plan of action.
"The specifics—cost, design and engineering—are unknown at this point," Ilowite said. Currently, South Nyack is seeking funds for preliminary planning and a feasibility study.