When the state announced plans to snatch up a slice of land between luxury condos in Tarrytown's Quay community and the Hudson River, residents there prepared for the worst -- industrial equipment blocking the river view, massive trucks lined up along an access road and Tappan Zee Bridge work crews shuffling in and out of the construction site.
On Wednesday night, after meeting with representatives for the state and builders, some neighbors said they walked out feeling better about the massive construction project. Others said they believe the state's planners are well-intentioned, but they still lamented the situation they're in, with nearly unsellable homes and plummeting property values.
Roger Ardanowski's deck will face the new bridge, so close that he jokes his daughter will be able to set up a lemonade stand for drivers on the ramp. Like most of his neighbors, he says he's concerned about property values.
"We bought into this place because the bridge. While we knew it was there, it was further away and it was easy for us to get to New Jersey or Albany or other parts of New York," he said. "Now the new bridge will be right on top of us, and it changes things."
Although much about the project remains up in the air and state officials weren't able to offer specifics on things like exactly when crews will break ground, Quay residents said officials answered any questions they could.
"They've been very open with the community," neighbor Doris Friedman said.
Wednesday night's meeting among state officials, the contractor team hired to build the new $3.9 billion Tappan Zee Bridge and Quay residents was private, closed to the media as well as the public. Several residents agreed to speak to Newsday after the meeting.
The session took place at the clubhouse of the 89-unit riverfront development, where windows offer a river view.
"We had a very open, productive dialogue about residents' specific concerns and answered many of their questions about the bridge plan," Brian Conybeare, special adviser Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, said in a statement after the meeting. "We also updated them on how Tappan Zee Constructors is willing to go above and beyond what is required to help the Quay deal with construction noise and other issues."
Since last year, the owners have been in talks with state officials as they seek compensation for their declining home values, especially in light of the state's plans to buy a 1,900-square-foot strip of land near the shoreline. The owners fear that the purchase will lead to construction close to their pool, tennis court and clubhouse.
They also are seeking measures to project their homes from noise, air and debris pollution during construction.
The good news: Project leaders said the strip of land will be used only for emergencies and will not become an active construction site. They told Quay residents the site will be fenced off, construction crews will not use the strip as an access point to the construction site and some materials and equipment will be brought in by barge from the Hudson River in an attempt to alleviate potential traffic problems, Friedman said.
One major point of disagreement remains unsettled: The state won't compensate homeowners for lost property value. Residents said the state told them it's technically illegal to compensate them.
"We're in a frustrating situation," said Alice Goldberg, president of the Quay's board. "My only disappointment right now is they continue to say they can't or won't compensate us on property value."
Since late last month, Tappan Zee Constructors, the consortium of companies hired in December to design and build the new bridge, has been making the rounds among the worried homeowners who live closest to the Tappan Zee. On Jan. 31, Tappan Zee Constructors officials had a meet-and-greet with Goldberg, who requested Wednesday's session.
"I'm just hoping that these people really will try to do the best they can for our situation," Ardanowski said. "The proof has yet to be seen, but at least it seems like we're on the right track."