The weary and wary living closest to the Tappan Zee Bridge -- many with homes at stake -- are being invited to air their issues in discussions with the contractor hired to build the new $3.1 billion span, a project still expected to begin construction later in 2013.
Three groups of impacted property owners on both sides of the Hudson River have received outreach phone calls along those lines from Brian Conybeare, a special assistant to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for the bridge project.
Coneybeare is inviting officials from South Nyack to meet with the builders as well.
"There isn't a minute when there isn't a meeting," said South Nyack Mayor Tish DuBow. DuBow said that a session now scheduled for Feb. 6 will include her, South Nyack officials working on bridge-related projects, representatives from the governor's office and representatives from Tappan Zee Constructors, the consortium that will build the bridge and is led by Fluor Enterprises of Irving, Texas.
The mayor said she views the entry of the builders into discussions as "a fresh view."
According to DuBow, the discussion with South Nyack officials will focus on redeveloping Exit 10 off the State Thruway and figuring out how the new exit configuration will fit in with plans for a new bridge walkway in South Nyack. Although DuBow said she "doesn't know how much we are going to accomplish, we are going to talk about Exit 10 and how we can benefit from the circle down there."
Exit 10 was created in the 1950s, when the state bought and tore down more than 100 South Nyack homes and the village's entire downtown to build the existing bridge. DuBow said it is time for the new bridge to give something back.
"We would like to have some economic benefit from the use of the land that is not highway corridor," she added.
MEETINGS WITH HOMEOWNERS
Coneybeare said that the builders hope to reassure residents.
"Tappan Zee Constructors has agreed to sit down with local homeowners, including Salisbury Point, The Quay and others, to discuss residents' concerns and how TZC's "good-neighbor policy" will go above and beyond what is required to help them deal with construction noise and other issues when the project gets under way," Coneybeare said.
Alice Goldberg, the board president representing the owners of the 89 condominium units at The Quay, said she hopes owners will have the opportunity to meet with the builders this week. The Quay is home to 145 residents. The owners want the state to pay them 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.
In Rockland County, at least one meeting is in the works -- possibly for next week -- with Cathy McCue, president of the 120-unit Salisbury Point co-op development, home to 170 residents right next to the river. McCue said she feels a series of meetings is required to address the issues of concern affecting her residents.
"I want to lock them down for more than one thing," she said of the meeting with the builders.
McCue wants to discuss window replacements, a pool enclosure, increased security and environmental issues related to construction noise and pollution. In response to a state request, she said her board supplied specific details on the measures in late December.
McCue's group is also seeking "typical construction mitigation" such as rodent control and "real drawings of what the bridge will look like as it meets the Thruway," McCue said. She said residents of South Nyack -- the village sits right at the entrance of the bridge -- also are wondering about construction schedules and traffic impacts.
"I'm frustrated with how long this is taking," McCue added, calling the negotiation process a "tap dance."
"We want answers and we want them now," McCue said.
The negotiations between the state and area residents began in early 2012. They have included talks with a tiny group of half a dozen owners of single- and two-family houses in South Nyack. Twelve months ago, the homeowners received letters from the state announcing that their homes would be bought and probably demolished to make way for new bridge construction. But by May, that offer had been rescinded.
Jacqueline Peralta, one of the homeowners, said she also has heard from Coneybeare about meeting with the builders. She said she isn't sure what the meeting will accomplish but will be happy to participate.
"A meeting is in the works," she said.