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In Tarrytown, anxious anticipation of Tappan Zee staging site

Alicia Goldman, sales director with developers Hudson Harbor,

Alicia Goldman, sales director with developers Hudson Harbor, talks about the possible impact of a bridge construction staging area along the Hudson River in Tarrytown. (Feb. 12, 2013) Photo Credit: Xavier Mascarenas

From her living room window, Jasmine Gonzales will see how New York State spends $3.9 billion.

The 21-year-old lives in Tarrytown on River Street, a neighborhood where thousands of workers are going to be burning through those dollars in the next five years as they build the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

She has mixed emotions about it. In 2012, a condo developer demolished the old Castle Oil depot across the street from her house, where she lives with her parents and baby daughter. Now the site is considered an ideal staging area for construction crews who will work on the bridge and the supplies and equipment they will use.

State officials say the staging areas will be up and running in March.

The neighborhood is improving, Gonzales said, but the noise and traffic from the condo development have been a hassle. The bridge workers likely would bring more of the same, she said.

"They tore everything down," she said of the demolition of Castle Oil. "We were up early in the morning every single day."

Others who live and work on the Tarrytown riverfront echoed Gonzales' thoughts on the bridge project.

The Texas-based consortium picked in December to build the new bridge, Tappan Zee Constructors, is planning to transport workers on Metro-North trains to the Tarrytown station, a stone's throw from the Hudson River. The workers then would walk to the staging area and take ferries to their job sites on the water. It's a system that should keep congestion to a minimum, but nobody believes the system will always run smoothly.

Alicia Goldman sells condominiums in Hudson Harbor, a 238-unit complex in the neighborhood, owned by Greenwich, Conn.-based National Resources. She has gingerly explained to potential buyers that one of the largest public works projects in the country is scheduled to begin soon in their prospective backyards. She also has used the new, architecturally striking bridge as a selling point.

"It's inevitable," Goldman said. "It needs to be done. There needs to be a new bridge. This is going to be for years, of course, but they are still buying."

A spokesman for Tappan Zee Constructors, Carla Julian, said the consortium had yet to close a deal with a landowner for a staging area. But she said the consortium is considering the Castle Oil site, which is owned by National Resources. The company has said that it needs a staging area somewhere in the neighborhood.

National Resources didn't respond to a call for comment. State officials have said Tappan Zee Constructors likely will pay more than $10 million in rent to use staging areas for the duration of the project. The consortium is planning to use one state-owned parcel in South Nyack that wouldn't require rental payments.

Tarrytown Planning Board member David Aukland, the village's point man on the bridge project, said the Castle Oil site was one of the few parcels that suited the company's purposes. It's large, a short walk from the train station and has a pier where barges could dock, he said.

"I think that puts Castle Oil as a favorite," Aukland said.

Tappan Zee Constructors would need to receive a special permit to use the site, which is zoned for residential development. Although Tarrytown likely would grant the special permit, the property skirts the Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow line. Sleepy Hollow Administrator Anthony Giaccio said his village likely would object to the loss of a residential development that promises to contribute to the revival of the waterfront.

"It would inhibit the ability to redevelop the properties in the next couple years," Giaccio said.

The Castle Oil site has been used by workers repairing the current Tappan Zee Bridge, according to Susan Funk, who lives in a town house next to the property. She recalled hearing the ferries' engines revving as ferries took workers out to the bridge. Otherwise, the workers weren't a bother, she said.

"At 3 or 4 in the afternoon, when I was baking or washing the dishes, I didn't notice it much," she said.

Tappan Zee Constructors will not use the General Motors riverfront site, a 94-acre lot that was once the site of a minivan factory, Giaccio said. The consortium approached GM but was rebuffed because the automaker wants to proceed with a $800 million mixed-use development that has been years in the making, he said.

In 2012, Tarrytown unsuccessfully sued Sleepy Hollow in an effort to limit the impact of traffic from the development.

Others in the neighborhood didn't care about where the staging area might be located. The maintenance man at the Washington Irving Boat Club, Skip Hart, just wants the workers to come as soon as possible.

"We hope they come and drink at the Sunset Cove," said Hart, referring to the marina's bar.

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