In December of 2012 I got an offer I couldn’t refuse from the governor. I was asked to represent the Nyack Chamber of Commerce on a task force formed by NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo to study mass transit options on the new Tappan Zee Bridge. How could I say no? As a construction and real estate professional, this was the opportunity of a lifetime. A chance to see how historic infrastructure decisions are formulated and brought to life. A chance to see ‘how the sausage is made’ in local and state government.
Our task is broad and far-reaching: to develop short-range, mid-range and long-range action plans for mass transit along the I-287 corridor and from Rockland County into New York City, and to provide funding recommendations for those action plans. “Short-range” is defined as actions that can be completed in five years, to coincide with the opening of the new bridge. “Mid-range” has a slightly longer implementation period ? five to 15 years ? and “long-range” is defined as 15 years or more. Complete recommendations are to be presented to the governor’s office by the end of 2013.
The decisions made over the next several years by this task force and other elected and appointed groups will have a major impact on Nyack, Rockland County and the mid-Hudson region for decades to come. You don’t have to look far for related examples. The development patterns created by Metro North, the Long Island Railroad and New Jersey Transit amply demonstrate the power of mass transportation. And as we know all too well in Rockland, a lack of mass transportation can have an equally powerful effect.
The task force is a veritable ‘who’s who’ of local elected officials, non-profits dedicated to transit issues, development think tanks and business interests. Task force members include Patterns for Progress; the Business Council of Westchester; the Tri-State Transportation Campaign; Mayors from Nyack, South Nyack, White Plains, Elmsford and Tarrytown; Senator David Carlucci; Assembly members Ellen Jaffee and Amy Paulin; and Westchester, Putnam and Rockland County Executives, as well as transportation professionals from the MTA, Thruway Authority and Port Authority. South Nyack architect Jan Degenshein is also a member of our committee.
The group meets once a month as a full body. Subcommittees include one for finance, another for assembling data from previous studies, and a Rockland-specific subcommittee chaired by Nyack Mayor, Jen White. Task force meetings are generally open to the public, and the materials we work with are made available to the press.
It’s a significant that the Nyack Chamber of Commerce has representation on this body. Our involvement shows Governor Cuomo’s dedication to considering important issues from multiple viewpoints, including those of small business owners on Main Street.
It’s my intent through this blog to help businesses and residents in Nyack and Rockland County understand the options under discussion and their potential impact, and to solicit your input in this process.
Photo: Moonlight over the Tappan Zee, June 2013. ©2013 Alison Perryby