The Road to Improvement for Playland Parkway Path
By Bill Lawyer
It was ten years ago that Westchester County learned that they had been awarded a federal grant — through the NY State Department of Transportation (DOT) to improve access to Playland Amusement Park. The County had submitted the application for the grant even earlier, in 2006.
Last week, authorities from the Westchester County Planning Department came to City Hall to announce that they are expecting final approval of their heavily revised project specifications report.
They were introduced by County Legislator Catherine Parker, a Rye resident.
About 20 interested local residents were on hand to learn about the final shape of the project and had the opportunity to ask questions and state their opinions. Those in attendance included several members of Rye’s Sustainability Committee, bikeway supporters, City Council member Richard Mecca, and Mayor Josh Cohn.
Also participating were Arthur and Frances Pelaez, who live by a major intersection along the way — the Old Post Road and Playland Parkway Access Road.
Westchester Planning Department’s Director of Design, Anthony Zaino, reviewed the history of the project, noting that it had originally included a path similar to the one from the Rye train station to the Harrison train station. He said that part of the project had to be abandoned due to the cost, which far exceeded the benefit.
As it is, time and detail changes have impacted the project so that the County’s original fund allocation of $1,975,000 would need to be supplemented, according to Westchester’s Chief Planner Patrick Natarelli, with an appropriation of an additional $1,840,000 to complete the final design and undertake construction of the rehabilitation and extension of the pathway.
The initial project included simple improvements to get from the Rye train station to the intersection of Theodore Fremd Avenue and North Street. But the heart and major expense of the project to be carried out will take place between Theodore Fremd/North Street and Playland.
The County design assumes that people will walk on city streets from the train station to the intersection of Theodore Fremd and North and from there go to the Old Post Road. From there a brand-new trail will be built, running to Boston Post Road.
The trail will require extensive grading, as well as removing a number of trees, which will be replaced by carefully-selected plants and shrubs. Buffer plantings will be installed to separate the trail from the residential neighborhoods along the path.
At this point, residents Mr. and Mrs. Pelaez raised their concern about the already dangerous one-way traffic at the Old Post Road intersection, which careens around the curve, while cars coming from the access road try to make a left or right turn.
The County planners responded that there would be brightly florescent crossing signs coming from both directions, which will be hard to miss. Mr. Pelaez noted there is a school of thought that too many markings do more harm than good.
Mr. Zaino said that their plan uses signs and markings, and that if people are speeding on a regular basis the police should enforce the law. And, the proposed signs are extremely bright florescent and “so it will be hard not to notice them.”
The other major project expense of the project, added Zaino, is a pedestrian bridge that will span Blind Brook.
As the meeting came to an end, Zaino noted that the original project contract called for the final approval to be accomplished and put out for bid later this year. If all goes according to plan, the project could be completed by the end of 2019.