Whatever Happened to… That Playland Parkway Bike/Pedestrian Trail Project?

It was just over a year ago that the Westchester County Planning Department held a hearing at Rye City Hall. The purpose was to get public comments about a proposed trail project that would allow pedestrians and bicyclists to get safely from the Rye Train Station to Playland Amusement Park.

a1 parkway trail
Published April 4, 2013 3:17 PM
4 min read

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a1 parkway trailIt was just over a year ago that the Westchester County Planning Department held a hearing at Rye City Hall. The purpose was to get public comments about a proposed trail project that would allow pedestrians and bicyclists to get safely from the Rye Train Station to Playland Amusement Park.

 

By Bill Lawyer  

 

a1 parkway trailIt was just over a year ago that the Westchester County Planning Department held a hearing at Rye City Hall. The purpose was to get public comments about a proposed trail project that would allow pedestrians and bicyclists to get safely from the Rye Train Station to Playland Amusement Park.

 

At that meeting, a 42-page preliminary plan was introduced by Alex Berryman, head of the RBA design team hired by the County to take charge of moving the project forward. The County had been awarded a $2 million grant from NYS Department of Transportation to cover 80 percent of the planning and construction of the trail. 

 

The preliminary plan had already been submitted to NYDOT for review and approval. This was required before they could prepare the final, detailed plan. 

 

After his presentation, Berryman opened the floor to comments. About 30 people were in attendance, most of whom were highly supportive. These included Rye resident Steve Cadenhead, a member of the Bike-Walk Alliance, and County Legislator Judy Myers. 

 

Only a few people whose residences were directly adjacent to the parkway’s right of way expressed any concerns. While the trail would stay within the right of way, it would be expanded from about three feet of paved path to eight feet. Berryman assured residents that in the final plans there would still be plenty of space and buffer plantings between their properties and the path. 

 

As the meeting wrapped up, residents asked when they would get to see the final plan. 

 

(Here’s the link to the plan: http://planning.westchestergov.com/images/stories/pdfs/playlandpkwypathwaypres.pdf.)

 

Berryman estimated that the preliminary plan would be approved by May, and the final plan by the fall. After construction bidding occurred, the actual work could begin the following spring, in other words, right about now. 

 

Legislator Myers added that she would work to see that all the county’s work in the project would be “fast-tracked” to keep the momentum going. 

 

Then the fall and winter storms came along, and it wasn’t until last month that this reporter noticed that there had been no notice of a public hearing regarding the final plan. Had I missed something?

 

“No,” said Robert Lopane, the County Planning Department’s point person for the project. “The problem is working with the NYDOT’s regional office.” 

 

Mr. Lopane recounted the long and winding road that the trail project had taken since that March 27, 2012 public hearing. 

 

In June, the County received the DOT’s comments about the project – requiring extensive changes, additions, and “lots of dotting of I’s and crossing of t’s” as Lopane put it. For one thing, they were told that DOT funding would not cover the cost of painting sharrows (shared lane arrows) along the streets to be followed by bikers going from the train station to the west end of the Parkway trail. 

 

After the consulting firm made the changes, the plan was re-submitted. The County got it back again last fall, with a few more minor changes, and one new major requirement: an archaeological report for the areas being modified by the planned trail. This entailed hiring two archaeologists to carry out the research and prepare the report. After that, the preliminary plan was submitted again. 

 

Later in the fall they were given another hurdle to clear – preparing an eight-page “Smart Growth Report.” This called for showing how the project was smart in terms of its impact on the environment and economy. Here are a few of the DOT’s principles of Smart Growth:

 

Locate near existing development and infrastructure.

 

Protect open space and critical resources.

 

Create or enhance choices for getting around.

 

Design for personal interaction and walkability.

 

Respect the desired character of the community.

 

Be sustainable in the context of the community.

 

This report and some more minor changes were submitted in early March – nearly a year after the first draft report was submitted. 

 

The County is waiting to see if the latest version will be accepted – so they can then go onto the next phase – preparing the final report. 

 

Of course, with the lack of progress in repairing the storm damage to Playland Park, which is also caught up in a political battle, there may be less reason to fast track a “trail to nowhere.”

 

 

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