Re:Irvington Waterfront

Recent letters have highlighted the benefits that have been brought to the Village of Irvington and the Hudson River waterfront by the work of Bridge Street Properties.

Scenic Hudson, too, can be counted among those who admire the redevelopment of the Burnham buildings by this organization. We collaborated with the Village of Irvington a decade ago – after extensive community consultation – in acquiring and creating a new park on a formerly contaminated industrial lumberyard – Scenic Hudson Park in Irvington. Children enjoy the ball fields and basketball courts, seniors stroll around the walking paths and frequent the Senior Center. What was once a blighted property is now a valued public resource.

On a parallel track, Bridge Street Properties transformed derelict industrial buildings into a vibrant commercial center that complements the waterfront park. A tremendous example of "transit-oriented development," these buildings are within walking distance of the train station and the village’s lovely Main Street. Retail giant Eileen Fisher has her corporate headquarters here. In addition, the fitness club, restaurants and other commercial operations make this a unique asset that contributes to Irvington’s tax base and serves the needs of its citizens.

Bridge Street Properties has in the past proposed transforming the parking lot at the north end of its property into a residential townhouse project, and the community’s response has been mixed. If done properly – designed to reflect the village’s historic character, built at the right scale and with adequate public access along the river’s edge – such a project could add diversity to the housing stock and enable people to live within walking distance of the train station. This sort of project would generate far fewer auto trips, thus benefiting air and water quality, climate change and energy consumption.

However, the Irvington citizens should debate in an open public forum the pros and cons of developing this parcel in this way. Some residents have spoken out against the impacts that such a project would have – potentially affecting views of the Hudson River from Main Street and other locations. These are legitimate debates, particularly when a change of zoning is required. Under the existing zoning, Bridge Street could build an office building in that same location, subject, of course, to the normal public and environmental review.

We are confident that the best way to arrive at a plan that meets the Village’s high standards for waterfront redevelopment and satisfies everyone’s desire for clarity about what kinds of uses are best, is an open conversation between the developer, decision-makers and Village residents. Given Bridge Street’s track record and ownership of the site, it is appropriate for it to be a voice at the table.

Scenic Hudson stands ready to offer its views and assistance, but it’s a decision the Village itself must make.

Sincerely,
Ned Sullivan
President, Scenic Hudson

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