• New York, Westchester & Boston NYW&B Highbrook Bridge

  • Discussion relating to the NH and its subsidiaries (NYW&B, Union Freight Railroad, Connecticut Company, steamship lines, etc.). up until its 1969 inclusion into the Penn Central merger. This forum is also for the discussion of efforts to preserve former New Haven equipment, artifacts and its history. You may also wish to visit www.nhrhta.org for more information.
Discussion relating to the NH and its subsidiaries (NYW&B, Union Freight Railroad, Connecticut Company, steamship lines, etc.). up until its 1969 inclusion into the Penn Central merger. This forum is also for the discussion of efforts to preserve former New Haven equipment, artifacts and its history. You may also wish to visit www.nhrhta.org for more information.
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  by chnhrr
 
The cited report was issued ten years ago, so costs are now comparatively higher.

The cost breakdown in the report for the demolition does not seem to include a cost for the extensive re-grading and storm water management that may be required to restore the site to a park let alone future housing sites. The landscaping cost seems low. The engineering cost is 16% of the total cost for a demolition?

The cost breakdown for the restoration does not seem to include a cost for the sub-grade waterproofing behind the existing structure and the storm water management that would be required.
  by fordhamroad
 
-Otto, thank you for being so helpful with information and support to the Pelham residents trying to save the Highbrook Ave Bridge.

-one of the proposals was to erect an historical marker for the old NYW&B Railway Bridge on Highbrook Ave

-how many historical markers presently exist for the NYW&B?
-areas formally preserved or protected:

-White Plains trail in the old ROW?

-180th St. Bronx Station (Now a Registered National Historic Landmark)

-was one being put up as part of the Heathcote Station restoration?

-where would be appropriate locations to put up historical markers for the NYW&B?

Information and suggestions welcome


Roger
  by chnhrr
 
Roger

Did you or anyone else hear the results of the public hearing?

Chuck
  by fordhamroad
 
-In case someone hasn't noticed, Otto and colleagues have launched a Face Book site about the nyw&b. Members of this forum might find interesting things there. I am reluctant to join Face Book because it is so easily hacked, and I don't like to have my personal information spread around. I prefer public forums such as Railroad.Net or the New Haven RR Historical and Technical site, or the open postings by Otto on his nyw&b web site.

Roger
  by Otto Vondrak
 
fordhamroad wrote:I am reluctant to join Face Book because it is so easily hacked, and I don't like to have my personal information spread around.
I have never had an issue with Facebook being "easily hacked" and the only information that is shared is what you choose to provide and make public.
fordhamroad wrote:-how many historical markers presently exist for the NYW&B?
One at Ridgeway station is all I know about. You could say the display in the Food Court at The Westchester mall is a "marker" too.

On another note, there was a Trustees meeting on Thursday. According to a report from a friend of mine who attended, the meeting was set up so that the comment period was severely restricted, making it very difficult to present opposing points of view. Friends, let me make one thing very clear- In my opinmion, Pelham is dead-set against that bridge remaining up, and they will do everything in their power to remove it, from providing inflated estimates for "repair" and "restoration" to convincing the public that the bridge presents a danger to the neighborhood. There is a group of concerned residents who WANT the bridge to remain part of their neighborhood, but they are facing a lot of opposition from the Trustees who want to fill the space with McMansions.

-otto-
  by Jeff Smith
 
That's a shame. While I try to look at this with an open mind from both points of view, it appears the mind of Pelham's government is closed. Methinks someone knows someone who wants to develop the property if this is the way they're going about it.
  by Otto Vondrak
 
I've been saying it all along: My guess is that someone's cousin owns a demolition company, someone else's cousin is a real estate speculator, and another cousin is a developer. It smells awfully fishy that all of a sudden, Pelham is so concerned about the safety of its residents regarding a bridge that has harmed no one in 100 years.

-otto-
  by fordhamroad
 
Hi Chuck --

-Couldn't get there myself, family matters needed attention. A friend who attended said that the people in the room were supportive of saving the bridge, or at least continuing to investigate it. The presiding Trustee limited citizens to three minute statements. It was not a full and thorough discussion of all the aspects. There was some talk of the advantages of a Bridge Park. The Mayor indicated he was going to press for new contractor estimates on demolishing the bridge.

- I sent a written statement on the history and significance of the Bridge to all board members and published a letter in the Pelham Weekly, but so far no response. One of the historians working at the library at New Rochelle also wrote the Pelham Village Board.

- Someone at the meeting thought that government landmarking of a government owned Bridge would lead to too much government intervention in our lives. (I suppose privately owned bulldozers would be all right.)

Roger
  by fordhamroad
 
Hi Otto -

-Preceding Pelham Village administrations designated the Bridge and remaining area (about two blocks) of NYW&B ROW as "Bridge Park".
There are some NY State laws degarding disposal of parkland. The Village might be obligated to purchase land elsewhere to replace lost park land used for development. That would change the economics of the proposal. If they did tear the Bridge down, they would also have to replace part of it with new retaining walls, and the cost of these is also not clear.

-At the meeting, Mayor Ed Hotchkiss indicated he would seek new estimates for demolition, but he has not responded to previous citizen suggestions that new estimates for repair also be solicited. I suggested in a memo to all the Board members, that restoration of the bridge could be separated into several smaller contracts, and they might do one facade each year, then move on to park development etc. It would not all have to be done at once. A Five Year Plan would spread out costs. In a year or two, as the economic climate improves, grants from public or private sources might again become available, for completing parts of the project. It is not a simple either-or. There are options. If the Bridge were landmarked that would make it eligible for restoration funds.

-Whether the board has "cousins" I'm not sure. There certainly seems to be a strong "let's get more economic development and raise tax revenue" bias. In the most recent village election, the Developers beat out the Park people by about 50 votes out of 800 cast. Elections do have consequences. There are also new elections in the future which might reverse policy.

-The board might want to tear it down, but the tax income from two new houses will take a long time to amount to much. Taxes are shared between Town, Village and School District. A few thousand a year more to the Village. A huge cost to demolish, and it would have to be paid for by a large raise in current taxes, unless they made a bond issue. I do not know if voters would approve a large bond issue.

-So I think there may be hope for the most creative solution of all -- just do nothing. Let it continue to flake off and erode. Let auto-sized hunks of the parapet fall down, safely behind chain link fences. Put up an historical marker sign.

-It might be that the remains of "The Road of Ease" will be saved by inaction.

Roger

-
  by Jeff Smith
 
Roger, good points all. I've been saying that it will probably remain "status quo ante". A few things:

-There is most definitely a law on parkland in NYS requiring replacement land (see: New Yankee Stadium). The question is does the ROW have that designation as recognized by NYS law? That's not even addressed in the study (they only refer to historic designations). What constitutes such parkland designation under the law? It might be a resolution by the board that must be voted on by the NYS legislature and signed by the Governor. I'd recommend you go find an eager law student at Pace School of Law (they're big on environmental law) and see if you can get someone to adopt this proposal as a pet research project for some paper or another.

-Great idea on the five year plan, which could even get spread out to ten. I'm skeptical of estimates.

-The property tax on the two new homes in the grand scheme of things is probably not much; the money to be made is on the sale of the land. Like I've opined on the economics of this, demolition and any environmental remediation is going to take a huge chunk out of any potential profit from the sale of the land.

Good luck to you in your fight.
  by Otto Vondrak
 
fordhamroad wrote:Let it continue to flake off and erode. Let auto-sized hunks of the parapet fall down, safely behind chain link fences. Put up an historical marker sign.
Pardon me? What exactly has "fallen" off this bridge? Auto-sized hunks of what?
  by nyw&br
 
Ahhhhh please now, Otto -

Relax...and allow compromise with regard to passionate statements from a few ardent fans giving voice to their feelings...

...and, as long as I am here, I personally want to thank Sarge and Fordhamroad for their posts and continuous updates on the bridge...

One more thing...Otto, if I may, while I regard Facebook with low credibility, I would like to become a "fan" of your NYW&BR "Facebook site"...can you supply info on access so I can "join"...

Many thanks...
  by fordhamroad
 
Hi Otto - good question. If you get over to Pelham sometime, look alongside the bridge approaches. While the main bridge, a bit crumbly, is intact, the large cast concrete slabs which topped off some of the side retaining wall have fallen down. Perhaps not quite auto sized, maybe 3x12 ft, but thick. They would certainly demolish a car or a person who happened to be underneath when one fell The Village fenced off the area where debris has fallen.. Replacing them would be part of the complexity of restoring and reusing the bridge as a park.

Roger
  by fordhamroad
 
-Sarge, thanks for your suggestions. There was a 2008 Pelham Village Comprehensive Plan, which I checked out. The old NYW&B segment, the bridge and both sides contains 1.93 acres. It is described as the only remaining piece of undeveloped land in the Village. The area is included with other parkland in the discussion about open space. It turns out that there are only 8.7 acres of open space in the village, of which 1.93 are the bridge. Pelham is very short on any kind of park land. I didn't see any indication that state legislation had been passed formally dedicating the bridge site as park land, and it is zoned for housing on the current village planning map.
-the Comprehensive Plan urged, in its discussion about open space, that plans be made to utilize the bridge area. From the context, the authors of the report seem to have have intended a park solution, but it is not specifically stated, only that the village board study future use of the bridge property. I suspect that there may not be a legal impediment to the current village board selling the land for housing, despite previous assurances that a park would be constructed here. The zoning is Housing A-3, which would allow for 50 ft. plots. Someone could make a killing on this, if the land were sold at a low enough price, and appropriate building permits granted.
-So I suppose it will come down to a contest of wills, and a gathering of public opinion and support.
-if it cost, say $700,000 to tear the bridge down, and they could get $4-500,000 for the lots, perhaps the bridge will go. If there is too much opposition, and money remains tight, perhaps the bridge will be allowed to stand in its sorry condition at no cost, and a decision on its future deferred. I'll try and keep our forum members aware of anything that develops.

Best wishes

Roger
  by Otto Vondrak
 
nyw&br wrote:One more thing...Otto, if I may, while I regard Facebook with low credibility, I would like to become a "fan" of your NYW&BR "Facebook site"...can you supply info on access so I can "join"...
Sure, go to http://nywbry.com/ and click on the "Find Us on Facebook" link.

-otto-
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