NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Plans to turn part of a park into a bike path could face a rocky road, after longtime senior citizen residents say they plan on fighting City Hall and cyclists.
72-year-old Ellen Politis says the park in Sutton Place serves as her safe haven, for now.
“This is one place you can come and you don’t have to worry about bikes, you don’t have to worry about cars,” Politis tells CBS2.
She’s lived in the area for 50 years, and says tearing down a part of the park to build a bicycle bridge would be detrimental to her neighborhood.
“There are few places in New York City that are actually left that are peaceful,” she said.
Politis isn’t alone. Many other seniors are battling against the city since it’s a place most of them congregate to enjoy the outdoors.
“I think the disruption would be severe,” resident Thomas Maginnis said.
The city’s Economic Development Corporation plans to add a bridge that would connect E. 54th Street with FDR Drive, which means more people will ride their bikes in and around their park.
Some say it raises safety concerns.
“I don’t want to be in the path of bikes racing through my neighborhood,” resident Mary Goldstein said. “I will probably be most often in my apartment, closed in, and that’s not really good for someone who’s disabled.”
The project is one of the final pieces in a more than two-decade effort to create a path around Manhattan, estimated to cost upwards of $100 million.
“Bicycling is part of the solution,” President and CEO of Bike New York Ken Podziba said. “It leads to cleaner air, healthier people.”
Podziba says it will only help the city. According to transportation alternatives, city pedestrians are 200 times more likely to be killed by a car than by a bicycle.
“The reality is, the more people bicycling the safer it is for bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists,” Podziba said.
The seniors at Sutton Place say not for them. They plan to fight the city and keep their park as safe as possible.
“If the administration is determined to construct this portion of the esplanade, it should plan and fund the entire esplanade to provide a clearer picture of the need for this bridge,” City Council Member Keith Powers (D-4th), who represents the area, said in a statement sent to CBS2. “That would allow more New Yorkers access to the waterfront, while also easing bike traffic at this proposed 54th Street bridge. It is critical to incorporate community feedback whenever we put a shovel in the ground and clearly more of that needs to happen here.”
The EDC says as their team finalizes the plans, they will keep the community’s priorities in mind.