PORT CHESTER, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Taxpayers are footing the bill for a riverfront walkway they can’t set foot on.
It’s closed and in danger of collapse. The mess goes back a decade. Is 2019 the year it’s finally fixed?
CBS2’s Tony Aiello demanded answers on Thursday.
Westchester County is paying a developer big money every year to lease a walkway that no one can walk on.
“This could be a lovely place, and it was for a time, but it went down the tubes very quickly,” resident Gary Miller said.
Drone Force 2 went over the scene behind the Costco in Port Chester. Sections of the wood and plastic bulkhead supporting the walkway have crumbled into the Byram River. The pavers are now covered with trash and sprouting weeds.
The bulkhead, which was built by shopping center developer G&S, first showed problems a few years after opening.
In 2010, public access was cut off. The walkway was padlocked. However, Westchester County continued to make annual lease payments of $840,000.
“Absolutely outraged that we’re paying that kind of money for a collapsed walkway,” resident Anita Kaplan said.
The lease was signed in the year 2000. The payments are an incentive for the developer to complete a project that brings Westchester much sales tax revenue.
A separate agreement seems to make the Village of Port Chester responsible for maintaining the walkway, but over the years the village claimed the issue was construction not maintenance.
“I’m pushing as hard as I can to finally bring this to an end,” Port Chester Mayor Richard Falanka said.
Falanka, who recently took office, said the situation is frustrating. He wants to start repairs even while negotiating with G&S over who pays how much. The bill has risen to at least $8 million.
“This project is getting more expensive, and that’s my concern,” Falanka said.
New York state agreed to kick in $1 million — more taxpayer money to reopen the walkway no one can walk on.
Port Chester said it can’t start work until the Army Corps of Engineers signs off on required permits. A lawyer for the developer said it’s making a good-faith effort to work with the village.