Yonkers, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A long-standing dispute over prime waterfront property in downtown Yonkers is heating up.
The land is owned by New York City, but Yonkers wants it back.
Now the mayor there is asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to step in for a resolution.
After 20 years of revitalization efforts, the waterfront in Yonkers has come a long way.
“It was dark, and scary and run down,” said Westchester resident Tami Kassel. Kassel used to work near the riverside downtown. She says it is completely transformed.
“It’s so different. All the nice buildings on the waterfront, and restaurants,” she said.
The city of Yonkers wants to continue to redevelop the space, but it says there’s one big problem holding it back: The bus depot. It sits on four prime acres of real estate at the corner of Alexander Street and Babcock Place. The garage is owned by New York City but rented to the MTA.
“It’s not right. The residents of Yonkers deserve to be treated better,” Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said.
Spano says because of a loophole, New York City does not pay property taxes.
“They’re bringing buses into our waterfront, causing damage to our streets, and all the services we have to provide to this property that we get no compensation for,” Spano said.
The mayor says the bus garage sits just yards away from the most valuable stretch of waterfront. He says its presence has limited the long-term planning the city has been able to do for the area.
“Two billion dollars of economic development plans that have been stalled because of these buses,” Spano said.
Spano says for years, Yonkers has tried to negotiate with the MTA and New York City, even offering to buy the land back, but has been unsuccessful.
“The response has been ‘Well, you can build us a facility,’ instead of just taking this Eastchester, the Bronx,” Spano said. “They’re asking for price four times, six times its value.”
Many who use the waterfront say it’s time for the bus garage to go.
“If they need more room for progress, business, apartments, restaurants, especially in front of the river,” said Rockland County resident Heidi Neidkowski.
“No one is going to want to buy an apartment and face a bus depot. Plus the noise,” said Kassel.
Just last week in Manhattan, Cuomo said the NYPD must move a tow pound at Pier 76 and the the land over to the state and the city for a park. Spano is hoping he will also intervene in Yonkers, too.
New York City and the governor’s office have not responded to requests for comment. The MTA responded, saying it continues to be open to working with Yonkers on relocating the bus depot, but any move would require funding and would need to ensure service is not disrupted for the thousands of people who use the buses.
Read the MTA’s full response by clicking here.