The city could be building a bridge to nowhere, thanks to a muddled South Bronx land deal.
The Randalls Island Connector, a planned pedestrian and bicycle bridge, will eventually span the Bronx Kill, a narrow waterway separating the South Bronx from public ball fields and green space on Randalls Island.
But land between the bridge and the South Bronx street grid is controlled by a private company, Harlem River Yards Ventures. The New York City Economic Development Corp. needs an easement so it can build a path from the bridge to E. 132nd St, according to the New York Daily News.
The EDC and HRYV have worked together on the project for years and now that the city is ready to start bridge construction, it has made the company an easement offer. But no deal has been struck and now the project is in doubt, sources said.
Anthony Riccio, senior vice president of HRYV, said negotiations are ongoing and claimed there is no cause for concern.
"There is no problem," he said. "We are confident we will reach a satisfactory resolution soon."
But the viability of the $6 million bridge is at stake, said an EDC spokesman.
The Connector will link the South Bronx to a greenway network that stretches from Randalls Island to Astoria, Queens and East Harlem.
We are hopeful that the negotiations with (HRYV) can be resolved quickly, so the city can move forward with this important project," said Kyle Sklerov, EDC spokesman, claiming the bridge will help South Bronx residents enjoy the outdoors.
The strip of land needed for the path is actually public property already, part of a sprawling 96-acre rail yard owned by the state Department of Transportation.
But HRYV controls the land because it secured a 99-year lease for the site in 1991 under terms later slammed by the state controller as a sweetheart deal.
Harry Bubbins, executive director of Friends of Brook Park, a South Bronx group, called the Connector "an extremely important" project with widespread community support. But he blasted the easement negotiations.
"The site belongs to the state. It is unfathomable why we even have to pay to use it and (HRYV) should expedite the easement."
The EDC and HRYV are also in talks about building a new headquarters for Fresh Direct at the rail yard. The Queens-based grocery delivery company is mulling a move to the site, with the EDC offering it millions of dollars in public benefits.
Despite the timing, Sklerov said the Connector and Fresh Direct projects are unrelated.
U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano (D-South Bronx) is betting on the Connector.
"I am confident any last minute problems will be worked out and this important project will move forward," he said.Read More: