Learning in Retirement about the New NY Bridge

Marion Shiffer was describing the New NY Bridge Outreach Team’s recent presentation to Learning in Retirement at Iona College (LIRIC).

“Brian was very professional and fascinating, very well organized,” Shiffer said. It’s the first time she learned how the new bridge would be built, “one direction at a time, while maintaining the old bridge until the lanes are open.”

Learning about the double spans that will each have four wider, and safer, traffic lanes/New NY Bridge Outreach

Learning about the double spans that will each have four wider, and safer, traffic lanes/New NY Bridge Outreach

Whether people reach out to project officials through the Community Outreach Centers, the Contact Us page on the New NY Bridge website, or word-of-mouth, special project advisor Brian Conybeare and the Outreach Team welcome opportunities to address groups.

Founded more than 20 years ago by a group of retirees interested in life-long learning, the academic, not-for-profit LIRIC program is sponsored by Iona College and affiliated with the Road Scholar Institute Network (RSIN). “Iona is wonderful to us,” Linda Whetzel said. “We’re a flexible group, where one person will make a suggestion, and then someone else will make it happen.”

Whetzel heads the Curriculum Committee, “a group of volunteers who design our programs and arrange for presenters and speakers,” LIRIC Executive Director Suzanne Page, Ph.D., explained. “These include our own members, faculty from various local colleges (especially Iona), government officials, community leaders, local artists, town historians, health professionals, and many other members of the community.”

Courtesy New York State Thruway Authority

Courtesy New York State Thruway Authority

Shiffer said bicyclists like her son will appreciate the shared use path. “Brian spoke at his group in Mt. Vernon, and he was very interested in it. Not many bridges have (paths like) that.”

Like Shiffer, Whetzel is amazed that the new bridge will be built next to the existing bridge. “It’s mind-blowing,” she said. “I’m fascinated by trivia, so that capability for rail service is also amazing.”

“The New NY Bridge is a historic project that interests students of all ages. Our educational outreach efforts include senior citizens learning in retirement all the way down to elementary school classrooms. The goal is to educate and inform everyone about the extraordinary efforts being undertaken to build this new bridge that will last for generations to come.” — Brian Conybeare, Special Project Advisor to Governor Andrew Cuomo

What remained in her mind is that the project is on time, on budget and will last 100 years. “Those are three things Brian emphasized,” Whetzel said. And of course people asked him the cost of future tolls.

Self-supporting, LIRIC members pay $175 for a full year of classes (September through August) or $100 for six months (March through August). There are no fall-only memberships. The group meets once a week during summers, and its eight-week fall and spring sessions feature three days off-campus, and two days on-campus.

An efficient, multi-route bus rapid transit system is planned to coincide with opening day/New NY Bridge Outreach

An efficient, multi-route bus rapid transit system is planned to coincide with opening day/New NY Bridge Outreach

“(We’re) always on the lookout for informative, timely, interesting presenters,” Shiffer, past president, said. Courses include current events and academic subjects, and occasionally topics of interest to retirees. See listing is in the online catalog.

All are invited to LIRIC’s Open House on Sunday, Sept. 7, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., in Spellman Hall. For information and a catalog, leave a message at 914-633-2675 or email spage@iona.edu.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

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