Archive for May, 2015|Monthly archive page

Tappan Zee Bridge History: View from the River

The Historical Society of Rockland County’s first of two day trips — “The Tappan Zee Experience: Past, Present and Future” — happens in 10 days.

800px-TappanZeeBridgeFromBelow“As we go along Rockland shore, we will narrate about Haverstraw and its history (Henry Hudson, Half-Moon, brick industry, landslide, 400 years old next year), Rockland Lake (and the ice industry), Hook Mountain and Nyack,” Board President Larry Singer explained.

Guests will learn about Westchester on the trip back to the marina. Returning guests will see the I Lift NY crane up close for the first time and the progress made since last year, including the floating concrete batch plants.

The Rockland County Sheriff’s Marine Unit will escort the tour, (which is) “another plus,” Singer said.

Local historian Bob Baird, former Journal News Rockland editor, will discuss the Tappan Zee Bridge’s past, the construction and all that entailed in 1955 on the June 10 trip (which is sold out), and project officials from Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) will talk about the about the New NY Bridge project. Officials from the Thruway Authority will cover the July 9 trip.

Genuine Mississippi-style paddle wheeler/© 2014 Hudson River Sightseeing Cruises Aboard The River Rose

Genuine Mississippi-style paddle wheeler/© 2014 Hudson River Sightseeing Cruises Aboard The River Rose

“The boat is leased out of Newburgh, and is open for charter during the week,” Singer said of the River Rose, whose owner, Captain John “Duke” Panzella, has been around boats throughout his lifetime. After careers in heavy construction, land development and a very successful water softener business, Panzella retired at 52 and headed to south Florida. “I bought a big yacht that I rented and chartered, and then operated,” he said. When he saw the River Rose, he said, “I knew it’s something very special. It was a dream.”

Manufactured in 1984, the River Rose is the last stern-wheeler built, Panzella learned from its prior owner. It’s rented for private parties, weddings, class reunions, sweet 16 parties, sightseeing cruises, dance party cruises and dinner and brunch cruises.

In 2013 and 2014, it was voted 1st Place, Readers Choice Award, Best River Cruise by the Times-Herald Record.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2015

Tonight: Double-Lane Closure on SB Thruway from Exit 11 to Bridge; Triple-Lane Closures This Week

Evening drivers, this is for you.

Note: The photo above is not the New York State Thruway

Note: The photo above is not the New York State Thruway

Two lanes will be closed tonight, the first at 7 p.m. (in half an hour) and the second at 11 p.m.; both will reopen tomorrow morning at 10 a.m.

TZC is modifying the highway for a temporary all-electronic toll collection system. Three lanes will be closed next week from Monday, June 1, through Friday, June 5, on southbound I-87/I-287 from near Exit 11 to the bridge.

The first lane will close at 7 p.m., second lane will close at 9 p.m., and the third lane at 10:30 p.m.; all will reopen the following weekday at 6 a.m.; Saturday at 8 a.m. One lane will be open at all times.

All four lanes southbound lanes will be closed periodically near Exit 11 Thursday and Friday between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., and Friday and Saturday between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. Ramps will remain open during this time. State police will be stopping and holding traffic before the lanes are closed so construction crews can move equipment from the right shoulder to the left.

A new toll plaza will be built in Tarrytown. In early April, part of the former police barracks was demolished to make way for a staging area.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2015

NNYB Outreach at a Nationally-Designated Site

Actively engaged in education and philanthropy, Scarsdale Woman’s Club keeps abreast of current events and news important to members and the lives. “This will impact everyone whether or not they live near it,” Eunice Laughlin, Vice President, Education, said.

Special Project Advisor Brian Conybeare at the SWC/NNYB

Special Project Advisor Brian Conybeare at the SWC/NNYB

In April several SWC members attended a presentation at the Greenburgh Public Library, and “we were favorably impressed,” Laughlin said.

The following month its Wednesday afternoon program featured an update about the bridge project. “He was fantastic,” President Marcie Botti said about Special Project Advisor Brian Conybeare..“He did a great job explaining it to us.”

A former Port Authority employee from 1960 to 1970, Botti felt the construction was most impressive.

“Some of our members live in Tarrytown and said they (company building the bridge) are polite and careful and considerate about noise. They clean up every day after they finish working and make sure things are covered so no one has an accident,” she said.

From October through May the group’s midweek afternoon programs are open to the public. This nonprofit has a fascinating history, documented on its website, that dates back to the Suffrage Movement.

plaqueHeadquartered on the Rowsley Estate, a 19th century country manor designer showcase house with exquisite interior design, antique fireplaces and enchanting stained glass windows. The Village of Scarsdale named it an Historic Landmark in 1968; it was designated as a site on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.

“Everyone who spoke to me raved about the presentation,” she said. That he waited near the door in case people had additional questions was especially considerate, she said. “The entire afternoon was a positive experience for our members.”

A designer showcase in 2005 revamped its interior, “which is how we have Victorian décor in the music room,” Laughlin said, a lilt in her voice. Lectures, musical programs, weddings and afternoon and evening galas are often held there.

Scarsdale Woman’s Club will hold an Open House in September. For information, email or call 914-723-0024.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2015

Successful STEM-tastic Saturday: Ready for 2016

sculptureThe day after STEM-tastic Saturday, STEM Alliance of Larchmont-Mamaroneck President Meg Käufer began gearing up for next year. The event was created by the all-volunteer STEM Alliance with advice from the national Science Festival Alliance.

The MHS Talks event was awesome: “65 STEM experts at the high school at 19 roundtables talking about the disciplines,” Käufer said. STEM Alliance focuses on the arts in addition to science, technology, engineering and math, integrating art and performing arts.

“Our Alliance connects applied learning opportunities for youth by leveraging the experts in our community whether they’re institutions or individual experts,” she explained. “We know that great learning goes on but sometimes it’s hard to integrate it.”

Kids examine a mini drone before it attempts to maneuver its way around an obstacle course/Photo by Amanda Lai

Kids examine a mini drone before it attempts to maneuver its way around an obstacle course/Photo by Amanda Lai

The idea, she said, is to engage STEM experts in conversations and experiences with district youth in order to create more applied learning opportunities for students in the STEAM (A for art) disciplines. “We are a networking group that serves as a liaison between schools and these experts to enrich the educational offerings in our schools.”

This year the Alliance supported a Robotics Club at the middle school, Hour of Code (all students in the school district learn for at least one hour) during the annual worldwide celebration in December 2014, and an Explore Your Opportunities conference for 7th-grade girls hosted by the American Association of University Women.

“We did Hour of Code at the schools and in libraries and local businesses, tinkering nights at each of the local elementary schools for parents and youth together,” Käufer said.

NASA Astronaut Capt. Kathryn Hire speaks with students about her experiences in space/Photo by Krystel Perez

NASA Astronaut Capt. Kathryn Hire speaks with students about her experiences in space/Photo by Krystel Perez

The idea behind MHS Talks was roundtables with small student-to-expert ratios that put students in conversation with STEAM experts to hear not only their current work but also their life path to that work (education, career, other influences), she explained.

“Brian (Conybeare) was at those conversations to show the diversity of backgrounds and people (even public relations and politicians) who are needed for a major infrastructure project,” she said.

Rockets were launched, drones were demoed, microscopes were peered into, and motors became circuits. Participants made glass from sand; one local 5th-grade student built a hovercraft from “bouncy castle” motors, and the New NY Bridge display drew interest and questions.

experimentThe Expo featured keynote speaker and NASA astronaut Captain Kathleen Hire plus hands-on exhibits and interactive experiences.

“It’s getting kids exposed to disciplines they might not know were of interest to them, leveraging curiosity and creativity,” Käufer said. “People like to have fun, and when you create an atmosphere where people can have fun and learn through that, they’re going to be exposed to things that they would not naturally gravitate toward.”

The Intrepid Museum demonstrated a vacuum effect on different materials, Mad Science experts helped attendees grow their own crystals. There was a garden of locally-grown vegetables. Professionals ranged from firefighters to physical therapists to mathematicians.

Plans are underway for next year’s event. For information or to volunteer, contact the STEM Alliance of Larchmont-Mamaroneck at or visit

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2015

Annual Project Update; South Nyack’s Good News

constructionLast week’s meeting at Nyack High School was a far cry from the scenario one year ago.

“The state has in fact decided to relocate the bike/pedestrian path in Rockland away from the corner of South Broadway and Cornelison,” Special Project Advisor Brian Conybeare told the audience, which responded with applause.

Conybeare thanked South Nyack Mayor Bonnie Christian and the South Nyack task force for working with the bridge project team and the Thruway’s new leadership. South Nyack received a $250,000 grant through the bridge project’s Community Benefits Program to study the feasibility of redesigning and redeveloping Interchange 10.

It’s been a trying year for Christian, who was determined to have the state move the landing. Thruway Acting Executive Director Robert L. Megna thanked the village for starting a partnership during his first three and one-half months in the job and for a chance to rebuild its relationship with South Nyack.

“Nice work on the part of all who worked so hard to get to a satisfying and smart resolution,” Nyack Mayor Jen Laird White said. The village has offered to lend a hand with parking overflow.

formworkProject officials report 96 percent of the design and 38 percent of all construction are complete. With Phase 1 (everything except the Westchester and Rockland landings) completed, “Phase 2 will be in 2017 when the landings of the old bridge will be torn down,” Conybeare said.

Another round of applause greeted Conybeare’s announcement that crews are almost done (94 percent complete) with Phase 1 pile driving. “This summer, you’ll get a break from pile driving until Phase 2, which is in 2017,” and one-quarter of the amount in Phase 1.

One resident asked how the new bridge will help the flow of traffic given the highway won’t be widened. It meets the Thruway’s four lanes in both counties it becomes three lanes at the I-87/I-287 split in Westchester and near Exit 11 in Rockland.

“It certainly is an issue here in Rockland (that) when you get off the bridge you go from four lanes to four lanes, and it goes down to three lanes near Exit 11,” Conybeare said. “We’re absolutely aware of that, the Thruway Authority and the DMV are looking at potential solutions for that. It’s not part of this project.”

A highlight was the April placement of the first of the new bridge’s 59 pier caps, this near Tarrytown.

Steel girders to be barged from Port of Coeymans/NYSTA

Steel girders to be barged from Port of Coeymans/NYSTA

At the Tappan Zee Constructor, LLC (TZC) offsite assembly facility at Tompkins Cove, crews are putting together rebar and concrete form work, and at the Port of Coeymans near Albany, crews are assembling steel girders. “In the next month or so, you’ll see the first steel girders — 12 feet tall, 400 feet long, weighing 600 tons — barged in to be placed on the project,” he said.

This fall crews will start building the towers with help from towers cranes. “Then they’ll put prefabricated sections of the road deck in to sit on top of the girders (followed by) 14 miles of cables strung down to support the road deck of the main span,” a process that be completed in about two years.

New wayfaring signs directing visitors to Tarrytown Center and the viewing area at RiverWalk Park were posted recently. Nyack will have similar blue-and-white markers and a sign map when the Memorial Park fishing pier is finished, possibly next month.

As the school term ends so does Educational Outreach’s “Year 2: A Solid Foundation” presentations to more than 102 schools. The plan is to begin “Year 3: Many Working Together” in the fall when school resumes.

One of the numerous webcams is a bird’s-eye view of the Peregrine falcon nest. Three chicks (eyases) were born in April, and project officials are holding a  Name-the-Falcons poll through May 27. Names that garner the most votes will be announced next month, and the schools that suggested the winning names will be recognized.

boater-safetyProject officials reported 5,847 visitors since both Outreach Centers opened: 2,423 in Tarrytown, and 3,434 in Nyack. Displays including informational panels and mannequins dressed in safety gear are at 142 Main St., Nyack, and 2 N. Broadway, Tarrytown.

Last week the Thruway Authority Board approved a $1.9 billion spending plan that closes a gap identified in the original 2015 budget approved last December. It includes more than $22 million in spending cuts, nearly $44 million in reduced debt service costs and includes no toll increases for any part of the Thruway system.

An estimated $750 million of the $1.285 million in bank settlement funds will go toward the bridge project. The Thruway Authority’s modified 2015 budget addresses this year’s higher-than-expected winter-related costs and gives addition support to statewide capital projects. Its fiscal year is January 1 through December 31.

What will the new structure be named?

“We’re focused on building a bridge,” Conybeare said. “There’s been no talk internally about changing the name.” Any decision will be voted on by the State Legislature.

My article originally appeared in the Rockland County Times May 21, 2015.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2015

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