YORKVILLE — The city has decided to scrap a controversial plan to build a large wheel chair ramp as part of its rehabilitation of the East 81st Street pedestrian bridge connecting the neighborhood to the East River waterfront, officials said.
Neighbors of the bridge opposed the U-shaped ramp when a revised proposal was presented to the community in November last year, saying it took up too much space and would potentially block service entrances to residential buildings.
In response to complaints, the Parks Department is now considering smaller ramps on 82nd and 83rd Streets instead.
The change was announced by officials during a Community Board 8 forum on the topic on Sept. 14, where they also noted that any money left over from the project would be used toward upgrading bathrooms in Carl Shurz Park to make them ADA accessible as well.
"We're going to be spending more time to look at how we could come up with a ramp that might be more acceptable to the community and might fit in better with adjacent buildings," said Steve Simon, chief of staff for the Parks Department's Manhattan Borough Commissioner.
Before the pedestrian bridge was closed for rehab, it was only accessible by stairs going up from East 81st Street. The addition of a ramp would bring it into compliance with the American Disabilities Act, officials have said.
The Department of Design and Construction started working on the bridge in November 2015. But versions of the plan have been going back and forth between the city and the community since at least 2012.
"We are making a good-faith effort to come up with a feasible plan to build an ADA ramp there," William Castro, the department's Manhattan Borough Commissioner, told DNAinfo New York on Tuesday.
"In the meantime, we will be providing increased accessibility to the promenade and the pedestrian bridge by adding ADA-compliant ramps at the East 82nd and East 83rd Street entrances to John Finley Walk."
More information about the new ramps was not immediately available.
The design of the bridge features waist-high mesh wire fences, which would allow those crossing it to see views of the East River without obstruction, according to plans and CB8 chairiman Jim Clynes.
The bridge would also include a viewing window at its southern end. The city is aiming to complete the project by early 2017.
"I'm convinced that at the end of the day, whenever the project is completed, it will satisfy everybody's concerns," Clynes said.