'Hojack's Heroes' Try to Save Swing Bridge
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"The demolition is targeted for November, so we really need help in trying to organize and move quickly to at least stop that and put our plan together."
While crews work to remove asbestos and prepare the 107-year-old Hojack Swing Bridge for demolition, a grassroots group of concerned citizens, business development consultants, and entrepreneurs is making one last push, online and in the media, to save the bridge.
"We’re asking for a year’s time, to get us an opportunity to go out and find developers other partners and associates to put together a funding package to save the bridge,” said Tim Rice.
"The main purpose though is not only to preserve the bridge but to create some revitalization in our community that we so desperately need. We’re trying to look for other ways to beautify the port and waterfronts that we’re very fortunate to have in the area that we’re located,” said Sonia Tumminelli.
Members of Hojack’s Heroes say efforts to get information about the imminent demolition, particularly from the United States Coast Guard, has been difficult. After numerous freedom of information requests and months of waiting, documents from the U.S. Coast Guard related to the project were delivered mostly redacted and blacked out.
In its letters, the Coast Guard says the bridge is an "unreasonable obstruction to navigation and, therefore, under the Rivers and Harbors Act, must be removed."
Tim Rice believes the documents may be the key to buying Hojack’s Heroes the time it says it needs to come up with a viable business plan for the bridge that he says is still structurally sound enough to swing.
"We have a Commitment from Senator Schumer’s office to write a letter to the Department of Justice,” Rice said.
Rice says he also has the support of some CSX executives who are obligated by law to work with the Coast Guard to remove the bridge.
"They don’t really want to spend $11.6 million dollars tearing down the bridge. They want a reason to help us."
Hojack’s Heroes are planning a fundraiser to stop the demolition in mid-October. They're also hoping the mayor's office will return calls to schedule a meeting before it's too late.
"We want to embrace the waterfront development plan that the city has we see this as a necessary cog or necessary opportunity to grow economics for the waterfront,” said Tim.
"We continue to try to work together and communicate what the importance is of moving forward on this project and building versus, destroying something that you can never replace again,” said Sonia.