One evening a month the citizens of New Rochelle can attend a meeting labeled Citizens to be Heard. At this meeting, people are able to speak to the mayor, city council and city manager for a full three minutes. We can voice our concerns, make suggestions or ask why our neighborhood has not received services. Oops, I made a mistake, I mean address city government . This is a one way conversation and often you wonder if they are listening. Are we being heard at all or is the council and mayor just going through the motions? Citizens should be thankful that they have a cast of regulars who attend this meeting and are trying to keep the present administration honest and transparent.
I have attended meetings where people address the group and apologize for being nervous, or it is the first time they have attended this meeting. The mayor smiles, tells them it is ok, but you have three minutes to voice you concern. This same citizen then waits for an answer, but that never comes. What is next is an explanation that the mayor and council cannot respond to the speaker. If a large group attends with the same problem, the mayor instructs the group to just stand at their place and state I agree. What happened to their three minutes?
We have some very important decisions this year (moving the city yard, the Armory and Forest City proposals and the addition to Sound Shore Hospital campus) and we all need more than three minutes to discuss these issues. We need more than three minutes to voice our concerns. We need more than three minutes to submit our suggestions and ideas. We need more than three minutes to be part of the rebuilding of New Rochelle. I am in no hurry and willing to give my time towards planning for a better city. I wonder why the mayor is in such a hurry and thinks three minutes is enough.
Only when we can sit together, mayor, council and all concerned citizens and listen to each other can we move our city into the future.
Mark your calendars your next three minutes will start at 7:30pm on Wednesday, September 12.