A vote that was widely expected to go 5-2 along party lines in favor of extending the Forest City MOU with the City of New Rochelle passed 7-0 in favor after a last minute deal was struck under which changes to the term sheet shortened the length of the MOU extension from 18 months to 9 months while creating a concurrent RFP process for the New Rochelle Armory.
"I am happy everyone has agreed to these terms," said Council Member Al Tarantino before voting in favor of the resolution to extend the MOU until the end of the year. "This will allow Council to put this to bed one way or another".
Council Member Jared Rice was pleased with the Council having achieved consensus on what has been a contentious issue for many years.
"I want to credit Council Member Trangucci and Mayor Bramson", said Rice. "It's a good thing for the City if we can tweak things so everyone can be happy".
Armory supporters saw tonight's vote as a major victory in their decade-long struggle to preserve the armory. As part of the agreement an RFP will be ready in 30 days.
Council Member Ivar Hyden asked a series of question to confirm that the entire Armory building and surrounding property would be included in the RFP except for an easement to allow a walkway along the waterfront. The RFP period typically lasts 90 days at which point the Council could invite any of those groups submitting a written bid to present their plan to Council.
"This is a win for everybody," said Ron Tocci, co-chair of the Save Our Armory Committee. "It shows its possible to have bipartisan agreement for the good of the City."
Council Member Lou Trangucci noted that under the compromise agreement the City Council will have an opportunity to review the Forest City Draft Environmental Impact statement, proposals for the New Rochelle Armory in response to the Armory RFP and the design recommendations for the Beechwood Avenue site for the proposed City Yard towards the end of 2012.
Before casting his vote, Mayor Noam Bramson noted that the shortened term still provides time to complete everything except the final environmental impact statement adding "It's good that New Rochelle is back in business."
EDITOR'S NOTE: I cannot help but comment on the report on the meeting which aired tonight on News12. Lisa Reyes called the project a "mega development", said that "some of the property is a century old" and said that Forest City would "revamp the Armory and City Yard" all while a graphic projected an artist rendering provided by Forest City. The project as proposed is "phase one" with no commitment to any additional phases, it is less than one-third the size of the original proposal, the number of units is about half the number in Avalon East. ALL of the property in New Rochelle is a century old. All of the property on the planet is a century old. In fact, by the last scientific estimates, all property on Earth is about 4 billion years old. Forest City is not revamping the Armory; under the plan there will be an RFP for the Armory having nothing to do with Forest City/Ratner and for which they will have no say at all. Finally, the graphic used in her piece was a long-abandoned version of a Forest City concept drawing from six years ago. Other than that it was a good report.