In Soundview Rising, March 22, 2013
Last week in his State of the City address Mayor Noam Bramson felt New Rochelle should "team with businesses and plan for the future." In a sweeping analysis, he claimed the Sun Belt's attraction can't last and "the Northeast by contrast is built for growth." The choices the City makes now in his view can lead the City "to our own bright future."
Missing from these comments was the statement made by City Manager Chuck Strome, that the developer Good Profit chosen for the Armory in the Echo Bay development area, had failed to send the needed $50,000 to comply with a letter of agreement. Neither was there any mention of the way the Democratic majority on Council had refused to hear a proposal by the Save Our Armory committee which is in the area of the proposed Echo Bay development. This decision was reinforced at the next City Council meeting on March 12. After Good Profit was no longer under consideration Councilman Lou Trangucci asked if the Council could hear the proposal of the Save Our Armory which they had refused to do previously. Again no permission was given.
That same night the City of New Rochelle held a hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Forest City Residential proposal for Echo Bay at the current City Yard site which includes the Armory. At the hearing there were many comments about the cost of the school children and the lack of sufficient retail which would result in a project which does not benefit the City. While there were many business groups mostly from outside New Rochelle and other proponents of the project looking for jobs for construction workers and youth at this DEIS hearing, there was lots of criticism of the plan. It is doubtful that Bramson's State of the City speech changed anyone's mind about New Rochelle.
Lorraine Pierce, Secretary of the New Rochelle Citizens Reform Club, disputed statements made by Bramson about Echo Bay in his State of the City address. "There was no real consensus of the people who came to meetings from many different neighborhoods and neighborhood associations. Bramson did not mention the efforts made by many residents who pleaded with the City to save the Armory from further destruction. The City would not listen. Consequently the costs have now become prohibitive. This is a sad day for New Rochelle."
Anthony Galletta made these observations about Bramson's speech. Bramson voted twice to terminate the New Rochelle firefighters. He was the only Council member this year to vote against the minimum New Rochelle Fire Department manning in the 2013 budget. When the decision was made to remove the library from the City Charter, he voted to support this new library tax. He supported M Square which couldn't get bank funding and his "hand picked" Good Profit, friends and political contributors couldn't raise the $50,000 needed for the agreement with the City.
Joyce Furfero, Co-Chair, New Rochelle Confederation of Neighborhood Associations, found Bramson’s State of the City address comments to be disingenuous. First, his praise of the Police and Fire Departments is overshadowed by his vote at the December budget meeting to cut the Fire Department to bare bones and jeopardize residents’ homeowners insurance policies. Second, his lip service to collaboration with other government entities to achieve economies of scale from bulk buying is eclipsed by the City's rebuff to an invitation from the Board of Education’s purchasing department to collaborate on purchases. Third, the Echo Bay Development proposal is now a shadow the 2005 plan and lacks critical mass to provide substantive financial support for the City, but is expected to drain New Rochelle’s educational resources and vital services. Fourth, the last thing New Rochelle needs is transit center development. This area is already too overdeveloped and its infrastructure strained, but Bramson does not listen. Finally, the Committee structure that Bramson has used to deflect responsibility for major developmental and fiscal issues from him and the City Council does not really solicit independent, objective outside views. Despite purported democratic selection processes, these committees are inbred with Bramson’s own friends.