Approval of a New Dormitory for Monroe College in New Rochelle Ignores Parking Issues

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In the Westchester Guardian, February 7, 2013 issue

The New Rochelle Planning Board stamped their approval to a five-year-old proposal for a Monroe College dormitory on January 29, 2013. They ignored questions raised over the lack of sufficient parking provided by Monroe College for their students in downtown New Rochelle and how it effects both the abutting neighborhoods and the downtown business district. Among the most serious concerns is the need for parking for restaurants presently in the planning stages that will open in the downtown.

On the day the Planning Board approved the six-story dormitory with a cafeteria on the ground floor of 354 Main Street, it was apparent the fix was in. The previously approved, five-year-old plan was approved with no mitigating accommodation made for the neighborhood, which must absorb any cars that cannot fit into the allotted parking spaces. Marc Jerome, vice president of Monroe College, and president of the New Rochelle Business Improvement District (BID) claimed the college had 467 parking spaces during the day and 524 spaces for students during night hours. The difference in the number of spaces was achieved by purchasing l00 permits for Monroe College faculty at the New Roc garage facility. Walter Lipow brought up the concern common to college areas, that of students eyeing an empty parking spot on the street and parking there, similar to the problems encountered at Iona College.

Mr Jerome explained why this formerly approved dormitory was not completed over the past five years. In 2008 there were many bankruptcies, including that of Lehman Brothers.
The college chose to hold back on the project in deference to the financial situation. Mr Jerome believes this dormitory is fiscally sound and will replace present downtown and nearby housing sites presently used by Monroe College students. He advised Monroe College presently has 30 buildings, 20 of which are residential. The new dormitory will consolidate the living quarters and allow students to live closer to Main Street. Monroe College, Jerome added, is in a commercial district and contributing to the tax base. He stated most of the student population are urban students and do not have cars. He asserted they use mass transportation, such as busses and Metro North.

Planning Board Chairman Douglas Hocking wanted to know if the courtyard defined in the plans would be open at night. He was told it would be, but that a gate would secure the space. Building Commissioner Paul Vacca claimed parking spaces may be added on Harrison Street in the future. It was also brought up that Stop and Shop will tow cars that don't belong there. Hocking made a motion to designate the Planning Board to be the lead agency for the environmental Impact and for the site plan approval. With no discussion, the motion was within a few minutes unanimously approved.

The plan for a new diner on Weyman Avenue and Main Street was again discussed. Changes in the previous plan spoke to the utility, landscaping, among other concerns regarding a mountable curb on Weyman Avenue. The entrance was changed to be in and out on Main Street but Nardozzi Place was proposed for a left turn out. The right turn on Main Street was not considered an issue, but the left turn would require hundreds of additional feet. John Harter of Atlantic Traffic and Design Engineers spoke of issues raised by Traffic Engineer Michael Briska, including New Rochelle Fire Department specifically about the deterrence a raised island posed. Hocking told Developer DeRaffele Mfg. he looked forward to an amended plan.

Ralph DiBart, Executive Director of the New Rochelle Downtown Business Improvement District, has expressed concern about parking in the downtown area in the past.

DiBart was among the leading advocates to eliminate free parking in the municipal lots in the downtown area. At a public meeting to discuss the parking, he described watching as people parked their cars in the Library lots and then walked to the New Roc theaters.

Asked about the situation today, DiBart said there was no problem with parking at night in the downtown area.

There have been some complaints about parking in the restaurant district of New Rochelle over the years with some restaurants employing valet parking services who often use on-street parking spots in or near the restaurant district.

DiBart was asked about parking problems in the restaurant district.

DiBart said there was no parking problem at night in the downtown area or any particular problems in the restaurant district. He did not attribute parking as a problem for any restaurant that had closed in downtown.

Commenting on this Blog entry is closed.

TommyB1952 on Wed, 04/03/2013 - 21:38

NewRoResident1: I have visited Monroe and I have seen what goes on. You must be one of the many political families in New Rochelle that Marc Jerome, David Dimond, or one of the Monroe Staff members has contributed money to; or have some sort of stake in the college because your statements are misleading. Smoking Mirrors.

I agree with Burzum 100% - Fairs that are so loud I can hear a base play a mile away when I'm trying to have BBQ with my family. How about the Spring Fling last year at the Radisson that ended with 2 students left unconscious in the street? When was the last time you saw a student at Habitat for Humanity? They no longer volunteer there, and when they did it was because they were required to. Sanctions? What sanctions? If a student robs, assaults another student, or has drugs they get a slap on the wrist. It's a fact, Marc Jerome wants the Federal Aid and state funding that allows these students to attend his school. It's a diploma mill, not an institution of higher education that prepares students to become contributing members of society, as many would expect.

I'm not aware of these new strategies to help social development that you speak of? Please enlighten me, as I have firsthand knowledge they are cutting support staff left and right, and the majority of the current support staff are Monroe graduates themselves.

Notable positions in lucrative companies? Not happening, anyone in NY with a degree from Monroe is shunned, it's a technical school, even if it offers MBA degrees. MBA degrees are a dime a dozen these days unless from an Ivy League.

Monroe College is a poison in the community, their students are not taught right from wrong. If Monroe offered these troubled young adults the developmental and academic support they deserved I would bet money these students would show promise. With all the money the school brings in, they don't offer any staff psychologists, counselors, or support groups on campus. Many of these students have serious mental health issues and are using the fact that Monroe offers housing and accepts anyone (regardless of if they can pay) so many use this as means to escape their negative home lives, and our now bringing the crime and negativity of their hometown to ours.

I'm sadly looking to get me and my family out of this town, a town that I have loved for so many years, before the new dormitory breaks ground.

NewRoResident1 on Mon, 02/25/2013 - 15:16
Title: Really!?

Monroe definitely has issues it needs to address when it comes on to its relationship with the community and there does seem to be some questionable decisions. However, for some of you to come on here and speak about the schools contributions or that of its students is disgraceful. How many of you have visited the school to actually see what happens? I have seen the students toiling at the Habitat for Humanity in our city and most of us residents don't even know that 1 is here or wish to offer our time. The school has provided its spaces for free diabetes clinics and have a program that students are involved in to help many of our failing local businesses to get back on their feet. The school even hosts fairs that they invite all theresidents to come out to in an effort to foster community building and I can count on my hand how many of you I see.
It seems to me that you consider yourselves too aloof to interact with urban students and you don't think they can amount to anything. Our very own children do not go off to college and always behave in a way that we are proud of.
Over the past year the school has increased penalties for students and have incorporated new strategies geared towards helping them to develop socially.
Take the time to educate yourself before you tear down the school.
Additionally, the schools graduates have earned notable positions in very lucrative companies in manhattan.

Jennifer on Thu, 04/04/2013 - 03:03

Too aloof to interact with "urban" students? As a homeowner just a few blocks away from the Monroe campus and a long time educator in the Bronx, I can assure you this is not the issue. What I can assure you is that Monroe "College" is a for-profit school that has an abysmal student loan default record, as well as a frightening retention rate. Monroe's graduation rate sadly sits at around 50%. If Monroe was a New York State high school, it would have been closed by now. In fact, one can gain acceptance to Monroe without even having a high school diploma or GED. Students at Monroe are routinely given "financial aid packages" that include thousands of dollars in student loans. Unfortunately, the vast majority of their student body are first generation college students that lack the skills needed to make informed decisions about how they spend their aid. With that said, I do not even allow these vultures in my school or near my students. My students are far better served with State and City public schools that offer legitimate degrees and do not leave them with upwards of 70-80k in debt.

But I digress...

As a "neighbor" to Monroe, unfortunately they have not added to or contributed to our community in any positive way. Security at the dorms regularly need to call for New Rochelle police back up. I regularly need to ask Monroe students to please stop cleaning their cars out on my front lawn and to please smoke weed elsewhere. During the spring and summer my family is bombarded with "parties" that last for hours. Music is blasted at obscene decibel levels. Garbage is everywhere.

I am ashamed that New Rochelle has forged a relationship with such a disgraceful institution. The federal government has already begun to slowly crackdown on these diploma mills. When the money starts to dry up we will all see what happens to Downtown New Rochelle. Especially since Monroe has recently asked for yet another tax abatement. Gosh, what a deal! New Rochelle residents pay higher taxes in exchange for more crime, a drain on our municipal services and the ethical dilemma of being associated with an institution that makes millions of dollars profit off the backs of poor minority students.

With all this said... when was the last time you hung out at Monroe? Either you are one of the aloof "not in my backyard" folks that reside across town or you are employed by Monroe & the Association of Proprietary Colleges or just completely clueless.

Burzum (not verified) on Wed, 04/03/2013 - 19:24

If by fairs, you mean day long block parties with D.J.s blasting loud music into the night and disrupting my quality of life, then I guess you are right. . . they do have fairs.

But as a home owner, I don't want to listen to people screaming, yelling, and loud music blasting while I'm tying to enjoy my dinner on my over taxed property.

So if they want to do something to bring themselves closer to the community, they can start by not being a nuisance.

NewRoPasta on Sat, 02/09/2013 - 18:52
Title: Seriously?

Are we really allowing the manifestation of a FOR PROFIT "College" in our city? Did we go wrong somewhere? What kind of leadership is our city government showing by jumping into bed with an organization failing to educate their students? There is a moral compass that goes along with allowing an educational institution to properly grow within the confines of any city's ordinance. It is fair to say, there are no sides in this issue as "urban" students which Jerome states, use the public transportation depots enter our city and use our facilities. Where on the tax base is monroe? They are still under a 10 year abatement for their first dorm. They use loopholes to get out of their taxes, so nothing comes back to the city in $'s. They probably overload their dorm rooms with these urban students, thus using triple the water and garbage requirements per occupant which the city allows. Water main breaks are occurring at an alarming rate in New Rochelle and without a doubt it is due to the downtown unnecessary growth. What happens to the properties which have housed the monroe students for the last 5 years? What happens to these buildings if monroe is closed down by the federal government? It is a for profit college and they are now the targets of the obama administration. Is there a contingency plan?

TommyB1952 on Mon, 02/11/2013 - 21:28

This is a disgrace. The "urban students" that Jerome refers to don't only use the citys resources, water, garbage, etc. They don't contribute a thing to the community. They don't eat in our restaurants, they don't shop the small businesses, if anything they contribute to the crime. I know for a fact they litter, loiter and leave shopping carts all over. What do their students contribute to the community, we know Marc Jerome contributes his own money, we know he pays his staff to contribute to the political funds of our local candidates, we know Marc decorates Main street with some lights and wreathes for the holidays, and donates funds for parades, but how are his students contributing to the community as a whole? What volunteer work are they doing? How are they giving back to this community, after they drain our resources, occupy parking spaces, cause riots on the streets which divert the law enforcement from other areas of our city, Not to mention, they live in the Radisson Hotel which now discourages others from recommending this as an option for family, friends, weddings etc.

What about gun control? How is Marc Jerome and David Dimond approaching this subject now? Or are they just sweeping it under the run and covering up for their students?
Their students certainly have cars on campus. They only house about 900-1000 students, the majority of their students are commuters and have their own vehicles.

I'm surprised with all the bad press locally and now being the target of the Obama Administration that they still have students that attend the school. Then again, they are not paying, we as taxpayers are paying for these students to live in a hotel (Radisson, or Lofts) for a few years and "earn" a degree that any respectable employer would laugh at.
Were offering these students a vacation from the urban slums they are recruited from, while they money then goes right in Marc Jeromes pocket so he could take his family on another vacation to Europe, or Bahamas.

Wykagyl Joe on Sun, 02/10/2013 - 00:53

In the near future they will apply for university status, and they will get out of the tax roll.

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