The Armory Development Belongs to the Veterans

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It is in disbelief and with deep frustration that I am writing this letter. I have recently learned from Ron Tocci and Peter Parente that Mayor Bramson is using another delaying tactic to keep the Armory restoration out of the hands of the Veterans who want to restore it.

I have seen the Veterans’ proposal to restore New Rochelle’s Historic World War II Armory. It is the only proposal that I have seen that agrees with the provision of the deed that states that the property would be used and maintained for “public recreation & municipal space.” This was the intention of the deed that New Rochelle signed in 1997 when they bought the Armory for $1.00 from New York State.

The Veterans want to turn it into a Community Center with a Performing Arts Center, a New Rochelle Historical Museum and a restaurant! Now that makes sense! It would be wonderful and would draw people back to New Rochelle. New Rochelle is such a historical city. It’s time that New Rochelle started capitalizing on its history and the histories of people who lived there such as Thomas Paine, Norman Rockwell, Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig just to name a few, those that live there now and the military people who spent time there before going to war.

Did you know that New Rochelle was the setting for The Dick Van Dyke Show and the musical, Ragtime? I didn’t.

New Rochelle needs a venue that will bring people into the city. Please support our Veterans and give them the opportunity to restore it. And PLEASE STOP TURNING YOUR BACK ON THEM, Mr. Mayor. I have attended your meetings! It doesn’t take a “rocket scientist” to see the treatment they are getting. It is obvious that you have not recognized the fact that you are sitting where you are because our military fought for you and many died for you. Please turn over a new leaf and give our Veterans a chance to restore the Armory. Thank you.

Susan Amlicke

Commenting on this Blog entry is closed.

Brian Sussman on Tue, 04/22/2014 - 08:49

I agree that the Armory Development should be similar to what you have described, and I have spoken many times on that subject since 2007, in public and to City Council members.

Unfortunately our government tends to ignore, if not destroy important aspects of New Rochelle's history. Instead of preservation of our history, our government has often focused on unimportant, ineffective, trivial and ugly cookie-cutter developments such as Forest City, the Avalons, Trump Tower, and the Cedar Street project, just to name a few of the unfortunate developments that New Rochelle has suffered through over the decades.

My father Norman suffered 90% disabilities from his WWII injuries, and within a few weeks of that, his 18 year old brother Burt died at the Battle of the Bulge, only a few months after graduating Albert Leonard High School. Being 63, I have had friends who fought in Vietnam, one of whom wrote the autobiographic book and film ‘Born on the Fourth of July’. I am quite sympathetic to military veterans of all wars.

However, I disagree with your statement that “the Armory Development belongs to the veterans”. Actually, the Armory Development belongs to the People of New Rochelle, most of whom are not veterans.

While it is important to honor all veterans, it is mistaken and counter-productive to advocate that the Armory belongs to veterans, or that our veterans should have primary ownership of the Armory’s development plans. It is a worse mistake, counter-productive and quite partisan, to advocate that Veteran’s organizations should control the Armory or have primary responsibility for the Armory’s development.

As the Armory belongs to the people of New Rochelle, it is important that the people should fully participate in the Armory’s preservation and development. This is pragmatic, as without the support of the majority of the people of New Rochelle, the Armory may well be doomed to destruction or trivialization.

Again, I agree with you, that the Armory should be a cultural center and used as a museum to remind us of New Rochelle’s 325+ years of history. I have been arguing this point for many years, and fear that partisan bickering is irresponsible and counter-productive. Instead, the people of New Rochelle must unite to protect and use this important landmark.

While I applaud the efforts of veterans to preserve the Armory for beneficial and enlightened use, I implore our veterans to not sabotage their own efforts by claiming ownership or chief responsibility for preservation and use of the Armory. I believe that most veterans would agree with me, except for those who unfortunately perceive the Armory as an excuse for partisan politics.