The City of New Rochelle and The Iona/New Rochelle Community-College Planning Committee get poor grades, Must show more effort and results in their work!
With the Vail of Secrecy, gag orders, special interests and personal agendas, all we need is the decoder rings and a secret hand shake. There is probably a clubhouse and meeting place somewhere. We constantly are cornered, defeated or otherwise poorly represented by the absence of Council action as defined in the City Charter. Matters get tabled, accelerated, cornered, by the administration, backed by a city council that cannot or will not step up.
The Mayor says, “Community leaders have lent their support of the Committee’s recommendations of the possible development of sites for future College development. After thoughtful and insightful consideration by the Committee.”
The following recommendations have been submitted:
•Extending the college’s student housing occupancy limit for five additional years
•Creating a special permitting process for development of college-related facilities, including an increase an allowable height and density within the North Avenue zone
•Outlining a potential seven-story residence hall along North Avenue for City and College review, while also establishing conditions for potential future development
•Future Development of Building B if all the above conditions are not met.
•College retains the right to develop and construct, with the limits of the law, student residence halls on property that it currently owns, or may here after acquire. (That means the Mayflower Avenue, President and Hubert Street proposed residence halls remain in play)
•Continued and increased efforts by both the College and community members to promote positive, productive relationships between the College and members of the surrounding communities
•Community participation in the College’s Master Planning Process
There is little mention of any changes through the process that represent give backs or a show of action in good faith toward the neighborhoods or The City of New Rochelle as a result of this collaboration. All the community gets is what they already receive and would receive through the normal development process. Just another proposed location with a Vail of threats that if we don’t get what we what, we will build in your back yards because, WE Have The Right! Everything remains very questionable considering what the process has produced for the neighborhoods that surround Iona College so far. We want to support this process and its intent but we cannot support the same methods and ways of Iona College, The City of New Rochelle and The Iona/New Rochelle Community-College Planning Committee.
Once again we have a media notice for a press conference with very poor timing, the day before the Thanksgiving Holiday. Some notice with enough time to make plans to attend would have been nice, So much for working with the neighbor’s. The neighbors want to see the process work. Some have said they would have attended with proper notice of the announcement because they too are eager and anxious to hear what was able to be accomplished. This in no way helped end a history of uneasy relations between the college and its neighbors. Nor does it establish a strong new foundation for college-community relations. What has been done so far has actually done the opposite?
The neighbors would like to bolster our efforts to improve the North Avenue corridor. But not at the cost of our neighborhoods, our homes, our lives, our families, our quality of life and most of all, our Taxes. Where is the give back to offset the costs to the citizens and taxpayers of New Rochelle? Where is the working together towards a solution that works for all, we can only give so much.
The Committee members WERE “expected to refrain from talking to the other members of their neighborhood associations” It was part of the preconditions of the committee that was announced back in September 2011. They may have their own spin on it enough to say that, but it is not correct.
I spoke about the this exact point to The City Council on 7/10/12 about the problem of representatives not being able to speak about the process to their association members. Council member Tarintino even spoke of the disconnect at the 7/17/12 Council Meeting questioning the issue. After which I sent an e-mail to him and the entire City Council.
The city/Iona announced the forming of the committee in August 2011. Brother Ligouri was gone by then, he had decided to retire in May 2011. This was when the incoming President Dr. Nyre found that Iona College had 150 students to many in the current dorms and they needed to do something about the violation. It wasn’t until February 2012 that we were given an opportunity to meet with our representative. That was only about a set dialogue regarding some of the findings. They were not allowed any open conversation during the process. Trust me, it frustrated the hell out of our member and I know the others felt the same way as was evidenced by Guru Madeleine, who sat on the committee of Iona representative’s statement in the Journal News. She was a member and Ken Valenti spoke with her. Would she risk her reputation on a false statement? The story can be found in the Journal News.
Journal News Westchester Edition 11/26/2012,
Iona dorm is too much Councilman disagrees, says proposal is a great outcome
By Ken Valenti
Also, here is the information from when they announced that The City of New Rochelle and Iona College would develop the planning framework that was released and covered by Talk of the Sound and others back in September.
City of New Rochelle and Iona College Develop Planning Framework for Student Housing
By Robert Cox on Tue, 09/06/2011
See the section, Ground Rules for Discussion & Participation that all participants and Committee members had to agree to.
-Refrain from public comment regarding proposals under review by the Committee until the conclusion of the planning process, except in the context of a commonly agreed-‐upon public statement and/or public presentation.
Representatives from the associations were not allowed to say what happened at their meetings, leading to further frustration. One member finally spoke up. I would like to know what the other association members think of the process.
Iona College gets what they wanted, exclusive CR1 Zoning, a special permitting process, another extension of the waiver for occupancy and the ability to propose anything they like at any time, committee or not. Iona College didn’t want to give up anything, nothing as a relief to the threat of more proposed building, so nothing really changes. We need to see a Master Plan before anything is approved. Some give and take has to be a part of the negotiations. No more open ended agreements with Iona College on the receiving end. Let’s negotiate in the best interest of the citizens of New Rochelle and the residents that live next to the college, the neighbors’ homes were there first. There is actually reference to the need to protect the neighbors in previous studies done for the other dorms and it was also covered in The 1996 Comprehensive Plan. Could the timing of this agreement be designed to get a zoning change now before the revised Comprehensive Plan?
City Hall holds the same old carnival con-game of find the pea under the shell; the players/citizens are given a chance to win just enough to keep them interested and playing the game. But they will never win the game because the outcome has already been fixed by the con-artiste running the game. Our Mayor and City Council have a bad habit of playing these shell games. The only winners are the select developers and the self-serving politicians. We have seen these con-games set up in different parts of New Rochelle lately. Cappelli, Forest City, Trump, Avalon, The City Yard, The Armory, Monroe and Iona College, are just a few. Let’s not get into The City of New Rochelle School Board and their games of chance.
We should be getting the deals done that favor the citizens by exercising proper supply side management. That does not mean the decision for North Avenue and Fifth Avenue is wrong; it means that it is closed off when it should have been opened up. The Iona College people are just better poker players who know exactly what cards they have in front of them. If one Council Member would have stood up in public and said, not so fast, don't pull this "in the works" nonsense on taxpayers, we will be open and transparent.
Over the years, Committee after committee has been formed in the same manner. New Rochelle - Iona College Planning Committee, Envision NR, The Comprehensive Plan, Citizens’ Panel on Sustainable Budgets, You name it and we got a committee for it.
When the people ask for a game plan, they expect a strategy, not the same old parlor games, sleight of hand card tricks and being sold the same snake oil at the fair that is The City of New Rochelle. Loading the deck with the same group of friends and patronizers that have a vested interest in the game, every con-man needs a good set up man. Some may question the practices of the con but never speak up. They don’t want to be taken out of the game. They enjoy the con just as much. You see they are the con-man’s set-up men and are being coned in very similar fashion only they don’t realize it. Well it is time they did! You work for the people of New Rochelle, not your party or patronizers.
City Council is perfectly capable of putting the community first and foremost and to accord them the respect they received when the members walked in the voting booth and cast their ballots. It is sad to think that this point appears to be less than it should be except around election time.
We still want to make this process work. It is to the benefit of all involved in the Process. Everyone could benefit if it was a more open dialogue that went both ways. It is time for The City Council and Iona College to step up and prove with actions what their words say.
“Common sense for the Common Good”