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Echo Bay Development? What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate

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Echo Bay Development? What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate

April 17, 2012 - 13:06
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Development, Development, What we need is development? Not of buildings and parks, we need to start with building a community. A community that communicates. A City that communicates with its citizenry. A communication of ideas and visions that work towards the betterment of New Rochelle. Not any Outside developer or organizations regardless of what they stand for. No one stands up for New Rochelle more than the citizens of New Rochelle. Now we need our City Council Members to do the same tonight. Use Echo Bay as a catalyst for bringing the citizens and government of New Rochelle together towards one goal, a better, brighter, thriving and community minded New Rochelle. Below is an E-Mail I sent yesterday to The City Council:

Mayor Bramson and City Council Members,

Let me start by saying that my comments have no political motives attached. I speak only in the interest of the betterment of The City of New Rochelle. We cannot continue to keep going about business the same way. Change is hard but change is necessary.

I am sending one last note to convey my feeling of the importance of delaying the vote for the MOU with Forest City. While I appreciate the proposed changes made as reported, I still cannot support any project that places The City of New Rochelle in a position of putting the developer’s needs before the citizens of New Rochelle. Any available funds need to be channeled to any major issues facing us on downtown development and the city first and foremost. Echo Bay and the City Yard can wait. Any business person or even home owner would not venture into new capital projects with so many questions left unanswered. Get those answers. Fix what needs fixing. Stop the out flow of expenditures and defer until there is a plan and a proper budget in place to manage these needs and expenses.

Mr. Naparstek of Forest City did well at the council meeting. I believe at another date and time maybe Forest City would be reasonable if managed with an eye towards a plan the city would put together first. We/you need to defer Forest City and any other developments to a later date.

Allowing the MOU extension to expire would serve the city well in two distinct ways. First it would allow the city to actively entertain alternative plans for the Armory and secondly, it would open up the waterfront acreage to a more competitive climate thereby giving the city new options.

In another e-mail I sent on 4/13/12 in response to questions about Echo Bay:

Dear XXXXX,
In dealing with the issue of Echo Bay Development, I see no Pros to the proposed project only cons. First is the City Yard. I have trouble with costs for the project. They don’t add up. A study determined that constructing a facility on the new site would cost a little over $13 million, where renovating the current facility would cost $16 million. We spent $5 million on land, need to relocate what is there, at what cost and to where. $13 plus $5 Million is already $2 million more than the cost to update the old facility. I believe those numbers are unrealistic. I was told that no major safety issues have been found at the site during inspections a few years back, except for an oil tank that we spent $250K on the oil tank removal. DPW Commissioner Tergis raised doubts about the Beechwood Avenue site for a new City Yard.

Second you have the company that is looking to develop the area, Forest City Residential a subdivisions of Forest City Enterprises. They are looking at prime parts of that area and leaving the pickings to the city and maybe the Armory. Most of all is the history of Forest City Ratner or any of the subdivisions of Forest City Enterprises. There is a lot of baggage there and a lot of strong arming and under the table wheeling and dealing. Forest City is seeking the maximum in IDA benefits, perhaps a 15 year tax abatement. In addition, they get the land for free. In exchange, NR residents get a catalyst. I don’t think so. We will have the added tax burden of paying for the bonded debt for the new city yard and no hope for new revenue until the Forest City project is completed and occupied. Look at Avalon and Trump.

Third is The Armory. Allowing the MOU extension to expire would serve the city well in two distinct ways. First it would allow the city to actively entertain alternative plans for the Armory and secondly, it would open up the waterfront acreage to a more competitive climate thereby giving the city new options. Housing won’t make New Rochelle a destination for visitors or shoppers. A proper reconstruction of the Armory just might. I don’t know why we can’t take advantage of the fact that The Armory is history. History does sell. It could become a contributor to the community in the way of taxes, services, amenities or social enrichment.

All proposals of the past regardless of whether it is Forest City Residential, Cappelli or Albaneese should be dropped. We have no Master Plan. Our leadership doesn’t know what they want, or where they want to go. Time and again the city wheels and deals with the out of town developers. None of them have a vision for New Rochelle, only for their own interest, bank accounts and political careers. There is a major disconnect between The Mayor, The City Manager, The City Council and the citizens of New Rochelle. We have plenty of well-intentioned people and business owner right here in New Rochelle. Let’s open up to new ideas. I just hope we haven’t burned our bridges and others won’t touch New Rochelle any longer.

In closing, The City of New Rochelle and its citizenry need to move forward at a manageable pace making smart decisions for our benefit and only the benefit of The City of New Rochelle.

“Common sense for the Common Good”

There are 8 Comments

You have exposed the issues clearly and simply. Suffice it to say; the imminent City Council vote on yet another memorandum in favor of its favorite developer is the natural result of the body's ineptitude in matters of simple commerce (never mind sophisticated real estate speculation, acquisition and development).

What property owner in her right mind would commit to future borrowing on the basis of its UNILATERAL commitment to exclusive dealing with another party? What property owner in his right mind would burden his entire enterprise (and his personal estate and that of his family also) with debt based on nothing more than an oral offer by someone to build something, sometime, somewhere?

The answer is; no property owner in his or her right mind would do such things! The fact is, the problem is; the council is not the property owner - the property ownerS are the citizen/taxpayers of New Rochelle, and only THEY are in a position to judge the propriety of this Bramsonian Boondoggle.

The plainest, most uneducated and homespun homeowner would know that you don't bargain against your own interest, and then obligate yourself to future monthly debt service payments with no guarantee that the site under consideration will ever produce an income sufficient to satisfy the obligation!

The only course left for the protection of New Rochelle's treasury is to petition for a public referendum on the Echo Bay "Matrix" which I believe to be permissible under the city's charter.

I agree that there should be a a petition for a public referendum on the Echo Bay Forest City "Matrix". it is certainly permissible under the city's charter, but the petition takes a lot of signatures and effort, and must be totally correct in form.

As long as there is no rant against the Democrats I'd certainly sign it, as would many Democrats in the South End.

There needs to be several referendum questions on the ballot. The questions of City Yard and the Armory should each stand on their own, as they are easier to advocate. The issue of Forest City itself, should be a third referendum question. This way, we can at least protect the Armory and stop City Yard from moving to Beechwood.

The way to destroy the entire Forest City project, is to insist that Forest City, at its own cost, must provide parking dedicated to usage by the Armory, for at least 100 cars. Ratner and Bramson have both made it clear they will not do the Forest City project if they must provide the space and must pay for the parking facilities that the Armory requires to be viable. We need to take advantage of such an ultimatum.

Turning Blue and stomping his feet.
Mommy I want a Lollypop.
But Noam it is almost dinner time, and you just had 5 cavitys on your last visit to the Dentist.
Mommy I want a Lollypop and if I do not get one I will turn Blue, stomp my feet and yell and scream.

Not too far fetched.
Echo Bay and not opening up the process to others gets little boy Noam his Lolly.
I want Forest City and I want it no matter if it makes zero sense. I want it. I want it.
We know Fertel will give him his Lolly and so will Shari give him his lolly but what will Ivar and Jared do?

I heard Ivar this morning on WVOX and there is no doubt in my mind he will support Noam's $4,000 campaign donor (Forest City). As far as Jared is concerned, like most lawyers, he talks a good game but in the end he will fall in line and cow-down to Noam. I predict 5-2 followed by another 5-2 to move the city yard immediately after the design phase is complete.

I think you are mistaken. If Forest City is approved, it is likely to be 4-3 or 6-1. The only sure votes for it, are probably Bramson and Fertel. But last week, even Fertel was raising questions at the City Council meeting.

The only sure vote against Forest City is Trangucci.

If you want to see Forest City voted down, please contact Ivar Hyden, Jared Rice, Shari Rackman and Al Tarantino and tell them so, and in your communicating with them, don't counter-productively rant to Democrats how you are against the Democrats, but rather state why you are against Forest City and Ratner.

The original RFQ/RFP called for development of 26-acres. The current extension is based on 10-acres smack dab in the middle. Should the city council be stupid enough to extend Forest City's MOU it wil stifle any further waterfront development of Echo Bay. What developer in their right mind would want to build around a poorly planned rental boondoggle? Also, Forest City would have to sign off on any future Echo Bay developmet, doesn't this sound familiar???? Remember the sweetheart deal given to Macy's which destroyed the downtown? The City Council is poised to repeat history and sell taxpayers down river to fill the pockets of another wealthy developer who happens to be a Bramson campaign donor. Our mayor has no sense morality for if he did he would recuse himself from the vote. But there will be some entertainment value to tonights meeting in seeing how the sheep (Fertel, Rackman, Hyden and Rice) justify licking Noam's boots. Grab your beverage of choice, a bag of chips and settle in to view the circus.

With New York City's plan calling for 50 million tourists next year and New Rochelle's proximity to Manhattan, wouldn't it make sense to promote majoor hotels, conference center, entertainment etc? No burden on the school system, sales tax dollars along with hotel taxes and property taxes, tourists from around the world staying 25 minutes from Manhattan would save money on hotels yet spend money on food, clothing, transportation etc., a mixed use of residential and commercial never works. Residents always call to make noise complaints, complain about cars and parking issues etc... Tourists don't eat in they go out, they stay up late and eat and drink and spend.

But whether the City Council and Mayor have the political will to do so is highly questionable. Furthermore, the will of the citizenry of New Rochelle is too often lost in the equation by our elected officials.

What has happened to the once great "Queen City"?

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