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:
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”