Is a Fair Process Being Used to Develop a Comprehensive Plan in New Rochelle?

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The New Rochelle Department of Development is making every effort to involve City residents in revisions to the City's Comprehensive Plan. The process is called EnvisioNR. But will EnvisioNR result in a future plan for the City that meets the expectations of most of its residents? One salient concern is whether the City will be stronger financially as a result. Another is whether an enhanced quality of life for all neighborhoods will result.

Judging from the EnvisionNR meeting held on October 3, 2012, there are major unexplained gaps on how the information collected from residents was used. Several months ago, Eleanor Sharpe, the City's Planning Director, and Lynn Brooks-Avni, Senior Planner, conducted a number of community input sessions where they collected data from residents in six topic areas: Economic Development, Land Use and Zoning, Mobility and Infrastructure, Open Space and Community Resources, Urban Design and Preservation, and Neighborhoods and Housing. Residents could identify what they thought were Strengths, Challenges, and Opportunities in these six topic areas. Residents were also invited to give input online on an interactive website, http://www.envisionr.com/.

A citizen volunteer committee was also selected to assist in the process, but at the October 3rd meeting no explanation was given on how the items under each of the six topic areas were chosen that would be used that evening. Ms. Sharpe simply directed the room full of residents to visit each of the six "stations" (a station representing a topic area) and, with color-coded stickers, to "vote" for the three most preferred pre-selected options at each station. Examples of option items included the need for bicycle paths, retail business development in the downtown, public access to the waterfront, preservation of historic buildings, etc.

John Karl. after reading the various charts summed up his disappointment with the process, "Just look at GreeNR and you'll see all these options." Will other residents feel the same way?

In Soundview Rising

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