NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- After ten months of Freedom of Information requests, obstruction and stonewalling by local and Federal officials, the City of New Rochelle today provided new U.S. Army Corps of Engineers records pertaining to a proposed Aquatic Environmental Restoration Project on Echo Bay in New Rochelle, NY. City officials have repeatedly professed to be unaware of the project in response to numerous Freedom of Information requests.
The area along the New Rochelle waterfront was the focus of a proposed development by Forest City which fell apart after a grassroots effort to defeat the plan which focused on proposed tax abatements and the impact on neighborhoods and schools.
Reports obtained by Talk of the Sound from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last fall, showed high levels of toxic metals in the water surrounding the proposed Echo Bay development including levels of Lead, Mercury and Barium three to ten times above New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) threshold numbers.
The conclusions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flatly contradicted claims made by Forest City and New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson that Forest City would undertake an aquatic environmental restoration of Echo Bay as part of the development plan.
Under a federal grant obtained by U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey in 2005, the Army Corps of Engineers cooperated with the City of New Rochelle to evaluate the potential for aquatic environmental restoration of Echo Bay. The study concluded that the area was not suitable for a aquatic environmental restoration given the high recorded levels of Mercury and other toxic metals encountered in the investigation.
No explanation was provided as to how the recent batch of records were obtained or why or why some records have still not been provided. Not contained among the records are documents referenced in documents previously provided: an investigation of the site by Smith Group JJR, a Preliminary Restoration Plan to Sponsor document and a Letter of Intent from Sponsor document.
A request was sent to the City of New Rochelle seeking an explanation as to why the records, sought under a Freedom of Information request since July 2013, were suddenly made available. A second request was sent to the Army Corps of Engineers seeking an explanation as to why the records from 2008 involving Forest City were not provided under the original Freedom of Information request.
The issue of Army Corps of Engineers studies of Echo Bay initiated by the City of New Rochelle was put on the agenda for the New Rochelle City Council's May 6th meeting by Council Member Louis Trangucci.
Talk of the Sound has been reporting on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for close to a year.
Talk of the Sound has obtained a number of documents on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/Echo Bay Report over the past years, some of which are duplicated in the records turned over today. To better keep track of the various documents, including some duplicated, we have uploaded, linked and re-organize the entire set of records, all scanned as PDF files.
Records obtained directly from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prior to today are designated with a pre-fix "FOIA-2014" and those obtained with the pre-fix "USAEC-CD".