In the May 3 issue of the Westchester Guardian
*Update: Mayor Bramson says he will not attend Conference in Rio.
Will the 43 initiatives of the GreeNR plan ever be implemented? According to Debra Newborn, New Rochelle's Sustainability Coordinator, the City of New Rochelle has received several awards for their plans for environmental sustainability. The present Sustainability Plan includes job creation and addresses the quality of life according to Newborn at the New Rochelle League of Women Voters Coffee and Conversation meeting on April 20 led by Susan Fleming.
A projection has been made that the population of the City will increase by 5,000 in the near future and the "challenge" was where will these new residents of the City live. The Smart Growth answer was to place these people in new buildings within one-half mile of the train station and stores (in the southern part of the City).
Newborn continued, New Rochelle is an "urban-suburban" city. One present problem mentioned was the storm drains that overflow. She did feel the City is attracting artists to lofts that are available. A complete street policy in her view needs to consider pedestrians, cyclist and cars. Questions from the audience included concerns about whether the sustainability plan was working and whether to lack of money in the City budget was a constraining factor. Anna Giordano reminded the group about her successful efforts to get the schools to recycle commingles. There were additional concerns that stores and businesses also need to recycle, and Newborn answered they were "working on it." Steve Mayo wanted to know how to get businesses to cooperate. The additional proposed 5,000 housing units for downtown was criticized because of the lack of air pollution studies and the inadequacy of the capacity of the sewer. Mayo reminded the group that at present new apartments in the downtown are not paying for themselves because of "tax breaks." As she did during her opening remarks, Newborn answered by saying the City was winning awards.
Recently on the New Rochelle Talk of the Sound Blog a tape of Mayor Noam Bramson at the City Council meeting of April 10, 2012 is shown where he stated, "The City has no relationship with the UN." However, he will be attending the UN's conference (Rio + 20) from June 20-23 representing New Rochelle. New Rochelle is a member of ICLEI and joined this organization without holding a public hearing or having a City Council vote on it. The City's membership was based on a representative from the organization speaking at a City Council meeting according to the City Manager, Chuck Strome. The Rio + 20 Conference will be focusing on changing national standards to international standards considered "essential" by the UN. For example, to help poorer people, "subsidies" for poorer counties will be leveraged by obtaining "full cost pricing" in more affluent countries. While New Rochelle is a member of ICLEI, Westchester County has dropped its membership.
After the meeting, Robert Cox, editor of the New Rochelle Talk of the Sound Blog, said: "I was dismayed that Miss Newborn kept pushing the issue back into recycling when GreeNR is about many things, of which recycling is small part. I am far more concerned about land-use issues, the massive increases in taxes needed to fund the GreeNR initiatives, and the negative impact on home values which would result from implementing GreeNR.