How New Rochelle City Council Made an Unscheduled Decision

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In September development was given a new twist by the present Democratic majority on New Rochelle City Council. They chose the Good Profit plan to be designated for the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City. Two plans for the neglected Armory in New Rochelle were presented at an August Council meeting. One plan was by Good Profit which proposed two restaurants, a series of vendor stalls for local produce and an exhibition hall in front of the Armory. Save Our Armory committee along with the United Veterans and Memorial Association and the New Rochelle Opera presented a plan which included a theater complex, two restaurants and a local history museum.
At the August meeting proponents of both plans said their cost estimations were approximate and would not be clarified further until one plan was given an MOU designation. But when the two proposals were evaluated at September's City Council meeting instead of considering the best interests of the present and future residents of the City, the five Democrats used a flimsy excuse that the Save Our Armory group did not meet a "deadline" for information. This August 24 "deadline" cited by Mayor Noam Bramson was one initiated by the Development Commissioner, Michael Freimuth, when he asked the two developers for more information about their proposals. Freimuth has announced his resignation because he had accepted a position in Hartford Connecticut.
The timetable originally established was that the City Council would officially designate one of the two developers in October. No public hearings were scheduled at any time to give the public a chance to express their views. City Manager, Chuck Strome, when asked said this September decision by Council was advisory and not an official vote. Completely ignored by the City Council was a presentation made by the Save Our Armory Group at City Hall the night before this Council meeting when the "unofficial" MOU designation was made. Several community groups had listened to a presentation by Shop Architects, a leading architectural firm. Todd Sigaty and Krista Nrnavaggi of Shop Architects showed some of their work: Barclay Center at Atlantic Yards for Forest City Ratner. the Performing Arts center at Gold Sachs World Headquarters and several waterfront projects. An executive from Shawmut Design and Construction rounded out the discussion with a detailed financial plan. A video of this presentation is available for viewing on New Rochelle Talk of the Sound (September 29 and 30).
One resident, George Imburgia, said, "In giving thought to the two plans, the Good Profit plan will be another one of this City's big mistakes because we have enough restaurants and food and vegetable markets in New Rochelle. I think the Save Our Armory proposal would be more beneficial to the residents and longer lasting." Ron Tocci, former Commissioner for Veteran Affairs for New York State, concluded "The citizens of New Rochelle led by the veterans deserve a fair review for their proposal to create a performing arts center. The Council has both a moral an\d legal obligation to listen."

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