Long Hidden 2006 Army Corps of Engineers Report Found High Levels of Hazardous, Toxic Metals in Channels Flanking Proposed Echo Bay Development

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NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Talk of the Sound has obtained a series of documents from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under a Freedom of Information Request that raise new questions about the viability of Forest City/Ratner's proposed Echo Bay Development. Similar, repeated public record requests made to the City of New Rochelle since last July have been sidestepped or ignored.

The reports are complex, scientific documents. We would appreciate hearing from anyone with expertise in this sort of work to better understand the information contained in the records (linked below).

One report indicates the complete absence of an organism commonly found in high concentration in North Atlantic tidal flats suggesting significant oil or metal pollution.

A second report indicates dangerously high levels of toxic metals including levels of Lead, Mercury and Barium three to ten times above New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) threshold numbers.

Taken together, the reports appear to indicate that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, based on high levels of toxic metals in the water surrounding the proposed Echo Bay development, has actively discouraged efforts to disturb the sediment around the area of the development project.

The conclusions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers appear to flatly contradict information provided by Forest City in their Final Environmental Impact Statement and claims by the developer and New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson that Forest City will undertake an aquatic environmental restoration of Echo Bay to address criticism that the proposed development sits on a "mud flat" which is impassable as tidal waters drop in the periods before and after low tides, about half of each day.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers warns of increased project costs should such an effort be undertaken while noting the cost would be borne under "polluter pays" rules which may well be the City of New Rochelle given the proximate location of the Department of Public Works yard which slopes directly into the effected areas.

In 2005, under a federal grant obtained by U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, the Army Corps of Engineers cooperated with the City of New Rochelle to evaluate the potential for aquatic environmental restoration of Echo Bay. Information was collected in October 2005 using PVC pipes to pull soil samples from sediment in the North channel (between the DPW Yard and the County Waste Water Treatment Plant) and the South channel (between the Sutton Manor neighborhood and the Nelstad plant back towards the old Con Ed plant) and several locations further out in Echo Bay.

Two Army Corps of Engineers reports were published under the authority provided under Section 206 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1996, which states the Corps may plan, design and build projects to restore aquatic ecosystems for fish and wildlife. Under the law, projects must be in the public interest and cost effective and are limited to $5 million in Federal cost. At the time, the U.S. Army Engineer District, New York was considering plans for environmental restoration of Echo Bay under Section 206. Preliminary investigations in support of this plan included the gathering of baseline information on biological resources.

The first report, Characterization Of Intertidal Benthic Invertebrate Asssemblages Of Echo Bay, New York, was published in March 2006. The report focused on the distribution and status of intertidal benthic invertebrate assemblages in Echo Bay. According to the report, benthic invertebrates are "a critical part of estuarine food chains, providing forage for economically and ecologically important finfish and shellfish species as well as migratory shorebirds".

Benthic invertebrates are "organisms that live on the bottom of a water body (or in the sediment) and have no backbone. The size of benthic invertebrates spans 6-7 orders of magnitude [1]. They range from microscopic (e.g. microinvertebrates, less than 10 microns) to a few tens of centimetres or more in length (e.g. macroinvertebrates, >50 cm). Benthic invertebrates live either on the surface of bedforms (e.g. rock, coral or sediment - epibenthos) or within sedimentary deposits (infauna), and comprise several types of feeding groups e.g. deposit-feeders, filter-feeders, grazers and predators. The abundance, diversity, biomass and species composition of benthic invertebrates can be used as indicators of changing environmental conditions."

Excerpts from the Intertidal Benthic Invertebrate Asssemblages report:

  • The relatively low diversity, low abundance species assemblage of Echo Bay intertidal benthos is indicative of an area experiencing environmental stress. Comparison with other New England intertidal flats (Table 8) illustrates this point.
  • One species that is notably missing from Echo Bay is the amphipod Corophium volutator. This species is present on most North Atlantic tidal flats and is usually one of the numerical dominants. The absence not only of this species, but all amphipod species is highly suggestive of disturbance (e.g., Swartz et al. 1982, Warwick 2001). Amphipods are known to be sensitive to most forms of pollution and are often used in bioassays to assess the sediment toxicity (Rand and Petrocelli 1985).
  • Corophium volutator itself has been shown to be sensitive to oil pollution (Leppakoski and Lindstrom 1978, McLusky and Martins 1998), metal pollution (Conradi and Depledge 1998), and physical disturbance in the form of sedimentation (Turk et al. 1980).
  • In conclusion, the community structure and species composition of Echo Bay intertidal invertebrates are indicative of disturbed conditions. Species diversity and numerical abundance values are low compared to other North Atlantic intertidal assemblages. Likewise, the absence of an amphipod fauna and the species Corophium volutator in particular, are unlike reports from other tidal flats and suggest the presence of one or more environmental stressors.

The second report, Echo Bay Sediment Sampling/Analysis, was published in 2006. The report focused on Volatile Organic Compounds and Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds which include pesticides, PCBS and toxic metals.

Excerpts from the Sediment Sampling/Analysis report:

Introduction

As part of the co-operative effort between the US Army Corps of Engineers, New York District (District) and the City Of New Rochelle, the District collected sediment samples from the upper areas of Echo Bay. The samples were collected from two separate channels that extend landward from the main part of the bay. The two channels have been labeled North and South Channels for this report. The North Channel extends inland approximately 600 feet off the bay, and the South channel extends about 500 feet inland off the bay.

The areas sampled are shallow and tidal. Access exists only during high tide. Both channels are narrow, ranging from 100 to 150 feet in width. Existing land use along the South Channel ranges from residential to commercial (warehouse operations) to a former dock previously used by the local power company (Consolidated Edison). This former dock area has since been remediated by this power company. Remediation involved excavation of the sediments in that area that contained high levels of hydrocarbons and low levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The North Channel is bounded by city land (on the east side) that contains the Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW). On the west side land use is characterized by warehouse operations and truck parking.

Laboratory Analysis

Laboratory analysis showed the following: There were no VOA (Volatile Organic Compounds) levels of concern. There were elevated levels of SVOAs (Semi-Volatile Organics), which are discussed below. There were no issues with Pesticides, as minimal levels were noted. There were no PCBs found. There are however significant levels of metals in several samples.

Volatile Organic Compounds include Formaldehyde, d-Limonene, toluene, acetone, ethanol (ethyl alcohol) 2-propanol (isopropyl alcohol), hexanal.
Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds include Pesticides (DDT, chlordane, plasticizers (phthalates), fire retardants (PCBs, PBB)).

Every sample had elevated numbers for SVOAs. The North Channel and higher numbers than the South Channel.

Possible reasons for the North Channel having higher levels include but are not limited to the following: the warehouse operations and truck parking along the west side of the channel, past industrial activities with un-controlled discharges into the channel. It is likely that the low SVOA readings for the South Channel are the result of the Consolidated Edison dredging and remediation several years ago that removed the impacted sediments in that channel.

Excerpts from the Sediment Sampling/Analysis report regarding Metals:

Metals

The metals analyzed were: Arsenic, Barium, Cadmium, Chromium, Lead, Mercury, Selenium and Silver.

No Selenium and Silver was found. Arsenic, Barium, Cadmium, Chromium, Lead, and Mercury were found. Arsenic, Cadmium, and Chromium were present but below threshold levels. Barium, Lead, and Mercury were found above threshold levels.

NYSDEC threshold numbers are 218 ppm for Lead, .71 ppm for Mercury and 300 ppm for Barium.

9 of 20 samples had detectable Lead levels Sample NR-11 in the South Channel had the highest Lead level at 904 ppm. The highest level of Lead in the North Channel was NR-10 at 572 ppm.

Overall the North Channel is relatively “clean” of Mercury with only two samples with detectable levels. Those samples are NR-5 with 1.27 ppm at the top of the channel and NR-10 with 1.64 ppm at the opposite end of the channel. The South Channel had four samples with detectable Mercury levels: NR-1, -2, -3 and -11. Sample NR -1 has the highest Mercury level at 7.12 ppm.

One sample, NR-11 had an estimated level of Barium at 1010 ppm, an estimated value because the laboratory device running the analysis reached its design limit for analysis of Barium.

The presence of heavy metals and their concentrations will influence the limits of any ecosystem restoration work in accord with the provisions of ER 1105-2-100, ER 1165-2- 132 and EP 1165-2-502 as pertaining to Hazardous, Toxic and Radioactive Waste.

Mercury levels exceed the ERM threshold of .71 ppm in concentrations that range from less than 10% upwards to 1000%. The main concerns would be to determine if any restoration work can take place, and to find acceptable placement or disposal facilities, as warranted. Any sediments, as described above, transported off site may be listed as hazardous due to Mercury levels and would require more costly placement and disposal.

Conclusions

There are significant concerns with respect to the extent of any potential aquatic ecosystem restoration project given the high recorded levels of Mercury and SVOA’s encountered in this investigation. Corps regulations and guidance place restrictions on participating in projects where HTRW is present. Potential projects would be formulated so as to avoid HTRW locations. The mere presence of certain contaminants, even if they are below CERCLA or RCRA trigger concentrations, would also impact project costs in terms of handling, oversight and placement safeguards and requirements. The proximity of still active warehouse/truck storage areas, the SVOAs and Mercury could make potential improvements tenuous in terms of sustainability. Additional analysis should be conducted to determine which areas may afford better chances for restoration success in accord with Federal, State and local regulations. In all cases, legacy contaminants shall be subject to the polluter pays principle as under CERCLA or RCRA. A determination must be made as to the defined limits of what is restorable and what requires remediation and /or falls under the HTRW exclusions mentioned above

Benthic Report.pdf

EchoBay-HTRW-writeup1.pdf

EchoBay-HTRW-writeup2.pdf

Echo Bay HTRW sampling locations.pdf

Echo Geo Appendix 2008.pdf

project maps.pdf

TestLabAnalysis1.pdf

TestLabAnalysis2.pdf

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For those who are interested in the inside baseball of how the City of New Rochelle seeks to block public access to information, I have included my five months worth of exchanges with City Clerk Bennie Giles in which the City Clerk goes to great lengths not to turn over the documents that were eventually obtained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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From: Robert Cox [mailto:mediablogger.org@gmail.com] On Behalf Of Robert Cox
Sent: Monday, July 29, 2013 3:31 PM
To: Giles, Bennie
Subject: FOIL request - Army Corp of Engineers Survey of Echo Bay from around 2006

Bennie,

This is a public records request.

Sometime around Jan 1 2006, the Army Corp of Engineers did a survey of Echo Bay. I do not know the exact date but that is the approximate time frame. I believe it was environmental, perhaps having to do with dredging or soil samples and stuff like that.

I would like to read this. If it exists as a PDF doc I would like you to email it to me. If it only exists in hard copy I would like to set up a time during office hours to come in and review it.

Where possible I would like records in electronic format. If possible, I would like the electronic documents converted into standard Microsoft Office format (Word, Excel, etc.). I would like all communications including the delivery of documents to take place via email as much as is possible based on the nature of the available records.. I would like the Records Access Officer to certify that the records are genuine. If the documents only exist in paper form I am willing to pay. If the cost of converting the documents to a standard electronic format or making photos copies exceeds $20.00 I would like prior notification of the estimated cost to comply with this records request.

Thanks.

Robert Cox

Managing Editor
New Rochelle's Talk of the Sound
http://www.newrochelletalk.com

From: "Giles, Bennie"
Date: July 29, 2013, 3:35:51 PM EDT
To: Robert Cox
Subject: REsponse: FOIL request - Army Corp of Engineers Survey of Echo Bay from around 2006

I am replying to your Freedom of Information Law request for a survey done by the Army Corp of Engineers regarding Echo Bay which was received on 7/29/2013. Your request will be forward to the appropriate department (s) for research.

FOIL requests are generally granted or denied within twenty business days from the date of your request. If the records you requested require more than twenty business days to prepare, we will advise you in writing of a date certain that they can be available.

After the research has been completed I will notify you of any document (s) which maybe available. Copies of standard sized documents are twenty-five cents each and any documents that are larger or require to be sent out for duplication will cost more. You will be advised of the necessary fees due, if any, in order to obtain copies of the records you requested.

Take care and enjoy the afternoon,
Bennie Giles

On Aug 6, 2013, at 9:02 AM, "Giles, Bennie" wrote:

Good morning Mr. Cox,
In response to your FOIL, I forwarded your request to our Development Department which was forwarded to the DPW. The results of their research is below.

Our DPW City Engineer indicates that the dredging work performed in 2006 was for the Municipal Marina, not for Echo Bay. The Marina was dredged in order to provide sufficient "draft" to facilitate boats accessing the Marina. The dredged material was hauled to a landfill in New Jersey since there are no landfills in NYS.

Take care and enjoy the day,
Bennie Giles

From: Robert Cox
Subject: Re: REsponse: FOIL request - Army Corp of Engineers Survey of Echo Bay from around 2006
Date: August 6, 2013 9:50:26 AM EDT
To: "Giles, Bennie"
Cc: "Gill, Kathleen"

Heh. Nice try!!!

When are you guy going to learn: I don't ask questions I don't already know the answer to.

See if this email exchange jogs any memories.

ArmyCorpsEng EchoBaySoil copy

From: Robert Cox
Subject: Re: REsponse: FOIL request - Army Corp of Engineers Survey of Echo Bay from around 2006
Date: September 1, 2013 4:15:17 PM EDT
To: "Giles, Bennie"

Status?

Sent from my iPhone so please excuse any typos.

On Sep 9, 2013, at 4:35 PM, "Giles, Bennie" wrote:

Hello Bob,
I just got back from vacation. I will answer your request tomorrow.
Bennie

From: Robert Cox
Subject: Re: REsponse: FOIL request - Army Corp of Engineers Survey of Echo Bay from around 2006
Date: September 9, 2013 5:09:56 PM EDT
To: "Giles, Bennie"

I figured it was an end of summer thing. Thanks for looking into it. I have a few other things into you plus one thing you did already pull for me. When you get settled back in maybe you can sort that out and I can stop by later in the week

Sent from my iPhone so please excuse any typos.

From: "Giles, Bennie"
Subject: RE: REsponse: FOIL request - Army Corp of Engineers Survey of Echo Bay from around 2006
Date: September 9, 2013 5:31:51 PM EDT
To: Robert Cox

Will do, Bob.
Take care and enjoy the evening,
Bennie

From: "Giles, Bennie"
Subject: RE: REsponse: FOIL request - Army Corp of Engineers Survey of Echo Bay from around 2006
Date: October 11, 2013 9:08:10 AM EDT
To: Robert Cox
Cc: "Gill, Kathleen"

Hello Mr. Cox,
The email exchange I forwarded was all about soil samples for a feasibility study for an ecosystem restoration project along Echo Bay per Ms. D'Amato's response to Ms. Selin. As I mentioned to you in my earlier email, the Department of Public Works, City Engineer, indicates that the dredging work performed in 2006 was for the Municipal Marina, not for Echo Bay. In checking with Ms. Reider (Ms. D'Amato) she does not know the results of the feasibility study conducted in 2006 nor does anyone in our Development Department (they are all newer that 2006).

However, I did search further in our Archives, Publications Files and around City Hall for any results of the Army Corp of Engineers study findings. I have found Public Notice No. 9921 produced in July, 1979 by the Corp of Army Engineers reporting the results of the feasibility study. It consists of twenty (20) pages, printed two sides and two maps.

At the statutory rate of twenty-five cents per page and $2.50 for the two maps your he total cost of the study results plus the maps is $10.00 ( I will not charge you for two side printing). We will reproduce these documents upon payment.

Take care and enjoy the day.
Bennie Giles

Begin forwarded message:

From: Robert Cox
Subject: PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST FROM JULY 2013 -- "feasibility study for an ecosystem restoration project along Echo Bay"
Date: October 15, 2013 at 10:58:49 AM EDT
To: Bennie Giles
Cc: Kathleen Gill

Mr. Giles,

Yikes!

In looking through my email records, I do not see any email exchange that you forwarded me regarding information about "soil samples for a feasibility study for an ecosystem restoration project along Echo Bay". Until I see can read that I can comment on any such email exchange you say you sent me. In either case, please send it now so that I may review.

What I can say is that in my FOIL request I have not asked you for an email exchange. Also, I did not ask for a report on a dredging project. I did not ask about a project from 1979. I did not ask about the New Rochelle Marina or any other marina. Therefore, I would appreciate it if you would desist from raising these topics which appear to be red herrings. I have no earthly idea how you imagine that Public Notice No. 9921 produced in July, 1979 by the Corp of Army Engineers (sic) could be "reporting the results of the feasibility study" when the feasibility study I have FOIL'd for was ongoing in 2006 unless perhaps the Army Corp of Engineers has developed some sort of time travel device.

Let's look at my actual request and not your continuing mischaracterization of my request:

"Sometime around Jan 1 2006, the Army Corp of Engineers did a survey of Echo Bay. I do not know the exact date but that is the approximate time frame. I believe it was environmental, perhaps having to do with dredging or soil samples and stuff like that. I would like to read this. If it exists as a PDF doc I would like you to email it to me. If it only exists in hard copy I would like to set up a time during office hours to come in and review it."

You reply was "Our DPW City Engineer indicates that the dredging work performed in 2006 was for the Municipal Marina, not for Echo Bay. The Marina was dredged in order to provide sufficient "draft" to facilitate boats accessing the Marina. The dredged material was hauled to a landfill in New Jersey since there are no landfills in NYS."

I sent you a copy of an email exchange which shows an official from the New Rochelle Development Office communicating with a former City Council Member in 2006 about a feasibility study for an ecosystem restoration project along Echo Bay (emphasis added).

That email exchange indicates the following:

1. Funding was secured by Rep. Nita Lowey.
2. Work was done some time around Jan 1. 2006
3. The work was done by the Army Corps of Engineers
4. The work done included a boat putting white rods in the water
5. The location of the work is described as "the water BEHIND Sutton Manor" and "the channel between Sutton Manor and Development area" where "Development area" refers to Echo Bay Development.

I believe it is QUITE CLEAR what I am asking for and that is is EQUALLY CLEAR that I am not asking about a project to dredge the New Rochelle Marina or some work done by the Army Corps of Engineers over 30 years ago.

Given the foot dragging here and what appears to be a willful obtuseness on your part, I would like to now amend my request beyond the results of the study done by the Army Corp of Engineers to now also include ALL records that reference what Ms. D'Amato has described as "a feasibility study for an ecosystem restoration project along Echo Bay". this including communications such as letters and emails including, but not exclusively, communications between the City of New Rochelle and Rep. Nita Lowey or her representatives, the City of New Rochelle and the Army Corps of Engineers and the City of New Rochelle and any developers or related entities involved in the Echo Bay Development project between 2004 to present.

I am willing to speak directly and work with your office to narrow the scope of my request if that will help get me the information that I have been seeking since July -- the outcome of the survey referenced by Ms. D'Amato (Reider) but in the absence of any expressed interest THIS WEEK to do that, please act on my amended request.

AS for Ms. Reider/D'Amato, her LinkedIn Profile (http://linkd.in/167uRkp) states that she has been employed by the City of New Rochelle since 2001 and, as you have in your email, states that she is CURRENTLY employed. So, while many people may be new in the Development Department since 2006, the central figure in my request has been there the entire time. I have no idea why you feel it somehow excuses you of the obligation to produce the public records I have been requesting for more than 2 months that there are employees in the Development Department with hire dates after 2006.

Please expedite a response to my request so that I am more quickly determine whether an appeal to Chuck is in order.

Thank you.

Robert Cox

Managing Editor
New Rochelle's Talk of the Sound
http://www.newrochelletalk.com

From: Robert Cox
Subject: Re: PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST FROM JULY 2013 -- "feasibility study for an ecosystem restoration project along Echo Bay"
Date: November 18, 2013 at 3:45:14 PM EST
To: Bennie Giles
Cc: Kathleen Gill , Chuck Strome

Mr. Giles,

I made my request in July. It is now the week before Thanksgiving.

It is my interpretation of your response (or lack thereof) that your failure to produce the records I seek is willful, part of an attempt to block information that might be derogatory towards Forest City.

You serve at the pleasure of Mayor Noam Bramson, the most vocal proponent of the plan and you visited the Forest City web site and completed their online petition to support Forest City’s project which suggest you lack impartiality in this matter.

There is no doubt the records that I seek exist and possessed by the City of New Rochelle.

Given your conduct in kicking my request down the road I intend to publish this exchange as I publish the records related to this request.

As you are paid by ALL the people of New Rochelle it would be nice to think you would bring a certain degree of impartiality and fairness to your role as Public Records Officer for the City of New Rochelle.

I am disappointed but hardly surprised.

Have a nice day.

Robert Cox

Managing Editor
New Rochelle's Talk of the Sound
http://www.newrochelletalk.com

Commenting on this Blog entry is closed.

Bob McCaffrey on Wed, 11/20/2013 - 22:29

New Rochelle, Dejavu all over again!

If what has been uncovered is correct, what surprises are in store for New Rochelle Taxpayers at The proposed Beechwood Avenue Site for The New City Yard?

If what has been uncovered is correct then we must ask ourselves, The New Rochelle City Council, The City Manager and the City Staff, What surprises are in store for New Rochelle Taxpayers at The proposed Beechwood Avenue Site for The New City Yard? That plan has just as many flaws in it as Echo Bay has Mud. It is time for a new beginning. I hope that the apology by The Mayor last night is a step towards new thinking and better judgment. However, we cannot let down our guard because we have seen this viscous cycle play out with every development project here in New Rochelle. We will have a continuation of The Never-Ending flawed plans, bad deals and bad deals for the Citizens of New Rochelle. The knee jerk responses claiming political attacks of the mayor, some members of council and city staff claims must stop. I have yet to see them show us that any of the claims are false. The deeper we get the more the facts support what many have said before on this site and at Citizens to be Heard.

Go back and read some of the past articles on the subject, be informed. Information and knowledge are our best arsenal against poor planning and greedy politicians and developers with nothing but self-interest and dollar signs in their minds. Read the facts because this also involves The City Yard move and its poor planning, flawed process and political games. This is no longer a perception!

Just released today, Discrepancies are found in NDC’s Report on Echo Bay. United Citizens for a Better New Rochelle (UCBNR) received the National Development Council (NDC) report on the Echo Bay project.

http://echobayfacts.com/2013/11/20/discrepancies-found-in-ndcs-report-on...

Article Talk of the Sound:
Discrepancies Found in New Rochelle Consultant's Report on Echo Bay Tax Abatement
By United Citizens... on Wed, 11/20/2013
http://www.newrochelletalk.com/content/discrepancies-found-new-rochelle-...

Article New Rochelle Patch:
New Rochelle City Yard OK'd for Financing
The city council authorized issuing bonds up to $25 million for a new City Yard facility.
Posted by Michael Woyton (Editor), November 14, 2012
http://newrochelle.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/new-rochell...

Article Talk of the Sound:
With Cart Again Before Horse, New Rochelle City Council Prepares to Borrow $19.6 MM
By Robert Cox on Tue, 11/13/2012
http://www.newrochelletalk.com/content/cart-again-horse-new-rochelle-cit...

From the article and information from City Council meetings:
1) On February 14, 2012, City Council passed a bond resolution to finance the design and planning costs of a proposed new replacement public works facility at the Beechwood site. In the amount of $600,000.

2) Design consultants, Lothrop Associates, provided an analysis which determined the costs are higher than originally anticipated. It is estimated that the total project cost at the Beechwood site will be $19 million and the total project cost at the existing East Main Street site will be $24.4 million.

3) The original specifications for a new City Yard site were for a property of no less than 4.0 acres, a size meant to include all DPW operations at East Main Street and Pelham Road. The property that was purchased at Beechwood Avenue was less than 3.0 acres.

4) A new solution was found in purchasing an adjacent property, at an additional cost. This property has significant remediation needs which have been estimated at between $2-3 million. This cost is not incorporated in the original estimate or the new estimate.

5) The original estimate was based on work done by Dolph Rotfeid Engineering. Michael Ritchie works at Dolph Rotfeid Engineering. Ritchie was the New Rochelle Development Commissioner from 2000 to 2003 and was intimately familiar with New Rochelle the proposed Beechwood Avenue site.

6) Currently the Beechwood Avenue site is being used as a leaf transfer station not just for New Rochelle but for other municipalities in the area.

Article Talk of the Sound:
New Rochelle Estimates for New DPW Yard Doubles in a Month: $13mm to $19mm to $25mm
By Robert Cox on Thu, 11/15/2012
http://www.newrochelletalk.com/content/new-rochelle-estimates-new-dpw-ya...

Some points stated in the 11/15/12 article; The New Rochelle City Council authorized the issuance of $25 million in bonds to build a new DPW Yard on Beechwood Avenue on that Tuesday.

In October 2012, the estimate for the cost to building a new DPW yard stood as $13 million, by November 1,2012 that figure changed to $19 million and then during the council meeting, The City Council was given a new figure of $25 million by The City Manager and then vote to approve the higher rate of bond. At the time, Councilmember Rice joined Councilmember Trangucci and Tarantino in voting against the increased amount.

The increased amount came in response to concerns raised at the previous City Council meeting by Albert Tarantino who noted that when the work first began on moving the City Yard the plan was to consolidate operations at the East Main Street yard with those at 40 Pelham Road which includes both DPW and Parks department operations. The City Manager proposed acquiring additional adjacent property, through condemnation if necessary and he was "highly confident" that the suddenly expanded project could be built for $25 million.

Council Member Al Tarantino said he could not support such an undefined, open-ended, large expenditure, “There’s too many holes in it, I need better information before I vote to move forward.”

Several Council Members, including Democrats Shari Rackman and Ivar Hyden, expressed concerns about the impact on taxpayers, even those voting to approve the $25 million bond. Mayor Bramson began by angrily denouncing the concerns expressed about the burden on taxpayers, calling it a "false narrative". Could they be narratives spoken by false heads that don’t count?

Article Talk of the Sound:
Can A New City Yard Avoid Bonding?
By Peggy Godfrey on Tue, 07/02/2013
http://www.newrochelletalk.com/content/can-new-city-yard-avoid-bonding

“Councilman Barry Fertel asked whether five votes were needed to rescind the already approved bonds. He was told that rescission and the new lease agreement using the LDC and NDC needed only four votes to pass. He had concerns about whether local contractors would be used and was told that they will be used to the extent possible and available. Trangucci asked about the contamination on the site and Marsh answered that he could not give an answer, because NDC does not know what contamination is on the site. Bramson closed the discussion by saying this project proposal will be revisited in the coming months”.

Article New Rochelle Daily Voice:
New Rochelle Engineering Study: New City Yard
By Justin Stock News 01/13/12
http://newrochelle.dailyvoice.com/news/new-rochelle-engineering-study-ne...

“The Beechwood site already meets all current and projected operational standards and spatial requirements for DPW. The location has already been reviewed under the terms of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA)”.

Where is the information and why isn’t it shared with the people? Why must everything on the City Council; Agenda discussion items be listed as To Follow. I have said this before, if they are ready to discuss the item, then there must be information to discuss and reference. Let’s get it together in the interest of an open government. You want to save money in the budget, stop having to revisit information several times, get the correct information, give the citizens of New Rochelle the correct information to make proper judgments’ and decisions. This alone would stop the multitude of FOIL Requests that are done every year just to bring out the truths and facts that are hidden.

So here we are at a point where minds can be changed and proper decisions made in the best interest of the heads/citizens of New Rochelle. We must undertake these steps back in order to re-group and move forward for a better stronger New Rochelle. The one project that can move forward without any of the others is of course, The Armory Site. As has been said, Use this as the catalyst for the others. Not the other way around.

“Common Sense for the Common Good”.

Bob McCaffrey on Wed, 11/20/2013 - 00:09

New Rochelle proposed granting of Echo Bay project to Forest City Ratner is potentially a deal rife with holes and misrepresentation to community!

This just came across my desk. Most of you know that I have been urging the Council and Community leaders to talk about a number of critical matters affecting taxpayers and other members of the community. High on the list is the proposed granting of a project, Echo Bay, to Forest City Ratner. The potential deal is rife with holes, is cost negative, deals with an organization which has a poor reputation for honest brokering and, in fact, has been misrepresented to the community as a viable option for reducing City budget and taxpayers' burdens. As a point of fact, this proposed project directly affects the DPW yard as well as the Armory and volumes have also be written in opposition to each. They are inexorably connected to each other as well as needed commercial downtown development and the west end community scheduled to inherit a poorly thought out move of DPW functions from their present location to Beechwood Avenue.

Echo Bay is largely a residential problems defined as being part of the overall waterfront development of New Rochelle. I have proposed that the City Council take a giant step backward and essentially see whether they can legally stop any further action on the DPW bond issue, which continues to rise, as does its budgeted costs. In addition, other expense items, such as the move to override the New York State's tax increase cap, has strongly suggested that the City Attorney look at the question of putting a hold on the proposed bonding of the DPW as well as the Echo Bay project. Strong opposition, both at the voting booth in terms of the recent run by Noam Bramson for County Executive, physical evidence of the community's growing view to cancel the Echo Bay project as designed, as well as a rather unprecedented violation of an agreed to Council Resolution to table further discussion on Echo Bay until early next year, has left many in the community with a bitter taste for how our community exercises the democratic process.

This is not Toronto Canada. This is New Rochelle and to this point, I have received no evidence that the Council or Community would inquire as to their rights, roles, and responsibilities, both consistent with the City Charter and explicit in the growing viewpoint, both inside and outside of the City Council, on Echo Bay, the Armory, and the DPW Yard. As a former business executive, I see no reason not to review whether a poorly designed DPW project, with its questionable project information facts and thus, deficient location for a new yard, should not warrant an inquiry as to whether the bonding issue can be overturned even if a penalty clause was enacted. There are growing questions over additional tax to the community and real concerns over the quality and even honesty, over the various environmental impact statements, makes this imperative.

Today, Bob Cox was successful in coming up with potentially disturbing information on the health and safety of the waters in the bay and there can be no question that the City Administration knew or should have known about the findings and conclusions. As I mentioned in other communicate, Con Edison has been developing plans and small-print publishing these in the local press. It is impossible for me, literally impossible for me to think that the findings by the Engineers on the quality of the water and other environmental findings, was unknown to the City and perhaps, to Forest City Ratner. What is more logical is to conclude that any further work on this key corridor on East Main Street should stop immediately, the legal staff or outside counsel should examine all project documentation and Environmental study information while also critically examine the growing tax payer expense base in New Rochelle and putting a hold on the bond issue for DPW (and so the project) as a short-term financial remedy for budget year 2014.Such would, in my judgment accomplish the positive purpose of cancelling the relationship with Forest City, seeing even in the most skeptical eyes that Echo Bay does not remotely resemble a waterfront development effort, and leave the Council free and unencumbered to do what the majority of the Community wants and needs, simply tax relief and fair, impartial, responsive and accountable government.

I know some of the meanings and implications of the Cox findings, not all of it to be sure. I do not have to know any of it to judge that where there is smoke, there is fire. We have a cumulative effort as honest members of the voting public, to challenge this current government and its failure to protect the taxpayer and especially, to neglect the rule of city law as written in our City Charter.

Tonight there is a Council meeting beginning at 7pm on the City Budget and perhaps the Echo Bay project. I call upon the Council to discuss in depth, fearlessly and openly the issues on the table and for those in the community who are rightfully concerned about these matters, to act aggressively and directly in expressing their views to their Council Members.

Warren

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