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Mayor Bramson Announces Highly Invasive GreeNR "Sustained Development" Plan for New Rochelle

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Mayor Bramson Announces Highly Invasive GreeNR "Sustained Development" Plan for New Rochelle

April 25, 2010 - 23:38
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GreeNR-Large.jpgMayor Noam Bramson announced the results of his "Sustained Development" Plan at the City Council meeting on April 20th.

Say goodbye "property rights" and hello "collectivism"!

The plan mixes warm and fuzzy ideas everyone can support like adding more bike lines and walking trails, rain gardens, encouraging more recycling and increasing the number of children using City parks with onerous new regulations, aggressive new enforcement polices and a series of back-door tax increases couple with initiatives that have nothing to do with protecting the environment like increasing the number of people relying exclusively on the City government for news and information about New Rochelle, offering ESL classes to adults, tripling the number of artists living in the City and building additional subsidized housing. One idea in the plan is to create "friendly competition" among residents by distributing residents Con Ed bills to their neighbors to see who is "saving" the environment more, something that sounds a lot more like a gross invasion of privacy where my neighbor gets my electric bill and then ratsme out to some Green Czar in City Hall if they think I have too many of the wrong sort of lightbulbs.

The Mayor's plan is nothing less than a massive power grab by government designed to dictate terms to residents and place every decision through a "social justice" prism masquerading as environmental policy.

According to Mayor Bramson's Blog:

GreeNR articulates a broad vision for economic, environmental and social progress, while also outlining a detailed, specific and achievable plan of action tailored to our own community. It is intended to be a framework for goal-setting and decision-making that can help guide municipal action for the next twenty years. (emphasis added)

You can Download the GreeNR Draft Sustainability Plan from New Rochelle's web site and view the presentation to Council on the Mayor's web site.

UPDATE: Quite a few readers have informed me of problems downloading the Plan from the City web site. I looked into this and discovered that whoever converted the file from its original format (probably Quark or similar publishing platform) did not properly convert/remove the image masks and so many very large image files were retained in the PDF causing the file to be 110 MB. I was not able to completely eliminate the image issue but did reduce the file size from 110 MB to 8.3 MB, a far more manageable size.

GreeNR Draft Sustainability Plan (reduced size version)

The Journal News recently asked the Mayor about the term "sustained development". Notice how will not explain what the term means only about what is contained in the plan that uses that name.

Q. For a city like New Rochelle, what does it mean to be “sustainable”?

A. Our sustainability plan, GreeNR focuses on environmental conservation, economic growth and social equity. Its specific goals include reduced energy consumption, wastewater and flood control, habitat protection, expanded urban forestry, and transit-oriented development.

Why won't proponents of so-called "sustained development" explain what the term means?

To better understand what the Mayor means by terms like "sustained development" and "social progress" or "social equity", New Rochelle residents are well advised to understand more about ICLEI, the Belgian-based, United Nations-backed, organization that Mayor has brought into the City of New Rochelle under the guise of "going green". As readers will find, ICLEI uses a "boiling frog" approach to foist its agenda on unsuspecting American citizens, an agenda far more radical than the Mayor is letting on, with the ultimate goal to lock in New Rochelle to their agenda for the coming decades without residents understanding the ultimate goals of this organization or what "forced sacrifices" they will be required to make under the ICLEI-inspired regime the Mayor seeks to impose through the friendly sounding "GreeNR" plan.

Make no mistake about the massive significance of this "Sustained Development" plan.

The Full Plan document begins by stating that as "ongoing standard practice, relevant municipal actions, such as Comprehensive Plan updates, zoning amendments, development agreements, and environmental assessments, should be reviewed for consistency with GreeNR’s objectives." In other words, every decision made in the City of New Rochelle would be filtered through the prism of GreeNR so that the goals of GreeNR becomes the determining factor in the lives of every New Rochelle resident in perpetuity. The Full Plan goes on to required that the "City Administration should prioritize implementation of GreeNR, coordinate staff activities as necessary to fully develop strategies for action, and present decisions and options to the City Council in a timely and thorough fashion." In other words, all activities of the government and every employee of the government will be priortized to carry out the "Sustained Development" plan. Of course, there is some blather about how the City Council can always change their mind but realize that anyone person who dares oppose a GreeNR initiative will be accused to not caring about "the future", "our kids", "the environment", "health", "quality of life" and every other demagogic term under the sun. Imagine the way the teachers union demands more and more "for the kids" by which they mean "for themselves". Now square that and you have a rough idea of how difficult it will be to unwind the damage created by this ICLEI-inspired, United Nations-backed program.

In the meantime, be sure to read

All About ICLEI - A Seven Part Series on the Radical Group Behind "GreenNR"

Plan on attending the City Council's public hearing on the GreeNR Draft on Tuesday, May 11th at 7:30pm. Speakers will be allotted three minutes each, although longer comments can be submitted in writing. You can sign up to speak when you arrive and do not need to pre-register.

Having now read through the entire document and researched the organizations behind all of this in the "All About ICLEI" Series mentioned above, I would like to suggest a few questions New Rochelle residents might want to ask...

Can the Mayor explain EXACTLY what he means about the term "sustained development"?

What is the "social progress" he is talking about?

The draft plan says that "Achieving GreeNR’s goals will require an ongoing commitment to sustainability, demonstrated not only through public policy, but also through individual action." What "individual action" will this Sustained Development Plan "require" of residents. What will be the penalties for individuals who do not comply with the individual action requirements?

The Sustained Development Plan says that the average New Rochelle resident generates 103 gallons of sewage. That is a lot of sewage for one person; how was that number calculated?

According to the Introduction, the entire premise for the Sustained Development Plan is "Human beings are consuming resources more quickly than they can regenerate". Based on what data? How was this number calculated? Who provided the data and who made the calculations? Where did the concept "borrowing from the future" originate? Is that phrase part of a PR campaign by any particular organization?

Another premise of this Sustained Development Plan is that Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) or "man-made" Global Warming is a proven scientific fact. Is it not the case that scientists who have been among the foremost proponents of AGW have been found to fabricate or lost data to support their claims that AGW is real -- from claims about melting Himalayan Glaciers, phony tree ring data, and the infamous "Hockey Stick Graph" and many other scare-mongering claims have been now shown to be false.

The Sustained Development Plan asserts that "human activity is responsible for serious and harmful changes in the global environment, including increases in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases, with a consequent and accelerating rise in average global temperatures, now up 1.4 degrees since 1880". Is it not the case that the head of the Climatic Research Unit in England has now admitted in a BBC interview that there has been no global warming since 1995, that there have been warming periods before and that they were not due to man-made changes, that the data for the 'hockey stick graph' upon which the most hysterical claims have been made has "gone missing"

Further, isn't it true that the now discredited Climatic Research Unit is the group which maintained the time series of the instrumental temperature records that were featured prominently in both the 2001 and 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, that the IPCC itself was created by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme, both organizations of the United Nations? Isn't also true that the primary focus of the UN has been to address "climate change" by having wealthy nations give money to poor nations to "pay" for the "cost" of climate change rather than actually eliminating the underlying factor -- industrialization -- that AGW proponents claim causes AGW?

The Sustained Development Plan asserts that the "scientific consensus points to an additional increase in global temperatures of between 3.2 and 7.1 degrees Fahrenheit, with dire consequences." Meteorologist have trouble predicting the weather for the upcoming weekend. The City and School District cannot accurate predict next year's tax increase. So, what computer models are being used to make such temperature predictions? How are those models independently tested and verified for accuracy? Who came up with these exact figures of "between 3.2 and 7.1 degrees Fahrenheit"? Over what period of time will these changes occur and what "dire consequences" will result?

Why does this entire introduction document sound very much like the speech given by David Kooris last September at the kick-off event? Were these "findings" pre-determined? How much of this document is ICLEI boilerplate material and now part of original work done by local residents? The graphics are very sophisticated for a City of New Rochelle presentation and report, did some outside organization produce this material? What is ICLEI or a related organization?

The introduction references economic growth in less-developed countries and says "the direct relationship between economic growth, greenhouse gas emissions and resource consumption must be broken". How does GreeNR propose to do that when economic growth in less-developed countries entails a growing middle-class that wants to own homes, cars, computers, major appliances and other products which are a fact of modern life in developed nations. Do you propose to prohibit individuals from buying these products? Retard their economic growth to inhibit the growth of a middle class in less-developed countries? How is this all the responsibility of New Rochelle residents?

The introduction says "it is true that some possible solutions may entail monetary expense, challenges to traditional industries, and alterations in familiar personal habits". What are those, exactly?

What is meant by the phrase "we are capable of collective action when sufficiently motivated"? What is "collective action" and how is such action to be "sufficiently motivated"?

The report contains a photograph of bicycle racks in New Rochelle. The racks are empty. How much money and carbon emissions have been used to manufacture, transport, install and maintain these bicycle racks?

The report contains a photograph of people on Library Green. What is that photograph intended to convey to the reader?

The report says "New Rochelle has already taken a wide range of actions to achieve sustainability, including, but not limited to: transit-oriented development". Is the development referred to here primarily Avalon One and Avalon Two? If so, have these developments result in more or less vehicular traffic and carbon dioxide emissions to New Rochelle? Is it not the case that since the completion of the Avalon projects, parking in the downtown area has become a contentious issue due to the proliferation of vehicles in the downtown area as the result of the "transit-oriented development" referenced in the plan?

The report says "the communities that position themselves earliest and most fully as models of sustainable action are likely to benefit from national shifts towards greener commercial activity". How does "positioning" New Rochelle as a model of "sustainable action" cause the City to benefit from "greener commercial activity". What exactly is "greener commercial activity"? what exactly is "sustainable action"?

What does the report mean by "social advancement"? How does this plan achieve "social advancement"?

The report says "the private residential and commercial sectors in New Rochelle account for 97.5% of our local energy consumption, and for comparable percentages of waste generation, water use, and other measures of sustainability."? Given this, doesn't "sustained development" mean placing new restrictions on the use of private property, lifestyle choices and commercial activity?

The report contains projections for 2030. Based on current data, there are 75,000 people living in 28,000 households or 2.67 people per household. By 2030, the projections say New Rochelle will add 5,000 people and 2,500 households or 2.00 people per household. Why do the projections indicate that future growth will consist of households that are, on average, 25% smaller than today's households?

What is the source of data on Energy Use, CO2 Emissions, Non-Recycled Solid Waste, Water Use, Wastewataer Non-Storm Peak?

With regard to the 10 big goals, what does "subscribing" to the City website mean? People can visit a web site, they can bookmark it, they can type in the URL, they can subscribe to an RSS Feed (but they have to use an RSS reader for that). So, explain in detail what is meant by this term in this context? How does "subscribing" to the City web site help reduce energy use, carbon emissions, solid waste, wastewater, etc?

By 2030, the plan says there will be 2,500 new households and 95% of all new housing will be near mass transit. Define "near". If Avalon Two is 400 households, does that mean you are talking about building six additional 50 story towers in downtown New Rochelle? Or some equivalent high-rise buildings? Given that the number of children in Avalon One and Two far exceeds the original projects, what will the impact be on already overcrowded schools? Will new schools needs to be built? Where will the land come from to build those schools? Former school properties have been sold to commercial developers or turned over to the Parks Department. Will new schools mean less parks? Is there a conflict here between building more high-rise apartments and condos the need for more schools and the goals for more trees, more shoreline, preserving natural spaces, a comprehensive walking and bicycling system?

Much of the Action Plan regarding Energy Consumption are based on municipal initiatives -- green fleets, more efficient buildings, lighting, etc. - but all municipal energy consumption accounts for about 2.5% of the total. So how much impact will this really have?

The Action Plan says the City will "adopt requirements and guidelines to promote energy efficiency and conservation in the construction, renovation, and operation of buildings, with distinct standards for structures of different size and use." As 95% of new construction is expected to be downtown high-rise apartment buildings, how much of the new "requirements and guidelines" will entail current homeowners having to retro-fit their homes at their own expense? How is requiring homeowners to pay for alterations to their homes to comply with government regulation different from a tax?

What are some examples of how the City can generate energy on public lands?

The Plan calls for a local loan program for Efficiency & Conservation Loans. These will be needed to make meeting new building codes more affordable. This would suggest there is some expectation that property owners will not be able to afford to alter their properties to meet the new building codes. What is the basis for this? What is the expected per capita cost of these changes? By individual, by household, for individual homeowners, commercial property owners? How exactly is an "Efficiency & Conservation Loan" secured by property tax obligations? How can a loan be paid back by "energy savings"? Won't the lenders want actual money?

The plans sets a goal of 500 families composting their organic waste. How exactly does a family do this? What is organic waste? How is composted? Does the organic waste get stored on-site? Is it transported to a composting facility? Where will that composting facility be located? What impact on waste reduction goals will 500 families have on the goals of the plan?

The plan calls for "enhanced enforcement activities" to achieve the goal of near universal recycling. What will will these enforcement activities entail? Does this mean agents giving out tickets? What sort of fines are involved?

The plan calls for "recycling bins at public locations already served by trash collection". How many of these locations are there? What will be the impact on recycling collection? Will additional trucks and employees be required? How much will that cost?

How do you propose to reduce encouraged water conservation and control infiltration to "reduce stress on wastewater treatment facilities"? Does this entail additional changes to building codes? Will there be enforcement activities involved? What sort of fines will be involved? What staff will carry out the enforcement activities?

The plan calls for a study to consider creating a a regional composting site for New Rochelle and other nearby municipalities. What has been done elsewhere? How big are these facilities in other areas? What are the quality of life issues with becoming the regional composting site for lower Westchester?

What contaminated properties can be reclaimed in New Rochelle and then converted to public use?

What is "sustainable landscaping"? What codes impede "sustainable landscaping"?

What will stricter enforcement of idling laws entail?

Does putting the word "smart" in front of another word help differentiate the term in a meaningful way. For example, the plan calls for more "Transit-Oriented Smart Growth". Is that different from "building apartment buildings near the train station"? Is this really new? Larchmont's train station has been ringed by apartment buildings for over 50 years. What makes the New Rochelle plan "smart" and does that imply that the Larchmont plan from 50 years ago was "smarter" or "dumber" or what?

How do you propose to restrict undesirable growth in lower-density areas? Does this mean that the City is currently permitting undesirable growth in lower-density areas? If so, why? What areas are meant by this?

What does "better define optimum scale" mean?

The plans calls for fostering "green job" growth and attracting additional "green businesses" to New Rochelle. What would these "green businesses" be in addition to? In other words, what "green businesses" are currently in New Rochelle? What is the definition of a "green businesses"? Is a nursery a "green businesses"? What effort was made to retain the largest "green businesses" in New Rochelle, a company that made solar panels? Why did they leave?

What does attracting artists to New Rochelle have to do with being more "green"? Do artists consume less energy or emit less CO2 or generate less solid waste than non-artists? Artists are mentioned several times in this plan but no obvious connection is made between "Sustained Development" and the benefits associated with "arts and culture".

Are the walking and cycling goals realistic given the climate in New Rochelle? Is this not more of a seasonal thing? What is the basis for the claim that 3,300 people walk or bike to work?

There are already issues with parking in downtown, the plan calls for almost all new residences to be located in downtown, so where is the space for 350 bicycle spaces going to come from?

What is a “Complete Streets” policy?

What under-utilized alternative routes can be redesigned to facilitate downtown access?

How is the idea of a a free or low-cost "Jitney Service" different from Bee-Line Buses or Jim Killorin's proposed downtown trolley?

What sort of financial incentives would be created to discourage single occupancy vehicle commuting? Does this mean paying people who carpool, fining or creating new costs to those who do not carpool or both?

The plan calls for distributing GreeNR canvas tote bags. Will these be provided to residents at no cost? How much will this cost the City? Will stores be prohibited from giving customers plastic or paper bags?

How is English language instruction for New Rochelle residents a "Green" initiative?

Does "Outdoor Classrooms" mean sending teachers and children at the public schools out into the woods and parks? How is this practicable when only a few schools (e.g., Barnard, Ward, ALMS, NRHS, etc.) are in a reasonable proximity to woods and parks? Do these constitute field trips? Would special permission be requried? Is this a backdoor way to deal with overcrowding in our schools due to downtown development? What is rains?

The Action Plan says "data within GreeNR draws whenever possible on firm, objective sources." Which sources?

The Action Plan says "In many instances...hard data either could not be obtained or does not exist". Which instances?

The Action Plan says "educated assumptions were made...generally in consultation with relevant staff or community experts." Which staff or experts?

The Action Plan says a goal is to increase the average gas mileage of the municipal fleet by 50% from 10mpg to 15 mpg and reduce CO2 Emissions. The City has already put into service a "Green" garbage truck. What was the cost of acquiring the truck, all expenditures related to the truck prior to it going into service including costs related to problems with early attempts to outfit the truck, what have the cost of serving and maintenance of the truck since the first day it was on the street, in service, collecting garbage or other waste? Of the days since day one, how many days has the vehicle been available for service, how many days unavailable, how many day actually in service, how many days since the first day? How many miles per gallon did the vehicle get before it was "converted" to a green vehicle? How many miles per gallon does it get now?

The Action Plan seeks to base building codes on LEED Certification. Just to clarify this is the same LEED program created by the Natural Resources Defense Council? And isn't the Natural Resources Defense Council a project created by the Tides Foundation? And isn't this organization that has funded a wide range of radical groups including Islamist organizations like the Council for American Islamic Relations, a group with links to Hamas, and the Ruckus Society, a group of anarchist Greens who rioted and looted Seattle during the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting? Isn't the Tides Foundation founded and run by Drummond Pike who personally repaid early $1 million embezzled from ACORN by Dale Rathke, the brother of Wade Rathke, the founder of ACORN who served as Chief Organizer for ACORN from 1970 to 2008. And isn't this the same Wade Rathke who co-founded the Tides Center and currently sites on the Executive Board of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). And aren't these individual and their colleagues strong proponents of wealth re-distribution who believe the United States is fundamentally racist and who have a stated goal of destroying the U.S. Financial System? And, if this is the case, is it wise to base our building codes in New Rochelle on a certification process they created?

Why does the implementation of the LEED "framework" include a need to "evaluate these standards for possible legal challenges"?

Who will determine what is the "highest economically feasible LEED standard" within the framework and what criteria will be used"?

What confidence should residents have that the City can "effectively establish administrative procedures for overseeing and enforcing new standards, with the following general framework for issuance of approvals: a building permit for acceptable design, a temporary certificate of occupancy upon confirmation of compliance, and a final certificate of occupancy for demonstration of operations" when the City has been unable to enforce current requirements regarding building permits and certificates of occupancy which are widely abused, especially by municipal employees and their friends and families who are adept at "playing the C of O game"?

Many residents have expressed concerned over the way in which the IDA suspends its own procedures in order to accommodate developers like Louis Capelli and Forest City/Ratner. The Action Plan calls for "fast-track procedures" for building applications featuring green design which include applications to the IDA. Doesn't this undermine attempts to regularize IDA process?

What does "expand green building standards to encompass features beyond energy use". What other uses are envisioned here?

The Action Plan notes "Possible Higher Construction Cost for Municipal Construction". What higher costs? How much?

The Action Plan mentions "Primary Departmental Responsibility" for "Sustainability, Buildings, Development, Law". Does New Rochelle have a "Sustainability Department"? What is that? How does it function? Who runs it? Who does the department head report to within the City government?

In what areas will it be practical to "enhance reliance on Segways, bicycles, and other low-emission vehicle options"? How does the Mayor get to City Hall most days? How about the City Manager?

Why is appropriate to rely on "realtors and appraisers to establish a method for quantifying property value increases associated with GreeNR Seals"? Isn't their a conflict of interest here?

The Action Plan projects a $42 million increase in property values in 10 years due to the GreeNR Seal, based on what?

There are requirements for municipal buildings and private homes and businesses but none for "mid and high-rise building" where all changes appear to voluntarily and based on PR and moral suasion. Why are the mid and high-rise building exempt?

The Action Plan says "property owners can borrow the bond money to finance energy saving improvements and they repay the loan through a 15 - 20 year annual assessment on their property tax bills". How is this different than a tax?

Will time spent on the proposed City Green Team take municipal employees away from their assigned responsibilities?

The Action Plan says the City will issue violations to homeowners who fail to recycle with concentration of enforcement efforts on routes with low compliance levels. What routes are those?

Who will pay for property owner inspection and repair of lateral lines in conjunction with property sales if this is made a requirement? The home owner? The home buyer? The City?

What is the expected impact of variable pricing for water, with rates increased during peak hours and cut during non-peak hours? How can residents be assured that United Water will not simply raise rates at peak times, in effect, punishing peak usage without rewarding off-peak usage?

Would Ward Acres represent a good regional composting site that could be utilized by New Rochelle and other nearby municipalities? Or is this another "great idea" from the North End crowd that will be shoved into the South End?

The Action Plan says that no violation notices issued within New Rochelle in 2009. Why put anti-idling restrictions in place if enforcement will be nonexistent?

The City Manager said conducting observation and data collection to evaluate the adequacy of current parking requirements was not feasible prior to recommending recent changes to parking downtown so how will such observation and data collection occur

What are some reasons that non-commuters would want to use the Transit Center garage during evening and weekend hours?

What steps would be taken to reduce car ownership among residents in the transit district -- incentives, requirements, etc.?

What would be the purpose of a potential retrofit of portions of the Transit Center garage, for conversion to commercial use?

What ideas have been considered with regard to partnering with Metro-North and the New York State Thruway Authority to utilize air rights over their property for development? Have they done this elsewhere?

What is a "green business"? What is the difference between a green businesses and a business interested in greening their companies?

Does New York State law permit modifying IDA benefit standards to better target and promote green business attraction?

Why are the Workforce Housing goals part of a "Green" program? How is ensuring full compliance with County legacy grant obligations "green"?

Why is ensuring an adequate supply of appropriate and supportive senior housing part of the Action Plan for GreenNR?

What exactly is about artists that is "green"? How does tripling the number of artists living and/or working in New Rochelle impact the environment or contribute to "sustained development" of New Rochelle?

Wouldn't saving the armory building represent preservation of an historic structure? Wouldn't converting it to a sports facility, community center and/or museum be "creating a viable economic model for the adaptive reuse" of the Armory? Why is this not mentioned?

How does the goal of reducing traffic congestion and travel times around downtown comport with goal of adding 2,500 new households into the downtown area? Does this plan envision flying cars or other forms of personal aircraft?

Would the requirement of contributions from the owners of existing multi-family dwellings with fewer on-site parking spaces than current zoning would allow to fund a jitney service apply to buildings like Avalon Two which is allowed to count spaces in Avalon One?

How can ensure a fair system when you charge some public employees for a parking permit at City Hall while others get a credit for not parking when every employees personal situation is unique and so using or not using a car to get to work is more or less of an option?

How do you tell the difference between employees who "forgo" permits and those who simply do not need one? Why should employees who do not need a permit be paid for "forgoing" a permit while other employers who, for various reasons, need to get to work by car have to pay a fee? Will public employees simple park on nearby streets to avoid the permit fee? If they do park nearby and walk, will that count as "forgoing" a permit?

While it is nice that the parking permit rates are lower for scooters and motorcycles, isn't there a seasonal factor involved? Are scooters and motorcycles safe to drive in winter or on rainy days? Is a year-round cycling solution really practical for a northern locale like New Rochelle?

What would mandatory conservation and recycling standards for permitted events in public parks entail?

Is it not a gross violation of privacy to publicly display private resource consumption by residents to their neighbors? What is the difference between "friendly competition" and being nagged by a neighbor about water or electricity use? Can you foresee problems with neighbors discussing who uses more water or energy and who is being "wasteful", etc. Would the same apply to a comparable program for collecting and distributing recycling data? How different is this from turning neighbor against neighbor? Would neighbors report each other for violations?

How will a comprehensive community-wide plan for enhancing access to ESL instruction help the environment? What is "green" about this?

UPDATE, SOME ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS:

If there is such concern over the 7,500 residents who do not speak English why is this plan only available in English?

Given the massive impact of this plan, why is a copy not being mailed to every resident of New Rochelle?

Since April 2009, a Sustainability Advisory Board -- the primary forum for debating and resolving broad questions of GreeNR format and content-- has met roughly every 6 weeks. Are those meetings covered under the New York State Open Meeting Law. If not, why not?

Why are so many of the people on the GreeNR committees NOT residents of New Rochelle?

Why are sections of the GreenNR plan not being finalized until AFTER the plan is voted on by the City Council?

What is the correct pronunciation of this plan? Is it "Gree NR" or Green R". It is not "Green NR", right. I am going with "Green R" as it is a little easier for me to pronounced.

The GreeNR plan is being presented as "just" goals and objectives. If so, why does the plan say "REMAINDER TO BE FINALIZED AFTER ADOPTION. POSSIBLE TEXT: The City Council conducted a public hearing on May 11, 2010, and then discussed GreeNR’s contents [and adopted amendments to the plan] during May and June of 2010. On June 15, 2010, the City Council formally adopted GreeNR as a policy statement and directed the City Manager to produce a strategy for implementing GreeNR’s recommendations." Doesn't this mean that as soon as the GreeNR plan is approved, the immediate next step will be to move towards developing an implantation plan? Will this "implementation plan" will be subject to FOIL and the Open Meeting Law?

If you got this far, it should be apparent that there is quite a bit in this plan that has absolutely nothing to do with the premise given at the outset -- "Human beings are consuming resources more quickly than they can regenerate". More email subscribers, more ESL classes, more subsidized housing and other elements of this "plan" will have absolutely no impact on the environment. Much of the plan includes things that are already being done without government intervention. Most of it involves using legal threats, fines, permit fees and taxes to badger people into changing their behavior more to the liking of some UN-backed, Belgian-based radical environmentalists.

Of course, we can all agree that nature walks, installing CF lightbulbs and painting the roofs of city buildings is fine but that is not this plans. As noted above, this plan represents a massive power grab by government designed to dictate terms to residents and place every decision through a "social justice" prism masquerading as environmental policy.

New Rochelle should reject this program, go back to the drawing board, select the reasonable, non-coercive elements to this plan, drop the "social progress" elements like ESL and affordable housing and focus on being good stewards of the Earth without "Big Brother" pitting neighbor against neighbor in what the proposed plan calls "friendly competition" but sounds a lot more like my neighbor getting my electric bill and then ratting me out to some Green Czar in City Hall.

For reading this epic post here is your reward:

There are 12 Comments

Private Property!
Civil Liberties!
Personal Freedoms!
Home Ownership in New Rochelle!
Affordable apartment living!
All gone if this is allowed to go through.

This is yet another plan to drive New Rochelle residents from their homes, property, apartments and businesses. Push out everyone and the developer gets the entire city...for free?

A few years ago the Mayor tried to place an artificial historic designation on almost all the homes in Southern New Rochelle. The exterior of all of the private homes homes were photographed and the pictures are still in a file in New Rochelle's Development Department.

The false historic designation, among other things, prevented homeowners from making their own repairs. The false Historic District designation would have allowed the city and their representatives to come on private property, dictate repairs and charge what ever fees they chose to charge.

If the home owner refused to pay, the city would have the power to place a lien on the property and take the property, which is a lot easier than emminent domain. (See Section 170 1-7. Enforcement under the General E-Code: City of New Rochelle to read the draconian and un-American rules for historic districts)

Real Estate offices anticipating the pending home owner exodus in 2008, and opened multiple store fronts. Even Home Depot had large product displays for historic district approved paint colors and products.

The residents of Southern New Rochelle found out what was about to happen, banded together in 2008, and stopped the Mayor cold. The real estate store fronts went away and the historic home supplies at Home Depot did also.

HE WAS STOPPED BEFORE AND HE MUST BE STOPPED NOW!

This new GreeNR program places severe restrictions and unsustainable financial burdens on everyone who lives, works or operates a business in New Rochelle. This green initiative creates a hostile environment will destroy New Rochelle as we know it.

Are the folks in the Avalon and Trump Towers going to live in a downtown that is quickly becoming a dump? Nah! They'll move as soon as their leases are up and cut their losses. I read the developer is selling or has sold one of the Avalon buildings so he will not be faced with an empty building when the residents move out. More blight. Feel sorry for the company that brought the building. Boy were they sold a bill of goods.

Home owners can't just pick up and leave as easily, so they have no choice to join those who will stand firm and fight..

Who is the New Rochelle Mayor working for? He is clearly not working for us. We pay his salary and every move he makes places our city and citizenry deeper in the ditch.

Downtown is a disaster, blighted by a developer, who according to media reports, is in serious financial trouble and is being sued for more than he is worth.

The overcrowded schools are failing, the taxes are through the roof, New Roc and the surrounding buildings are vacant, and garbage collection cuts loom although we pay refuse taxes.

Isn't New Rochelle still in America? When did we become the Kingdom of gross mismanagement for all to plunder. What has happened to New Rochelle?

Something is rotten in New Rochelle.

Seriously, when is the next election? The New Rochelle Mayor must go!

The City Council must stop this "Sustained Development" plan or they will be voted out also.

Maybe we as residents and business owners should explore all avenues to be annexed with either Pelham or Larchmont. Have you seen the Pelham and Larchmont shopping areas? Their communities are not blighted, and these smart governing bodies would have nothing to do with the developer who has a strangle hold on and is crushing this city.

Is disbanding New Rochelle the only way to save its citizens?

Robert,

As always -- thank you for spending the time going through the plan, posting your thoughts, and above all encouraging debate. It is important that we review this plan carefully because it will likely dictate the focus of the city for years to come.

I could not access the plan itself from the city site - can you send it to me (you should have my e-mail address). I'd like to review the plan myself.

I'm going to say though, I have a feeling that we are going to end up respectfully disagreeing on a number of these topics. To me, this plan doesn't sound half bad. It does sound like it goes overboard in a number of respects. I would agree with you that the plan should be aspirational -- not punitive -- in nature. Enforcement will just make people bitter.

Not reading the plan itself I don't want to comment much yet. I will say that encouraging artists to come to the community, while not particularly related to the environment, is a good idea from a community-building perspective. Usually, when artists frequent a community, small-scale investment occurs, which would hopefully supplant the large-scale type investments in development the city seems to court (which are often quite disruptive).

I also noted your thought on the Armory, which I obviously agree with. If the city wants to pursue this sort of initiative, it needs to be fully committed, and this would include the re-adaptation of current structures. Along the same lines of total commitment, we must not ignore Echo Bay (the bay). It would be disingenuous in my eyes to launch such an ambitious program while we have potentially a huge ecological issue already on our hands. The time has come to tackle Echo Bay head on. How polluted is Echo Bay really? If it turns out it is not polluted at all -- great! But if it is, fixing it needs to be a high priority.

Finally, transit-oriented development is something I feel very strongly about. I think it is really the only rational way of organizing development. That being said, we moved here because New Rochelle ALREADY is built along these principles. We don't necessarily need to build additional density close to the railroad station to achieve this. If there is a data to suggest that additional density will have beneficial effects, let's see it -- I doubt this data exists. What would help is to invest in additional public transportation infrastructure. How about a streetcar line up and down Main Street and North Avenue to connect the houses already built to the regional rail?

Bottom line -- I think there is a lot to tweak with the plan. As your questions note -- there is a lot to flesh out. At base, the goal is to create a more environmentally friendly "sustainable" community. Yes, we may not be able to pin this down with precision. But I do think these are worthy goals. I am excited that the city government is willing to take this on. I do believe it is forward-looking and will help the city in the future.

Now that I have had the chance to review the actual plan, my thoughts are not that much changed -- I generally stand by my original comments. I do have a few additional thoughts:

A) There has been a lot of focus here on the origins of the plan. I don't get why this should matter so much. Good ideas are good ideas no matter their origin, who funded them, where their authors live, how they were elected, etc. Now when I say "good idea" I implicitly mean an idea that works for this community. The further that the author is removed, the greater the likelihood that the ideas will be out of touch with the real problems and issues that the community faces. I agree with that. I also agree with that there is untapped potential within our community. But if someone suggests a good idea that works for this community, then great, I honestly don't care where it's from. I'm worried that there are some seriously good ideas in the plan (maybe not all of them) that will be dismissed prematurely. Note that Thomas Paine actually didn't live in New Rochelle until after he wrote Common Sense (correct me if I'm wrong).

B) The beauty of this plan is not so much its explicit contents but in its "meta" form. It's the value as a marketing tool. The idea is to brand New Rochelle as a "green city." Regardless of whether you agree or disagree about global warming, I think it is indisputable that there is a segment of the population who is concerned about it. And who are spending their money accordingly. My guess is that the mayor is trying to attract those people, hoping they'll bring prosperity with them. It would at least attract people with a specialized skill set that could be the next wave of innovation. This is not such a bad idea in my opinion -- see my comments at the end of E.

C) One idea that I liked very much was the idea of leasing underutilized space to renewable energy companies. This could be a significant source of revenue with very little downside. I really do like the jitney idea as well.

D) I think the other commenters have done a nice job in illustrating some of the downsides. Increased government meddling in the lives of individuals. Increased taxes to fund the plan. These are important discussions to have. I'm not trying to minimize them. But I feel like someone needs to argue for the plan's stronger points.

E) I will say that the one thing that irks me the most about the plan is Initiative 4.25 -- transit-oriented development. A fantastic idea in theory. I entirely agree that we should put caps on development far away from transportation hubs. 100%. BUT -- why is it our goal to add "at least" 500,000 square feet of commercial space to downtown? Last time I checked downtown there are tons of for rent signs. Let's use what we have first before we build more space that we won't know what to do with. John D. had a great point about the tension b/w big developments and small businesses. Same thing with the Armory and Wildcliff.

This city seems to think that development is a "golden ticket" that will transport it to a land of candy canes and gumdrops. Development development development. Major developments are not necessarily bad things -- I think they were probably imperative at one point -- but they aren't cure-alls either. I don't think that new development should just get a free pass because it is "transit-oriented" and "sustainable."

Economic growth should happen incrementally and organically. It should build on and reinforce itself. That being said, this sort of plan (minus some of the downsides we have been discussing) is precisely the sort of thing that can encourage this incremental and healthy growth. That's why I am generally supporting it -- assuming it can be implemented in a minimally-invasive and fiscally responsible way.

Robert Cox's picture

Andrew,

I would not worry to much that you have to be the one to advocate for the plan because no else will; there is a long line of political hacks, public officials and city workers prepared to do that. The opposite is the case, except for my post here, no one has publicly questioned any aspect of the decision to partner with ICLEI, the creation of the advisory board, the committees of the resulting Green R Plan or anything else that has been going on since this put in motion in 2007. Mum has been the word.

I can respond to some of your other points later but let me respond first to what I believe is a VERY important consideration and which you do not feel is important at all.

You say you do not understand why there is focus on the origins of the plan because "good ideas are good ideas no matter their origin, who funded them, where their authors live, how they were elected, etc."

The Mayor said this morning on the radio that the Green R plan is a "framework" with a 20 years scope which will use "metrics" to evaluate the impact of the plan.

As a lawyer, surely you know that if you can define the terms of a debate, you have already won the argument. That is what this plan is intended to do, establish the parameters within which discussion will take place and thereby co-opt any future discussion because the Council will already have voted that changes must be made consistent with the goals in the Green R Plan. Anyone seek to challenge a specific change will quickly find themselves accused of not supporting "fresh air", "clean water" or "healthy kids". Anyone who has been an observer of school budget referendums knows the drill.

The plan says decisions made by the government will be filtered through the prism of Green R, that municipal employees will prioritize their work in the context of Green R, that the IDA process, the building, zoning and planning process will all operate within this framework. So, this framework is a VERY big deal.

The framework was not developed in New Rochelle. It was developed by ICLEI, outside the United States, by people's whose goal is to help New Rochelle but to reduce the level of economic activity in this country to reduce the amount of resource consumption (not just energy but all resources) and all of this within the broader context of a long-running discussion within the UN and NGOs about supposed Anthropomorphic Global Warming and population control. This is the idea that humans are parasites using up the world's resources and killing the planet and for the greater we must take away private property rights with the ultimate goal of more equitably distributing the world's wealth and natural resources.

I am an anti-communist, I do not support socialism or Marxism or any other form of collectivism and that is the political philosophy at the root of this movement. Basically people who were looking for a new intellectual "home" after the fall of the Berline Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union and found one by wrapping themselves in "green" . Pull back the kimono and you will find "red". The goal is the same, to put "the people" in control of all wealth and resources and then distribute them each according to their need.

Now folks may agree with that world view -- or not -- but it is the animating mindset behind Agenda 21 from which ICLEI sprang. In my view, of course it is relevant to the discussion to understand every move in this little chess match so we understand where ICLEI, Agenda 21 and these UN groups are seeking to leading our country and, within it, New Rochelle. Maybe you are right and most folks don't want to know WHO is proposing an idea or WHY they are proposing it or WHAT they hope to accomplish in the next step, or the step after.

I would just whether, when you leave New York City out of Grand Central Station to come home each work day, do you check the train schedule to see which train is leaving from which track at what time and making stops at what places along the way or do you just run down to the tracks and jump on the nearest train because they are all heading North and at least your headed towards where you want to go? How do you feel when you realize the first stop is Stamford and you are on the wrong train. I've been there. It sucks. And New Rochelle residents may well very end up at the wrong stop later if they don't take the time to check the schedule now.

OK, enough train metaphors.

If we are going to adopt the ICLEI framework in New Rochelle shouldn't we have a good understanding of what that program is intended to accomplish at the end of the day? Or is it just this plan says we should plant more trees, more trees in New Rochelle is good, lets approve the entire plan because it will mean more trees? And because the plan says "more trees" we are supposed to just ignore plans for new building codes, new municipal building costs, impact fees, increase enforcement, more tickets, fines, summonses, more taxes, more regulation, more government involvement in our lives and all the other things required under this plan?

If you do not want to accept my findings then go read the ICLEI web site yourself, do some research, drill down on every undefined buzz word and every front group. If you look, you will see their method is to get the camel's nose under the tent and then slip the whole camel in.

The Mayor and his friends at the RPA and ICLEI know full well if that residents study the Green R plan in detail residents will soundly reject it. It is why Mr. Bramson today complained to a caller to his radio show that she was picking out one line among many to challenge his blanket claim that plan did not call for any new costs for property owners. The issue was related to "lateral lines" the pipes that connect private property to the public drainage network. She pointed out this out and noted that the plan does talk about new costs for property owners despite the Mayor's claims to the contrary. The Mayor said that the report was merely suggesting ways to address that issue that should be considered and then cited two;: (1) that when a property owner sells their property the inspection would be required and the owner would pay to retro-fit the lateral lines; (2) that when a developer builds in New Rochelle they would be required to pay the cost of retro-fitting the lateral lines in the area. In case you missed it, both examples entail additional costs under the Green R Plan for private property owners just as the called had said and which the Mayor denied.

If you look you will see that according to the job description the position of "Sustainability Coordinator" will be charged with developing and implementing a City- wide Sustainability Plan and Program, "starting with the adoption and implementation of Green Building standards", these standards are the LEEDS Certification standards, and that it the duty of the "Sustainability Coordinator" to "facilitate the implementation of the City’s and County’s climate action goals through usage of technology, environmental tracking matrices, coordination with International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), including enhanced membership and software tools, etc."

What is LEEDS, who is the U.S. Green Building Council that promulgated them, what is the National Resources Council that created the U.S. Green Building Council and who is the Tides Foundation that created the National Resources Council that created the U.S. Green Building Council that has promulgated the LEEDS Certification. It concerns me that behind these various 5013Cs stand the individuals behind the now discredited, disbanded, corrupt organization called ACORN and Local 100 of the SEIU.

What are these software tools? Poke around, these are the "tools" that are used to "measure" the ICLEI framework. Are these tools validated by any independent organization? No. Just like you should never ask your barber if you need a haircut, don't ask ICLEI to provide the goals and the metrics and then accept their "tools" to do the measuring.

Bob,

I have gotten on the wrong train. Twice. Once ended up in Stamford. Once in Rye. I think we need to break down some of these issues step by step. Train stops along the route (to continue the metaphor?). Let's start with the ICLEI. I looked carefully at the ICLEI website. It looks unobjectionable to me.

"ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability is an international association of local governments as well as national and regional local government organizations that have made a commitment to sustainable development."

Quite a few local governments have signed on to this. If you take their word, over 1,000.

Now is it that you have an issue with "sustainability"? If so, why? I understand that "sustainability" is a vague term not easily defined. The ICLEI people seem to try to pin it down. They say specifically:

ICLEI seeks to build Sustainable Communities and Cities by enabling local governments achieve justice, security, resilience, viable economies, and healthy environments. The four initiatives are: (a) Resilient Communities and Cities, (b) Just and Peaceful Communities, (c) Viable Local Economies, and (d) Eco-efficient Cities.

Again, I don't see any issues here. Justice, security, resilience, viable economies, and healthy environments seem hardly communist.

What does ICLEI mean by "resilient communities"? Their resilient community initiative states: "ICLEI’s Resilient Communities & Cities Initiative is aimed at mainstreaming disaster resilience in the planning and decision-making processes of local governments." Ok, I don't have a problem with this.

What does ICLEI mean by "just and peaceful communities"? This one seems directed at helping local governments in areas of severe conflict and violence encourage peace and security. This one is OK with me too.

How about "viable economies"? This seems directed at encouraging small to medium size enterprise. Again, I don't see a problem.

OK -- last but not least "eco-efficient cities." I can tell this one is going to be a powder keg. The website states that they hope local governments address, "unhealthy environments and unsustainable production and consumption patterns." They also say, "Eco-efficiency should address the environmental issues related to air quality, energy efficiency, water resources management, waste stream management, eco-mobility, and others in an integrated manner." I don't really see any of these goals as keyed to any system of economic enterprise or political system. Soviet-era Russia and present-day China are some of the worst environmental offenders.

Can one be concerned that the city will hide lots of taxes and poor planning behind the shield of all of these more or less unassailable initiatives. Absolutely! But that's a problem with the taxes and poor planning. It doesn't seem to be a problem with these initiatives.

If any of these pose a problem -- let's address that problem before moving on. Maybe the problem isn't with ICLEI? I'll try to look at Agenda 21 next.

Robert Cox's picture

Keep going. Keep drilling down. Or you can read the 7 part series I wrote.

In either case, of course, at the surface all appears lovely. Who is against "peace, love and understanding"? Not me. ICLEI doesn't just offer goals and objectives, they offer ways to achieve the goals and objectives, and those goals and objectives lead some where. Where is ICLEI trying to lead America?

Again, is the train taking us where we all want to or will the train fly past our stop and take us to Stamford instead.

Keep drilling down on these various front groups until you get to the Tides Foundation, then ping me.

Let's put the Tides Foundation in perspective though. How does the Tides Foundation fit into the plan. If I understand it right, the Tides Foundation spawned an organization whose lead scientist went on to develop a standard for environmentally-friendly construction design.

Encouraging LEED certification comprises exactly 1 of 43 initiatives. So not exactly the focus of the plan.

Now do I think that New Rochelle should update building codes so that LEED standards are mandatory. No. I think that goes too far. I think that there should be incentives to seek LEED certification. Most municipalities appear to do something along these lines. Consider however Alexandria VA's requirement that "all projects must contribute to a green building fund for county-wide education and outreach activities."

It is a very complicated issue though that deserves intensive study in its own right.

That being said, the part the Tides Foundation plays in the plan overall seems to be quite a minor one.

Robert Cox's picture

Andrew wrote:

"Encouraging LEED certification comprises exactly 1 of 43 initiatives. So not exactly the focus of the plan."

You cannot look at a single document prepared by proponents of LEED certification to understand a multi-layered approach by those proponents to lead the City down the primrose path that ICLEI has in mind.

I intend to publish and examine the job description the Mayor had approved by the City Council back in 2008 for the position of "Sustainability Coordinator". I believe that article will clarify why I have brought that issue forward.

I believe you will come to understand that LEED is hardly a tangential issue here. It is the heart and soul of this entire effort to ratify the GreenNR plan.

More later.

Email to the Mayor responding to his comments:

Mr. Mayor:
My first comment has to do with the downloading of the GreeNR draft from your website (www.newrochelleny.com/greenr). I tried logging onto this site and it is not operative.

Since 1973 when I purchased my house, taxes have relentlessly increased every year (particularly school taxes) and there has been a reduction in services concomitant with this increase.

As a house is similar to a bond, as the taxes go up, the value of the homes go down (as interest rates go up, the underlying value of the bond goes down). In essence, you are only taking our money each year but diminishing the value of our long term asset (the house). This is literally double taxation. In addition, you are reducing the services that the residents receive.

One would think that the politicians, school officials and senior operating staff in New Rochelle would focus like a laser on reducing the cost of government and, if not reducing taxes, simply not increasing them.

The answer is, of course, you are not. You may argue that the City Property taxes have not increased at times but what has happened is that there is a separate tax for Libraries, Sewer as well as increases in County taxes and, of course, the 800 lb gorilla, School taxes. These are all increasing our tax bill.

Now, you are focusing on GreeNR that will not only increase taxes but invade our privacy (Con Ed bills, etc.). As I cannot log onto the GreeNR website and actually read the draft proposal, I cannot comment further.

Despite the fact that I have voted for you in every election you have been a candidate in, I cannot continue to do so if your focus does not change from increased expenditures and a reduction in citizen rights to one of increased expenditures regardless of how worthwhile the endeavor.

I look forward to making my comments on May 11th.

Regards,
Dominic Florio
Paine Heights

Dear Mr. Pruitt,
Thank you for your considered and prompt response.

As I mentioned in my missive to the Mayor, I was unable to access to the GreeNR plan and I am still having difficulty. I did speak to Robb Cox and he stated that I was not the only one who had problem downloading it.

However, I will provide the blog by Robb Cox from Talk of the Sound:

(NOTE THAT I DELETED THE ACTUAL BLOG BECAUSE YOU CAN READ IT DIRECTLY ON THE TALK OF THE SOUND BLOG ON GREENR)

One can see that Mr. Cox does not have a benign view of the GreeBR plan as Mr. Bramson and, I would assume, you do. If Mr. Cox is correct, this is clearly not something I would not want implemented. Again, I will review this personally and report my findings independent of Mr. Cox.

With regard to your more specific comments, I will address them as presented.

I wrote to the Mayor in a professional and respectful manner only to assume that he would respond in kind. In fact, he has. If that is something your are "proud" the Mayor did, I would only comment that this is expected.

With regards to the Mayor not being an advocate of higher taxes, I base my opinion and conclusions on results. If taxes go up, they go up. Whether someone is a fan or not of higher taxes is irrelevant. Remember Pres. Bush No. 1. He was against taxes but lost a second term because he, in fact, raised taxes...as it should be.

On the subject of taxes, I fully comprehend the need for taxes. However, I would assume you are aware that Westchester County property taxes are the highest in the nation. Do you honestly think that this is necessary? I believe that we can fulfill our civic responsibilty and have a good educational system and safe city without paying exorbitant taxes. If you do agree, that is fine. That is what elections are for.

I do have an 8 year old daughter. I do send her to private school. Neither of those issues impact my opinion of the amount of taxes we pay for the school system. Look at the relative rating of the New Rochelle School system, salaries paid to teachers as well as the cost per student. If you think this is a good value proposition then you should vote for it. I do not.

In addition, most schools in this current economic environment are releasing teachers and reducing taxes. New Rochelle is only increasing taxes this year by approx. 3.5 percent. In addition, STAR is being reduced by NYS...a double hit. I do not think this is good management.

I know the school budget is approved by the citizens of New Rochelle. I am not sure of the exact number but it is approx. 4 percent of the populace actually vote (approx. less than 4,000 votes out of 75,000 people) and they determine the taxes for the rest of us. With this small number of voters, individuals with a vested interest in higher taxes for the school have a disproportionate impact on the vote.

I have lived in this City since 1973. We had backyard pickup of trash. That was stopped. We had leave pickup at least 4 times per year and now we are lucky for 2. This is simply a dangerous situaltion. There are fewer police patrolling the North end.

With the aforementioned reductions as well as others, taxes have gone up and services are reduced. If you think this is good government, then you should vote for it. It is not something I agree with and will vote against politicians that support higher taxes while reducing services.

With regard to the value of your house, you clearly did not understand my comment. I was not speaking about market fluctuations. In any given market, property taxes is a significant determinamt on the value of a home. The higher the taxes, the lower the value. If you still do not understant, please call and I will explain in greater detail the economics of this issue.

Lastly, I did not threaten the Mayor with regard to my vote.

All politicians are sensitive to how their constituency perceives them and the issues they support. After all, their goal is to get elected. That is why they raise money and campaign on issues that the majority of their constituency support otherwise they do not get reelected. I was simply informing the Mayor that this issue is significant enough for me to not vote for him. It is, I am sure, something he is sensitive to and would like to know.

With regard to how you or your son vote, this may be important to Mr. Bramson but is irrelevant to me or this discussion.

Regards,

Dominic Florio

You have to wonder why does the mayor continue to align himself with outside influence when he needs to roll out any type of "improvement" for the city? Desperate for a savior to come in and rescue us from ourselves. Does the city really need to consript the ICLEI to tell us how to save energy and develop sensibly and, in turn, turn it into some sort of "collective" farm town? I guess if you look at the track record maybe it would explain the desperation in reaching beyond the city limits for help. We have an amazing population right here, brilliant thinkers, energetic and willing to help, yet the mayor doesn't think it's enough. I would ask him about that, but as you can see from the Journal News quote above, he continues his mastery of redirection and sidestepping the question at hand.

In his state of the city address, he asks us to"...see the beginnings of what all of our downtown can be. A blending of old and new.". A blending of old and new, really? Haven't we been asking for that with the Armory for nearly ten years? (I hope the thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the family of the chosen developer didn't have anything to do with that.)

On one hand, there is a desire to lure large scale retail to a downtown that, some would argue, the infrastructure is incapable of supporting the traffic requirements. Yet the downtown becomes less and less friendly to the small business owner even though the mayor claims "Because small businesses are so critical to the overall health of New Rochelle, their success, too, must be part of our strategy."

"In almost every prior instance, the City has reacted to a proposal from outside, based on someone’s else’s interests, instead of first shaping a plan based on ours." Sound familiar? Again from the state of the city address. This statement can be applied to most any of the large development projects, but the mayor saves this critique solely for the attempts of David's Island. It's my opinion that putting Davids Island up for discussion at this time and place is merely an attempt at political survival. Looking again for that big success so lacking during his tenure. He talks of the "surface enviromental conditions" that were addressed, but leaves out the real environmental conditions that the Army Corps off Engineers alluded to that will need much more than the 2 million spent on PCB abatement.

"perhaps most important, our plan should feature sustainable design of world- class quality. We should insist on a product of global demonstration value, that befits the Island’s unique status and potential – visionary architecture, cutting-edge operation, and innovative approaches to energy use, waste reduction, resource consumption and conservation". Why couldn't that sort of vision be applied to places like the Armory or Wildcliff? I've said it before, these places could/should be a world class showcase of what could be possible. It could be done right now, not ten years from now, or longer for David's Island. Engaging the public and young minds from far and wide to foster the possibilities of combining "old and new". This could all be achieved from within the city. New Rochelle - "the city that could"

And while we're at it, "Let’s rule out right away run-of-the-mill, standard-brand construction that could be sited anywhere, anytime. And let’s find partners, reaching out to the very best in the field, who are just as interested in making a statement as in making a dollar.". Let that be the mantra for New Rochelle. Reserved not just for David's Island, but all of New Rochelle. The standard brand construction is exactly what is proposed for Echo Bay. Putting 2500 new residents along Echo Bay seems to have more to do with making money than with making a statement, especially when you consider Forest City will own all of Echo Bay's property, outright. All at the cost of the devestation to Sutton Manor, the East End and the Armory.

So don't be fooled by the rhetoric of how the ICLEI is going to do one thing more for New Rochelle than we can do for ourselves. Real success will come from within, not from outsiders looking to expand their agenda. I, for one, will use my new CFL light bulb to look over campaign contributions of our elected officials.

I posted two comments on this subject one of which was responding to an email that Mayor Bramson sent to me. I only listed my email and not the Mayor's. I ordinarily would only submit my emails to a public forum such as "Talk of the Sound" but I decided to include the Mayor's email for two reasons: firstly, I included my email and not the Mayor's which is unfair to the Mayor. Secondly, the Mayor responded to a large group of individuals that reside in the Paine Heights section of New Rochelle. Any emails that are either send to or from me directly with no copies to others would not be shared with the general public unless I received approval from the corresponding party.

Here is the Mayor's email:

Dear Mr. Florio,

Thank you for your comments. I have just tested the City website, and it seems to be functioning. If it does not work from your computer, than you can also try by-passing the entry page and downloading the document directly from this link: www.newrochelleny.com/greenrdraft.

I hope you will have a chance to read the draft, rather than reacting to a misimpression of its contents. You will discover that it has a significant focus on both public and private cost-savings, and that it does not include any recommendations that would constitute an invasion of privacy. Provisions related to Con Ed bills would allow ratepayers to compare their own energy consumption to community averages, not to any other particular ratepayer.

With respect to the issue of taxes and spending generally, I can assure you that this priority has been the primary subject of City attention for many months. Our most recent budget contained very significant cuts in both spending and personnel. Fiscal matters were also the chief focus of my State of the City Address last month. I do not believe, however, that the government should refrain entirely from addressing other priorities -- we should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.

Please feel free to call me at 654-2153 if you would like to speak about any of these subjects at greater length.

I have "replied to all" because you shared your thoughts with such a large group, but if you wish to continue this exchange - or if others chime in -- then I will reply only to the writer. I find that conversations with dozens of copied observers often lead to misunderstanding or confusion.

Sincerely,

Noam Bramson

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