NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Mayor Noam Bramson delivered the annual State of the City address on Thursday, March 20. Speaking before a crowd of civic leaders, business owners, and residents, Bramson did his best to appear humble and chastened by the trip the woodshed he received from voters in 2013.
Bramson announced that, New Rochelle will seek “master” developers for multiple sites in two clusters – one centered on the city’s transit center, the other surrounding Main Street. Master development agreements will be based on recently completed studies of transit-oriented growth and traffic circulation patterns. The City’s plans call for several million square feet of office space, roughly 2,000 new apartments, and 500,000 square feet of retail.
Bramson listed a series of actions planned for 2014, including:
• Assigning a parking management team to oversee all public parking, providing better service and maintenance;
• Improving the commuting experience with a new concierge desk at the train station to enhance security and welcome visitors;
• Assisting entrepreneurs and business owners with a new Business Ambassador to cut through red tape and help with grant applications; and
• Engaging a marketing firm to brand the City and market New Rochelle’s virtues.
Regarding the waterfront, Bramson reported that the City would entertain new proposals for the Echo Bay shoreline from five potential competitors, with submissions due in two months. “If the Council likes what it sees,” said Bramson, “then we can take the next steps with a new designated partner. If not, we can launch a fresh competition, open to anyone.”
Bramson acknowledged his disappointment that the Forest City plan for Echo Bay had been turned down, but also noted that “nobody will be happier than me if new and better possibilities emerge.”
Reminding his audience that “our waterfront is bigger than Echo Bay,” Bramson turned attention to Davids Island. He praised a recent volunteer study for reuse options of the Island and called for the completion of New Rochelle’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan, which would enable the City to “take on the exciting challenge of Davids Island with renewed focus and public support.”
“New Rochelle is called the “Queen City of the Sound,” summed up Bramson. “I want that phrase to ring true for this generation of residents.”
When it comes to budgeting, Bramson touted New Rochelle’s record of efficiency and accountability, including the lowest municipal tax rate of big cities in Westchester, responsible debt levels, and lean workforce, as well as the recent removal of a negative outlook on the City’s bond rating from Moody’s.
Bramson renewed New Rochelle’s commitment to responsible savings and shared services. To that end, Bramson suggested merging private contracts on outsourced services with other municipalities and collaborating on functions such as vehicle maintenance and energy performance.
Throughout his remarks, Bramson highlighted the accomplishments of individuals who exemplify New Rochelle’s values, while also recognizing institutional anchors with which the City can pursue civic goals.
Bramson concluded by celebrating the diversity and character of New Rochelle, and by extending a hand of partnership to the City Council.
“The state of our city is strong,” Bramson said. “It is our duty and our privilege to make it even stronger.”
The State of the City Address is sponsored annually by the New Rochelle Chamber of Commerce. The speech and full text can be viewed online at HYPERLINK "http://www.newrochelleny.com/stateofthecity2014" www.newrochelleny.com/stateofthecity2014.
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