New Rochelle City Council Approves Extension for Iona Dormitories

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New Rochelle City Council Approves Extension for Iona Dormitories

July 18, 2012 - 17:44


Last night in a 7-0 Vote the New Rochelle City Council vote to extend the “Waiver” for the 150 students in the North Avenue Dorms. To City Council it sounded like the committee process was moving along and should be given a chance to work. There were several members that didn’t seem to want to go for the full five years. The neighbors would agree. They would have rather seen the extension only for another year so they could see the final plan. Once a plan is shown, then a discussion could be had about a further “Waiver extension” going forward.

Please, it is not about the 150 students! The neighbors realize this is not a process that can be completed over night. But it should be more forth coming with time lines and holding Iona College and The City Council accountable. Right now they write the rules and change them as needed, as is their right under their personal CR1 Zoning. The neighbors are unhappy about the situations that continue to resurface time and again with Iona College asking for changes and extensions with little to no push back from The City Council or Planning Board. Iona College has not just started this process; they have some goal or objective in sight. They just aren’t saying.

The Mayor spoke about the fact that Iona and the neighbors have been an issue for the seventeen years he has been on council, “Even longer than that”. A line needs to be drawn in the sand. The process of government is for the protection of the residents of New Rochelle first and foremost. Iona College has had opportunities through the last several years of construction on campus to address some of their needs. They tore down a building, Columba Hall for parking and built several buildings only two stories high. Where was the planning? One more story per building would have helped. Add on to the garage, go higher on Walsh Hall. The last several years they have done a lot;

-The Arts Center built in old retail space North Avenue.
-The Arrigoni Library & Technology Center Upgrade.
-The Ryan Library expansion
-The Robert V. LaPenta Student Union Building.
-The Hynes Athletics Center expansion and upgrade.

Please be aware that the Iona/City Community Planning Committee Report is not in any way a Master Plan for Iona College. It is just that, a report as to the direction the Iona/City Community Planning Committee thinks the college and the city could and should go. Iona College had to withdraw plans for the Mayflower Avenue Dorm. Iona College can withdraw from the process and move forward with proposals on Mayflower Avenue and Presidents Street. Anywhere for that matter, it is their right like anyone has a right to submit proposals. They would still need to go through the planning and zoning process. They just always seem to have the inside track advantage that the neighbors would not have under the same circumstances.

Council Member Tarintino spoke about why the big disconnect between the neighborhood committee representative and the neighbors. That is because the neighborhood representatives that signed on in the beginning of the process must follow the guidelines and the ground rules that were set when the committee was formed as a joint effort by The City of New Rochelle and Iona College. They are not allowed to discuss any committee actions or activities with anyone. In essence, “a gag order”. Many members’ hands are tied because they can’t have an open honest conversation with their neighbors and friends. That is the main reason I turned down the opportunity to be on the committee.

I want the process to work as do all of the neighbors. It can and must work for both Iona College and The City of New Rochelle to grow and be successful. Both have suffered from some poor planning over the years. Get it right this time and move forward.

“Common Sense for the Common Good”


There are 3 Comments

It has to run its course but there seems to be some push back from the Council and it is about time. Iona has not played fair and square. The magical "discovery" of zoning occupancy issues by the incoming President stretches all credibility. Of course he had to know and I cannot see him, for example, counting noses and by some insightful power beyond comprehensive, say "wow, bad Iona, got to tell New Rochelle. No, it was an opening gambit I think to get it to a new level where Iona would pretty much call the tune.

The secrecy underlying the current Committee deliberations shound like some Opus Dei influenced novel. It is purposeful and, frankly, an insult to both the City and the community.

Noam is in a quandry as is the Council and I think the time is long past to square the corners here. A few problems came up loud and clear during the recent Communiity recital at City Hall.

1. Playing fast and loose with the zoning requirements or any regulation suggests a class struggle in a sense. This tells many of us that the average citizen who is subject to city building or zoning regulations is likely to be held to much stricter standards than Iona.

2. Iona is a bad neighbor period. Were they not, they would be much more vocal in trying to address relatively simple community based issues that are simple enough to address. If student conduct or disregard of community interests and common habilitation rights are the issue, well, lose a few dollars in tuition by proper disciplinary action.

3. Noam and the Council need to check both optics and language. You don't want to suggest that the relationship with Iona takes precedent over your responisibilites as stewards of the people who elected you. That is how it appears and I KNOW you don't mean it but the code of silence on deliberations and the recent press releases do not clearly indicate that fact that 8 out of 12 committee members can overturn the recent extension given on-gonig deliberation results.

But, few will believe this will happen, but the City Administration deserves every chance to see that this works and there are things that you can demand of Iona that are reasonable and supportive of on-going issues and future relationships. They can provide a mobile security forces for example, to monitor and respond to community issues as they occur; hooked into the NR police of course, but nontheless, available resources.

Iona is not going anywhere period! They should not be seen as holding a sword of damocles over the heads of the Council or Community. Justice must be blind in both eyes if we are to have even-handed and City-Wide fairness and equity concerning the rule of law.

I suppor the decision; there is little choice. But I would be positively aggressive in delibeations, free up Williams and others from the stranglehold of a selfish and totally one-sided arrangement on community transparency.

I am appalled at the Church and it almost is reminiscent of some of the bad old days in Avignon, etc.

For a more stable New Rochelle, I repeat my call for a radical re-examination of a critical thought out planning process, built on substance not form, and for our college entities.... in-depth negotiations on City Wide joint plans for growth and expansion that does no violence to our need to renew and restore our business district, extend it logically via both the North Avenue and East Main corridors.

No more incremental Monroe acquisition of small property and no more one sided large acquisition of land and violence to stable neighborhoods.

We are a house divided because we allow these sorts of things while the NIMBY higher net worth folks up beyond New Rochelle Road share the benefits but not the pain.

Look to how intelligently NYU worked with the community to further expand their downtown holdings. Not perfect, but a lot better than they wanted because the CITY cared enough to open up the process and let the light in.

Iona, heal thyself and get over yourself. You are in need of some basic refresher in basic catechism and civics.

After listening to the meeting of July 17 what really disturbs me the most is the mayor's comment when discussing the cabaret at Siete Ocho Siete. He stated that he did not want the council to get into the business of establishing a high threshold for preliminary procedural steps. This is why New Rochelle south of Eastchester Rd. is in a state of decay. I what our council members to what nothing but the best for our city and any business or developer that comes into New Rochelle should know we are no longer a "cheap date". They cannot take root and feel they can ruin our neighborhoods or compromise our quality of life. I am beginning to think some of our elected officials have very little respect for New Rochelle . It seems the mayor is not listening to the concerns of the neighborhood. Only when Noam, Barry and Shari’s neighborhoods are in the same boat as the streets near Iona College and Siete Ocho Siete will we see something done and we know that will never happen.

Very disappointing, Mr. Mayor and Members of the City Council.

I guess that there is not much that the residents of Halcyon Park can do right now. We'll just have to wait until ELECTION DAY.