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”