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New Rochelle City Council Votes 7-0 on Revised Waterfront Proposal for Echo Bay and Armory

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New Rochelle City Council Votes 7-0 on Revised Waterfront Proposal for Echo Bay and Armory

April 18, 2012 - 01:30
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NewRochelleArmoryA vote that was widely expected to go 5-2 along party lines in favor of extending the Forest City MOU with the City of New Rochelle passed 7-0 in favor after a last minute deal was struck under which changes to the term sheet shortened the length of the MOU extension from 18 months to 9 months while creating a concurrent RFP process for the New Rochelle Armory.

"I am happy everyone has agreed to these terms," said Council Member Al Tarantino before voting in favor of the resolution to extend the MOU until the end of the year. "This will allow Council to put this to bed one way or another".

Council Member Jared Rice was pleased with the Council having achieved consensus on what has been a contentious issue for many years.

"I want to credit Council Member Trangucci and Mayor Bramson", said Rice. "It's a good thing for the City if we can tweak things so everyone can be happy".

Armory supporters saw tonight's vote as a major victory in their decade-long struggle to preserve the armory. As part of the agreement an RFP will be ready in 30 days.

Council Member Ivar Hyden asked a series of question to confirm that the entire Armory building and surrounding property would be included in the RFP except for an easement to allow a walkway along the waterfront. The RFP period typically lasts 90 days at which point the Council could invite any of those groups submitting a written bid to present their plan to Council.

"This is a win for everybody," said Ron Tocci, co-chair of the Save Our Armory Committee. "It shows its possible to have bipartisan agreement for the good of the City."

Council Member Lou Trangucci noted that under the compromise agreement the City Council will have an opportunity to review the Forest City Draft Environmental Impact statement, proposals for the New Rochelle Armory in response to the Armory RFP and the design recommendations for the Beechwood Avenue site for the proposed City Yard towards the end of 2012.

Before casting his vote, Mayor Noam Bramson noted that the shortened term still provides time to complete everything except the final environmental impact statement adding "It's good that New Rochelle is back in business."

EDITOR'S NOTE: I cannot help but comment on the report on the meeting which aired tonight on News12. Lisa Reyes called the project a "mega development", said that "some of the property is a century old" and said that Forest City would "revamp the Armory and City Yard" all while a graphic projected an artist rendering provided by Forest City. The project as proposed is "phase one" with no commitment to any additional phases, it is less than one-third the size of the original proposal, the number of units is about half the number in Avalon East. ALL of the property in New Rochelle is a century old. All of the property on the planet is a century old. In fact, by the last scientific estimates, all property on Earth is about 4 billion years old. Forest City is not revamping the Armory; under the plan there will be an RFP for the Armory having nothing to do with Forest City/Ratner and for which they will have no say at all. Finally, the graphic used in her piece was a long-abandoned version of a Forest City concept drawing from six years ago. Other than that it was a good report.

There are 23 Comments

Lou Trangucci's vote was the big surprise.

I suspect what has occurred is that Forest City / Ratner was given this one final chance.

At the same time, the Armory was saved at least until the end of the year. New Rochelleans need to stick together to protect the Armory.

The key to the whole thing is that the Armory won't be preserved unless it has sufficient parking. Neither Ratner nor Mayor Bramson will do anything to provide that parking (Noam, if I am mistaken on that, please state so publically either here or at a televised City Council meeting, and do so soon).

At the same time, some of the City Council Members will not support Forest City, unless the Armory is preseverved. As Superman used to query, "what happens when an irresistable force meets an immovable object"? Perhaps, in this case, the answer is democracy results.

If my aforesaid theory is correct, I think Forest City will be rejected at the end of the year. This doesn't mean the Armory will be preserved, but it would sure help.

The remaining question is, what about City Yard? I think it should be rebuilt on its present site, and certainly shouldn't be moved to Beechwood. That remains a sticky issue. Perhaps it should use the old Tuck Tape site next to the sewage treatment plant.

Robert Cox's picture

Seems like...

The choice for Republicans was to lose 5-2 and limit options for the Armory.

The choice for Hyden and Rice was to hold their nose and vote for a project they have publicly challenged from a company that Hyden has publicly stated he is not comfortable with as a developer in New Rochelle.

Noam got what he covets most, a unanimous, bipartisan vote and most of the development process completed by the end of the year. Barry and Shari were lockstep with Noam.

Shake it all up and you have the basis for a deal in which everyone got what they want, even Forest City,

The sticking point in all this will be moving the City Yard to Beechwood.

Bob,

Something tells me you are not fond of the News 12 report. BTW, I remember the way NR was 4 billion years ago. We had a republican mayor and downtown shopping.

Actually, back then the Mayor, Stanley Church, was a Democrat. He was quite popular and was reelected a number of times. New Rochelle was at it greatest commercial success under his mayorality.

New Rochelle's decline began under Republican Mayors Alvin Ruskin and Frank Garrito. Huguenot, Lawton and Division were destroyed under Republican Mayor Leonard Paduano.

Saith Sussman "Lawton and Division were destroyed under Republican Mayor Leonard Paduano." No such thing: at best, a befogged recollection; at worst, a brazen partisan calumny!

Mayor Paduano was the last mayor who knew anything about governing; and he also could school his two successors on good business practice (as a successful entrepreneur) and professional planning (as a mapmaker and publisher by profession). He did the best that could be done as the minority party standard-bearer and as the heir to a sharply-fractious city council membership.

Last year he contributed some of the most sensible counsel regarding the incumbent council's consummately partisan redistricting plan and continues to attend meetings and observe the political scene. New Rochelle would be blessed to enjoy his leadership again.

Absolutely.

Stephen Mayo,

My memory is quite accurate, and it your memeory that is in a fog.

Who was Mayor from 1987-91? Leonard Paduano.

When was Huguenot, Division and Lawton torn down by City Hall, with no viable plans for development? 1989-90.

You are entitled to your own opinions, but not you own facts. You must deal with actual facts.

I will accept your apology if you are willing to admit to your insult and your error.

So where were you, Stephen Mayo, when your Republican Party's leadership destroyed Huguenot's north side from Bridge St to Division (where Avalon I was eventually built), Huguenot's south side from Lawton St to Division and Division's east side (where Avalon II was eventually built), and Huguenot's south side and Lawton, which was first replaced with a public parking lot that was then destroyed to destroyed to build the Library Green.

While I was protesting all of that, you either were oblivious, or worse yet, perhaps supportive to all that damage caused by Republican Mayor Paduano's administration.

If it wasn't for Mayor Paduano & City Manager Sam Kissinger's follies on Huguenot, and had they had not created the gigantic empty space there, then Democratic Mayors Idoni and Bramson wouldn't have had the opportunity nor need to build the two Avalons.

Since 1979, I have lived a half block from the area I have described, and have witnessed this all first hand and spoken against all of it at the times these things were being planned and occuring.

I dislike the destruction of the Huguenot area by Republican Paduano, and the contruction of the Avalons by Democrats Idoni and Bramson, but I like all three persons, Paduano, Idoni and Bramson and I think each have done good things for New Rochelle, (but not in my neighborhood).

But if one recognizes actual facts and cause and effect, it is clear that Idoni and Bramson have cleaned up the mess created by Paduanao. So the main blame should be cast on the Mayor who initiated all of that destruction-followed-by-development, and that was all initiated by the Republican Mayor Leonard Paduano.

Actually, since eliminating the office of executive Mayor in 1932, the ONLY Mayor who knew anything about actually governing, was Tim Idoni who had previously been Village Manager of Ardsley, and Deputy City Manager of New Rochelle.

In comparison to Tim Idoni's governmental executive experience, all the other NR Mayors since 1932, including Church, Ruskin, Garrito, Rippa, Paduano, and Bramson, have been absent executive governmental experience, and were just legislators. Of course, as Mayor, Tim Idoni was purely a legislator too, just like the others.

I must point out, that despite your apparently conservative preference of business over government, business and government are separate entities with different objectives, and cannot be compared any more than apples and oranges.

Your desire to apply business principles to government is absurd. Business exists for the purpose of making a profit. Government exists for the socially beneficially purpose of providing public services. Business is essentially based on individual greed, while government is based on benefitting society.

The very basic principle that transcends business, government and personal finances is that you can’t spend more than you take in. Something few liberals fail to understand. New Rochelle traded residential abatements for one-time infusions as opposed to building a commercial base of recurring revenue. The result is constantly dipping into the fund balance or terminating firefighters or a 230% increase in the refuse “fee” to balance budgets.

And for the record, Paduano’s city manager defied him at every turn while the democrats had a majority on council. What is a figment of your imagination is your perspective of the Huguenot/Division area. While it once was part of a thriving downtown, the area you lived a block from had become drug infested. I lived three blocks from the Chatter Box from 1976 through 2007 so I can’t be snowed. I lived New Rochelle’s deterioration and watched the promised savior “people with disposable income” be replaced by multiple college students in one-bedroom apartments in the Avalons. Idoni & Bramson couldn’t figure out to attain a thriving downtown even with an annual $9 million infusion from an extra 1% in sales tax which doesn’t say much for Idoni’s “governing” experience you cite.

They replaced low income with even lower income.. Then they stuck em here in the avalon. The avalon has turned into a housing project filled with filth and crime. These kids should not be living here.

I agree that Paduano had some role in the destruction of downtown NR. It was under his leadership that retail in the downtown went by the wayside. I also agree that Tim Idoni was an excellent mayor although I am not fond of some of his development projects.

However, I don't see that Bramson and Idoni cleaned up the downtown. Sure, it visually better. But economically, it is still a disaster. Furthermore, the high rise buildings are out of place in a city of this size. The downtown hardly has that space of downtown White Plains. But both Bramson and Idoni wanted to copy WP. That was a mistake.

but Idoni had HOW many terms to bring downtown NR back? And instead chose to look the other way in favor of....well, ahem, rewards.
Bramson was chosen in his image and is doing the exact same. Nothing.
While the rest of Westchester, even Port Chester, has a viable downtown, New Rochelle's is an eyesore and an embarrassment to those who grew up there. The rich in New Rochelle don't care, they shop elsewhere.
Those who live in the overpriced - wow, a view of a ghost town with dollar stores and bodegas - condos just use the train to get out of NR for work and then shop elsewhere on weekends.
The GREEN BS is just that, a boondoggle to take attention away from Bramson doing NOTHING for NR. Soon he will sitting next to his mentor.

I agree that Paduano had some role in the destruction of downtown NR. It was under his leadership that retail in the downtown went by the wayside. I also agree that Tim Idoni was an excellent mayor although I am not fond of some of his development projects.

However, I don't see that Bramson and Idoni cleaned up the downtown. Sure, it visually better. But economically, it is still a disaster. Furthermore, the high rise buildings are out of place in a city of this size. The downtown hardly has that space of downtown White Plains. But both Bramson and Idoni wanted to copy WP. That was a mistake.

I agree that Paduano had some role in the destruction of downtown NR. It was under his leadership that retail in the downtown went by the wayside. I also agree that Tim Idoni was an excellent mayor although I am not fond of some of his development projects.

However, I don't see that Bramson and Idoni cleaned up the downtown. Sure, it visually better. But economically, it is still a disaster. Furthermore, the high rise buildings are out of place in a city of this size. The downtown hardly has that space of downtown White Plains. But both Bramson and Idoni wanted to copy WP. That was a mistake.

"Idoni and Bramson have cleaned up the mess created by Paduanao."

If by 'cleaning up' you mean creating a downtown that is devoid of decent stores, both middle and high end, and restaurants, barring a very few very good eateries, and instead is a plethora of dollar stores and bodegas and storefront 'churches' and dirty supermarkets and dangerous amusement centers and Section 8 eyesores, where people are afraid to walk at night, if THAT is your definition of cleaning up, then by all means, your boys Idoni and Bramson have 'cleaned up' New Rochelle.

Or have they just cleaned up?

For the past 2 years, Ron Tocci has been proposing using the Tuck Tape property as the new city yard property. Imagine the whole city facility on tuck tape, then you extend the level of Main Street to "cover" the facility, protecting all of it from the elements and sight. You could put parking and/or a green park on top of it all. When the concept was presented to Mr Turgis during the DPW tour, he said it sounded "intriguing" . No crowded street like Beechwood, easy in and out to major roads. Perhaps best use of property bordering a sewage treatment plant.

All they have to do is convince Don Lea (the former owner who sold the Beechwood property to the city) to sell the Tuck property. I would even say if it costs the city a bit more to do that, it's worth it to get the right mix of land use. How say you?

I agree, but NR should sell the Beechwood property.

If City yard was moved to Tuck Tape, its vehicles would access New Rochelle from the same streets as from its current location.

Beechwood has very poor access to the North End and eastern New Rochelle. The current location has much better access to all of NR.

But I see no reason why City Yard shouldn't stay at its current location, as that is the least costly solution, and with no negatives. No doubt the current location is already a toxic waste area, so what could be a better place for vehicles that transport waste.

Brian, I hope that you will be true to your words. The only way we can get anything done is sticking together. I find it useless to bring up what the Republicans or Democrats have done in the past. We have what we have and it is time to rebuild. I do agree with Steve Mayo about Mayor Leonard Paduano and his dedication to New Rochelle.

In another of you posts you referred to the complaints about taxes from the poor South End and the wealthier North End not objecting to their taxes. Brian, I cannot believe you would think stating this or actually believing this could bring our city together. Perhaps the homes or people in the South End are not to your liking but I see no reason why you object to their protesting.

Lisa Reyes of News 12 is reporting that Forest City plans to do the "revamping" of the Armory. Doesn't this run counter to the voted on MOU?

Martin Sanchez's picture

I was there last night. When I arrived, Al, Lou , the Mayor, The Forest City guy and Michael the development commissioner were huddled in the hallway making their last minute agreements. Seemed quite odd and mysterious as I walked by they entered another room as the Mayor suggested they all speak softly. The agreement was fine and a good thing for the Armory. We MUST remain vigilant. Since the whole project has now shrunk from 20 acres of development to about 10 acres, I see no reason why the City Yard can't remain there! Fix & Refurbished - let's have the public work guys do some public work on their public building - I cannot imagine that it can be much of an effort - don't they have the civil service skills to build, hammer some things together?. In the end, the City Yard must not be imposed on the West End neighborhood working class people.

Much ado about nothing. This is nothing more than the politics of the day. All that was accomplished was the city council kicked the can down the road for 9 months.

Look guy’s it doesn’t matter who was in office at what time. If we as citizens are going to get anything done around here we need to take this opportunity for nine month and join together and be New Rochelians first and foremost. Take all the politics out of the picture and play like good boys and girls. Politics is always the biggest obstacle to overcome. Think smart, Think as One!

The biggest thing missing from the picture now and then was a plan, a picture, a vision and most importantly, A PLAN! The plan then and now must include the voice of the people. Nothing was going to get done for nine month even if they didn’t extend the MOU. I don’t believe the MOU should have been extended at all. It would take the noose from around our/the cities neck and take some of the pressure off. It still wouldn’t level the playing field because the citizens don’t have the money, lawyers, engineers, publicists, more lawyers and more money. You saw the job they did at Ridge Hill. Has anyone been there? The feedback I get about the concept and layout is not too good. I avoid the place. Forest City Which Ever has at their disposal the entire staff of Forest City Enterprises, the money for the staff to do all of the different renderings needed any time an adjustment or change needs to be made. They have political front men. You see, Forest City is always going to be one up on New Rochelle. They came in with a plan and even some back up plans. What good company wouldn’t go into a major capital venture without a backup plan? We have No Plan!

If this vote is to show good faith on behalf of council then The City Council is going to have to listen, be fair and they must open up the conversation during those nine months and listen to the people. We can’t leave the responsibility up to just Ron Tocci and the Armory Team. We also have a City Yard issue to resolve. Have a Plan! Forest City will.

The nine months will go by fast. It is now up to everyone to keep in the game and don’t drop the ball. There isn’t much wiggle room. The extension will give The City Council a chance to hopefully hear more from the citizens and work towards a plan of some sort for the area. Michael Freimuth and Alex Tergis need to be able to do their jobs with no interference. They have good back grounds and experience. Let them do their jobs, go out and meet with the people of New Rochelle. There is a nine month window for Forest City and The City of New Rochelle. The Mayor, The Council Members and most importantly the Citizens of New Rochelle need to use those nine months wisely. No Democrats or Republicans. We need to be New Rochelians.

“Common Sense for the Common Good”.

The City of New Rochelle is the winner in this first step towards celebrating our history. Having the opportunity to move forward with the planning process will open up a world of possibilities for the preservation of the past and shaping of our future. This is the next chapter in New Rochelle's story and we thank all involved for making this happen. You can read more at Bi-Partisan Victory for New Rochelle Armory

Still the 800-pound Gorilla in the equation is should the city spend $13++ million on its city yard?

Most residents could careless what happens to the property (though many would like to see the Armory not torn down), however most are extremely concerned about the affordability of New Rochelle's property taxes and this project is going to provide 0 relief and actually add a $1 million per year expense to pay the city yard loan.

Unfortunately, for some reason New Rochelle hasn't allocated any money to replace its city yard over the 10 years or so that this developments been around for and now the city's completely broke to the point of passing 10++% tax increases and they want to now borrow more than the cost of the project.

Did the mayor not read or learn anything from the real estate collapse? Mortgages over the purchase price or getting a mortgage for 103% of the purchase price just wasn't a good idea and the same applies to the city yard project.

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