New Rochelle Estimates for New DPW Yard Doubles in a Month: $13mm to $19mm to $25mm

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The New Rochelle City Council authorized the issuance of $25 million in bonds to build a new DPW Yard on Beechwood Avenue on Tuesday.

In October, the estimate for the cost to building a new DPW yard stood as $13 million, by November 1st that figure was revised upwards to $19 million and remained there until the middle of the City Council meeting where a new figure of $25 million was thrown out by City Manager Charles B. Strome and subsequently approved.

In a two-step process, the Council first voted to amend the resolution to raise the authorized borrowing from $19.6 million to $25 million. Democrat Jared Rice joined Republicans Lou Trangucci and Albert Tarantino in voting against the increased amount.

The increased amount came in response to concerns raised at the previous City Council meeting by Albert Tarantino who noted that when the work first began on moving the City Yard the plan was to consolidate operations at the East Main Street yard with those at 40 Pelham Road which includes both DPW and Parks department operations. The City Manager proposed acquiring additional adjacent property, through condemnation if necessary.

No particular justification was given for the $25 million figure but Strome said he was "highly confident" that the suddenly expanded project could be built for $25 million.

Council Member Al Tarantino said that although he agreed the City Yard needed to move, he could not support such an undefined, open-ended, large expenditure.

“There’s too many holes in it," said Tarantino. "I need better information before I vote to move forward.”

The City still has no clear idea on how much it will cost to acquire the additional property or how much it will cost to remediate all the toxic chemicals leached into the soil at the site. There is also the issue of the leaf transfer site at the Beechwood site. The City has no idea where it will relocate the leaf transfer site or what it will cost. Also not clear is what happened to the $600,000 in bonding that was authorized to design the City yard based on the property previously acquired to house the DPW Yard at Beechwood. Also not determined is the size of the tax abatement to be granted to Forest City, the size of the PILOT payments by Forest City, the value to be realized by selling or leasing 40 Pelham Road.

Several Council Members, including Democrats Shari Rackman and Ivar Hyden, expressed concerns about the impact on taxpayers, even those voting to approve the $25 million bond.

When his turn came to vote, Mayor Noam Bramson, having already secured the needed votes to clear the way for his favored developer at Echo Bay, began by angrily denouncing the concerns expressed about the burden on taxpayers, calling it a "false narrative". The Ratner family, owners of Forest City, and companies that do business with Forest City, have made tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions to Bramson's campaign coffers over the years. Bramson opposed an ethics reform proposal for New Rochelle offered in 2011 by Republicans.

The debt servicing cost will be $1.7 million a year for the next 20 years, effectively a permanent increase in property taxes of 3% on top of whatever other increases come along in a City that is already projecting a massive hole in its budget out over the next several years.

As a result of the vote, the total amount of debt outstanding by the City will now, for the first ever, exceed the operating budget of the City government.

Last year, for the first time, the City was paying out more in pension and medical costs to retired workers than to active employees and borrowed over $1 mm from New York State to cover those costs.

Commenting on this Blog entry is closed.

Anna Giordano's picture
Anna Giordano on Tue, 11/20/2012 - 18:16

Bob,

I have followed this discussion only on the side lines until now. As you know, I am all about recycling and such, and I have been at the current City Yard many times to see the operation.

In general I agree with Noam Bramson that there are better uses for waterfront property. I also agree that the Beechmont Ave location is already very industrial, tugged away under the railroad and has good access to I95.

What I do not understand is where a price ticket of 25 million dollars comes from. So far, operations at City Yard is mainly a large parking lot, with lots of non functioning equipment thrown in for good measure. A huge salt pile, uncovered no less, where we have every year the loss of $60,000 worth of salt being washed right into the Sound. We have a large paved area as dumping ground for recyclables, right on the ground, uncovered. A bunch of run down buildings and an area for vehicle maintenance.

How can a salt dome, a vehicle maintenance building, some sheet metal buildings for storing equipment and a small office building come to this kind of cost?

Ken Lewis on Fri, 11/16/2012 - 23:58

How Can the City which is on the line of being downgraded once again credit wise be borrowing any money at this time? The Mayor seems to be doubling down on his pet projects over the backs of the tax payers. Frankly Strome should have the "onions" to put a stop to this but I guess he is not close enough to retirement age so he is going to let the cards fall where they may and remain employed.
In the near future Property taxes will cause property values to continue to erode as home purchases will decline. Talk about unsustainable!
I think we have hit the point of no return while Mayor Bramson seems only on a tear.
Good Luck with that.

Martin Sanchez's picture
Martin Sanchez on Fri, 11/16/2012 - 14:37

Ivar, Please Help Our Community!

We live in very difficult times. Mayor Bramson has unilaterally requested to move the City Yard from its current location in New Rochelle to an area that is half it’s original size at a cost that would exceed $16 million dollars. The Mayor of New Rochelle and the majority in the City Council has failed our West End community in that it has not been inclusive, diverse and equitable in the way it has delivered its message that is consistent with fairness, equality, availability and accountability. It has not ensured that our community is treated with respect, dignity and free from discrimination. There has been no communication or public discussion with those residents in the West End who will certainly be impacted by the nefarious environmental impact that a Public Yard would have, with all its sanitation and public work trucks rumbling down our narrow West End Streets. There has been no honest presentation of the environmental impact on the health of children that significantly populate our West End. There are other areas, such as Ward Acres that are significantly larger and could certainly accommodate the City Yard and it’s resources. There are wider streets near there. There seems to be more outcry to protect the dog playground there than the health and well-being of residents in the West End. But the consideration of Ward Acres has not been discussed or even considered. Is it because the majority of the Mayor’s constituency lives in this part of town? Is it because the majority of City Council’s constituency lives in this part of town. Is it because the West End is an overwhelming community of color and because many do not vote, yet many are legal residents? What will be the Mayor’s legacy? That he lined his pocket with contributions from a corrupt developer? That he care more about building structures for well-to-do people than for low-income working class people of color? Couldn’t the current Public Works Yard be refurbished slowly – bit by bit. The Mayor claims that it will cost in excess of $20 million to fix the yard. This is misleading. The current Public Works Yard Commissioners says, for example, that the main roof needs work. So fix, the roof – defer other items til later, when you can pay for them. My concern here is the children and senior citizens who live in the West End. Does the Mayor care about them? Does he know that they live there? Is he so blinded by political ambition that he refuses to engage the community and consistently behaves like Sen Joseph McCarthy? Please Mr. Mayor. Think of our children. As the Sanitation trucks rumble through our narrow streets in the West End, you will be the guilty person when some tragedy occurs. Reconsider please.
Your Constituent - Martin Sanchez

Bob McCaffrey on Fri, 11/16/2012 - 21:52

Martin,

Steven Spielberg couldn’t have scripted the meeting any better on Tuesday night. First Councilman Hyden makes his points, which were well written. Then Council members Fertel, Rackman and Rice follow suite to the same tune, then voting to approve the $25 million bond. I guarantee if you go back and watch most meetings where there is a vote on, you pick the topic; similar to the City Yard Bonding you will hear the same sepal. Well, I have certain reservations and think other things need to be done before I vote yes. Of course the items are usually something already in the plan/script to sweeten the deal. This is just the first step in the process it doesn’t mean we will follow through with what we vote on. The same canned responses. Follow the leader and stay in your place, Can you say predictable.

Predictable [prih-dik-tuh-buhl]
Part of Speech: adjective
Definition: easy to foretell
Synonyms: anticipated, calculable, certain, expected, foreseeable, foreseen, likely, prepared, sure, sure-fire

Play it again Sam!

Back in March, DPW Commissioner Tergis raised doubts about the Beechwood Avenue site for a new City Yard. I guess he has been convinced otherwise. Clear out and sell at auction what you can. Clean it up so a true assessment of need can be done. There are many people in this city that would pitch in and help clean the yard if asked. What a novel approach in problem solving, working with the community.

Regardless to whether the Beechwood Avenue location is good or bad for the New Rochelle City Yard, right now our bond debt is already about $86 million, $15 million for 2012. No more Bonds or Debt until the business of New Rochelle is on the right path. The City Council must take Echo Bay and Forest City out of the picture for now. We must insure that quality decisions can be made that don’t further tax the patients and wallets of the people of New Rochelle. The City of New Rochelle needs to be repaired before anything is done. Get back to the framework of the City Charter. There needs to be a system of checks and balances. There needs to be accountability. Fix what is broken first.

Martin, my question is where was everyone for Citizens to be Heard? There was no one there. More people turned out to battle for/against the Cabaret License for Siete Ocho Siete. The Armory had a big turnout. The Firemen turned out and spoke for their issues about manpower. If you are going to change the culture of the City Council you must show them real faces and real voters, more than just your words. This is an uphill battle and more people must take part in the process for the process to work. Right now with the supermajority on City Council, nothing will get done unless there is a turn out in numbers/VOTES.

BMWCH's picture
BMWCH on Fri, 11/16/2012 - 20:56

You're concerned for the schoolchildren, but........................want to locate this facility NEXT TO AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.

You mean the streets adjacent to the most heavily traversed US Interstate labeled I-95, adjacent to the Metro North Commuter Rail Tracks which carry at times 10 Full Trains per hour, adjacent to the AMTRAK Rail Tracks, adjacent to the Industrial Factories will be impacted neagatively? Does not seem to be such a pristine area currently.

Which is why houses adjacent to Ward Acres command a certain minimum price and houses in the Beechwood area sell at a discounted price. aka the Free Market.

NewRochelleUSED... on Fri, 11/16/2012 - 16:45

you don't think they care about the West End, do you?

Ward Acres? Not in THEIR back yards!

"What will be the Mayor’s legacy? That he lined his pocket with contributions from a corrupt developer? That he care more about building structures for well-to-do people than for low-income working class people of color? Couldn’t the current Public Works Yard be refurbished slowly – bit by bit."

Yes, yes, and yes.

"The Mayor claims that it will cost in excess of $20 million to fix the yard. This is misleading."

Of course it is. Wait until the final bill comes in on City Yard Boondoggle. Just wait.

Tom Jeferstahl on Fri, 11/16/2012 - 17:02

What was your failed business in New Rochelle? And why would they build low cost housing for working people of color and not just working people of any race? Why are you indoors when you live in Mayberry RFD. shouldn't you be out walking and enjoying your beautiful new adopted town? Go visit the barber shop , say hello to Goober for me.

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