Below is the text of a speech delivered Wednesday night to the City Council during Citizens to be Heard:
My name is James Murphy.
I am a 31 year member of New Rochelle Post 8 American Legion, a 15 year member of Maceo Bacon Post 2882, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and a longtime officer of United Veterans Memorial and Patriotic Association.
I am also a founding member of the New Rochelle Save Our Armory Committee.
For 15 years I have worked with other New Rochelle Veterans and concerned citizens of our City to fight to preserve our
New York Naval Militia Armory, for conversion into a Memorial Community Center.
The one constant on City Council during that entire time has been the implacable opposition of Noam Bramson to preserving
the Armory, first as a City Council member and for the last six years as Mayor.
I have no conception of why the Mayor has been so determined not to work with the Veterans on a positive basis to convert the Armory into a building that would serve the needs of the public of New Rochelle, including those who served their country.
This New York Naval Militia Armory is the only existing Naval Armory in The State of New York-built specifically to support the Maritime Militia and Reserves. As such, it is unique, and has special historical significance.
When it was turned over to the City of New Rochelle in 1997 by then-Governor George Pataki, the building was in excellent condition.
Over the years, in utter non-compliance of the Deed of Transfer, The City of New Rochelle has done everything it could to undermine the structural integrity of the Armory.
Despite numerous offers by veterans and concerned citizens to provide assistance at no cost to the City in correcting certain structural deficiencies, such as a leaking roof, the City continued to neglect the building.
Prior to the City obtaining the building from the State, the Armory was used for a variety of official military functions and community activities. For a large segment of the public, the Armory served as an important gathering point for residents in times of war and peace.
It could be that again.
The Mayor has never understood this, which is why he has been at the vanguard of converting this public asset to private for-profit use; first by attempting to level the property and handing it over to Forest City/Ratner, and now by handing over the property to a for-profit enterprise.
After dedicating 15 years of my life to working with many other residents to save the Armory, I do not understand the rush to judgement that has recently occurred with the Good Profits organization, an organization that came on the scene only very recently.
I respectfully request that the Mayor, the City Council and the City Manager allow our full presentation to be heard and seen by the Council and the public.