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The Storm Next Time

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The Storm Next Time

August 30, 2011 - 15:39
10 comments

Of course, we expected the worse. And we were happily disappointed when we woke up Sunday morning and saw the clouds clearing, the wind waning and the sun starting to shine. From the honking of the media, we thought water would be up above Pelham Road. But it didn’t happen like that.

It is hard to predict the extent of damage a hurricane can cause. It was not a lot wind gusts, but the water damage in the areas outside of New Rochelle are devastating.

On Sunday, I got a personal call from the County Executive Rob Astorino. I like to call it personal because his voice was on the line. But it was actually a robocall. He spoke with confidence of what was being done to address the damage in our county and advised us on how to proceed after the storm.

Before the storm, we did not get too much attention from our city. Where would you go for shelter if Irene were more catastrophic? I looked for information online and only found that the City in conjunction with the school district had opened Albert Leonard as a shelter. No other school in the South End -- where the greatest population and perhaps the neediest live – was open to provide shelter. No place within walking distance to find shelter. That is bizarre and sad.

In building a greater sense of community, we need to inform all the people who reside in New Rochelle of the procedures in case of emergency. Leaving the downtown area without a place to find shelter is shortsighted and exclusive.

I am hoping our officials did not omit the needs of the South End purposely. But it was done.

Like Astorino, the City of New Rochelle has a Robocall system. If a major storm arises next time, we should use it indiscriminately. And provide emergency shelter inclusive of our entire community.

There are 10 Comments

You're right Kevin. Only Habitat for Humanity was open to give shelter if needed to the most densely populated segment of New Rochelle. What if? Suppose the full expectation of an Irene were to descend on New Rochelle. With trees down and flooded streets a large portion of the neediest of New Rochelle could be absolutely cut off and unable to even get near the North End shelter. A real disaster would all but leave the south and east end to fend for themselves. With the potential of Trinity and Isaac schools being flooded or inaccessible at best. Now imagine, the Armory, restored and serving this city as it always has now through arts, history, technology conventions and more with the benefit of being high and dry offering solace and safety to those whose only mistake is not living in the North End. Those who would need the assistance most.

Read more about the Armory at www.newrochellearmory.com or search the Armory on this site to find out more. Let those who can make a difference in the quality of New Rochelle's identity and culture return the Armory to the City it so often and proudly served. This building was built to serve New Rochelle in any capacity the city needs and we already own it. It's time to give it back to the people, not to a private community owned by people in Cleveland Ohio. Save the South End and save New Rochelle. It's YOUR Armory - USE it don't LOSE it!

Thank you, John. I rode by the Habitat office on Main Street on Saturday and saw their sign welcoming people to find shelter there if needed. They water and cots ready in the case of a major disaster. Very impressive and proactive.

I wrote about this in the New Rochelle Patch. And thank you for pointing it out again.

I need to tour the Armory. I am sure it is all that it could be!

Robert Cox's picture

Kevin,

Patch? Are you kidding me? Ha Ha. Talk of the Sound gets WAAAAAAAAY more traffic that New Rochelle Patch.

Maybe you are impressed by the connection to AOL or the pretty graphics or God knows what but we crush the New Rochelle Patch every single day. We get more traffic over the weekend than they get all week.

When you get a chance, take a look at this article from BusinessInsider where they public several months of leaked traffic data for the Patch operations in Southern California.

We get more unique visitors per month than EVERY SINGLE SITE they have in Southern California.

http://www.businessinsider.com/leaked-internal-reports-reveal-the-truth-...

In January the (reportedly) tried to juice their numbers by sticking Patch stories into AOL Mail. Prior to that they were getting on average less than 5,000 unique visitors per month on their 68 web sites in that area. They then had a single story get 300,000 visits plus the AOL Mail and jumped to 900,000 then dropped to 700K then up to 1.2 mm on 76 sites.

Sounds impressive right?

1.2mm on 76 sites is less than 16,000 unique visitors. Not so impressive.

BTW, that is 76 editors plus regional managers, salespeople and freelancers. Call that 100 people making about $40,000 a year or about $4mm. They actually spend about $150,000 per location so that would be about $11.4mm for Southern California.

Unlike AOL Patch, we have nothing to hide. You don't need to rely on leaked data. We published our traffic data every day.

http://www.sitemeter.com/stats.asp?site=s50talknewrochelle

Take a look -- we get between 40,000 and 50,000 unique visitors per month.

That is more visitors in a day than some of their sites get in a month.

Patch? Are you kidding me?

Ha Ha Ha.

With all sincerity, I congratulate you, Bob, on the successful blog which you have worked hard to establish. Your blog, without doubt, is clearly the top news and information source in New Rochelle.

Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't the reason that the Armory is such a highly coveted property by the developers because of its proximity to the water front?

And if this is in fact a truth then would not that same Armory be in an evacuation zone in the event of a strong weather storm with threats of floods mean that that parcel would be in harms way too?

Now a revitalized Ward Acres Barn on the other hand, that would be an ideal shelter if such an emergency were to occur.

The reason the property is coveted is because a large part of it is city owned, thereby making it basically a land grab that will cost very little to the developer. It just happens to be along the water. The fact that it is on the water only reinforces the need get even more from a developer if you're going to give this property to them. (remember, they will own all of it) But that's another issue. While I agree with you, the ward acres barn should be put to use to serve the residents, you miss the point of there being no place in the South/East end of NR to serve the local residents. As I said, if it becomes as bad as predicted, the logistics of transporting numbers of people to the North End becomes a challenge and dangerous. The Armory is well above any flood stage forseeable. High and dry, it is completely feasible to house hundreds of people for days in a safe, secure structure, without the risk of moving those hundreds of folks. The Armory has withstood all of this and more even with the city abandoning it's legal and pending mandate to maintain it. Structurally, it far exceeds the Ward Acres Barn. I don't believe it should be one or the other, we should restore both in an effort to preserve this city's history and sense of place in the world. Both facilities would return more to the city's value than any proposed housing. We can work together to accomplish this mutual goal.

I agree fully when put in that context. The armory would be the perfect shelter for residents. It would also show that the city is making an effort to be prepared for unforseen events such as hurricanes. More importantly, why give it away when it could be so beneficial to city residents--not only as a shelter, but as a recreational facility which provides waterfront access and preserves our history.

While I do commend the many people who are on board with the pro Armory campaign, I reside in the school of thought that feels that development of that site would far outweigh preservation of it in its existing state.

I whole heartedly agree with that parcel value, and it should be utilized for its maximum value. And that would not be based on current real estate valuation, but rather its potential. I also feel that any agreement that the city makes should preserve as much open space and/or return on public space. The seemingly failed Forest City deal did not provide enough for my liking, but it was a nice start.

It is time to face facts. That building, although build to withstand a beating, is far beyond repair. To bring it up to code and utility would not be cost effective. The sentiment and history of that building is not as valuable as some would make it out to be. Just my opinion, I know you will disagree in part here.

All due respect, you're missing the point. Development of that site without a readaptive inclusion of the Armory would only amount to upwards of 3000 more residents. Nothing more. Coupled that with the burden on infrastructure (schools, waste management, police etc.), the self stated requirement for tax abatements, privately owned "open space" that could be closed to the general public at any time and you would wind up with a losing proposition for the city and a winning parcel for the developer. Facing the facts as you say, a properly utilized Armory would only increase the value of the land, and provide a springboard for continued development that serves the city in a manner that enriches the city rather than burdens it. Maximum value comes from starting with a completely unique facility and supporting the satelite business and commerce that would want to surround it. Fact is, we already own it, private investment has come forward with millions of dollars to invest, only to have a blind eye turned by the city and developer. Why, because the developer would have to give up it's chance to get city owned property for a song rather than risk it's own money. Remember, NOTHING Forest City does there will ever be owned by the city anymore, not the buildings or the "open space" as they call it. Don't let the spin doctors for Forest City cloud your vision.

Fact is, we have a developer who contributes thousands of dollars to the Bramson campaign, who gets virtually free land from the city, an abatement that will guarantee their profit regardless of what the market does (that's about a 3% property tax increase for 20 years) plus the cost to homeowners to move the city yard (there's another 6-7% for a 20 year bond), plus that nice new school we'll be needing( what's a school cost these days?), plus you may not be able to use the open space when the residents get tired of us outsiders hanging around.

Fact is, the building is far from beyond repair. If you look at the return on investment, it's actually a good deal. A roof, plumbing and electrical work basically. The history and the benefit to the city in it's cultural reward and potential to spur young minds is exactly why it is a better investment than condominiums. More to the point, you could put some rather pricey housing on the site of the Ward Acres Barn now couldn't you? Afterall, if you want to talk about beyond repair. The Armory could handle a hurricane but I doubt the barn would stand much of a chance against a plain old match would it? So, catch up on the real facts and you'll realize there's more to development than just adding residents. We have residents, we need commerce. The Armory and Ward can satisfy that need. The ideal situation is to have people come to the city, spend their money then go back home. Let's make New Rochelle better, not bigger, maybe you won't be fed up anymore.

John,

Although I am completely in agreeance, that the city has been sold a bag of goods by every developer that has come in, broke ground, profited and not delivered. I am equally opposed to this grand illusion of salvation of an archaic eyesore just for the sake of preservation.

Fortunately for us, this economic downturn has bought us time. Time to reevaluate and figure out what plan if any would provide the greatest public good, rather then entering into a developmental phase that promised at best nominal results.

I need not remind you of the grand plans of retail that New Roc and to a lesser extend Section 8 on The Sound, aka Avalon has failed to deliver.

It is imperative to utilize the limited available water front property at our disposal for public use, as well as a maximum return for our tax base. If done properly both can be achieved on the waterfront, and saving the armory is likely not in any of those plans moving forward.

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