Update - JUST TO BE CLEAR- The following story is meant to represent what can be acheived through community involvement, nothing more, nothing less. That being said and to avoid any misinterpretation of the story, the city manager was doing exactly what he is required to do, that is, to protect the city's best interest. Anything less would be inappropriate by any measure. To reiterate, Mr Strome was courteous and above all, professional in his dealings with the situation. The lack of basic paperwork required to perform such work left him with no choice in protecting the city's interests. This policy is applied to anywhere there is work being done on city property, not just the Armory. This was explained to the volunteers and now to the readers.
It was a beautiful Saturday morning when a small but enthusiastic army landed on the Armory property. With a level of commitment and energy that could only be rivaled by the brilliant sunshine, the all volunteer army commenced operation "clean up" at the beleaguered facility in hopes to spruce up the area for the September 11 Memorial Service. Armed with rakes, brooms and paintbrushes and an abundance of enthusiasm, it only took a few hours to spruce up the grounds of the iconic structure at no cost to the taxpayer. Making a difference isn't always as easy as it sounds though. As the saying goes - no good deed goes unpunished - so, holding true to the adage, work came to a screeching halt when City Manager Chuck Strome arrived. In a courteous but firm manner, the volunteers were informed that all work was to stop and the premises need to be vacated. Perhaps the hardest part of the eviction was explaining to the younger volunteers how the cleaning up of overgrown brush and a new coat of paint could be considered as a bad thing. Helping them to focus on all they had done so far, instead of what they couldn't accomplish, helped them to realize that their contribution made a huge difference in spite of the city's actions. Words of encouragement and appreciation from people such as, former Assemblyman Ron Tocci, County Legislator Sheila Marcotte, and New Rochelle District Councilman Lou Trangucci helped the volunteers put it all in perspective. So maybe all the weeds weren't removed, and maybe the painting wasn't finished, but all in all the younger volunteers came away with a true sense of how commitment to your town and getting involved does make all the difference. A lesson well learned, even if there are few weeds left.
So, THANK YOU volunteers for all you've done and special thanks to Jim Killoran and Habitat for Humanity for making a difference each and every day!
You can see more pictures of the days events here