Will Iona's New Dormitory Plans Become a Nightmare for the Neighborhoods

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Will Iona's New Dormitory Plans Become a Nightmare for the Neighborhoods

August 12, 2012 - 22:16

Iona College is committed to building more dormitory type housing for students. Last year they set forth a new plan which stressed the need for "mutually beneficial action" for both the City of New Rochelle and Iona College. This non-binding agreement was planned to benefit both parties. But, what has happened is not what was promised. A Committee was formed which was supposed to make a plan for student housing for Iona. The Committee's suggested time frame of May 15, 2012 for adoption of the report was never met.
Instead the New Rochelle City Council at their July meeting approved a resolution which will allow Iona to continue to house 850 students in their North Avenue Dormitory instead of the 700 allowed under the present New Rochelle zoning. The unanimous vote of the Council disappointed many people, especially residents living close to the Iona Campus. At the public hearing which preceded the vote of Council, residents, especially those living near Hubert and President Streets, were especially concerned about another Iona proposal to convert 15 houses on these streets to mini-dormitories, each housing 10-12 students. Occupancy rates in New Rochelle allow only three unrelated people in a dwelling according to Greg Varian, Esq., who stated overcrowding would impact the Halcyon Park neighborhood in a negative way. Under these conditions he asked why a five year extension should be granted.
Bob McCaffrey, President of the Mount Joy Neighborhood Association, cautioned that the report which was being prepared by the Committee formed last year (consisting of Iona and New Rochelle Officials and neighborhood members) is not "a Master Plan for Iona." Councilman Jared Rice who is a member of the Committee remained concerned about quality of life issues for the surrounding neighborhoods. He stated, "The vote isn't to grant Iona a five year occupancy extension. Rather it is to allow them the extension provided that a final report is adopted by the planning committee comprised of five representatives from Iona, two City personnel members, and most importantly, five neighborhood representatives....More time is needed to realize this option, hence the committee needs more time to work."
However, even with these limitations, there are some residents who do not agree that the City Council's actions are adequate to deal with their concerns. Joyce Furfero, Co-Chair of the the Confederation of Neighborhood Associations related, "As long as Iona was willing to be a sleepy little commuter college in a sleepy little suburban city, it co-existed very nicely with its surrounding neighbors in its surrounding neighborhoods. When Iona decided to expand and increased acceptance of out-of-area students, without consideration of their housing needs, the out-of -town students along with the growing number of commuter students who need parking, became a big burden on local homeowners (e.g. noise, litter, rowdiness, overcrowding of residences in violation of the New Rochelle Municipal Code)" Further she feels the current plans "are a nightmare for people living in the Mt; Joy, White Oak, Hilltop, Eastchester, Halcyon Park and Sunset View Park and some of Beechmont and Rochelle Heights neighborhoods."
Obviously, any middle ground for Iona's development will be hard for the Committee to establish. For now, many residents are waiting and hoping for a favorable outcome.

In the August l0,2012 issue of Soundview Rising

There are 3 Comments

Peggy...All I can say is...What in the world has happened to our once beautiful "Queen City of the Sound"?

This City was a showplace once upon a time until, here we go again, greed at the top level took over and ruined everything with corruption for that is what City Hall is.

I often wonder Peggy what our New Rochelle founders and famous occupants of our City think?

Can you imagine Eddie Foy coming to our city now to make it his home? He and many others must be turning in their graves!

Peggy and Oldtimer,

What in the world has happened to our once beautiful "Queen City of the Sound"?
What would our New Rochelle founders and famous occupants of our City think?

We don’t have to go back to our founders. Just ask anyone that has moved out of New Rochelle recently because of the high taxes, political shenanigans and bad reputation that have been increasing at a rapid pace over the last several years. Look at the last several years of development all around New Rochelle, Avalon, New Roc, Trump, Monroe College and the Mercedes Benz dealership just to name a few.

About the Dorm Issue,
It is not as much about the students and the noise; it is the past history of The City Council, Iona College and the people responsible for the development plans and those that are calling the shots. The behind the scenes wheeler and dealers pulling the political strings with the city and the city as well. It is the manner in which the development over the years has taken place. Go back and read my post from 7/25/12,” New Rochelle it’s not the College, It’s the people behind them!” Too much has been done with residents kept in the dark with poor communication and the failure of Iona College Planners to share their plans for the future. You can’t move forward with the type of development that has taken place over the last several years if there wasn’t already some type of a plan already in the works.

Go back and watch The City Council Meeting from Tuesday July 17 2012. Council Member Tarintino, refers to the great disconnect between the neighbors, the committee and their representatives. Several council members asked the same thing after the fact. Listen to the questions that he asked during the meeting. I also urge you to go back and watch the Citizens to be Heard from July 10, 2012. We need to get answers to the questions asked. Enough has been said and written about the subject of the Waiver Extension and the joint effort by The City of New Rochelle and Iona College. Let’s just get it right this time and hold The Iona College board of Legal Trustees and The City of New Rochelle accountable.

People asked why a unanimous vote by the joint committee for the preliminary plan? Probably for the same reason the vote on the waiver was 7-0. There were still council members that had questions but still voted in favor of the extension. Think of all of the votes on agenda items with the council that was 7-0, for the sake of the process. After the vote, it comes back to haunt you for voting in favor of the agenda item. Who said it was a unanimous vote and what were they voting on. Initial conclusions were given but no vote? If there was any type of disconnect, then who knows if there was? From the conversation at The Council Meeting, it didn’t sound like everyone was truly in favor of the vote or if there was a vote at all. The last vote we are aware of was for the interim report put out February 16, 2012. We know of no other vote because we are unable to speak to our neighborhood representative about the subject. Some council members didn’t realize or remember that the pre-condition was in the agreement formed by The City and Iona College last year. Some said they would have re-thought their votes or asked more questions.

Governor Cuomo's Tappan Zee Bridge Team is convening a community meeting about the plans to replace the Tappan Zee this week at Iona College. Why can’t Iona College Host a community meeting about their plans for Iona College’s Future Growth that directly affects the New Rochelle neighbors?

I agree with you Bob M. That's why I am selling and getting out too.

Going to where the grass is greener, crime is nill and people and neighbors still care about you!