Save Our Armory Committee Says Echo Bay Needs Alternate Proposal by Peggy Godfrey (from Westchester Times Tribune, December 2008)
The Save Our Armory (SOA) Committee according to its co-chairman, Peter Parente, favors "development and wants the city of New Rochelle to flourish." However the Committee has been bombarded by requests to "do something," particularly to show an alternative plan for the Echo Bay area.
The message about the Echo Bay proposal needs to reach the public. Forest City Residential wants to create a development with homeowners and renters. Since there will be 700 rental units an IDA tax abatement will be possible. This would mean higher taxes for the residents. The City Yard will have to be moved to Beechwood Avenue and will require a $2.5 million study just for the relocation. Another 6% of the city taxes collected every year will be needed to bond for the relocation of the City Yard. The bottom line, according to Parente is, "We're going to owe more than Forest City Residential brings in" revenue to the city.
Gene McLeer, Commander of American Legion Post 8, claimed that the city is saying the SOA Committee doesn't want the Echo Bay development and that we have nothing to say, but he insisted he is a homeowner and has something to say. Rosemary Spalin added there is an alternative plan and our legislators should be told about it. But John Maguire stated this really can't be done at this time because the city has a memorandum of understanding with the proposed developer on this Echo Bay proposal.
Ron Tocci, co-chair of the SOA Committee commented that to save the Armory the Committee needs to show alternatives which won't be costly for the city. An alternative plan should be one that would generate interest among the residents. Tocci claimed the Armory needed one million dollars in repairs. The Armory was originally given to the city of New Rochelle to be used as a civic center. Should the state give the building back to the veterans they could maintain it by holding fund raisers. Another problem is that no more new sewer hook-ups are supposed to be made and the Forest City Residential plan of 800 proposed new dwelling units would have to be hooked up to the sewer. Lorraine Pierce asked about the financial records of Forest City Residential especially in view of the present economic climate.
On Veterans Day Chuck Strome, City Manager, produced a bell from the Armory that has a broken piece on top. The bell rang ll times (remembering 9/ll) and then it was sent back to the Harbor Police garage. But the question remained: Where is the original Armory Bell?
On December 7 Gene McLeer announced there would be a Salute to the USO at the American Legion Post 8 at 7:30 p.m. Ron Tocci presented to the group a plan called "La Rochelle Village." He plans to show it to the Forest City Residential group and Craig King, New Rochelle Commissioner of Development. The SOA Committee will not meet in December. Their next meeting will be on January 28, 2009.