[this article originally appeared in the Feb. 3, 2009 Westchester Herald]
"Nothing will happen (to the New Rochelle Armory) without the State being the lead agency." These words by Peter Parente at the Save Our Armory (SOA) meeting set the tone on January 26 at the American Legion, Post 8 in New Rochelle. Both Ron Tocci and Peter Parente, co-chairs of the SOA Committee, wanted to get the city to agree on uses for the Armory. Parente mentioned that there are federal grants and loans that could be used to develop a good business plan for the Echo Bay area.
Forest City Ratner's financial problems according to Tocci have caused the company to cancel some of their pending projects. With this possible void, putting a new roof on the Armory might create "a plan that makes sense," Tocci continued. Councilman Lou Trangucci questioned how to validate that Forest City Ratner is "close to bankruptcy." He added the company is "still committed to the project." A neighborhood needs not only a plan to save the building. but also funding. When asked about the stimulus program and funding for the city, Councilman Trangucci suggested that the $10 million project on storm water was a current priority of the city. Parente and Tocci were asked to go on WVOX to explain to the public where the SOA committee is today.
Jim Killoran, Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity, promised to seek out volunteers to help the SOA committee. Robert Cox was asked to explain his Talk of the Sound blog website which attracts 3,000 readers per month. Cox felt pictures showing the Armory in the condition originally given to the city compared to its present condition could produce a national story. New York State gave this Armory to New Rochelle in 1997 to be used for public purposes. The City's negligence in maintaining the building could embarass them.
Parente summed up, "Since it appears that the development plans are on hold for Echo Bay, the SOA committee should look into temporary uses for the building and hope that the City of New Rochelle is willing to work with us."