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Councilman St. Paul: Improvements are Still Needed

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Councilman St. Paul: Improvements are Still Needed

March 29, 2009 - 19:58
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     Councilman Richard St. Paul (D. 4) addressed development initiatives in New Rochelle at his community district meeting on March 24.  He claimed Target and Kohls slated for New Roc are waiting for financing.  Other future plans for the City of New Rochelle are 50 story buildings including a hotel and residential units for Le Count Square. The North Avenue study being completed will assess 9, 7, 5 or 3 story buildings for that corridor.   Cameras in downtown and upgrading of the Church-Division parking lot are also needed.

     When items for the stimulus plan such as moving the city yard were brought up, Chuck Strome, New Rochelle City Manager, claimed it was a "wish list" that had been submitted to the state.  He continued by saying 75% of the city budget was for staffing and "75% of that 75% is for police, fire and sanitation departments." 

     Brian Sussman, a Democratic district leader that attended the meeting, expressed concern about the people who pay taxes.  He felt new housing units would be appropriate on the grounds of Wykagyl Country Club.    

     The need for more parking in the area was discussed.  Traffic in the downtown was called a "snail's crawl" during rush hours by Marjorie Brandon.  The wind problem created by high rise buildings in her view has been largely unacknowledged by the City Council despite this problem having been brought to their attention in the past before these buildings were constructed.  She felt the City's present approach in downtown will not bring in business.  James O'Toole objected saying that all the projects are going up and traffic is good in downtown New Rochelle.  When a question about security was raised, Councilman St. Paul answered he wanted to place cameras in downtown.  Chuck Strome said crime was low in New Rochelle.  He cautioned there are many constituencies in New Rochelle and, for example, when the early morning parking was removed on a small portion of North Avenue near the railroad station to help commuters, the businesses had been warned.  St. Paul countered, this is a temporary program and said if businesses are hurting because of it, they should let City Council know.  Further he said the denseness of large buildings in the downtown and the need for a place for children to play were concerns. 

     When Charles McLaughlin commended what he saw happening in downtown, St. Paul stated that improvements are still needed.   Pedestrian safety in the downtown area was brought up and several people said it was almost impossible to cross some intersections safely. 

     This was one of the three meetings Councilman St. Paul held this week for his district.

    

   

    


 

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glad Ms Godfrey has a blog. She, along with a handful of others have thoughtfully brought to the voter's attention issues and problems in our city and they have been well researched and presented professionally. My only problem with her contributions is that I have not seen too many proactive viewpoints; usually she serves as a critic or gadfly. However, that being the case, I much prefer her in that role than being a silent witness.

I don't know Mr. St Paul but he has the politician's voice -- one well developed by the study of law and not as defined and definite as I would like to hear in an advocate for the people. Yet, he is active and, despite personal misgivings I had based on questions about his residency prior to the election I think he can be a strong voice for his district and the city-at-large.

There are a few things that I would like to see examined that usually bring little but a nonchalant shrug to our city fathers, but which I think are vital to the success and growth of our city,

1. place a police precinct or a storefront police presence downtown. Frankly, I am not interested in the "professional opinion" of the commissioner -- I realize he has an important role in mixing and matching resources to need, but the very presence of such a facility would be a deterrent as well as haven for those seeking police support. You need to look at this with a different vision; one that embraces an overall city plan, not just a police plan.
2. the same goes for the lamentable school board and district in terms of some integrated and transparent plan towards capital expansion. You do not have to be a genius to see that the current infrastructure is overextended or inadequate. This issue has a direct bearing on the already overburdened taxpayer. It is as important as upgrading the district's oversight (board) and management(administrators, principals, etc) table of organization. This city continues to be weighed down by the anchor of a performance system where form trumps substance. Frankly there is very little interest demonstrated by the city council who avoid this subject like the plague. that says Mr St Paul and his colleagues are asleep at the wheel as this is a legitimate and essentially city planning and development issue.
3. i weary of the argument of parking, roadways, etc. on any plan that calls for accelerated city growth especially in downtown. what we have is baseline and critical thinking is needed to maximize what is available. Jim Killoran has a good idea although i don't think he looked at its potential or he was ignored as simply being a know nothing non-profit guy. He is much more; what he has shown us is a paradigm of Portland Oregon, for example, where progressive city fathers use trolleys and trams to move people from the outer rims to the inner core. net, net investmeents in a tram structure would have been responsive, fundable via stimulus (energy) cut down on traffic flow and relieve some parking issues. It is looking at the issue with a glass half full or can-do set of eyes and not simply criticizing or naysaying. of course parking will always be an issue, so redefine your terms.

our new emerging businesses are going as fast as they are coming. yes, it is likely the economy but not fully. the residential paradigm was the right choice and it is time to support it by looking at what impedes its growth and sustenance. the creation of artist colonies on main is one good idea; there might be others providing we provide support and security. look at the real estate landlord issues re: vacancies with new ideas; might well call for selected eminent domain. stop ruminating over the past glory -- we will never be a larchmont and must insure we never become a yonkers. as far as abatements and inducements --- we should be more skilled in the renegotiation phase than the initiation phase. attracting new money is vital, but venture capitalists are no fools; they will respect and respond to any proper quid pro quo on lease renewal or renegotiation. frankly I am glad cappelli is here as well as avalon; but i do have doubts about the forest city people. cappelli may strike a hard bargain, but he understands quid pro quo. ask the police department and sound shore hospital. forest city will pick your pocket unless you press for terms. the armory argument is another improperly framed argument. servicemen for example, treasure home and hearth and not a building they walked through on the road to harms way. you want your community and family to reap the benefit of your sacrifice --- quid pro quo should have led to an ice rink and, repeat and, a fitting memorial for our service people.

sorry for the length, but welcome to the blog world Ms Godfrey.

warren gross

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