Noam it has been hard for your recently but you can restore and rebuild your legacy while rebuilding and restoring your city. You are not alone; it may seem that way, but good people are a dime a dozen in these parts. What you can accomplish with the hands, hearts and minds of others here is more solid than the stone on marble plaques. It is more important than names from the past on plaques anywhere here: library Plaza, Train Station, City Hall.
You probably feel otherwise. Few remember the name of the astronaut who sat in the spacecraft when Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon. But, they remembered and so have many in NASA who know the mission would have likely failed without Michael Collins.
No comfort? You may not recall George C Marshall. Marshall was the head of military operations in Europe during WW II. But, most folks remember Dwight Eisenhower But, millions upon millions of survivors throughout Western Europe and their descendents will ever forget him.
It is not for his generalship. Marshall was the savior of post war Western Europe. You know him from the Marshall Plan. Retrospectively, this will historically bear out close to importance, maybe more so than his military accomplishments.
He saved many lives, halted the spread of the Soviet Union and he RESTORED AND REBUILT.
In fact,Douglas MacArthur did as much in Japan and literally changed a feudal culture into a thriving democracy. Will the Japanese ever forget him.
Both established living legacies and you can and should as well. Many factors, including neglect and a lack of stewardship led us to where we are today. Of course New Rochelle's problems cannot be measured against those of Western Europe and Germany in post WWII. But, the point is there and should be made.
You did not cause our full decline but you contributed to it. Many of us did to some extent; we are all Enablers. But, you have an opportunity to make some things right and you have a hell of a lot of talent throughout the Queen City to do just that.
You might want to consider Doris Kearns Confederation of Rivals when dealing with this. I urge you to accept the presence and participation of those who opposed you, even maligned you. That's what leaders do and you pride yourself in being one whether authorized by city law to be in that spot. But, you are living a fact partially of your creation so use it well.
I want to advance some views I posted less than 24 hours ago and continue to offer my support as well as speak for those who want to help but are denied a place at the table.
And, knowing your defining legacy moment revolves around Echo Bay, or as you phrase it, the New Rochelle waterfront, I want to suggest to you explicitly that this is still possible. I simply hope it becomes more of a deferred gratitification and here is what I mean.
Noam, restoring, rebuilding New Rochelle is surely not a "win-lose" or zero sum game. Adopting this attitude is like embracing the inevitability of conflict. It does not have to be that way. A win-lose game presents all of us with the real prospect of losing and losing big. It would come down to the inescapable, inexcusable fact that you, I and every citizen, every resident would get the government we deserve. We deserve much more than that.
Too many people on both sides of this "conflict" are less a confederacy of rivals and more a confederacy of dunces. There is no reason for vicious ad hominem attacks and there is no reason for barring people with strong viewpoints from the table. At yesterday's meeting two men; one a scheduled speaker, another someone who was going to sign up for that purpose left not being able to digest a few of the personal attacks hurled in your direction.
They were wrong! But, sometimes pain takes a while to dissipate. Some new people are posting about being treated badly, even betrayed by the Administration. It does and it has happened on your watch. Yet we must go beyond that and now! As I said on several occasions recently; to expect the Citizens for the Armory committee to be directly empowered to handle the development of the Armory cannot work for a number of reasons. I hasten to add that to exclude members from participating in the design, development of ideas and more, would be equally amiss.
I will say more on this later. For now, notice how upset you got when accused of dishonorable conduct or potentially closed mindedness by some speakers. John d'Alois has the view that receiving political contributions should recuse you from any decision making process. But, Noam take note of the professionalism, decency, and respectful presentation of that idea. John may not be right as just about every politician in office receives political contributions, but he is correct in raising it, and it does speak to ethics and he is right there but has not articulated you as being unethical.
But, may contributors are finding their way into the mainstream or even slipstream of our political or developmental systems. I call these "Enablers." I have dwelled on this in the past, but for now, I must repeat that you have a substantial war chest of over $150,000 dollars and it is difficult to fathom exactly how you have used it or plan to use it. Given the roles and responsibilities explicit to you in the City Charter, the question takes on both meaning and substance.
That said, you should revel in a rebuild and restore role. Many of our systems and structures are in need of immediate relief. You say we have no money. That said, we have no money for sure for new additions to our city; our community house. My earlier posting give a clear reason why this must be the case.
So, we have to rebuild and restore our business district in a meaningful, non cosmetic way. That includes all facets from protection, to services decentralization, to studying our problems with recent high rise developments, and so much more.
I want to give a hypothetical. If Forest City is still in the game; and given their ethical record, they probably should not be, Abe Napersink, a very clever man who is heads and shoulders sharper than his Yonkers counterparts, gives the attentive listener clues to his thinking or wishful thinking that can be explored. If Forest City is stll in the game because we choose this to be the case, we can at least expect quality work. We can also exercise client maturity which is something lacking in all of our development efforts to date.
Let me continue the hypothetical. I think Forest Hills might be willing to delay until we handle our core issues on downtown business district development because their current intent may be more relationship building than the development of Echo Bay as it is seen by the most recent MOU.
Napersink was talking about Main Street somewhat and I sense his eyes looked towards the other side of the street as well. He might have a vision he hasn't shared with anyone at this point. Perhaps he sees a somewhat healthy small business area doing well across the street and encapsulates this in the larger context of a retail setting.
Even if wishful thinking, I see some promise in this linkage. Suppose for example, you accept how Ivar Hydin sees the leading edge of this project. It is correct and there is no need to attribute equal importance to all facets of a development. Ivar may and likely does see the rebuilt and restored Armory as the entry point into the waterfront and envisions a series, a mall, so retail setting as the arrival point from the Armory that contains important community components; lead retail, museum, veterans chapel, community meeting places, whatever, but there is a linkage that would even be of great potential use for the residential component of the project.
I take it two steps further.One why not a bridge spanning Main Street that encourages people to freely and safely cross the street to take advantage of what is offered on both sides of the street?
Go yet another step further! Couldn't this entire waterfront theme embrace a refocused and redefined Davids Island? You would have more emphasis on leisure and entertainment but there are learning possibilities as well. Governors Island will soon be set up as a state of the art technology center in partnership with Cornell.
There are many possibilities and all are vibrant. With this type of forced consolidation of planning, your legacy takes full shape. You have led the issue in correct downtown, revitalzing and protecting it while carving out a new locus for tsx dollars and urban growth.
You will need more, and in some cases, even better people than you have now.You must cut the civil service mentality in pieces. You must make sure that you negate the confederacy of idiots by including Hydin, Rice, Tocci, D'Alois in the Armory process. You must be diligent in broadening and not narrowing developmental potential; the current planning committee is not representative nor skilled sufficiently. Freimuth can play one on one ball with Napersink if it oomes to that and I would make that happen.
Now the DPW yard. I would encourage you, urge you to slow the decision. Get more on the MOU and RFP. Get another Engineer with no relationship to the City. Do it this way.... Michael get me someone you used in Stamford. That'll work. Rework the numbers and model other potential applications such as retail and residential. You have absolutely nothing to use.
Napersink gave you parking and a carte blanche on the Armory. Ratner gives nothing away, so take advantage of it. Parking is a damn detail. Develop it properly and you will have ample parking down by the waterfront.
Let me end with a caveat. I am not going to let up my quest on the City Charter/Code. That is my moral imperative. You dont' use me for what I do best, I will still make my mark hear as a loyal citizen.
but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Be diligent in areas we have been very, very lax on. Be sensible and less available to the colleges. They have business plans and their advancement weakens us. You have too many planning venues. Cut them out or at least coherently put them together. Check out your BID function. It is marginally effective and needs to be much more responsive and directed. Haven't they provided occupany numbers for Section 8 and school dormitory usages in Avalon 1 and 2, Trump, Residence Inn? Basic stuff believe me, basic stuff. Get someone on board to take charge of this.
Also, the Council needs to have a stronger role in IDA and not a rubber stamp, after the ship has sailed role.
the City Charter/Code. Fish or cut bait. Admit you inherited how it pertains to your office and own up to what the voters have said in response to past Referendums and Petitions. Clean house by working with your colleagues in the Council.
Noam, you are in fact, the Ceremonial Mayor and Head of the City Council and that still makes you the most powerful member of governance.
Do it right or we all go down with this good ship lollipop.