Archive for the ‘Opinion/Commentary’ Category

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The Cost of Echo Bay? Can Your Back (and Wallet) Take the Strain? Half a Billion and Counting

February 13, 2011
Estimated cost to taxpayers for development

Are these numbers far from the truth?

Following Anthony Galletta’s reporting on the state of affairs in New Rochelle is always an eye opener. His recent debunking of the mayor’s voodoo economic numbers regarding the purported “net benefit” bestowed upon the citizens of this city is a case in point. In Part 1,he points out how the stated benefit from development has apparently grown from a $2 million to a $7.5 million benefit in just 18 months(I wonder if the election year has helped pump up the numbers, or are we really doing that well). In Part 2, he provides a glimpse into the real numbers affecting the cost side of the “net benefit” equation. As usual, well done Anthony!

As we “develop” our way into bankruptcy, I’d like you all to take a look at some of the numbers surrounding the Echo Bay project. Granted, these are my own projected estimates and I’m having a little fun with the invoice above to prove a point, but even a 25% swing would still be a huge burden to place on the backs of the taxpayer. We absolutely need to uncover the total costs involved if there is to be any semblance of an informed decision in what would be New Rochelle’s largest development in history. With residential housing making up most of the Echo Bay project,(remember, the property tax base will be abated in some form) could there really be enough sales tax revenue to offset the costs incurred? How much clothing, pottery, and souvenirs can you actually sell? How in the world could the cultural enrichment provided by adaptive re-use of the Amory be replaced by a stack of mundane apartments?

Strangely enough, the projected cost to the city is about equal to the total cost of the project. As in, we’re footing the bill to let Forest City own the property. After all, a builder builds your house and you pay him to do it, but eventually you own it. We would be paying to build Echo Bay and we will never own one square inch of it. Even the so-called “public space” will forever be owned by the developer.Go figure.

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Investing in the Future by Preserving the Past

February 9, 2011
Post Card of the New Rochelle Armory ca.1930's

             Pristine and Ready for Service to the Community and the World                 (photo courtesy of  Bill – Thanks!)

Inspired by the need to provide for the National Defense, this building trained, mustered and sent off countless military groups to defend and protect our interests at home and abroad. Training and drills kept the troops sharp and at the ready for the moment when duty called. That’s just part of the service this iconic building provided to this city and region. Sporting events, dances and performances filled the hall bringing the community together in celebration of the lifestyle our freedom afforded us. She also served in times of tragedy as volunteer efforts rallied to marshal supplies to assist in the days following what would become this generation’s Pearl Harbor as the tragic events of September 11th unfolded before a nation’s eyes. Throughout World War 2, Vietnam, Korea, Desert Storm, and terrorist attacks, this monument to the American spirit stood fast and at the ready to do what she could for a proud society.

Wouldn’t it be shameful on all of us to let this historic monument fade into oblivion in the interest of taxpayer subsidized housing? Wouldn’t the community enrichment provided by historic interpretation, encouragement of the arts and the competition of youth sports be the most sincere form of tribute a grateful society could impart upon future generations. Sparking the minds of our children by showing them the possibilities that lay in front of them. To bring out the best of what New Rochelle has to offer and capture that American spirit again?

Together we can bring back the connections to our rich history, to let future generations know we’ve done all we can to give them their chance to shine.

Stay informed,  stay involved, and most of all, stay the course.

It’s YOUR Armory. Use it!

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UPDATE-Troops Landing at New Rochelle Armory are Asked to Leave by City Manager

August 29, 2010

Update – JUST TO BE CLEAR- The following story is meant to represent what can be acheived through community involvement, nothing more, nothing less. That being said and to avoid any misinterpretation of the story, the city manager was doing exactly what he is required to do, that is, to protect the city’s best interest. Anything less would be inappropriate by any measure. To reiterate, Mr Strome was courteous and above all, professional in his dealings with the situation. The lack of basic paperwork required to perform such work left him with no choice in protecting the city’s interests. This policy is applied to anywhere there is work being done on city property, not just the Armory. This was explained to the volunteers and now to the readers.

It was a beautiful Saturday morning when a small but enthusiastic army landed on the Armory property. With a level of commitment and energy that could only be rivaled by the brilliant sunshine, the all volunteer army commenced operation “clean up” at the beleaguered facility in hopes to spruce up the area for the September 11 Memorial Service. Armed with rakes, brooms and paintbrushes and an abundance of enthusiasm, it only took a few hours to spruce up the grounds of the iconic structure at no cost to the taxpayer. Making a difference isn’t always as easy as it sounds though. As the saying goes – no good deed goes unpunished – so, holding true to the adage, work came to a screeching halt when City Manager Chuck Strome arrived. In a courteous but firm manner, the volunteers were informed that all work was to stop and the premises need to be vacated. Perhaps the hardest part of the eviction was explaining to the younger volunteers how the cleaning up of overgrown brush and a new coat of paint could be considered as a bad thing. Helping them to focus on all they had done so far, instead of what they couldn’t accomplish, helped them to realize that their contribution made a huge difference in spite of the city’s actions. So maybe all the weeds weren’t removed, and maybe the painting wasn’t finished, but all in all the younger volunteers came away with a true sense of how commitment to your town and getting involved does make all the difference. A lesson well learned, even if there are few weeds left.

After meeting and talking with this bright young group, the future seems in good hands. A heartfelt THANK YOU! to all involved, especially Jim Killoran and Habitat for Humanity for making a difference every single day.

Even more photos here



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New Rochelle Armory – Forest City OK’s Plan Discussion – Local Group to Present City With Alternative Plan

July 19, 2010

Forest City Enterprises has granted permission for the City Council to hear an alternative plan for the preservation and adaptive re-use of the New Rochelle Armory. The new plan will be outlined by Save Our Armory committee members Ron Tocci and Peter Parente. The current agreement between the city and the developer grants exclusive rights to Forest City regarding the property included in the Echo Bay development project scope. The alternative plan will be unveiled on Tuesday, July 20 @ 7:00 PM, in the council conference room.

Waterfront access, youth and senior services, sports and veterans services are all part of the vision for a renewed Armory venue. Preliminary discussions with Monroe College have provided a glimpse into the possibilities available in the new facility. As to the question of a partnership between the College and proponents of the Armory Plan, Monroe spokesman Rob Seitz stated “Monroe would consider participation in a feasibility study with the veterans if they get City Council approval,”.

Forest City will be submitting a revised plan for the Echo Bay area in the fall, prior to the expiration of the current Memorandum of Understanding, at which point the city will have several options available.

The plan intends to demonstrate how the preservation of the Armory and the revitalized Echo Bay area can draw from each other to best benefit the community.

The plan will be available online shortly after its presentation on the New Rochelle Armory website and here, on Talk of the Sound.

More to follow…..

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New Rochelle Armory Report on the June Emergency Meeting

July 6, 2010

As we’ve seen, the call went out to all concerned and the city was stopped in its tracks from its latest ploy to destroy history. Citizens turned out by the score to rail against this latest injustice. Among the speakers were committee members, local radio hosts, activists and citizens like you. Former Assemblyman Tocci gave the latest update regarding the State representatives’ reaction to the news that the Armory issue has NOT been settled. It’s reported that Senator Klein was most surprised that the story painted by the mayor didn’t actually reflect the reality. That within 36 hours of the truth being reported Senator Oppenheimer, Assembly Members Paulin and Latimer all pulled their support for the mayors request.  Anger, frustration, and betrayal, were the common theme among the amped up, yet organized crowd. The evening culminated with a review of a privately funded illustration of Armory possibilities. The graphic representations were met with excitement and approval  especially in light of the absence of any meaningful contribution from the city.

For your enjoyment, here’s a pictorial essay of the nights events.

Photos courtesy of Robert Pierce

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New Rochelle Armory – Commentary in Support of What is Right

July 6, 2010

Take a minute to read Stephen I. Mayo’s latest commentary on the latest failed political gambit of the mayor’s office.  Well thought and honest in its claim, you’ll see one more reason to stand up to the status quo who would sell out our history, if the price is right. Local insight at it’s best.  Good for you Steve and we thank you!

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Beyond Metaphor – A New Rochelle Armory Victory

July 4, 2010
A new flag for a new begining

New Flag Raised Over New Rochelle's Armory

HAPPY 4th of JULY !

It’s been said that timing is everything. The 4th of July brings a new flag to the Armory, marking the birth of our nation along with the resounding mandate of support for the iconic landmark in New Rochelle.  Recent events surrounding the controversial site have delivered a Pyrrhic victory to the citizens and veterans alike lobbying to resurrect the city neglected jewel.  The battle is won, this time, but your support is still needed. Contact your elected officials from the link on this site, or through whatever means you like. Sign the online petition or download the paper version from this site and pass it around to your fellow supporters or sign some new friends up. Recent events alone are a prime example of how people like YOU can make a difference in the future of New Rochelle.

Thanks to YOU !

It’s YOUR Armory

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The New Rochelle Armory is Safe (for now) Thanks to YOU!

July 1, 2010

Thanks to YOU. There’s no telling what the outcome would have been without your help. More and more the message is getting out to the good citizens of New Rochelle. Without your support, a large part of our history would be on the chopping block. Monday’s meeting was cross-section of the city coming together to do the right thing for the city and it’s future. But it doesn’t end here. Our efforts will continue until the Armory comes back to life, welcoming all through its doors and returning on our investment for generations to come. It’s all possible, with your help of course. So stay in touch, stay connected and tell your friends –

IT’S YOUR ARMORY

USE IT – DON’T LOSE IT !

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Bramson Coordinates Destruction of New Rochelle Armory Despite Voters Concerns

June 27, 2010

In what appears to be another “backroom” deal to subvert the legal, binding deed covenant of the New Rochelle Armory, Mayor Bramson and his cronies have decided to usurp the law, violate the public trust and destroy a large part of New Rochelle’s history. New Rochelle’s Talk of the Sound is reporting the attempt to sneak through last-minute legislation. This represents a new low for a Mayor who has been impotent in bringing any success to New Rochelle  in his final days as a city leader. As anyone who follows the Armory history will tell you, the city has been completely closed to any attempt to revive the historic icon, even though the proposals would not place any burden on the city. The $5,000 contribution from the Ratner family ( of Forest City Ratner) has been a source of speculation for the Mayors drive to destroy New Rochelle’s history. Popular opinion also speaks to the personality conflicts between supporters of the Armory and the Mayor, making it a “I’ll teach you a lesson” action from the Mayor just to prove a point.  Senseless  and short-sighted in its purpose, one can only imagine why it is so important to hand over the property to a private developer even though the developer is currently reevaluating the development to keep the Armory.  You may not agree with the Armory specifically, however, you can’t possibly agree with sneaking through legislation that affects your tax dollars without your participation.  “Taxation Without Representation….” I believe was how the saying goes.

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The New Rochelle Armory Says Thanks and Remembers Our Veterans on This Memorial Day

May 31, 2010

As you can well imagine,  the Save Our Armory Committee is unwavering in its commitment to the Veteran at both the local and National levels. With that being said, we salute and thank all those brave patriots who have served out of a sense of duty, commitment and honor to protect the values and lifestyle we often take for granted. We  cannot  thank the  preacher for freedom of religion, nor the reporter for freedom of the press, the poet for freedom of speech, the campus organizer for freedom to assemble, the lawyer for the right to a fair trial, or the politician for our right to vote, no, we are afforded these unalienable rights because of the sacrifices made by our Veterans. The defense of these simple, but powerful freedoms have endured through the determination of a country willing to put our youth in harm’s way to protect our way of life. The price of freedom is paid with the souls of those willing to defend it. So as we celebrate this Memorial Day, find time to take pause and reflect on how this grand day was made possible, and thank a Vet.

It’s been said, no soldier ever dies until he is forgotten.

Below are some images of the Memorial Day Ceremony held at Holy Sepulchre cemetery in New Rochelle. Peter Parente of the United Veterans Memorial and Patriotic Association led the ceremony as veterans paid tribute  and replaced the flags that marked the headstones of brother veterans. The yearly ceremony is held the Sunday before Memorial Day.  

A single flag stands watch over a fallen brother

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