About 30 New Rochelleans met at the American Legion Hall on North Avenue Wednesday and marched up to City Hall protesting the City's choice for readaptation of the Armory.
Ron Tocci of the Save Our Armory Committee said his group, which held a rally on the steps of City Hall, wanted to create a performing arts center in the Armory. The team that was selected by the City Council to receive a memorandum of understanding is Good Profit, which proposed the creation of a market hall, focused on regional food. Both proposals contained eating establishments, art and performance spaces and a veterans services component.
The proposal from Good Profit was estimated to cost $26 million. The Save Our Armory Committee's original proposal was estimated at $10.5 million, but the latest proposal, submitted well past the late-August deadline, was $24.5 million.
The marchers were boisterous, blowing whistles and chanting slogans. Some of the signs read "Vets Not Veggies," People Not Potatoes," Honor the Deed" and "It's Our Armory."
During the Citizens to Be Heard portion of the City Council meeting 28 people spoke in favor of giving the Save Our Armory Committee an additional shot at the development prize. No one spoke in favor of the Good Profit proposal.
Many commenters referred to Good Profit's proposal as a "fruit stand."
Tocci said he didn't want to be in the council chambers any more than the City Council wanted to be there.
"We challenge you to show us where we missed a deadline," he said. "We got our act together and we decided this was the best avenue to persue.
"The proof in the pudding is for 15 years ... the group of people have proved they have sustained themselves as a community and have kept the building alive," Tocci said.
Peter Parente said he questioned the way the city of New Rochelle operated in situations like this.
"It does not surprise me that you would do all you can to stand in our way," he said. "A performing arts center will do good for the city. Please give us the opportunity to show you what we have."
Mayor Noam Bramson spoke after public comment ended, stating that the City Council discussed in a public session the terms of a request for proposals for the adaptive reuse of the Armory, given the timetable of the overall Echo Bay development.
He said there was a set schedule for the proposal process that was distributed to all parties.
The last-minute presentation of information from the Save Our Armory Committee would not have made any difference, Bramson said.
"The last minute materials from the Memorial Center team, even if they had been submitted in a timely fashion, would not, in my opinion, have altered the Council's decision-maiking," he said. "After all, the Council did see these materials prior to making its selection and has had a chance to review them more fully in the time since—and no one's opinion has change."