The Voice of New Rochelle: A Stroll by Echo Bay

A random stroll by the City Yard and Naval Armory down by Echo Bay has given the author second, and even third, thoughts about the grand debate.

I stopped off the other day at Chickens Gone Berserk, or Wild, or whatever it is, on Route One, to grab half a bird and some pita bread. I was sitting comfortably at an outdoor table when it hit me that I was right across the street from the entrance to the City Yard, which sits right next door to the Armory.

Since I field many calls about these places, as well as on the larger issues of what to do with the waterfront, I decided to take a post-feast stroll around the grounds. I also tried to suppress whatever biases I had.  

Bias One: The outside of the Armory has the visual appeal of World War II block house. The anchor is it’s most artistic and appealing object.

Bias Two: Inside, where I have been, though not recently, the place looks like a bomb hit it. Yet the huge steel arches, with their potential grandeur, cry out for salvation and inspire dreams of a classic field house where local teams can be proud to do combat.

Bias Three: I have a soft spot for the sentiment that drives those that want to save the place as part of the city’s inheritance.

Bias Four: I have always been among those who sincerely believe that Beechwood is a good place to move the City Yard. In Brooklyn, where I grew up, it seems that half of such places are under the highway known as the Gowanus Expressway, a locale where no one would want to put very much else.

So here we go:

The Armory is an eyesore. It just is, from every angle. Sorry, it is just what I believe. While I sincerely hope that it can be saved, given a face lift and turned into my grand dream, it should be done away with if no one can come forward with a plan and the money to restore it. Take way its history, which has been its saving grace, and it is nothing more than an abandoned blight.

As I crossed the threshold into the City Yard, the first thing to strike me was its sheer size and the way the surface was undulated like the parking lot at the Cross County Shopping Center. Someone there told me that it had been a landfill for the rubble of the old Macy’s/Bloomingdale’s Mall. 

As I further penetrated the yard, the obvious hit me, as it did the last time I was there. It is a disgrace. The rotting old buildings could be used selectively for a Clint Eastwood western after the man with no name burns down the sinful town. What is worse is that some of our Public Works Department men actually have to work in some of these structures.

I tossed my head around what this meant. Surely it has to be repaired or moved. More obviously, at least to this writer, is that a decision must have been made long ago to move it. What else could explain the sorry state of the place? 

So on with it then. If the numbers come back showing that it is cheaper to move than to fix, do it. If not, fix it.

If I have learned anything about the state of politics in this city it is that there are few centrists when it comes to vitriol. Those that hate the current administration will still hate it if it turns Beechwood into Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Meanwhile, the men who work at the yard toil amongst the debris and, I am sure, dangerous conditions, because our city is once again locked in its David’s Island syndrome of gridlock.

Both the administration and its enemies are lucky that a “No Trespassing” sign hangs on the gate to the entrance to the City Yard. If the residents saw it on a regular basis, they and both sides of the debate, would be embarrassed. And the public would know our truly dirty little secret.

Joyce Furfero June 06, 2012 at 01:47 PM
The debate over whether to "fix or move" the City Yard needs better articulation and the alternatives need to be better publicized to the taxpayers of New Rochelle. The Mayor, City Council, and City Manager have thus far simply thrown out aggregate numbers in the millions of dollars to "prove" that the City Yard cannot be fixed and needs to be moved. They have not substantiated their allegations with hard and fast facts. The City must publish line item numbers of the costs to fix (what are we fixing and how) AND to move (what are we moving/newly constructing). Thus far, all New Rochelleans have gotten from our City leaders is fear-mongering: If we don't move the City Yard yesterday, Armageddon will be upon us! This fear-mongering is not the way to get sound decision-making for a municipality where taxpayers are already strained in the pocketbook, the City has no savings account, and our bond rating is at stake. What New Rochelleans need is more concrete information and not just hyperbole.
Billy June 06, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Shame on the city's leaders for letting the yard fall into disrepair, but the facts remain that the city has NO money to do anything with its yard & so it shouldn't do anything with it. There are a thousand other pressing issues that deserve to be funded prior to spending anything on the city yard. One last thought to think about, just because the bank will lend you the money doesn't mean that the loan is right for you. In the last 5-7 years, how many people got loans that shouldn't have qualified? Same goes for the City of New Rochelle, just because Wall St. will lend New Rochelle the money, doesn't mean the city should borrow the money especially if it means laying off 10-15 police officers which is about what the loan/bond to move/renovate the city yard will cost annually. It simply isn't worth that expense.
Martin Sanchez June 06, 2012 at 07:19 PM
A couple of years ago when the relocation was presented by the Mayor, there was no input nor opinion sought by the residents of the West End. It seemed then, and now, that our opinion and our welfare was not important. I am led to conclude that this effort is nothing more than a strategic case of Environmental racism that will lead to a disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on the overwhelming majority of people of color who live in the West end. So is the Mayor a racist or just doesn't care about the children who live in the west end?


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