The Voice of New Rochelle: Are You Ready?

Over the next two weeks, the New Rochelle City Council will likely vote on a memo of understanding to move forward with the downsized Echo Bay waterfront project. The decision will also impact the future of the City Yard and the Armory.

Are you ready? 

The last time I heard this question with the import I hope to convey was during the run up to the year 2000. You will recall that the extra digits were going to cause our computers to seize and the electric grid to fail, and grandma was going to speak in tongues in the middle of Sunday dinner, all with the result that we would be thrust back into the dark ages.

Nothing happened. 

Yes, a lot of people, especially the geeks among us, did a lot of work
to prevent what they thought might occur. But even they couldn’t tell you how much of the threat was real and how much was baloney. Nor could they tell you with any certainty that we were prepared, and tens of thousands of contingency workers were on hand at midnight to clean up any catastrophes that might occur.

“Pop” went the flag out of the toy gun. Nothing happened.

Misinformation fills our airwaves and other media, fueled by vested interests, while others misinterpret what is intended, sometimes to fit their own biases. It has always been so.

I read recently that the great Charles Darwin, exasperated that his work was being interpreted, deliberately and otherwise, in a way that falsely attributed to him that the modification of species was exclusively due to natural selection, wrote in his last edition of On the Origin of the Species that his proclamations to the contrary “has been to no avail. Great is power of misinterpretation.”

And so, here—now—we find ourselves in a multiyear stew of misinformation, misinterpretation and dire warnings marinated in intrigue and suspicion. The mayor is interested in his legacy and not what is best for the city. The former mayor bought the building upon which the City Yard will be moved from his “friends.” The current administration and its predecessor never had any intention when they bought the Armory from the state to use it for the good of the city. Forest City Ratner cannot be trusted. Business can be lured without tax abatements. Adding families to the city via building new residential does not add to the school tax base. 

Throw in the mysterious and conspiratorial fear put forward by some Cassandras that the city is intent on becoming part of some New World Order, and you can catch my drift.

It no longer matters what of the above is true. Some undoubtedly is, and some, I am sure, is not. The narratives are out there, and we are stuck with them, and we’ll probably never able to discern the whole truth.

But we do have time to make a case. This week discussions took place and next week the city council will likely vote. By attending council meetings or watching them on the city's Web site, you can question the wisdom of these projects and decide for yourself who and what to believe. Then you can call or e-mail your council representative and tell him or her what you think.

I have the sense from my weekly conversations with council members that this latest version of the group is more independent than any we have seen in a while, and quite amenable to input. 

There is no reason why you have to sit by on the night of the vote like we did in 2000, without having had any input. And even Darwin didn’t have a council member to call. The day is coming. 

Are you ready?


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