An open letter to Mayor Noam Bramson:
You recently posted on your Web site that “the status and potential relocation of New Rochelle’s Public Works Yard on East Main Street has stirred a long-running and sometimes heated debate. With the release of a new, detailed and conclusive engineering study, that debate should now be over.”
With the development of the Echo Bay site promised many times before, there is the inevitable relocation of the public works yard to a new location. This new location has been identified as being on 85 Beechwood Avenue in the West End of New Rochelle. We live in this neighborhood!
This is a congested area where many working-class residents lived and work. It’s also where I-95 traverses overhead with thousands of cars spewing noxious fumes everyday. It is where children play and walk to their respective schools.
In reviewing the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) the City of New Rochelle produced, it was quite puzzling that the engineers did not look at any other residential open space in New Rochelle. Now with the Mayor and City Manager’s pronouncements, it smells like a done deal. A congested area would soon become even more congested and hazardous.
Visualize if you will a huge salt dome, a fueling facility, a recyclables storage facility and a facility for city-owned and employee vehicles. Oh, yes, and plenty of sanitation and public works trucks. As these trucks rumble through our dilapidated streets, our children walk Jefferson Elementary School or Isaac Young Middle School.
The Beechwood Avenue site mentioned in the DEIS will be more distressed than any other neighborhood in New Rochelle. Now the neighborhood with dilapidated buildings and streets, odors and smoke from factories and auto shops, noise from trains and traffic congestion or another neighborhood characteristic will be more stressful yet. I would argue that our local government needs to be more aggressive about understanding community viewpoints before proposing multi-million dollar potentially hazardous and unhealthy plans that could be resisted by our community.
In February 1994, President Clinton issued an executive order requiring “each federal agency [to] make achieving environmental justice part of its mission by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on minority and low income populations in the United States.”
In that same year, the New York State Board of Regents on Environmental Quality in Schools affirmed the right of all children to be taught in a safe learning environment and of children, parents and school employees to know about environmental health hazards in the school environment.
Can these same principles apply when you consider the relocation of the department of Public Works to the congested neighborhood of the West End of New Rochelle? There is a 62-acre parcel of land in the northern part of the city that would be more suitable. In the governmental rhetoric that proclaims our rich diversity of community, diversify the allocation of our public works to other parts of the city. Build a community park at 85 Beechwood Ave. Get my drift!
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