The Voice of New Rochelle: The Bard and City Yard

All indications point to a move of the New Rochelle City Yard to Beechwood Avenue after years of debate and analysis. For good or ill, one of the city’s gridlocked initiatives may finally move forward.

One of New Rochelle’s soft spots is its tendency, born of healthy debate by and for an involved citizenship, to become deadlocked over major infrastructure and development initiatives. The effect, while not intended, would make William Shakespeare’s Hamlet proud. We have more no decisions than a solid starter for the New York Mets.

The mother of all gridlocked projects, or un-projects, is David’s Island. A succession of city governments of both parties has failed to come up with an acceptable use for this precious parcel of real estate for more than 50 years. 

Just think, 11 presidents have served in the White House, one of them assassinated, another one black; men have circled the earth and walked on the moon; we have fought four major wars; the Supreme Court struck down segregation, upheld Roe vs. Wade and concluded that corporations are people.  We have seen the introduction of perfect color TV, heart transplants, YouTube, Facebook and gay marriage. Jets took over the skies from piston propeller aircraft, and you can microwave baked macaroni in about four minutes. 

I am sure you see where I am going with this.

Say this for New Rochelleans, we go nowhere, proactively, while hope springs eternal. Mayor Noam Bramson has set up a task force to look at alternatives for the uninhabited island. I am still betting that all those who were alive at the beginning of this play will be in the Avalon in the sky when something gets done.

Hope, yes, of course. The City Council recently gave Forest City another extension to come up with a plan for the waterfront. The economy, politics and other factors have seen the developer put forward successively smaller proposals with each new presentation. But, like Jason coming out of the lake in Friday the 13th, they keep coming back.  Next, I suspect they will submit a plan for a development roughly the size of the Children’s Library on North Avenue. Most officials I talk to expect the next iteration to be dead on arrival.

Molasses moves quicker than an open democracy. 

This brings us home to the City Yard. There will be one more study to assess the economic viability of doing it now. If it works out, the council has the votes to make the move and bond the project. Those folks near Beechwood Avenue will insist that it is bad for the environment, bad for traffic and an affront to their community, which is their right—an entitlement they have exercised for years. The city will respond that the first two have been refuted. The third they will have no purpose to comment upon.

So, I offer you this: Those of you who want to make a last ditch effort to publicly make a case against the move make your comments in the fields below. They will be here for the public to read, and I will submit them to City Hall. 

It is your right. More to the point, here in New Rochelle, it is a tradition. We have all the time in the world.

Karen Hessel February 22, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Does anyone know the annual cost of the bond, if it passes, for the yard? How will the city fit it into the annual budget?
Billy February 22, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Hi Karen, in answer to your question- $13 million over 20 years at 4% interest will cost $78,777.44 per month or $945,329.28 annually. I have no idea where that money coming from. Last I read the city was broke. In fact the city didn't even have the $600k to pay for the design & just recently borrowed all of that expense.
Bob Marrone February 24, 2012 at 05:19 PM
HI All. thank you for your replies.. I will turn them over to the city, and later, on March 6th, . seek comment from the city manager during his 9am show.
Billy February 24, 2012 at 05:25 PM
The city thinks they can get a 2.5% rate so using the same numbers below @ 2.5% will cost $68,887.38 per month or $826,648.56 annully. But the city just authorized the bonding of $600,000 at an expense of $137,500 per year (that's the average of Strome's $125k to $150k estimate) for 5 years so that needs to be added to the number above bringing the number back to $1 million. The estimates might also be wrong & there should be a contingency for cost over runs but I bet that doesn't exist.
Billy February 24, 2012 at 05:41 PM
I meant to add, won't the current bonding authorization for $600,000 put the 2012 budget that just passed out of balance (as in negative & unfunded) by over $100,000 as this years budget doesn't have a line item for this expense? That's assuming the loan closes soon & the city starts making Principal & Interest payments ($11,458.33/month) on April 1st. Where is all this money coming from? I know it doesn't grow on trees. If there's a plan out there, why doesn't the mayor share it with us?


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