The New Rochelle City Council approved Tuesday the authorization to issue bonds up to $25 million to build a new public works facility on Beechwood Avenue.
Council members first OK'd an amendment to change the amount of bonds from $19.6 million to $25 million. That vote passed 4-3, with Councilmen Lou Trangucci, R-District 1, Albert Tarantino, R-District 2, and Jared Rice, D-District 3, voting no.
Mayor Noam Bramson, who was one of five votes for the authorization for issuing bonds, acknowledged this was a difficult choice for the city to make.
"There is never a good time to spend any amount of money," he said, adding that by proceeding now the city can address urgent needs and take advantage of low interest rates.
"The test is whether we are willing to make those hard choices," Bramson said.
By raising the amount of money to be bonded, the council decided the best decision would be to consolidate operations now taking place at city-owned property at 40 Pelham Rd.—traffic, sewer and drains and some parks and recreation operations—and move them to the new Beechwood Avenue location.
Design consultants would be instructed to incorporate the new operations at the Beechwood facility, said City Manager Charles Strome III.
The choices the city had was to approve financing to move the yard to city-owned property on Beechwood Avenue, renovate and modernize the current location or put off any action which would cancel proposed plans for the development of Echo Bay.
Councilman Barry Fertel, D-District 5, said he heard the same arguments seven years ago when he first became a council member.
"At the time the economy was better, but the same concerns were there," he said.
"This is something we have to do," Fertel said. "When you build a school, there is no profit for the city. … But there's a benefit for the public.
"I personally think this is essential," he said.
Tarantino said he agreed a new city yard was needed, but was concerned about the latest iteration—from $13 million to $19.6 million to $25 million.
"It's too open ended," he said. "There are too many holes."
New Rochelle resident Martin Sanchez, in a statement received by New Rochelle Patch, said the council and the mayor failed their constituents in the West End of the city, saying the process has not been inclusive, diverse or equitable.
"It has not ensured that our community is treated with respect, dignity and free from discrimination," Sanchez wrote. "There has been no communication or public discussion with those residents in the West End who will certainly be impacted by the nefarious environmental impact that a Public Yard would have, with all its sanitation and public work trucks rumbling down our narrow West End streets."
Strome said the community could be impacted more severely than the public works yard, if it did not move there.
"You could have a much more intrusive operation" than a city yard at that location, according to what was allowed by the zoning, he said.
Bramson insisted that the best choice for the city was building a new facility on Beechwood Avenue.
"The idea that by setting this aside, delaying it, putting it at a different location or modernizing it on East Main Street," he said, "that any of those would be better for the taxpayers is a complete fantasy.
"The fact is, moving forward is the most respectful thing to the taxpayers," Bramson said. "It gives them more value."