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New Rochelle Council Considers City Yard Move

The City Council will make a decision whether to finance a new Public Works yard on Beechwood Avenue.

The New Rochelle City Council heard at a recent meeting options for the disposition of the Department of Public Works facility on East Main Street.

At issue is whether the city wants 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.

If the city were to build a new facility on Beechwood, it would cost $18.6 million, according to figures presented at the council meeting. Built into that is $2 million in contingency costs.

That figure is up from a previously estimated $14 million.

The Department of Development has estimated that it would cost $24.4 million—including $4.5 million in contingency costs—to modernize the current City Yard.

Not doing anything for three years—in other words, deferring the job, but losing the possibility of developing Echo Bay—would cost the city $21.4 million.

Factored into that number is over $1.7 million in inflation, estimated at 3 percent per year, and $600,000 in short-term costs from emergency repairs and salt loss. 

Mayor Noam Bramson said a real pocketbook choice the council has to make is whether to finance the project by having the taxpayers pay the entire amount or to reduce taxpayers costs through a private-public partnership with the Forest City Residential development team.

The developer proposes to build 200-300 residential units at what is now City Yard on East Main Street with up to 50,000 square feet of retail space. 

A key component of any agreement to develop Echo Bay would be helping to offset the cost of moving the public works department's facilities.

Under a development agreement, the city could receive $15.8 million over 20 years in permit and other fees, payment in lieu of taxes, refuse fees and sales and utility taxes.

It the project is completed, Echo Bay could also bring in over $24 million in revenue to the county and the library.

The agreement with Forest City regarding the schools is that they will pay all projected school costs, based on 22 projected students and marginal per pupil expenses of $17,500, which would increase 2.5 percent annually.

"That is way Echo Bay is relevant to the project," Bramson said.

Mayor Noam Bramson was clear on what he thought was the best approach.

"In my opinion, the evidence argues strongly in favor of relocating our public works yard and that doing so would benefit the city from a fiscal economic and planning perspective," he said.

"Among the worst decisions in the history of New Rochelle would be to modernize the City Yard on the site on East Main," he said. "It would be throwing tens of millions of taxpayer dollars into the garbage can."

Bramson said moving the yard to Beechwood Avenue and improving Echo Bay by a developer would be much better for the city and its residents.

"It would have a better bottom line and make a stronger economy," he said.

Property on Beechwood Avenue, which is zoned for light industrial use, was selected years ago, Bramson said, after a search of the entire community and was determined to be the most viable location from an operational and fiscal perspective.

Bramson said it was likely the council will select one of the options at its next meeting Nov. 16.

Billy November 05, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Bramson's an idiot. Pass this plan & we might as well look for the state to take over our finances. Where's next year's budget? Why won't Bramson release it? This guy sure likes to spend money, money the city doesn't have.
Joyce Furfero November 05, 2012 at 03:55 PM
I want to know why this news article about the vote on bonding to move City Yard is not more balanced. Not everyone on City Council is in favor of the move and the people of New Rochelle have a right to hear the pros AND cons. After all, if the City Yard is really sitting on valuable waterfront property, then we are giving it away too cheaply to Forest City Ratner! If you average out over 20 years what New Rochelle can expect to receive from FCR, and discount it into present dollars, it is a pittance.
Billy November 05, 2012 at 07:22 PM
And did you read that Forest City will pay for only 22 students in the school, what happens if the number is 100? You & I foot the bill for the extra students and Forest City pays the same. But back to Echo Bay is the worst project ever for New Rochelle and Joyce you're correct, this story isn't objective at all & sounds like it came right from Noam's webpage. Where's the counter-point?
MPR November 05, 2012 at 11:08 PM
I would love to hear your counterpoints. I agree the 22 students seems shy as the number they've used, even though I know it comes from a formula of units based on size and bedroom count. But do you not agree that developing this prime piece of waterfront real estate in New Rochelle is essential to raise the overall city taxes collected? Additionally, creating new great desirable housing scenarios in our great city along with the possibility of beautiful retail/commercial areas along our wonderful water front. Getting more shopping and business in our city is a great way to increase our tax base without increasing our student count and certainly lowers the burden on John Q Taxpayer. But I may be missing some of the facts so please let me know what your opposition is.
Billy November 05, 2012 at 11:21 PM
MRP, I don't think its essential at all to develope that piece of property which really isn't waterfront property, its all mudflats at low tide and sits next to the sewer plant. And I'm extremely concerned how NR will come up with $1 million per year to pay the principal and interest on the bond. Where's that money coming from? And maybe it could be better spent on something else or not at all? And I think any discussion of this sort it would be imperative to see next years budget and how this fits in, but so far the mayor won't release the budget as usual until after the election. Why is that? Because we're going to get hit with another 10++% tax increase and this proposal doesn't help the bottom line at all.
Billy November 05, 2012 at 11:25 PM
Oh and I forgot, this project will be mostly tax abated so little to nothing will be paid in property taxes and don't you think the residents will want services? Services are costly and we should look at previous developements to see what sort of services they require, like Avlon & Trump. Lots of police, fire & EMT calls at the Avalon. Trump is still mostly vacant so that might not be the best example.
Martin Sanchez November 06, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Mayor Bramson is a racist and his proposal is a total disregard for the working class people of color. There is a viable option in placing the City Yard in Ward Acres, but he refuses to include the voice of the People in the West End. The Mayor does not care about working class people. All he cares about is lining his pocket with political donations of developers. Pity the fool.!
Billy November 06, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Martin, City Yard isn't ever moving to Ward Acres. Why do you think it needs to move? And can New Rochelle afford this? Right now? Isn't the city broke? Will the city put any money into the project or will it all be borrowed? How will the city provide the services these new residents will want if the property is tax abated? Just a couple of questions.
Melanie McKay November 06, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Why does New Rochelle need more homes to be built, whether they are waterfront or not? Pelham Road has some recently built shoebox sized condos at the corners of Drake, Weyman, and across from Greasy Nicks. They don't look occupied to me. What New Rochelle really needs is retail to get some tax dollars back. I for one shop at Target in Mount Vernon and Bay Plaza because they have the stores I like and the parking is FREE!!
Billy November 06, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Melanie, well said, but I doubt anyone is listening. Bramson seems to have made up his mind.

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