On Tuesday night, June 4, about 250 people attended a meeting held by the East End Civic Association (EECA) at Holy Name to discuss the Echo Bay development with Mayor Bramson and the developer Forest City. I believe it’s fair to say that over 95% of the crowd arrived opposed to the project and over 95% left still opposed.
Albert Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” And to truly test this theory, the New Rochelle city government is again looking at rental apartments on one of the last remaining large properties available for development in our city – even though this residential strategy has not been successful in our downtown, and despite the fact that our city’s residents are crying out for retail stores and places to shop.
At the EECA meeting, I had a short debate with the Mayor and believe most people in the room agreed with my comments that rental apartments and a park on a mud flat overlooking a sewage treatment plant are not the best uses for this site. This is certainly not the best deal for New Rochelle, and I’m not pleased with the tax abatements. I believe that any development at this site must feature retail, restaurants and/or commercial space – not residential – New Rochelle is already too densely packed with people. Forest City originally proposed a 26 acre plan which has been scaled down to only 9 acres, and it’s a serious error to leave 65% of the site vacant with no foreseeable development options. This development needs to be comprehensive, centered on multiple uses and include at least the original 26 acres, as well as foster economic activity that long-time New Rochelle residents can utilize and enjoy.
The Mayor and Forest City failed to make the case that this project is the best use of the site for existing taxpayers, especially those in the southern half of city. The current review of the Echo Bay development should be halted immediately before this mistake becomes permanent, and the city should reopen the process to more developers to identify better economic uses for this property.
As opposition to this project grows across the city, I wish to applaud the work of a recently formed group called “Citizens for a Better New Rochelle.” This group’s due diligence in investigating the Echo Bay project has been very helpful to concerned citizens looking for a more objective review of the proposal. Here are some links to the fine work performed by Citizens for a Better of New Rochelle:
Please forward this information to everyone you know in New Rochelle. Let’s help better inform our neighbors about the troubling facts involved with the Echo Bay project.