Echo Bay Project to New Rochelle City Council on July 23, 2013
Hello – I’m County Legislator Jim Maisano & the Echo Bay proposal is fully in my district.
This morning on my WVOX radio show, I encouraged people to attend this public hearing and speak out on the Echo Bay proposal. The final caller said I was wasting my time and “the fix is in.” I don’t believe that. I know our mayor and council-members take their public service seriously and expect they will use this information from the speakers as they make a decision about their vote.
At a recent East End Civic Association meeting, I was disappointed to watch our mayor be a cheerleader for this development, because I believe it’s the sole duty of the mayor and city council to be asking the developer tough questions and be our voice in this process. Since no final vote has been taken, I’m asking the council to continue its due diligence, be committed to protecting the interests of the people of New Rochelle, and most importantly, cast your vote independently and only for a proposal that is the best possible use for the Echo Bay site.
I believe that when you complete your due diligence, you will be left with no choice but to oppose this Echo Bay proposal. I don’t think it’s a close call – this proposal is intellectually indefensible.
Here is a quick summary of why this current proposal should be rejected, and why this process must be reopened to review new and better proposals for the entire 26 acre site.
#1) The original Forest City proposal in 2007 was interesting and I was open-minded – but that proposal has now been gutted:
- It has been reduced from 26 acres to 9 acres, the 2 hotels with 300 hotel rooms are gone, and the retail was reduced from 150,000 sq. ft. to only 25,000 sq. ft.
- I repeat – this proposal now only has 25,000 sq. ft. in retail, which is smaller than Derek Jeter’s house. Most of the building is now just 285 rental apartments.
- We are a city with a retail crisis – our residents can barely shop in their own hometown – we shop in Mount Vernon, Eastchester, Larchmont, Port Chester and White Plains, which takes tax dollars out of New Rochelle.
- When Forest City reduced the retail space to only 25,000 sq. ft. and eliminated the hotels, the Echo Bay proposal became a very different project.
- I find it hard to believe the city would have given Forest City extension after extension for exclusive development rights, if it knew this final proposal would be so different from the original.
- Every future development for this city – including the Echo Bay site – must place the priority on retail stores – our residents must be able to shop in their own city – Macy’s and the Mall closed about 20 years ago, and we have waited long enough.
#2) I love parks and green space, but this proposed park is bizarre:
- It’s a park on a mud flat for most of the day looking into a sewage treatment plant, and remarkably, there is no plan to dredge.
- It’s unclear what people would do at this alleged park.
- We already have a much nicer park very close-by at 5 Islands – which is underutilized.
- No one will use this park when they can go to better New Rochelle parks at 5 Islands, Hudson Park and Glen Island.
So this is what we are left with at Echo Bay:
- Rental apartments that bring no value to New Rochelle residents,
- Very limited retail for a city crying out for retail stores, and
- A park that no one will use.
It’s impossible to make the case that this proposal is the best use of the property for existing New Rochelle residents or the best use to generate revenues for our city.
Now that you have seen the FEIS – stop this current review, reopen the process, and invite developers from across the nation to present new proposals that would be better uses for the Echo Bay site.
(NOTE: speakers only have 3 minutes at public hearings and I will be emailing a more detailed review soon).