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Bloomberg Lauds New Rochelle

This piece from the Bloomberg Cities Network profiles forward-looking communities that are using visualization technology to improve the design of public spaces and to make the planning process more inclusive and engaging, especially for groups that are often underrepresented in traditional public hearings.  Alongside Seoul, Wellington, and Amsterdam, New Rochelle is featured prominently for our NRVR initiative, which is being development with funding from a Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge Grant, and which is receiving a beta-test of sorts through the ongoing design of the LINC.

City Opens New DPW Facilities

Cutting the ribbon with City leaders and DPW colleagues

This week New Rochelle inaugurated its new public works operations center at 25 Industrial Lane near Home Depot, as well as additional facilities for yard waste and refuse on Beechwood Avenue and for fueling on Birch Street.  The Beechwood site needs a few more months of work before it’s fully up and running, and will eventually also support a new food scrap recycling program.

I get why facilities devoted to waste collection, vehicle maintenance, salt storage and other DPW functions might not excite everybody, but this is actually a really big deal with generational significance for New Rochelle on three levels: (1) enhanced safety and dignity for public employees who perform some of New Rochelle’s most essential duties; (2) modern, efficient infrastructure to meet the current and long-term service needs of a growing city; and (3) a visionary change in land use that unlocks the enormous potential of the Echo Bay waterfront (where our dilapidated former DPW center was located) for the public’s use and enjoyment.

It took literally decades to resolve complicated questions of location, design, funding and approval, so I congratulate and thank the leaders and partners, past and present, whose sustained commitment to this complex challenge made this achievement possible.

Council Proposes Redistricting Plan

Proposed Council Districts

Every ten years, the New Rochelle City Council, like other legislative bodies, must redraw its district boundaries in order to conform with the most recent census.  To address this responsibility, the Council has proposed a new district map that would take effect in the 2023 municipal election.

The proposal seeks to balance population among districts, ensure fair and effective minority representation, keep most neighborhoods unified, and minimize disruption of long-established patterns.  The proposed district adjustments are narrowly targeted to meet these objectives and quite modest in their scope — indeed, for 94% of New Rochelle residents, nothing at all would change.  This presentation contains much more information, and this zoomable map illustrates the proposed lines.

Redistricting always entails trade-offs: balancing population may require splitting a neighborhood, empowering minority residents may result in a less compact district shape.  The examples go on and on, and there is always room for reasonable people to disagree about how these sometimes competing priorities should be weighted.  But I hope most residents will conclude that this proposal overall is fair, and that it meets the relevant tests of law and principle.

The Council will welcome public comments at a hearing on June 14th, after which the plan may be adopted or modified.

A New Day for Wildcliff and the Hudson Park Children’s Greenhouse

This week, we celebrated a groundbreaking for the adaptive reuse of Wildcliff, the historic waterfront property that was nearly destroyed by fire in 2018, and for the construction of a new community greenhouse at Hudson Park  This press release contains all the details.

Wildcliff’s adaptive reuse will salvage the structure’s iconic stone gables, add modern amenities, and create a new open-air event pavilion. Joining Wildcliff on the site will be the Hudson Park Children’s Greenhouse, with activities and programming for the entire New Rochelle community.

I am grateful to the Wildcliff Advisory Committee, chaired by Council Member Albert Tarantino, and to the Hudson Park Children’s Greenhouse Committee, spearheaded by Millie Radonjic-Ilich, who brought together under her dynamic leadership a remarkable cross-section of community activists and volunteers in support of this great initiative.

Honoring a Hero

Join us this Thursday at 2:30pm on Bayberry Lane as we honor Ben Ferencz, the last living Nuremberg prosecutor.  A towering figure in the world of international law and human rights, Ben is still active at the age of 102.  He lived for many years here in New Rochelle on Bayberry, which will receive the honorary designation “Ben Ferencz Way.”  All who are interested in celebrating a true local and global hero are welcome to attend.

Update:  I was honored to deliver these remarks at the ceremony.

School and Library Election Tomorrow

Please be sure to vote tomorrow in the elections for New Rochelle Board of Education and Library Trustee, as well as for the School and Library budgets.  The polls are open from 7:00am to 9:00am.  There’s much more information here, including guidance on finding your polling place.  The quality and reputation of our schools and libraries are absolutely essential to the health of New Rochelle as a whole, so please don’t sit out this important choice.

Food Blog: Cafetero

With the Cafetero team

Coffee, tea, and pastry lovers should check out Cafetero at 111 Centre Avenue, a little south of Main Street, within the new Modera building.  Founded and operated by the team behind the much-loved R Patisserie on Huguenot Street, Cafetero is bright, airy, comfortable, and elegant — a great space to relax, chat, and/or happily fuel up.  Catie and I started there for a recent amble through the rapidly changing downtown, viewing murals from Street Art for Mankind, which line the wall just outside, and visiting the new public plaza at One Clinton Park, which is just a block away.  It is truly exciting to see our vision for a more vibrant and welcoming city center beginning to take shape, with great, home-grown businesses like Cafetero a sign of things to come.

LINC Project Advances

Last night, the City Council received a significant update on the LINC project, which aims to transform much of Memorial Highway into a linear park.  Following months of study, our planners and traffic analysts now recommend an improved design, which provides for two-way traffic through most of the project area, the grounding of the overpass at North Avenue, and a better connection to Exit 16 of the New England Thruway.  The updated plans also integrates green space adjacent to Memorial Highway into the overall park configuration, a big expansion.  There’s more detail in this presentation.

Public input will remain paramount as we progress to final design and programming, and as the last slide of the deck illustrates, there is still much work ahead, with construction not expected to commence until 2025.  But, make no mistake, this project will happen.  New Rochelle has already won highly-competitive federal and state grants totaling about $20 million to implement the LINC, and I could not be more excited about this transformative vision for enhancing our community and improving the lives of tens of thousands of residents.

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