Proposals Aim To Enhance Quality of Life, Improve Safety, and Protect Historic Assets
Throughout the year, the City Council and Administration have considered and, in many cases, acted upon the various goals I outlined in my State of the City Address. At our most recent meeting, I presented to the Council several new initiatives intended to make New Rochelle a more livable community. Proposals which receive support from a majority of the Council are likely to be implemented in 2007. My suggestions include:
Heritage Initiative: As New Rochelle grows and changes, I believe it is more important than ever to protect the most valued elements of our past. The Heritage Initiative is an effort to celebrate and call attention to our historic sites and assets. The Initiative includes: (1) installation of historic plaques at eligible properties; (2) national historic district status for our downtown, which would entitle property owners to a 20% federal tax credit for historically-appropriate rehabilitation; and (3) a multi-year program to restore and, when needed, landscape our public monuments and memorials. For those interested in this subject, a map and brief description of historic properties has already been produced and is available HERE.
Traffic Calming Program: Many residents of New Rochelle are rightly concerned about traffic speed and safety in their neighborhoods. The proposed Traffic Calming Program would provide the City with additional tools for evaluating and addressing speed and safety concerns, including a budget for structural changes in our roadways, such as speed humps, islands, and diverters. It also includes formal mechanisms for soliciting neighborhood input in the design of traffic calming features.
Bicycle-Friendly City: Making New Rochelle more bicycle-friendly would encourage healthy lifestyles, enhance recreational opportunities, and improve our environment by providing better alternatives to automobile usage. With assistance from our staff, I have proposed a program to sign and, in some cases, stripe some fifty miles of local roads for bicycle use and to install bicycle racks at key locations. In the long-term, the City would seek grants to fund more substantial capital improvements on roads where bike routes could be introduced. A very preliminary map of bicycle routes can be viewed HERE. (Please keep in mind that these routes are only early suggestions and are still subject to discussion and revision.)
Livable City Fund: Lastly, I suggested that the City set aside a portion of its annual capital budget for investment in the beautification of public spaces, ecological enhancement of lakes and streams, acquisition of open space, and support of neighborhood capital priorities. This program would permit citizens and neighborhood association to apply for funding on a quarterly basis and would establish scoring criteria so that requests could be prioritized. The Livable City Fund received a somewhat lukewarm reaction from the City Council, so while I am optimistic about adoption of most of my proposals, this last one might be deferred or restructured for future consideration.