Recent Articles From The Times & Daily News Highlight Community Accomplishments
In case you missed them, four recent newspaper articles, which ran throughout the New York region, featured positive accounts of New Rochelle The pieces focus on the recent completion of our West Way affordable housing development, the success of our anti-graffiti program, the achievements of Ray Rice, the Rutgers football star and New Rochelle native, and a general community profile. The texts of the first two from the New York Times are below, followed by links to the third and fourth in the Daily News.
The New York Times
Town House Development Adds to Stock of Affordable Homes
By Diana Marszalek
September 23, 2007
AT 13, Stan Coleman got his first job, delivering newspapers in his grandmother’s neighborhood in western New Rochelle.
In June, more than 30 years later, Mr. Coleman returned to his old delivery route, this time to move into a new home, a three-bedroom town house. For Mr. Coleman, 46, a track maintenance worker for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, buying it was the achievement of a longtime goal that for years had seemed out of reach.
“I was determined to be a homeowner, but I couldn’t afford to live here,” Mr. Coleman said. “I couldn’t be happier.”
Mr. Coleman, who is single, is one of 25 first-time homeowners in the newly built affordable housing development called West End 2000.
Bound by Union Avenue and First, Jones and Second Streets, the development includes 25 single-family town houses and a 102-unit building offering assisted living to seniors that is scheduled to open in February, said Charles DePasquale, executive director of the nonprofit New Rochelle Neighborhood Revitalization Corporation, which built the complex. The town houses range from $225,000 to $240,000, versus the median sale price for a new home in New Rochelle of $631,350 in the first six months of this year, according to state sales data.
Monthly costs for seniors will be $2,200 to $2,800, which Mr. DePasquale said was less than half of the average monthly cost for other assisted living residences in the area. “The only difference with this senior residence is that it’s 100 percent affordable,” he said.
The complex is the latest addition to New Rochelle’s affordable housing stock; since being created by the City Council in 1979, the Neighborhood Revitalization Corporation has built or renovated more than 1,200 affordable housing units. Housing advocates promote the complex as meeting the city’s intergenerational needs while also planting the seeds of renewal in a neighborhood long considered blighted.
The $40 million project was financed by $13 million in government grants and a mix of state, city and private money, Mr. DePasquale said. The price of the seven-story building for the elderly, roughly $30 million, was reduced by about 30 percent by using modular, or factory built, construction for the six residential floors, he said.
The building also is state-certified “green,” meaning it has environmentally friendly features like geothermal energy recovery for heating and cooling and energy efficient lighting.
A far cry from early, high-rise housing projects, the West End look was designed to blend in with the older neighborhood and look like market-rate housing, Mr. DePasquale said.
Sixteen buildings were demolished to make way for the West End complex, displacing 43 renters and 8 businesses; those renters who qualified as buyers were given first preference on the West End town houses, Mr. DePasquale said, and five of those families have moved in. After that, preference was given to city employees, school district workers, residents of New Rochelle and other county residents. (To qualify, potential buyers must earn no more than 80 percent of the median income for the county, which is $74,500 for a family of four.)
Charles B. Strome III, the city manager, said the West End homes were the latest step in New Rochelle’s continuing effort to increase the stock of affordable housing in the city. Last year, for example, the City Council passed a law requiring all developers to set aside 10 percent of their square footage for affordable housing or contribute to the city’s affordable housing fund.
“Most of us think the greatest strength of New Rochelle is our diverse population that varies over ethnic lines and income levels,” Mr. Strome said, adding that city and school employees have a hard time finding affordable housing in the city. “We’d like them to have the option of living here.”
The West End project brings to 200 the number of affordable units that have been created in New Rochelle since 2000, less than half the goal of 418 by 2015 that the county set two years ago, said Craig King, the city’s commissioner of development. An expansion of the West End project, scheduled for 2009, will add 12 town houses and 40 units in a mixed-income building for seniors.
For Mr. Coleman, who most recently lived in Mount Vernon, moving to West End was an opportunity to return to a neighborhood he knew well as a child, and to be close to his work and family.
Returning, however, can also be a step forward and the start of things to come, he said. “This means everything,” Mr. Coleman said. “It means I can get married and start a family, or who knows?”
The New York Times
Graffiti-Removal Program Effective in New Rochelle
By Diana Marszalek
July 29, 2007
A new graffiti removal program in New Rochelle is showing early signs of success, with building walls noticeably cleaner and more than 90 graffiti-related arrests so far this year, city officials said.
The program, established in April, requires that graffiti be removed from public buildings within 48 hours. Private property owners are required to remove graffiti within 10 days. Otherwise, the city will do it and bill property owners.
The city started the program after there was a noticeable increase in graffiti, some of which might have been gang-related, said the city manager, Charles B. Strome III. Two people were hired just to remove graffiti, a job that the city public works department and a private contractor used to share.
Although the problem wasn’t deemed a sign of serious gang activity, the police believed the graffiti was indicative of gang affiliations — any sign of which the city wants to nip in the bud, Mr. Strome said. “We are trying to be proactive,” he said.
The graffiti-removal program is one of two city efforts begun in April to sustain properties and neighborhoods considered at risk of being degraded by vandalism or housing code violations, like over-occupancy or serious maintenance issues.
The other initiative is by the Housing Code Enforcement Unit, whose goal is to improve the city’s ability to investigate, remedy or prosecute violations, officials said.
Since its inception, the enforcement unit has investigated more than 100 complaints, the majority involving over-occupancy and illegal apartments, Mr. Strome said.
Mayor Noam Bramson said the graffiti abatement program and the housing code unit represented a continuing effort to improve life in the city. “These are to ensure a high quality of life in our neighborhoods, encourage compliance with the law and make sure our housing stock is safe, humane and sensitive to the needs of residents,” he said.