A successful and sustainable development strategy shouldn’t — and can’t — be constrained by municipal borders. In order to create jobs, expand economic opportunities, capitalize on our existing transit networks, and conserve our shared environmental resources, local development plans must be integrated into a regional framework.
To foster regional cooperation, New Rochelle has taken a lead role in the newly-created New York & Connecticut Sustainable Communities Consortium, comprised of city and county governments from New Haven to New York City to Long Island. This was a major theme of my State of the City Address in March. Now, the Consortium is taking a big step forward, thanks to a vote of confidence (and a big check) from the Feds.
Last Friday, April 15, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development officially awarded a $3.5 million Sustainable Communities Initiative Grant to the Consortium, kick-starting several projects throughout the region centered around the transportation hubs of New Haven, Bridgeport, Norwalk, Stamford, New Rochelle, and East New York. I was pleased to attend and to speak at the announcement in New York City, alongside colleagues from other municipalities, leading planners, and Obama Administration representatives.
The Consortium is devoting its initial efforts to key nodes on the Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road lines, and that makes perfect sense, because these locations have the potential to foster vibrant, livable, transit-oriented neighborhoods with diverse housing and employment opportunities. This strategy may sound familiar, because it is the approach New Rochelle has embraced for more than a decade, with some notable successes, but also plenty of still-to-be-met challenges.
New Rochelle will use its share of this funding to study means of improving connectivity to our own transit center, including improved pedestrian access and better links to local businesses. The proposals that emerge from this study will then be embedded in our updated Comprehensive Plan.
The bottom line is this: New Rochelle will grow, the only question is how. To the extent that our residents are less reliant on the automobile, more energy efficient, and able to move from home to work and back again with convenience and speed, we will all benefit. An integrated, forward-looking approach to transportation, development, and housing challenges will help ensure that growth contributes to, and doesn’t detract from, our quality of life.
If this subject interests you, I encourage you to read more in the various attachments linked to this post. And, of course, I welcome your comments.