Sustainable economic development near our Transit Center and within our downtown is a critical priority for New Rochelle. We are constantly reaching out to potential investors and businesses, securing grants for infrastructure, and refining both local and regional plans. But putting shovels in the ground is often dependent upon larger economic circumstances, and when the economy is weak, as it has been for several years, the pace of visible progress slows — which is frustrating.

So it is helpful to be reminded of just how far we have come in a little over a decade. In that spirit, Council Member Marianne Sussman recently shared with me this aerial photograph of the New Rochelle Train Station and its surroundings, dated August 21, 1995. It displays quite a dramatic contrast from present conditions. No Transit Center. No Library Green. Open lots on the Trump Plaza and Avalon sites. The crumbling Mall garage just visible on the far right. Huge changes.

There’s a lesson here: the process of enhancing an entire business district requires a long-term view, backed up by patience and persistence.

To be clear, many portions of New Rochelle’s transit area and downtown remain economically distressed or underutilized, some projects have not yet had their full intended impact, and we’ve lost some great businesses, too, over the years. In others words, we still have a long way to go, and lots of hard work ahead, with both ups and downs.

But it’s pretty hard to argue that the physical and economic fabric of New Rochelle’s central business district has not improved very significantly since the mid-1990s. If we are able to make similar strides in the next fifteen to twenty years, all residents of New Rochelle will benefit greatly.