Last night, after many years of intense debate, the New Rochelle City Council came together on a unanimous, bipartisan basis to approve a location and to dedicate funding for a new Public Works Operations Center (or “City Yard.”)
Through a public-private partnership, the City Yard will be situated in the ground level of a new structure at the Home Depot/Costco retail complex. The upper levels of this same structure will be devoted to commercial uses. A smaller portion of our public works activities will be sited remotely along Beechwood Avenue in the West End, mainly on property already owned by the City.
This is a very significant step for two reasons:
First, it is a necessary and overdue investment in critical infrastructure.
Our existing City Yard is in deplorable condition and requires a constant stream of emergency appropriations to keep it up and running. Think of it like a beat-up old car with 200,000 miles on the odometer – risky to drive and urgently needing replacement. The new City Yard will enable us to deliver essential public works services efficiently and effectively for decades to come.
Second, it opens the Echo Bay waterfront for public access, environmental improvements, and economic development.
The existing City Yard was sited on East Main Street a century ago, at a time when the shoreline was seen as an industrial access point, but no rational person would choose to put a public works facility on the waterfront today, where it completely blocks access to Long Island Sound. The City Yard has been the principal obstacle to positive changes at Echo Bay. Now this obstacle is being swept away, allowing us to activate the waterfront for higher and better uses.
The total price tag, a combination of debt and lease payments, comes to about $1.5 million per year. But because development on Echo Bay and on the upper levels of the Yard structure will generate new revenue, the net cost to taxpayers will be lower – and certainly a lot lower than rebuilding the Yard where it is today. In short, in addition to making good planning sense, this is a fiscally responsible move, too.
I congratulate and thank our professional staff and all the members of the City Council, Democrats and Republicans, for addressing this vital issue.
And I look forward to the day – now just about 18 months distant – when it will be possible to stand on US 1, look to the south, and – for the first time in our lives – see an unobstructed view of the shore.