My Turn

I tested positive for COVID last week and have been isolating at home.  Thanks to the protection of the vaccine and booster, my symptoms have been very mild, and I expect to be back in the office soon.  In the meantime, I have benefited from the care of my family, who leave meal trays at the bedroom door, join me for dinner via Facetime, and otherwise offer cheerful, physically-distant support.

Unfortunately, while it’s easy to be lighthearted about my own no-big-deal personal circumstances, the same cannot be said for our city and country.  Omicron is tearing through whole communities like wildfire, with caseloads here and elsewhere that are several times higher than the prior peak of the pandemic.  Those protected by vaccines and boosters are likely to be fine, but many others will land in the hospital or worse, and even if those needing medical care amount to only a tiny fraction of the overall population, the stress on our already overburdened health systems will be immense.

The silver lining to our dark winter is that this feels like it could finally be the virus’s end game.  Omicron is so widespread and contagious that it may simply burn itself out by infecting every available host.  This is not anyone’s idea of a positive way to conclude our two-year ordeal, especially considering the staggering and still escalating loss of life, but there is reason to hope that the worst will be over in a few weeks, and that spring will be much better.

In the meantime, New Rochelle will continue to advocate for increased regional testing capacity, distribute whatever testing supplies become available, urge those eligible to get vaccinated and boosted, and encourage all of us to stay safe.

COVID Test Kits Available Today

I just sent the following citywide message.  New Rochelle will continue advocating for additional local testing resources to meet growing demand.

This is the City of New Rochelle with important information about COVID testing today.

Para espanol, oprima numero uno. 

The City has received a limited supply of rapid at-home COVID test kits and will distribute them at three firehouses today – Friday, December 24 – beginning at 2:00pm and continuing through 6:00pm or until supplies run out. Tests are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are limited to one package per person. Each package contains 2 test kits.

Fire stations are located throughout the city:

Fire Station 1 at 45 Harrison Street

Fire Station 4 at 155 Drake Avenue

Fire Station 5 and 496 Stratton Road

Please DO NOT call the Fire or Police Departments with any inquiries. 

The City is advocating strongly for additional testing resources in our community and will share new information about testing sites or at-home kit distributions as it becomes available.  For the latest, you can always check www.newrochelleny.com/coronavirus.

This has been Mayor Noam Bramson, wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season.

New Rochelle Updates Downtown Development Plan

The New Rochelle City Council has unanimously approved a significant update to our downtown development plan. These amendments include an extension of the Downtown Overlay Zone (DOZ) to encompass the Echo Bay waterfront, provisions for new open space and parkland, additional housing to meet surging demand, and enhanced requirements/incentives for sustainable building design, green infrastructure, and climate resiliency, including an allowance for offsite improvements that advance environmental justice. The refreshed development framework is bolstered by parallel efforts to expand opportunities for local Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs), strengthen New Rochelle’s affordable housing policy, and create new recreational and pedestrian amenities, such as the LINC.

At regional and national conferences, New Rochelle is often cited as a model of intelligent, successful planning.  Our combination of a form-based zoning code, completed environmental review, and master developer for publicly-owned sites has created an ideal regulatory environment that reduces risk, ensures predictability, and requires every project to advance community-based goals and design criteria.  Since the inception of this framework in 2015, New Rochelle has experienced unprecedented economic growth, attracting $2.2 billion in private investment, with thirty-two projects approved, totaling 9.2 million square feet. Six are already completed, with lease-up exceeding 90%, and twelve more are under construction, all within an area that is compact, walkable, transit-served, and highly diverse — exactly the kind of setting in which growth makes the most sense and does the most good.  Ongoing development is also making a positive, and escalating, contribution to City and School District finances.

The amended DOZ will extend New Rochelle’s impressive economic momentum, while guiding the next wave of projects more fully toward principles of environmental and social governance (ESG) — achieving development that is sustainable, equitable, and inclusive, and also creating a powerful magnet for ESG-focused capital.

To be sure, New Rochelle’s redevelopment is still a work in progress: the growing pains of construction are widespread and intense; completion of all the approved projects is years away; and we have not yet experienced the street-level commercial activation that really makes a downtown come alive.  There is much still to do . . . and yet every reason to be confident of our trajectory.

I am grateful for the outstanding teamwork and robust public engagement that made these accomplishments possible, eager to grab hold of the important work still ahead, and optimistic as never before about the future of our city.

Follow our progress at ideallynewrochelle.com.

Get Boosted

With COVID rates once again on the rise, I just sent the following citywide message, detailing new State requirements and encouraging vaccines and boosters.  Stay safe and healthy.

This is the City of New Rochelle with an important public health update.

Para espanol, oprima numero uno. 

COVID cases are once again increasing throughout our region. As a result, New York State has announced new restrictions. Starting Monday, all indoor public spaces must require either proof of vaccination or mask-wearing.

Free boosters are now available for everyone 16 and older at doctor’s offices, medical centers, and pharmacies. If you’re eligible, please get your booster as soon as possible. And, of course, if you haven’t yet received your first shot, there’s never been a better time. It’s the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from serious illness, especially with the arrival of the highly-contagious omicron variant. To find a vaccination and booster site near you, visit vaccines.gov.

Additional details are available on the City website at www.newrochelleny.com/coronavirus.

This has been Mayor Noam Bramson. Thank you for listening, and let’s all do our part to have a safe and healthy winter.