Cutting the ribbon with City leaders and DPW colleagues
This week New Rochelle inaugurated its new public works operations center at 25 Industrial Lane near Home Depot, as well as additional facilities for yard waste and refuse on Beechwood Avenue and for fueling on Birch Street. The Beechwood site needs a few more months of work before it’s fully up and running, and will eventually also support a new food scrap recycling program.
I get why facilities devoted to waste collection, vehicle maintenance, salt storage and other DPW functions might not excite everybody, but this is actually a really big deal with generational significance for New Rochelle on three levels: (1) enhanced safety and dignity for public employees who perform some of New Rochelle’s most essential duties; (2) modern, efficient infrastructure to meet the current and long-term service needs of a growing city; and (3) a visionary change in land use that unlocks the enormous potential of the Echo Bay waterfront (where our dilapidated former DPW center was located) for the public’s use and enjoyment.
It took literally decades to resolve complicated questions of location, design, funding and approval, so I congratulate and thank the leaders and partners, past and present, whose sustained commitment to this complex challenge made this achievement possible.
Every ten years, the New Rochelle City Council, like other legislative bodies, must redraw its district boundaries in order to conform with the most recent census. To address this responsibility, the Council has proposed a new district map that would take effect in the 2023 municipal election.
The proposal seeks to balance population among districts, ensure fair and effective minority representation, keep most neighborhoods unified, and minimize disruption of long-established patterns. The proposed district adjustments are narrowly targeted to meet these objectives and quite modest in their scope — indeed, for 94% of New Rochelle residents, nothing at all would change. This presentation contains much more information, and this zoomable map illustrates the proposed lines.
Redistricting always entails trade-offs: balancing population may require splitting a neighborhood, empowering minority residents may result in a less compact district shape. The examples go on and on, and there is always room for reasonable people to disagree about how these sometimes competing priorities should be weighted. But I hope most residents will conclude that this proposal overall is fair, and that it meets the relevant tests of law and principle.
The Council will welcome public comments at a hearing on June 14th, after which the plan may be adopted or modified.
New Rochelle City Manager Chuck Strome has announced that he will retire at the end of 2022, following more than thirty years of service to our community, during which he has compiled an extensive record of accomplishment and earned the bipartisan trust of multiple City Councils. I have had the privilege of working closely with Chuck throughout my term as mayor — it is rare for a day to pass without our speaking several times — and I have come to greatly value his experienced leadership at the helm of our Administration. You can read much more about Chuck in this press release and see why he deserves the thanks of colleagues and residents alike for his dedicated work. The City Council will soon commence a national search for a new City Manager.
It’s not a good idea just yet for us to gather in a big crowd at City Hall for a traditional State of the City Address, so, instead, I recorded a message to report on the opportunities and challenges confronting New Rochelle, and on the progress we have made together as a community. Please watch a video of the speech or read my remarks.
Even through the worst of the pandemic, New Rochelle kept making big strides on the essential priorities that will shape our future. When it comes to our economy and our budget, our environment and our neighborhoods, and our commitment to the dignity and worth of all people, we are poised to emerge from the crisis with fresh momentum and a renewed sense of possibility and optimism. The State of our City is strong.
The last day to apply for federal disaster assistance due to Hurricane Ida is December 6. To help with last minute applications or answer questions, FEMA and SBA representatives will be at the New Rochelle City Hall Annex on Beaufort Place today from 10:00am to 6:00pm. If you were impacted by Hurricane Ida, don’t miss your opportunity to obtain relief.
Through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), New Rochelle has been awarded nearly $37 million over two years to address the impacts of the COVID pandemic and “build back better.” Last night, the City Administration presented a proposed plan of action for utilizing our ARPA allocation. In addition to complying with the ARPA’s guidelines and restrictions, this plan is also designed to “(1) avoid duplication with Federal, State, and County programming; (2) achieve a whole-of-community, not just governmental, recovery; (3) prioritize one-time expenditures with sustained, long-term impact; and (4) reach for transformative opportunities that might be unattainable without the ARPA’s unique infusion of resources.” Read the whole plan here, as well as backup documentation related to green infrastructure, social infrastructure, and economic infrastructure. The City Council will consider this proposal in the context of our 2022 budget.