Pretty Good Seat!

Mayor Noam Bramson with Hillary Clinton

Mayor Noam Bramson with Hillary Clinton

I got a pretty good seat at a lunch earlier this week honoring Congresswoman Nita Lowey.  My chair was back to back with the familiar-looking blond woman in the foreground.

I’m ready for Hillary.

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Street Light Conversion Will Save Energy and Money

greeNRThe City of New Rochelle is replacing about 7,000 street lights with energy-efficient LED fixtures.

The new lights cut electricity use by about half, for an annual energy savings of roughly 2.8 million kilowatt hours, along with related reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The dollar savings are just as impressive.  Over the estimated 20-year lifespan of the LEDs, the City will reduce its energy bill by about $9 million, with initial annual savings of $270,000, growing to $638,000, once the cost of the fixtures is paid back.

This is a big step toward implementing the recommendations of our Sustainability Plan, GreeNR.

 

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The Most Ambitious Proposal in New Rochelle’s History

Wide ShotThe City has received the most ambitious development proposal in New Rochelle’s history — a sweeping, dramatic vision that would fundamentally transform our downtown and reshape the image of our city as a whole.

Click here to learn all about it.

The proposal, put forward by RXR Realty and Renaissance Downtowns (together: “RDRXR”) responds to a Request for Qualifications issued by the City  several months ago.  In a larger sense, however, this is the product of many years of hard work and careful planning aimed at encouraging smart, mixed-use, transit-oriented growth — or, in less jargony terms, a thriving downtown that we can all be proud of.

Looking southeast across Library Green

Looking southeast across Library Green

It is very important to understand that the images and statistics within RDRXR’s proposal are, at this early stage, simply examples of what this project could become.  The precise composition of the plan will evolve as more information is assembled, feasibility studies are completed, and — most importantly — the public weighs in with opinions, ideas, and expectations.

To this end, RDRXR will soon launch a major “crowd-sourced place-making” effort to invite community input.  This is not mere window-dressing, but rather an innovative process that integrates social media, face-to-face discussions, and neighborhood meetings, and that will play an essential role in shaping the project’s specific features.

During our October 7th meeting, the City Council took a key first key step by unanimously authorizing our staff to work out the terms of a master development agreement (MDA) encompassing multiple sites.  The MDA will take a couple of months to finalize and then other actions will follow over a period of years, but RDRXR’s commitment to New Rochelle is real and begins immediately; they are placing funds in escrow to cover the City’s third-party consulting costs and even negotiating lease terms for an office downtown.

Green roofs exemplify sustainability principles.

Green roofs exemplify sustainability principles.

Many more steps remain, hard questions must still be answered, and tough negotiations are inevitable.  Given its breathtaking scope, this proposal probably will (and should) dominate civic and political discussion in New Rochelle for the foreseeable future.  But we now have a compelling opportunity to vault our city to a whole new level of vitality, based on the “triple bottom line” of economic, environmental and social progress.

I have never been more excited or optimistic about New Rochelle’s prospects.

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Iona Receives Start-Up NY Designation — That’s Two for New Ro

IonaFresh on the heels of the College of New Rochelle’s successful Start-Up NY proposal, Iona College has also been awarded a Start-Up NY designation and will work now to forge a business partnership based on data analytics.  Only two private colleges in Westchester have received a Start-Up NY designation, and they’re both here in New Rochelle.  Here’s more from Iona’s press release:

New Rochelle, NY (October 2, 2014) Iona College has received approval to participate in Start-Up NY. The program is intended to help start, expand or relocate qualified business to tax-free zones in New York State. Colleges throughout the state host these zones and Iona is one of only two private institutions in Westchester County to be part of the program.

“We’re committed to being a partner with the New Rochelle and Westchester communities,” said Iona President Joseph E. Nyre. “The interaction with business enterprises will have a positive impact on our students and faculty, creating resources of business expertise and internship possibilities for our students, a natural synergy with our new Institute for Business Analytics and its Center for Healthcare Analytics within the Hagan School of Business.”

Iona College, the second largest private employer in New Rochelle, will endeavor to expand business partnerships with high-tech, innovative and high-growth potential companies, with the prospect of breaking new ground in the area of data-driven analytics. The focus for the initial application will be in the area of healthcare analytics, with future applications for business, the sciences and cyber security.

“We believe the businesses who will be on campus will help provide real-world experience and application of knowledge, and students will have exposure to the diverse skills necessary for an analytics-based organization in which clinical and business intelligence are essential for achieving quality, performance and economic success,” said Paul Savage, program director of Health Care Management at Iona and director of the new Center for Health Care Analytics, created at the College earlier this year.

New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson noted that Start-Up NY, Iona College and New Rochelle are a strong combination. “I am gratified that New Rochelle has been recognized yet again as an engine of economic and intellectual growth in the region. I congratulate Iona on the leadership and vision that made this approval possible.”

“This is great news for economic development in New Rochelle, which will result in the creation of new business opportunities and jobs, “said Luiz C. Aragon, commissioner of development for the City.

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Library Green Named In Honor of Ruby Dee

Mayor Noam Bramson with members of Ruby Dee's family and community leaders.

Mayor Noam Bramson with members of Ruby Dee’s family and community leaders.

Today, New Rochelle paid tribute to the memory of Ruby Dee by renaming Library Green in her honor.  It will now be “Ruby Dee Park at Library Green.”

It was a true pleasure to join members of Ruby’s family at the ceremony.  I am also especially grateful for the wisdom and effort of the volunteer committee established to guide the City’s commemoration of Ruby’s life: Council Member (and Committee Chair) Jared Rice, Dr. Hasna Muhammad, Rev. Dr. Allen Paul Weaver Jr., Alvin Clayton, Linda Tarrant-Reid, Michelle Sanchez-Boyce, and City Historian Barbara Davis.

The tribute to Ruby continues this weekend with a film festival at the New Rochelle Public Library.  For more details about today’s ceremony and the film festival, please see this press release.

At today’s naming, I delivered the following remarks:

It goes without saying that Ruby Dee was much bigger than New Rochelle. She was a global icon, known, loved and admired in every corner of this world for her creative genius and moral strength.

And it may seem a little presumptuous for a small city of just 78,000 to lay any claim to a person of such stature.   After all, most people who reach that level of celebrity would probably regard New Rochelle as only the place to set their head on a pillow.

But that was not Ruby. Nor was it Ossie before her.

She was not simply a resident of this community. She was a pillar of this community, a builder of this community – who worked to ensure that the same values she championed all across our country were expressed fully here in the place she called home.

And to a remarkable degree, she succeeded. Together with Ossie, she devoted herself to causes that ranged from the quality of our public schools, to the survival of our public library, to the inclusiveness of our local government, to our celebration of the arts . . . to the principle that every one of us is created equal.

To these things she applied herself not through name or gesture alone, but personally, directly, giving time and energy, as one who knew herself to be a full stakeholder in our city’s life.

Just as remarkable was her the modesty.  Think what an amazing thing it is to be blessed with such truly super-human talents, and yet have the humility to maintain a sense of self with a human scale. To be just Ruby.

She could have sat back and sipped the wine. (Or, as was noted in her memorial service, she could have sipped the vodka.) Instead, she chose to labor in the vineyard. She chose to thrust her hands in the soil and call forth life.

So if others elsewhere can better testify to Ruby’s extraordinary creative talents. We in New Rochelle can perhaps testify best to something every bit as worthy, and that is Ruby’s character.

When we re-name this wonderful space, this heart of our city, it won’t be to honor an A-list celebrity with thousand-watt star power (although Ruby certainly was that); it will be to honor a neighbor and a friend, a mother and a grandmother, whose gentle strength, moral conviction, and force of personality have left an enduring mark on her New Rochelle and our New Rochelle.

May God bless the life’s work of Ruby Dee, and may each of us prove worthy of her example.

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