Safer, Better Roads for Everyone

The 10-year capital budget approved by the City Council last December roughly doubles our annual investment in street improvements.  Beyond simply maintaining and repairing asphalt, however, the capital budget also makes an important commitment to redesigning New Rochelle’s street network, so that it is safer, more attractive, and more appealing for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike.

This week, the City Council received a preliminary report on this topic from our traffic consultants at AKRF.  Their presentation includes a long-term vision for comprehensive improvements, as well as recommendations for initial steps on six streets – Anderson Street, Eastchester Road, Lincoln Avenue, North Avenue, Pinebrook Boulevard, Quaker Ridge Road.  (One of those, Quaker Ridge Road, will benefit from a $3.5 million State grant.)

There’s still more work to be done before even the first phase of improvements can be implemented – traffic studies, detailed design, application for grants, etc.  It is quite possible that some of the concepts in this initial report will be rejected, while new ideas will emerge.

Still, I am encouraged by this first step and am looking forward to a steady pace of positive change as we re-imagine our public roadways in the years ahead.

Take a look at the presentation to the Council for more information.


Sculptures Pop Up Downtown

The Journal News ran a nice story last week about New Rochelle’s expanding collection of public art installations, including sculptures at our Transit Center, in a new pocket park on Burling Lane, and by the main Public Library — with many more to come, such as a major installation at Ruby Dee Park.

Read the whole story.

The arts and technology are critical parts of New Rochelle’s overall development strategy.  We’re aiming for a downtown that is vibrant both economically and culturally.



The Only Mart on Main

The Bubble Tea & Juice Bar

Last week, I bought some fun snacks for the office: herbed popcorn with kale & pomegranate seasonings, dried goji berries, a package of udon noodles, a jar of spicy kimchi.

So where did I pick up all my goodies?  Whole Foods?  Maybe some speciality market in Manhattan?  Nope.

The Only Mart at 518 Main Street, a brand new organic food market right here in New Rochelle.  In addition to a full range of organic produce and household items, The Only Mart also features a bubble tea & juice bar, which should satisfy quite a few cravings.

The Only Mart Grand Opening

The Only Mart‘s owner, June Lu, says she was “attracted by New Rochelle’s rich history, enthusiastic environment, and artistic atmosphere.”  In turn, her business and others like it contribute to the range and vitality of our growing downtown.

So if you are partial to organic foods, or if – like me – you have a hankering for interesting snacks, or if you simply want to support a great store that is taking a chance on New Rochelle’s future, please check it out.


Big Grant Paves Way for Quaker Ridge Road Upgrade

Among New Rochelle residents, especially residents of the North End, Quaker Ridge Road is well-known as a highway to no where.  Its absurdly excessive traffic capacity practically compels drivers to speed, while its measly and poorly engineered sidewalks give short shrift to pedestrians.  And cyclists?  Don’t even ask.  About the only time Quaker Ridge Road feels like a friendly neighborhood street is when it’s closed once a year for the annual soap box derby.

A better design would calm traffic, improve safety, and permit residents to walk or bike to schools, shops, and houses of worship.  That’s been the City’s goal for many years – and, in fact, Quaker Ridge Road is part of the Complete Streets initiative encompassed in our newly-adopted capital budget.  But the hefty price tag of reworking such a large roadway (repaving alone will run into the millions) has perpetually pushed the project off into the middle-distance.

Well, the time for Quaker Ridge Road has finally come.  Last week, New Rochelle received news of a $3,518,638 State grant to help pay for improvements.  Combined with local funds, this should be sufficient to jump-start the project.  There is much more in this press release.

To be clear, there’s still lots of design work that needs to be completed, and the City will seek ample public input prior to implementing changes.  After all, this is a heavily-used roadway, and we’ve only got this one chance to get it right.

So it’s not going to happen tomorrow.  But, for the first time, I can say confidently, that it is going to happen.  And that’s great news for our community.


A Good I.D.E.A. for New Rochelle

New Rochelle is emphasizing technology and the arts as key components of our overall downtown development strategy.  The cornerstone of this effort: the Interactive Digital Environments Alliance (or “I.D.E.A.”), which brings together City government, the Business Improvement District, academic and cultural institutions, and a variety of private-sector experts.

We aim to integrate virtual reality, augmented reality, molecular gastronomy, and motion capture technology into new performance, exhibit, and dining space, with the potential to incubate new businesses and establish a unique niche for New Rochelle.

You can learn more at this website.

This initiative is just getting underway, with lots of work ahead, but I am impressed by the caliber and experience of the people leading the charge and have high hopes for our success.