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.
With COVID rates declining quickly, Governor Hochul has lifted New York State’s mask or vax mandate for indoor spaces. (Mask requirements remain in effect, for now, in certain higher-density or higher-risk settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, and mass transit, while schools will be reevaluated in March.) In light of the State’s action, New Rochelle is lifting the local mask mandate that has applied to City Hall.
Barring the emergence of more dangerous variants and the special consideration that must still be afforded to the medically vulnerable, a new normal may now be upon us, in which COVID simply becomes background noise – no longer an acute crisis, but instead a chronic risk that we manage without excessive disruption to our lives, like many other risks. This is not the definitive end to the pandemic for which many of us had hoped, and certainly feels nothing like the victory over polio or smallpox, but with a significant majority vaccinated, the Omicron wave imparting some measure of natural immunity, and effective tools to prevent serious illness widely available, this may be the closest thing to an “end” that is realistically attainable.
This weekend’s weather forecast is grim. I’ve just sent the following citywide message. Stay safe.
This is the City of New Rochelle with an important weather advisory. Para espanol, oprima numero uno.
A major winter storm is predicted for our area, with snow beginning tonight and continuing throughout tomorrow. Significant accumulations are possible and strong winds are forecast. For your safety, please avoid unnecessary travel.
Before the storm, if possible, please park cars off-street to make room for plows. As an option, parking will be free at New Roc City and at the New Rochelle Transit Center, beginning at 5:00pm today and continuing through Sunday at midnight.
Our DPW crews will operate continuously throughout the weekend, but full clearance of all roads may take time. Please plan accordingly.
If you lose power, contact Con Edison at 1-800-75-CONED or www.coned.com. Report downed trees and power lines to the New Rochelle Police at 654-2300.
After the storm, please clear sidewalks and fire hydrants adjacent to your property. And, when digging out cars, please do not throw snow back into the street.
Yesterday afternoon, in the West End of New Rochelle, a young man shot and killed an acquaintance. The ages of the shooter and the victim — both 16 — make this incident especially horrific and, for young people and their families throughout our community, deeply upsetting. This morning, I issued the following statement:
My personal thoughts are with the families that have been broken by this tragedy, and with all in our community who have been shaken by such a senseless act of violence. New Rochelle will continue working with parents, educators, and service providers to offer positive support to at-risk youngsters, while partnering with our local court and law enforcement to prevent youth violence. More broadly, this incident highlights yet again the destructive impact of our nation’s lax gun regulations, which flood firearms into the wrong hands and can transform any dispute into a heartbreaking loss.
Free COVID tests are now available through the United States Postal Service. Visit this site to place an order. There is a limit of one order per residential address, each order includes four individual rapid antigen COVID-19 tests, and orders will ship starting in late January.