Better Streetscape Will Link New Ro Transit Center to Hospital

Monte StreetscapeA long-awaited streetscape upgrade is coming to the area surrounding Montefiore’s New Rochelle campus.

Funded entirely by federal grants, the roughly $1 million project will include new sidewalks, lighting, street trees, ADA curb cuts, and other improvements along Memorial Highway, Burling Lane, and Glover Johnson Place.

Although beautification will be one benefit, the primary goal of this project is to establish a better, safer, more accessible pedestrian connection between the train station and one of New Rochelle’s biggest employers.  That’s just good planning.

In my opinion, additional significant changes will still be needed on Memorial Highway (and several other local roads) to make our city more walkable, and I hope we can begin taking steps in this direction during the coming year.

New Streetscape Improvements Coming

Fresh on the heels of completing our multi-phase North Avenue corridor improvements, the City is teaming with Sound Shore Medical Center (SSMC) to move forward on a new streetscape initiative that aims to establish efficient, attractive, and accessible links between the hospital, North Avenue, the Transit Center, and our downtown area.

This $1.25 million upgrade will be fully funded by federal grants and by a contribution from SSMC, with no local tax dollars expended.

Specific design features have not yet been established, but the project is expected to encompass at least portions of Memorial Highway and Division Street, Burling Lane, and Glover Johnson Place. We anticipate ADA-compliant sidewalks and curbing, better lighting, trees, and related enhancements.

This is significant and positive news on several fronts:

  • From a economic development perspective, we can better integrate New Rochelle’s second largest employer into the physical and commercial fabric of the broader community. Greater accessibility from SSMC to Main Street and North Avenue will provide an economic boost to these commercial centers. In addition, improvements along the Memorial Highway corridor will ease general access to our downtown and relieve pressure on North Avenue.
  • From a planning perspective, establishing closer links between housing, employment, and transit is a core sustainability principle. Such links help reduce reliance on automobiles, improve energy efficiency, and contribute to compact, mixed-use development. This streetscape project will be closely linked to a parallel effort, under the Sustainable Communities Consortium, to capitalize on our transit center’s strategic location. Improvements on Memorial Highway are also referenced in the GreeNR Sustainability Plan.
  • From a fiscal perspective, the City is once again able to achieve a significant investment in local infrastructure without burdening New Rochelle taxpayers. This project joins North Avenue, Lincoln Avenue, Wilmot Road, and City Park as recent examples of major projects funded entirely or primarily by grants.

I will keep you posted as project details come into focus.

North Avenue Streetscape Completed

Thursday morning, City officials and residents gathered to celebrate the completion of the North Avenue corridor streetscape project.

This unprecedented multi-year effort achieved a dramatic positive transformation in North Avenue’s appearance, while also improving traffic flow wherever practically possible. Physical enhancements include new sidewalks, pavers, trash receptacles, street lamps, and ADA-compliant ramps — not to mention 118 new trees. The last phase, which just wrapped up, features a landscaped pedestrian plaza at North Avenue and the Boulevard, forming an attractive gateway to the Rochelle Park Historic District. You can review additional details in the project description and history here.

I am happy to report that this significant investment in our local infrastructure was achieved at no expense to local taxpayers. Instead, the project was funded primarily by federal grants, some secured by Congresswoman Nita Lowey and others received through annual Community Development Block Grant allocations. Additional funding came from the County, Iona College, and utility company reimbursements for the burial of overhead utility wires.

The importance of North Avenue is obvious. Thousands of residents travel on the corridor daily or live in neighborhoods that surround it. North Avenue’s condition shapes perceptions of the city as a whole and can play an important role, for good or for bad, in the vitality of our local economy. The completion of this project is, therefore, a big step forward for our community.

Nonetheless, North Avenue still has a long way to go. Enhancement of public infrastructure is just one piece of the puzzle. Private investment in storefronts and structures is the essential next step. With this in mind, the City recently approved new zoning aimed at promoting economic activity. We’ll have to watch closely to see if these new standards are sufficient to accomplish the goal.

I close (a little self-indulgently) on a brief personal note. The very first item I placed on the Council’s agenda as a newly-elected representative in 1996 was North Avenue. At the time, the condition of the corridor was horrible — broken sidewalks, no greenery, traffic bottlenecks everywhere, faded billboards looming over the road. From that initial conversation came the conceptual plan that shaped the parameters of the streetscape project and — eventually — the decision to prioritize North Avenue and seek grants for its enhancement. Even though, as noted above, we have much more work to do, I feel a sense of satisfaction in reaching this milestone.

When student groups visit City Hall, I am sometimes asked what qualities one needs to succeed in government, and I always give the same answer: patience and persistence. North Avenue is pretty good evidence for that opinion. We need to apply the same level of determination and the same forward-looking view to the many other critical planning challenges and opportunities confronting New Rochelle.

North Avenue & Lincoln Avenue Streetscape Projects Underway

Major Improvements Expected For Critical Roadways

Preliminary construction and utility work is now underway, marking the beginning of major streetscape upgrades for two local thoroughfares — North Avenue and Lincoln Avenue.

The North Avenue project will extend the new sidewalks, street trees, and other design features already in place around Iona College south to the Memorial Highway overpass. In addition, landscaping will be introduced at Hamilton Avenue and The Boulevard. This work is funded by federal community development block grants.

The Lincoln Avenue project involves a complete reconstruction of the road, from North Avenue to the New Rochelle line, including pavement, sidewalks, storm drains, and various traffic calming features. The Lincoln Avenue designs were significantly modified with input from surrounding neighborhoods. This project is funded primarily by federal and state grants, with a small local match.