Mayor Looks “Foolish” in his Remarks on Downtown Business Plan

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Mayor Noam Bramson at the last City Council meeting claimed a Councilman, who presented a plan to help downtown businesses, looked “foolish.” Lack of downtown parking was also discussed. Mayor Bramson previously voted for one space per apartment so was he “foolish” when he asked and was told the downtown apartment parking lots are full?

Further will Mayor Bramson look “foolish” when he answers questions about his state of the city address? Why did the Mayor say he felt one strategy to gain 7% in tax revenue in the budget would be increasing the utility tax to 3%? This is regressive because it shifts more of the burden to people in apartments? It is not tax deductible. Bramson wants “increased density” in downtown. Why is “increased density” desirable? Aren’t the businesses in downtown being hurt by congestion, traffic and parking problems? “Smart Growth” in Bramson’s view includes the proposed largest project in downtown, Le Count Square. How much more traffic and congestion can this already overburdened area sustain?

In Bramson’s state of the city address he advocates “risk takers deserve our support now more than ever,” and then asks residents to support our artists, restaurants and retail businesses. But the real risk takers are the taxpayers of New Rochelle because developers in downtown have been given large tax breaks.

To avoid looking “foolish” Mayor Bramson should start listening to the taxpayers and their elected officials.

[Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared as a Letter to the Editor in the Journal News on April 12, 2009]

9 thoughts on “Mayor Looks “Foolish” in his Remarks on Downtown Business Plan”

  1. Calling Bramson a fool is
    Calling Bramson a fool is kind……
    Bramson’ idea thrust is load Cappelli with all he can and everything else will carry through.
    Its a large City the stops and starts continue to drag it down.Cappelli is good for Cappelli and maybe not New Rochelle. The City Manager and Crew is not talented enough from a business sense to force Cappelli to play by any rules. Good planning is treated like a mosaic, working small sections over time/finishing them and then moving on the the work as a whole. These guys have tried to paint one wall in every room of the house and it hasn’t caused anyone to finish anything.
    First before 1 shouvel goes in the ground on any proposed future Cappelli project (LeCount) a plan should be created with the City in mind and the tax payers in mind to fix New Roc and further the sales in Trump Cappelli. Until that is in a better frame the rest is plainly stupid. The leverage is in place to start finishing the paint on projects before starting anything else. I believe small business can lift New Rochelle 1 brick at a time. Although St. Pauls plan is vague the fact that it is his idea should not mean that there is not something too it.
    When you hear Barry Fertel, and Marrianne Sussman and Noam Bramson on the subject you see digging in only because its not their plan and it was introduced in a forcefull manner. So doing nothing is the answer mayor Bramson. Eveyday thousand of very talented New Rochelle residents get on trains for NYC many of them are business leaders but yet you continue to use the same arrow over and over. Sit down with some of those in the real world those whom do this everyday. Sit down with those with a vested interest in New Rochelle, Homeowners, taxpayers and they will help you expand St. Pauls plan and not only preserve New Rochelles current business but they will lead you to new business and prosperity. Right now you have surrounded yourself with Bad Lawyers and people in the public sector who have never worked in the real world. Sitting around your large table debating all the walls in the city you want to paint is only compounding the problem. I think you fix small area’s which in turn will spread.
    True Gentrification.

    Ken Lewis

    [Editor’s Note: for folks like Ken who are adding their name to the bottom of their comments I would point out that we offer free registration which is there to provide readers a way to sort out who is actually commenting. I would urge Ken, Bruce, Anthony and others to comment when logged in so we can be sure it is not someone else appending your name to a comment]

  2. here we go again! same old
    here we go again! same old diviseness, same old lack of clarity, planning, communication, same old self-interest masquerading as “loyal opposition” or whatever the hell the politically correct term is nowadays. I frankly don’t care about the math; the lack of a coherent planning strategy, critical thinking and willingness to work toward a greater good, i.e. the welfare of the City itself is what I care about. Negrin, as usual, comes closest to the truth of the matter and we need more people like him, Mr St Paul doesn’t really have a viable idea, but he does has an idea and deserves respect. Now I want to hear what Peggy and Anthony offer as a plan to fix what ails this city. We need a dose of realism; Obama is probably going to get a lot done because he thinks outside the box. Hell, I would be happy if we had people in the administration and opposed to it as well who could do the same. The Mayor was wrong even if frustrated, he should have welcomed any idea. Frankly I am not at all that much interested in the so called regressive tax issue. When you are 72, on fixed income, and you don’t have children in the school system, that is what concerns me — I call that a regressive tax — tenants all over the State get a free ride as it is.

    I wish someone, in the administration or outside of it would zero in on the real issues — look without the developers cutting the deals they have, we would be rivaling mt vernon, buffalo, etc. for dodge city north. no one was that interested in doing much here; entrepreneurs like REI hung around for a few years and split. Why? ?Easy we are not Larchmont with a pretty little community business structure or Eastchester with a big mall with relatively high end stores. It made sense to adopt a residential business proposition; what made less sense is holding developers feet to the fire on renewal or when they tried to cut new deals.

    I tire of the congestion, parking and traffic issues. Common sense tells you that it is oxymoronic to expect to grow a retail business district given the constraints of streets that cannot be widened, zoning laws that are immovable, unwillingness to execute eminent domain and no ability or will to limit downtown traffic via some plan like alternate days via license plate numbers, etc. Jim Kiloran, bless his heart has a tram which is paradigmatic of what Portland Oregon done to solve the exact same issue we face. We can rezone, build multi level downtown parking garages, etc. but we will still have places opening one month and closing months later. Ask yourself why retail space doesn’t move in good or tough times. No brainer — north enders and other disposable income people will go to north end retail, scarsdale or eastchester. how much can we widen streets, grow parking space, legislate how many cars per family, etc…. come on noam, anthony, peg, bruce, councilpersons, look at the real issues.

    Start with the school district. every one of you has systematically avoided the issues. Why? What else is more important re: property taxes and who pays them. Only the good Anthony Sutton seems to bring this matter to bear.

    Here is a fact. Nita Lowey has just secured $3,841,085 to the City on recovery money. Now folks, chew on that and see what effect that has on the school district, its ineffective management team and its disastrous board. It is easy to fight battles around armories, abatements, infrastructure, etc. but use a little critical thinking and put your fine minds to where the real issues lie.

    If the school tax is anything other than 0% increase in these tough times especially given Loweys work, we are barking up the wrong tree.

    Bramson is a symptom and not the issue. Before him there was Idoni… etc. the messages sound the same. Tell me critics what in the name of God would you have done to bring this City to life? Tell Bramson and do it now.

    warren gross

    1. Mr. Gross pontificates
      Mr. Gross pontificates again!
      Mr. Gross chastises me and others for not looking at the real issue of “property taxes and who pays them”. When the city abandoned charter mandated library funding at the expense of $3 million dollars to the taxpayer it was not Mr. Gross leading the bipartisan “loyal opposition” to reject a new tax. When the city instituted a new refuse fee in a money grab to circumvent the council ratified tax-cap I don’t remember Mr. Gross being this outraged. Mr. Gross needs to make up his mind: he can’t care about “the welfare of the City itself” and not care about the “math”. Maybe the reason, to some extent, that property taxes are so high is because Mr. Gross and people who are of his mindset don’t “care about the math” when a $540,000 mistake is made which would raise taxes. I realize that in the scheme of things $540,000 is a drop in the bucket but as my grandmother taught me; take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves. The math that Mr. Gross doesn’t care about will raise property taxes.

      I pray Mr. Gross is right in his prediction that “Obama is going to get a lot done…” but I don’t agree with Mr. Gross’ belief that Obama “…. thinks outside the box”, in light of the fact that to date there have been multiple cabinet nominees who have withdrawn their nominations because they haven’t paid appropriate taxes. Is nomination of cabinet members who don’t pay their fair share of taxes or recycling cabinet members from previous administrations thinking outside the box or the change we were promised? I don’t think so.

      Everyone will agree school taxes are out of control. I would like to see tenure abolished and the school district get only one budget vote to keep their pencils as sharp as possible from the get-go.

      At the end of the day Mr. Gross criticizes me for not offering solutions while offering no solutions of his own. My grandmother also taught me not to live in a glass house and throw stones.

      The one thing we agree on is that the abuse of Councilman St. Paul was disrespectful. It continued tonight when Mayor Bramson called for a show of hands rather then require a motion, second and roll call vote on Councilman St. Paul’s proposal.

      Anthony Galletta

      1. come on anthony lighten up.
        come on anthony lighten up. thought the rarified air upstate would ease your angst. what is pontificating about offering ideas and not carrying around a notebook looking for ways to critique and criticize. you seem to think that opposing everything from armories to tax increases are offering ideas. It isn’t. yes, I tend to pontificate as you call it and my wife kicks me around a bit for doing that. but, geez anthony no ideas? give me some credit — let me list five or so that i have offered in the psst. here goes and get your notebook out so you can critique each. like i said you are a bright guy but your math is a tad off but so what

        1. realign the school board to make them more accountable to voters and reflective of city wards by having them appointed by councilpersons and mayor. failing that, set term limits.
        2. look at the armory differently from the eyes of a veteran. when I shipped out I could care less about where i spent a day or so getting processed. I cared about what I was fighting for. the armory is brick and mortar and no one gave a rats butt for it until echo bay. but, anthony I do think that if it has to go, forest city and new roc city need to produce a family center (like an ice rink) as well as a memorial for the guys who had a cup of coffee at the armory and then….
        3. develop and sustain a proper planniing process in new roc — one that produces a long range plan with community input and is transparent and addresses fundamental question of just what in hell this city intends itself to be.
        4. define and describe what you really mean by a viable downtown and manage towards it. you can’t grow wider sidewalks or streets; you might be able to build garages, but you can’t legislate who will come here to shop or tell them whether they can drive or not (much less how many vehicles family can own). so anthony, you got to turn the glass upside down. maybe you want to increase retail base and probably it is best to do it by residential wants and needs. however you do it, new solutons like trams, mini buses, etc. eliminate or ease traffic flow, you get the point
        5. downtown new roc needs a police presence and maybe even needs to move some stuff out of city hall to build credibility and safety downtown. why not a mini precient?
        6. school district has not done a thing that is transparent and known to most of us about planning for easing overcrowding and/or building new facilities. why isn’t this number one on any list of people who want to reduce property taxes.
        7. actually, you’ll probably hate me for this, but I was kinda influential in encouraging the creatiion of a residential model for downtown since it looked like fort apache for years and no one, no critic, no activist, no one had a clue how to attract new business. people were either angry critics of abatements, nostaglic about the past, or pretty much apathetic something you never were (apathetic)
        8. I proposed legislation (currently under development by a nys assembly person) about leveling the playing field for veterans re: additional tax breaks through STAR and maybe it will pay off.

        I love the city and that is why i stay here childless, shareholder and senior citizen and this is a hell of a lot more regressive than a tenant.

        Jeezus, we finally get a good Irish pub in New Roc and it closes in less than a year. We don’t have much trouble opening up .99 cent stores or “church fronts” Now our esteemed school superintendent (now thats a pontificator) has announced that you really can’t compare our district to its former comparative base, but you need to compare it to white plains, yonkers, etc…..

        You see, it may piss you and others off but I am happy Capelli showed up. I am not happy to see Forest City but that we can talk about over a beer at the place we (and Boyle) met at Division Street. I am buying. Despite the length of this, I respect the fact you work at things although we differ appreciably on many issues. But so what. You really should put some of your thinking into this school district. Now that is good math — you know 66% of our taxes here go there.

        Be healthy

        warren gross

      2. Warren, you need to
        Warren, you need to exhale!

        I have no problem with development in general. I believe New Rochelle has destroyed every chance of a successful downtown because it over-developed without first upgrading its infrastructure; i.e. streets, sewers, parking etc. Cappelli, Forest City whoever is not the problem it’s the elected officials who allowed the overly dense pie high in the sky development with multi-decade tax abatements. I constantly hear of the spectacular water views from Avalon & Trump but I never hear about the views from the opposite window in those penthouses of the day laborer pick-up site on Union Avenue. Yes warren there are two sides to every story.

        As far as the Armory is concerned (and I use a capital A out of respect) I am not a veteran but vow to help save the Armory. Maybe you should talk to other vets from different eras and you might realize many, even the vast majority of vets feel differently. Talk to Ron Tocci or Peter Parente who can offer a different perspective. If you need a ride to the next meeting or the Memorial Day Parade give me a call, I’m in the book. Don’t forget there is a binding contract between NY State and the City of New Rochelle which mandates public use. A compromise would be to incorporate the Armory building rather then an all or nothing approach.

        A master plan or lack there of has been bantered around for decades well before my and I dare say your time.

        Downtown New Roc does need a police presence because it is not what was promised. Once again the lack of a master plan allowed New Roc City to change before building began and twice since, so much for the immoveable zoning you cite.

        I’m going out on a limb here and will probably piss most off but the one possibility to help school taxes is to abolish property taxes and institute an income tax based school funding where the ability to pay prevails. The current property tax system is a nightmare and nothing will gentrify New Rochelle faster than reassessment.

        Lastly Warren, criticizing me for not offering solutions is disingenuous at best. I am not a city planner, architect or an elected official but I know that without a sound foundation the house can never endure. The foundation is what’s lacking in New Rochelle as in infrastructure. We remove parking along North Avenue to increase traffic flow to the train station. Where are those vehicles supposed to park? How are the Mom & Pop businesses that relied on the street parking to survive going to prosper? While you may be able to supply enough parking spaces/structures for the development the inability to freely navigate downtown will deter anyone from frequenting businesses.

        I have served on and addressed many community organizations on a multitude of issues. I have served on the traffic and consumer affairs committees; I ran unsuccessfully for library board and was denied a position on the zoning board. It’s tough to offer solutions or affect change when you are shut out. You know how the game is played if you’re not part of the in-crowd you’re out!

        BTW I only drink lite beer, I’m watching my weight!

    2. For now, I’d like to say
      For now, I’d like to say that there are plenty of ideas floating around out there that are outside of the box. As you can see, however, unless the ideas come from the self- aggrandizing council members afflicted with edifice complex, they are met with the same disdain Mr St Paul has received with every idea he makes. If you are to think outside the box, there will be good and bad ideas with some mixing of the two. That is how it’s done. No one person is going to critical think their way to success with regards to the city’s future. So, until the slugs at city hall ( this time its democrats) are willing to listen to sombody besides themselves nothing will change. What would I do? How about a fund raiser to pay for the surgery to install a window in their belly buttons. Perhaps then they’ll be able to see.

  3. To reiterate the points I
    To reiterate the points I made on my WVOX radio program “New Rochelle News and Views” I believe that Councilman St Paul’s MAIN ST PROGRAM needs to be further flushed out. The part about cash grants needs to be examined for when playing with money, tax payer money, you better have a solid plan with all pitfalls and/or loop holes filled in or covered up.

    But with that said I do appreciate the fact that Mr. St Paul’s plan had its heart in the right place until that heart was surgically removed by an an ochestrated attack by Mr. Fertel, Ms Sussman and Mr Bramson. Mr. Stowe I thank you for looking past this partisan attack and asking real questions that furthered the convesartion along.

    EVERY aspect of the plan was dismissed not because the proposal was merritless. How could a business task force (which should include the BID, The Chamber and business leaders who are residents of the city) dealing with the “New” New Rochelle landscape (LeCount), the development of a business retention plan, a database of available properties and a review of the IDA be merritless or unworthy of further discussion? These points had merrit when they were proposed in my 2007 campaign but because Mr. St Paul spoke out of turn and took his proposal to the press/the people before discussing it at council ALL points were dismissed. Taking it public right away may not have been the the best move but it worked for the budget and got people talking. To me that is the point.

    Again, the cash assistance program must contain more deatail, I was truly dissapointed but not surprised by the actions of those mentioned above. Is that government? Is that how you supress ideas? is that how you keep people in line? Did anyone of them ask their constituents how they felt about the program before driving a knife through it? Did their anger an behavior help the City of New Rochelle? The answer is no because the program did not matter. Whacking Mr St Paul on his nose was all that mattered.

    I am sure the city council has a back room and I am sure Mr Bramson has called people to his office before. But instead of dealing with Mr. St Paul in the manner these three wished he dealt with them they took their remarks to an even more public form and if I may borrow their term looked just as “foolish” for it. So much for political savyness when name calling gets it done.

    Bruce K Negrin

  4. Bramson the fool
    While

    Bramson the fool

    While Bramson may excel at speech writing his skills in mathematics are lacking. Increasing the gross utility tax to 3% would raise an additional $2.6 million, using stats from the 2009 budget cycle that represents a 5.8% tax reduction not 7%. That 1.2% mistake amounts to a $540,000 mistake! Bramson doesn’t care about accuracy when it comes to taxes. Raising one tax to decrease another tax is hocus-pocus, who cares what pocket the money comes from, it’s the total tax burden that counts!

    It is time for Bramson to become a leader and garner bipartisan support for basic quality of life issues as opposed to ambushing well intentioned council representatives with an orchestrated attack with his cronies in a failed attempt to publicly disgrace a fellow council representative. Bramson was the consummate tyrant when he lost control of his melodramatic response and called Councilman St. Paul foolish. How can anyone attempting to help struggling businesses survive these tough economic times be foolish?

    It’s time for Bramson to focus on quality of life issues and the mom & pop businesses which define New Rochelle as opposed to furthering his political career by raising tax abated edifices that fill the pockets of wealthy developers at the expense of the taxpaying public.

    Kudos to Councilman St. Paul for holding his ground and exposing Bramson as the true fool!

    Anthony Galletta

  5. The orchestrated charade by
    The orchestrated charade by Bramson and his shills at the council meeting was a transparent attempt to deflect their non-support to allocating monies to retain struggling businesses in the downtown. Their track record is proof positive that the democrats favor giving 30 year tax abatements to wealthy developers like Cappelli and Avalon as opposed to retaining businesses that have serviced New Rochelle through the lean times and now need a helping hand to survive. It’s time for the Dems to focus on and rescue our home grown mainstay businesses who have invested their lives and savings in this once beautiful community as opposed to the quick money grab of wealthy developers who now move on to gambling interests in the Catskills. Remember, Cappelli promised to bring his headquarters to New Rochelle if we gave him parcel 1-A which we did. He then moved his headquarters to Valhalla. More recently he made the same promise to move his headquarters to another community (Yonkers or White Plains) which he reneged on a second time. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice SHAME ON ME! When will New Rochelle learn from it’s mistakes??????

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