In response to a recent article Why New Rochelle Must save the Armory a commenter under the alias BaxterNR wrote a comment arguing that “the building no longer serves a necessary function for the New Rochelle community”, asserting that “the structure began falling into disrepair way before the city purchased it from the state for $1” and closing as follows:
The armory building undoubtedly has a unique history that is significant and important to individuals from the community, however, this view is not shared most new rochelle residents.
In response, I would point out a few things of which you seem unaware.
The reason the Armory isn’t serving a “necessary function” for New Rochelle these days isn’t because we no longer need to train troops there. It’s because administrations, past and present lacked the vision and determination to utilize a jewel of a building, one that many cities would love to possess, to serve the community. When the city took possession from the State, NR city officials pronounced the building as “sound”. I can certainly understand how budget issues prevented the city from spending tax money to rehab the building, but let’s be honest, don’t you think the city could have stipulated an Armory fund to be financed through the IDA giveaways given to the big developers? When corporations were making money hand over fist, don’t you think corporate sponsorship could have funded a large part of the Armory budget. Since none of that was attempted, one could only draw the conclusion that there was never any attempt, or consideration, to make use of an icon we already own. Why, did you know, there were attempts to put the Armory on the city’s own heritage register, but the city itself turned it down?
Can you really look at the extremely successful Armory restorations around the country and not see the potential? If you can’t, then yours is the same myopic view shared by the past and present administrations. This isn’t about which historic site is more important than the other, it’s about making Echo Bay something truly unique and notable on not just a local level, but on a grander scale than you can imagine. How you can even begin to make the case that Wildcliff is “of greater historical value” is preposterous and, if I dare say, ignorant. They are both significant in their historic and cultural value, but for very different reasons. Ever hear the expression “apples and oranges”?
Your own claim that” The Armory building undoubtedly has a unique history that is significant and important to individuals” is reason enough to seriously explore the possibilities. So, thank you for that.
Mr. Wasson has expressed a valid and compelling vision, one supported by leaders in the field of successful planning, and you make the claim that the Armory should go because Wildcliff is more important? Wow. You’re completely missing the point. Do you really believe we should give 26 acres of waterfront property to a developer, to do what he pleases, and have nothing to say about what is done with it? The developer, in the end, will own all of the land. The surrounding neighborhoods will be choked with traffic, the “community center” will serve no one if Sutton Manor has anything to say about it. Echo Bay will no longer be a New Rochelle asset. It will be a private property. Shouldn’t we have something all of NR could utilize and be proud of? New Rochelle not only needs this but it deserves this. The Armory and Echo Bay should go hand in hand to benefit all of New Rochelle, not just those lucky enough to live in the apartments there. So, do some research (plenty of stories on this site), learn the facts, take a course in planning, visit the New Rochelle Armory website then come back and we’ll see if you’ve learned anything along the way.