Green R Presentation to New Rochelle City Council in Four Parts

Written By: Robert Cox

Kooris.jpgThe New Rochelle City Council received a presentation by David Kooris of the Regional Planning Association on April 20. The entire video is 33 minutes so it has been broken up into 4 parts to comply with YouTube requirement that no video exceed 10 minutes in length.

A few points to consider as you watch the video clips below:

1. Although the delivery of this plan has been on the Green R agenda for a year, the report was not delivered to Council members until just minutes before the meeting so, as noted in the video, the council had no time to prepare any questions for Mr. Kooris.

2. The “Sustainability Advisory Board” met secretly every six weeks over the past year and has had, so far, just one meeting where public input was permitted, back in September 2009. There has been no public input into whether or not the City of New Rochelle should have sought a partnership with ICLEI, the group behind the Green R plan and no explanation of who they are and what their broader long-term policy goals are for New Rochelle and other communities around the world.

3. In May there will be a public comment period, the only opportunity for the public to question the premise of the report, the findings and the implications and get answers. However, members of the public will be allowed just 3 minutes to comment and will do so in a setting where the City Council does not respond to questions and there will be no opportunity to directly question the people who wrote the plan.

4. Despite the report’s finding that 10% of New Rochelle residents do not speak English, the report is only available in English.

5. The City had made absolutely no meaningful effort to address the “digital divide” in New Rochelle in distributing this report. Even many of the roughly 60% of residents with high-speed broadband Internet have had great difficulty in downloading the unnecessarily massive 110 MB file (I was able to reduce the file to 8.3 MB in a matter of 2 minutes using Adobe Acrobat Professional). For the 40% who use dial-up or do not have Internet access at all, the Green R plan is not available for delivery to their home or work place. These people, many of them poor or elderly, are being required to share a single copy made available at the New Rochelle Public Library or another copy available at City Hall. It took me several hours to read through the entire 100+ pages of the report. If it takes the average person 2 hours to read it, the library is open for 61 hours a week and there are two weeks until the hearing it means that 61 people can read the report at the library. Just 61 residents out of the 40% of the 75,000 people who cannot download the report (less because only 67,500 can read English) can read the report at the library. City Hall is not open on weekends so even fewer residents can read it there during the next weeks. So, while large parts of our community cannot read the document, those affluent enough to own powerful computers and can pay $600 a year to have high-speed broadband Internet to their home get free home delivery of their own copy of the report.

The Mayor has said the Green R plan is intended to provide a framework for all future decisions for the City of New Rochelle for the next two decades. Proponents and critics may not agree on much but all sides can agree that the Green R Plan calls for sweeping changes to building codes, development, municipal finance, code enforcement, law enforcement, garbage pick, parks, water, sewage and much more. The plan calls for all decisions made by the Council, IDA, Planning and Zoning Boards to be filtered through the prism of the Green NR Plan, with “Green” projects being fast-tracked for approval.

The Green R Plan was only released last week. Few residents have even heard of the report let along read it and even those wish to read it have encountered difficulties obtaining a copy. A large segment of our community cannot even understand the document because they do not speak English and many others will find reading a “public” hard copy at the library or City Hall difficult if not impossible.

Is this sort of transparent process and community involvement the Mayor had in mind when he talks about “welcoming” public comment? Does the Mayor believe that elderly residents feel welcome? How about Latino residents? How about low-income residents, predominantly black and Latino residents? When told last week about problems downloading the report, the Mayor’s answer was “I have just tested the City website, and it seems to be functioning”. Apparently, in the Mayor’s mind, if he is able to download the file from his computer no one else has a legitimate issue.

A final thought, ask yourself just who is David Kooris talking about when he says “we” and “our city”? Mr. Kooris works for an organization based in Manhattan with satellite offices in Princeton, NJ and Stamford, CT. He lives in Bridgeport, CT. He was educated in Canada and works closely with ICLEI a UN-backed organization run out of Belgium with offices in Montreal. To borrow a line from a Dirty Harry movie…”whose WE sucka?”.

GreenNR Presentation to New Rochelle City Council (1/4)

GreenNR Presentation to New Rochelle City Council (2/4)

GreenNR Presentation to New Rochelle City Council (3/4)

GreenNR Presentation to New Rochelle City Council (4/4)

7 thoughts on “Green R Presentation to New Rochelle City Council in Four Parts”

  1. Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow
    The problem with big ideas is not the size of the idea but whether the shadow it casts masks what is presently going on today on issues of vital concern to all residents.

    I am not worried as much about the ramifications that the ideas themselves may have in the future. Well before that point most of the consequences that seem to suggest loss of home ownership, virulent tax increases, violations of individual rights, etc. will have been worked through by legal and regulatory challenges and through direct action by empowered populism as we see today via tea and coffee parties. The best ideas will float to the top; those being ones that protect our national interests, the environment, and others.

    But, that said, it is a good thing to read about the many thoughtful views, even strong objectives being put forth by bloggers. There are a number of matters of concern; the first being the so called sponsors of this approach (Kooris and others), but more important to me is that, without proper community awareness and active participation pro and con, the very essence of something that, if approprately expressed, sequenced, and managed will be lost. I get very concerned over a major initiative that will not impact directly the political sponsors — 30 years is a very long time to end state, the “surrender” of planning and management processing to non-representative of taxpaying situations is of great concern, but even more so is the tendency to jerry rig every needed city need and objective into some “greening” pigeon hole. Equal as frightening to me is a loss of focus on critical short range needs that will surely condition and shape what the quality of life of a community’s citizens are on a real time basis.

    Currently, there are blogs that speak to current state issues such as the school district and downtown parking. Each requires concrete critical thinking and not some slotting arrangement into whether it is a “greening” opportunity or at what stage or level of prioritization it demands. Kooris and the City Administration will have a response I am sure, but it is not “sustainable” in the media presented to us thus far in terms of GreeNR and strategic urban and school district planning; or at least I don’t spot it.

    The April 28th issue of the Journal News (page 9A) reports, under Will David’s by-line that 2 residents were injured in two separate attacks downtown. One was a early morning mugging at North near Main; the other a 9:44 street attack on the 300 block of Huguenot Avenue. Now Green these!

    I am not being a smart aleck — I am pointing out that if our residents are literally at risk in our downtown area; how can we expect people to venture forth from our high rises, patronize our diminishing commercial enterprises, walk from a parking lot or area, etc…. the point is ideas that support the residential business proposition that we seem to be committed to and downtown development which we at least give lip service to, do not or should not be given a subordinate positon or civic attention by some 30 year plan which, surely has some requisite necessary outcomes but where many of these will be reached or faciliated by forces bigger than little ol’New Rochelle.

    I want our City to pay even more attention to bread and butter issues; on the street crime, decentralize the police presence by bringing a precinct with uniformed resources to make the residential plan viable and of course, residents more secure. And, on parking, look to the basic economic supply and demand issue and make this work and safe.

    I know New Rochelle has been guided by the New York City plan of late 2006. If you examine how they went about it, it is not a question of size or scale, it is one of process — key city initiatives went on as well as an effective way of integrating their “greening” goals to urban/school planning, etc. Maybe we can get there as well, but not by wagging the dog and not the tail. first things first. I have read the plan and I agree with much of it but not at the expense of current state. I also think it needs to be radically changed in terms of how it is focused, presented, prioritized and presented.

    and yes, I have read 3 or 4 bloggers here who have concerns and even some ideas. The participants list in our community lacks people like these; the common man and woman who love the City and are willing to step up and be counted.

    In any event, what in the name of ……. is Richard Organisciak doing on any planning committee or this sort? Lets do better in checking both residence and professional credentials. This is a man who put forth the so called “Demographic Study” regarding School District planning and development and contracted the famous Suffolk BOCES folks to conduct this smoke and mirrors. By the way, what ever happened to this smoke and mirrors.

    warren gross

  2. City Sewers
    For New Rochelle to “go green” it doesn’t need this behemoth plan from Greenwich, CT.

    I remember about a year or so ago United Water coming down North Avenue and opening up manhole covers. It was a sunny, bright day, but the water was flowing. These are “storm water drains” and should not have waste water in them.

    My interest was peaked. I went down to talk to them. They went from house to house. The homeowners let them in. United Water put green dye in the toilets and flushed. Then they came outside and watched the green water flow.

    Some houses are illegally hooked up to the storm water sewer system. If you walk around different neighborhoods at night, when it is quiet, you can hear the water flowing in the sewers.

    Nothing was ever done.

    If the city wants to “be green”, they should work on this waste water in our storm system that flows right to the sound.

  3. Although energy savings can
    Although energy savings can be mandated it is not going to really kick in till there is a cost savings associated with it that out weighs the cost of replacement. Commercially Architects now strive for Green building practices/ Leeds projects but the practices and the economy of scale need to meet in order for this kind of change to hit the middle and bottom of the market. In the end there is a client with a checkbook looking at dollars and cents or should we say sense. When the product pricing comes down on these energy savers they get more readily used. What Bramson is doing is making busy. I suggest New Rochelle will adopt anything NY State mandates and thats about it. All the rest is foo foo feel good liberal nonsense spewed out by those with way too much time on their hands with way to much power and way to much thought on their own greatness.
    The problem is Bramson believes he knows what is best for us because lets face it he is smarter than us and certainly so much more elequent in saying so.
    The Voters really need to kick this little schmuck out of office so he can get a real job. The best we can hope for is he moves on to another host to feed off of.

  4. Proposed 15 – 20 year property tax liens to pay for GreeNR Homes

    1) With all of the financial problems facing our city, the county and New York State, why was the City of New Rochelle selected (targeted) to participate in this costly and highly invasive green initiative?????????????

    2) Who is getting the green and who is getting composted?

    I watched the video on New Rochelle Talk of the Sound website, many thanks to the webmaster for this material. I also have a copy of the GreeNR proposal downloaded from this site that I am reading cover to cover. Lots of happy talk, but the devil is in the details. The bottom line is if you can’t afford to retrofit your home, who gets your property? The developer? The City, The UN? The alleged radical group funding this green initiative? Read on.

    Earth to GreeNR supporters and the linear thinkers who are promoting this proposed unfunded mandate, the NYS Governor says WE’RE BROKE!!!

    The Westchester County Executive says, WE’RE BROKE!!

    New Rochelle residents are facing furloughs and layoffs because their companies are saying they are either BROKE or about to go BUST!!! Salaries are being cut, yet we are selected to participate in a program that we are a city, state and county cannot afford to participate in for many reasons.

    Who is going to pay for all of this?

    We are told that the fair city of New Rochelle does not have the money to support garbage collection much less the retrofitting of “existing housing stock” to green standards that will take a massive loan that will take 20 years, by their estimates, to pay off. We cannot afford these unfunded mandates no matter where they come from or who is pushing it.

    A curious statement was made by the GreeNR representative on the 4th video. He said, “…the buildings are here to stay.” No word about the residents and if they can afford to stay.

    Almost all of us are ‘green’ from light bulbs to recycling but we cannot afford to pay our own bills because our costs of living, taxes and utilities are high and are rising.

    What happens if a person cannot afford to pay to retrofit their ‘housing stock’? Does the city take their home and throw them into the street? Is this Go-Green actually eminent domain unfolding in New Rochelle? (**The plan calls for at least 500 home owners to take out a 15 – 20 year loan, with a lien placed against the property. The number of 500 homes is curiously close to the number of homes falsely targeted for historic designation in Southern New Rochelle. See additional info below.)

    Can’t pay to go green, don’t worry, “the buildings are here to stay,” residents can be replaced.

    This is another land/property grab. ANY politician, who supports this plan for the massive seizure of private property that will ensue, deserves to be voted out before this plan is allowed to move forward.

    Remember, as stated in the 4/21/2010 video, the plan’s #1 priority is to “retrofit existing building stock”. They are coming after our homes. The plan requires home owners to take out loans to retrofit their property with a lien placed on the property. They are talking 15 – 20 year loans. You cannot sell a home with a lien on it.

    You will loose your property.

    ** Take a look at the greenNR New Rochelle Sustainability Plan 2010 – 2030 – page 36 under initiative 1.8, Efficiency and Conservation:

    “Property owners would borrow bond money to finance energy saving improvements and repay the loan through a 15 – 20 year annual assessment on their annual tax bills. The assessment is attached to the property as a lien.” This means HIGHER PROPERTY TAXES and the loss of your rights as a property owner!

    Repeat: This plan calls for a 15 – 20 year lien to be placed on at least 500 properties to pay for the green retrofitting of their homes. If you own your home you are back in debt. If you are a senior and own your home, all you have worked for is gone. You will be stuck with a massive debt that you may never payoff.

    They “the greenNR people” will decide the green improvements they dictate you must have, will take you 15 – 20 years to pay off. 15 – 20 years, REALLY!
    Sounds like a they are asking for a blank check.

    You cannot sell property that has a lien against it. So you cannot move for 15 – 20 years. If you cannot afford the payments the City takes your home and you are out on the street. Who knows who will end up with your property? Who will the city sell the liens to?

    Our laws in the United States of American do not support the sale of property with a lien. Sign on to this program and you have lost your home

    Be at the meeting on May 11th to say “NO” to unfunded mandates that we cannot afford. Even if you do not get a chance to speak, numbers count.

    Should a suggestion be made that this mandate be funded with the money paid to our local government officials, also applying all existing state, local and school taxes?

    If this goes through, there will be no one left that can afford to live in New Rochelle. There will be no need for our local government, but “…the buildings are here to stay” as decreed by this mandate that is said to be promoted by the UN and other foreign concerns.

    Dear Mayor and City Council people, what are you thinking! Surely you are smart enough to know that people count and make New Rochelle the shining City on the Sound.

    Everyone “including our elected city council representatives,” Please READ the plan, watch the video, take notes, listen and cast linear thinking aside. This is serious. This is Bernie Madoff serious. This is sub-prime mortgage scam serious.

    This is a Trojan horse for the residents of New Rochelle.

    The reality of home ownership in New Rochelle will not exist in New Rochelle. No one will buy a home that comes with a 20 year lien. Nothing left but to knock down the repossessed private homes and build apartment buildings.

    Property values for sellers in New Rochelle will be zero.

    GreeNR = Eminent domain.

    Fight now or be prepared to loose your home.

    In an earlier post I mentioned the false historic district designation that the City tried to pass in Southern New Rochelle. This proposed plan was stopped by shocked citizens who found about it just before it was passed. (Or at least we thought we stopped it). The laws for historic designation as per the New Rochelle website state that representatives of the city’s development department would co-own what was once private property, and had the right to walk on what was once private property dictate repairs, assign cost and place a lien on an property that did not pay what they dictated.

    The NR code as applied to historic districts states, that they (the NR Development Department) could dictate what repairs they wanted and what price the homeowner had to pay. If the homeowner refused to pay or was unable to pay, the city would place a lien against the property and take the property.

    Photographs of all the homes that were targeted for the false historic designation were placed on file in the NR Development Department. The multiple real estate store fronts closed on Main Street but the plan still seems to live on in another form.

    This is GreeNR. They get the green and the residents get composted.

    This is a dangerous pattern. Be at the meeting. Read the plan.

  5. Mayor said on WVOX the Report was in the Library, No it wasn’t
    I went to the library and the report was not there. It is only two weeks before the hearing on May ll. How can anyone read this report if it is not available? What kind of city government is this?

    1. I read the report and this is what I thought of it:

      The most telling part of the presentation to me was the question and answer section at the end when Mr. Kooris of Ct. says the most important goal is the “…retrofitting of existing building stock” and how “we” need to implement this into our school curriculum.

      This gem also stood out,”…long term savings often require short term investments”.

      I can imagine the city making plenty of short term investments, maybe even hiring Mr. Kooris as a consultant to guide us into our brave new sustainable future. But I seriously doubt we’ll ever save a single dime.

      Here was a real clever suggestion by Mr. Kooris, turn brownfileds into farms using our local compost piles and then selling the produce to our local schools and universities…in other words we can digest our own compost or something. Do you think that will reduce the average amount of sewage generated by each resident?

      There is one question that is not really answerable especially when projecting 20 years out: How much will it save?

      The question that can be best answered and the only one that really matters is:
      How much will it cost?

      1. hocus pocus
        isnt the lead singer the same guy that stands on north ave in front of goffmans and dances and begs for money?

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