Downtown New Rochelle; Creating a Greening Fact

Written By: Warren Gross

If you read about my gaffe concerning Naomi Brickell, I will probably have trouble making sense of impact on this brief entry.

I recall reading the words of Laurence Tribe recently concerning the Obama/Roberts relationship on the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act. As you may know Tribe is an esteemed legal mind on the Harvard Law School Faculty and taught both Obama and Roberts.

Tribe says that “one guiding value; a genuine belief that pragmatism and even compromise can coexist with principle” is critical to both men and by extrapolation of his words, to society.

I agree fully and one thing I have tried to live by is a positive pragmatism, the creation of meaningful facts to support ideas and values that otherwise get boxed and stored away by endless negativism, selfish ideological views and other trappings of selfish and power motivated individuals. You find it all over — where it unfortunately really impacts communities such as politics and the media and, unfortunately, very much in the social media especially in the blogging community where sensationalism and negativity attract ands sustain readership more than positive dialogue and corrective actions.

I am asking you for a favor and this comes from someone who spent much of his life on the dark side and wants to join people like Jim Killoran, and occupy the bright and healing side of society.

New Rochelle is seemingly committed to Sustainability with all of its trappings, bells and whistles, and potential in the area of aspects we see in things like GreeNR.

They haven’t really sold this well and there has been a great deal of controversy about the involvement of outside influences that have caused a lot of discord in the community and to a lesser degree, the Council.

Jim Killoran and I want to create a fact or two about “greening downtown New Rochelle.” We know there are budgeet difficulties and we also know that there are real planning issues around the Comprehensive Plan, etal.

I understand all of this better than most especially if I am on my “meds” and can roll the clock back 10 or so years to improve my memory. But, for me, at least the time has come to write fewer technical articles whether valuable or not, and concentrate on making a positive impact in a small but critical space in New Rochelle.

This is where you all come in. I am asking you to contribute ideas to this task. What should Jim and I do to make downtown a “greener” and better place? You understand much of what is involved in sustainability. Give us some specific feedback on energy, green or brown spaces, safety….. whatever occurs to you.

We NEED your help period. We knwo all about the dark side; the corruption here, the criminal acts there. We see this in TOTS and elsewhere. It is constructively brought to our attention.

Warren Gross needs to work on a tangible for his City. The Administration knows my intellectual prowess. But, I need to demonstrate a side that has lied dormant for too long…. my dear friend Jim Killoran and I want to be non-rebels with a cause and that cause is to support the City we love and to make some inroads into a bad financial situation.

If I have friends or people who respect me know that I need to as an act of contrition and atonement for incorrectly identifying Naomi Brickell’s ballot casting in the School Board.

It is a good lesson for me to be less pompous and the downside has harmed a fine woman.

I have been talking with Jim for several weeks now and boom, the dreaded Cox correction this morning.

So, all points in the City, can you overcome my average 300-500 reads of my blogs with little or no commentary and give me and Jim your ideas on this point.

Of course, we will touch base with the City Administration after selecting what can be done.

Finally, if you want me to chill out on my lengthy, and technical blogs, let me know that as well. Maybe I can get a kid to fact check and edit if I continue.

10 thoughts on “Downtown New Rochelle; Creating a Greening Fact”

  1. Downtown New Rochelle
    “I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”
    ― Marilyn Monroe

    Warren-Please continue with your comments and articles, they are pearls of wisdom and insight. It has been great to see you at the different meetings, please do not stop.

    My suggestion for the downtown area is a community garden in one of the empty lots on Main Street. It might be a small idea but it would add to quality of life.

    1. thank you my dear friend
      I appreciate your kindness. I also appreciate the idea shich is not at all small. I think Jim will love it and I will immediately share it with him.

      again, thank you and i hope to receive many more ideas.


  2. Fact #1: Green = Bad
    Green is Big Government and Small Citizens.
    Green is More Regulation and Oversight and Less Efficiency. Green is Decreased Organic Growth and Increased Cronyism. In a Word, Bad.

    What Downtown needs is the reaching out to the Businesses and Industries of Tomorrow on it’s behalf in order to provide employment and opportunity for it’s Residents and our neighbors to the North, South, East and West. The Biotechnology and Healthcare Technology Sectors. The Healthcare Service and Biotech Service Sectors. The Nanotech and Communications Sectors are Prime examples. NY State in Partnership with Municipalities is wooing Industry to set up shop and taking jobs from places like California. There is NO REASON New Rochelle cannot participate and even be a leader in this endeavor.

    1. Looking at Something Different Than You Are
      Guns are bad if in the wrong hands or used for the wrong reasons. I am not suggesting that “greening” replaces downtown employment. In fact, if you check my many postings on this site, no one comes close to my blogs or talks in front of City Council on the need for downtown employment and you certainly point out a promising industry for exploration.

      I am confused why you confuse greening as I have described it in the context of making improvements in our distressed downtown business district to the development by the City of a business or industry? One of the problems I have pointed out with the New Rochelle approach is mistaking the Sustainability Plan as an end state (meaning for example, an industry). It is really an means state.

      Let me give you a practical example of this. Nanotech and Communications business enterprises coming to New Rochelle might be a great thing. That would be a great end state leading to employment, for example. Greening as a mean state would mean that the building would be energy efficient, the roof possibly with solar panelling or gardening, or a least a white roof. Perhaps there would be heating and HVAC systems installed that could take advantage of various tax and energy bonus, tax relief or incentive packages.

      BMWCH, what Jim and I want to do is to get ideas from the community how we can help turn a depressed area into something better than what it is and not what should be wooed by the Development people to help grow our tax base, employment needs and improve our school district. Actually I hope people out there are listening to your end state idea; I like it because it might get our school district more committed to the sorts of educational curricula our students here need to ground them better in entering the better higher educational schools and also provide our non-college young people with good technology positions in preparation, programming or what ever the case might be.

      My problem and many of my co-posters here is to convince the City Administration to weitch gears from a Residential to a Commercial business base and to actually come up with planning and funding approach towards that end.

      I hope this is clearer and I appreciate your comments and I hope to hear from more people on this as we prcceed.

      1. A mix is the solution
        Yes, include a Business base with a growing High Density Residential base.

        Your ‘Green’ vision will develop organically.

        Just remember, it’s an Urban downtown, not a Farm…

        1. OK BMWCH
          Gotcha. Help me, help all of us to convince the City Fathers to grow the business district as well as doing much more than they have on nurturing a high density residential base. You seem to be new to TOTS and I deem you to be most welcome. My hope is that you will be an active voice in this regard.

          Bob Cox has provided access to many prior blogs and postings in the past that will indicate different viewpoints on growing a commercial base. You might also find the 1996 Comprehensive Plan, especially Section III-1 to be helpful.

          The City has posted a way to receive comments from residents on the 2012/13 Comprehensive Plan which is, I believe listed under EnviroNR. It can be easily accessed via the Internet.

          Let me summarize a few points I have made for your information.

          1. the current City approach borders on being an Oxymoron. They neglect to recognize the direct relationship between our high property tax rates, the lack of downtown commercial existing businesses, the proliferation of non-profits, unchecked college “sprawl”, rising crime and related issues as having a direct effect on the absence of developmental interest in downtown New Rochelle.
          2. In addition to this, the City has not provided any direct support via decentralizing some City Departments to show interest and support, nor created minimally a store front police precinct to provide safety and security …. and
          3. Key support functions such as BID and IDA are flawed; the former is headed up by the head of Monroe college instead of a for profit business leader and the Director is not active in examining the needs or wants of existing businesses and high rise lessees or condo owners…… and
          4. no plan exists to systematically examine impediments to growth based on re-zoning, landlord rent practices, etc….. and WORSE
          5. The preponderance of new initiatives near to or by extrapolation, reasonably connected to the downtown business district are projected residential high rise units all with funding needs and all draining scarce resources.

          You should also decide whether you are comfortable with the current school district’s performance and mostly, its lack of direct causal connection to City Hall. Basic risk and consequence analysis would point out (from the viewpoint of investors and developers) that such a lack, coupled with issues around taxes and financial management) make a deadly recipe for growing and developing the City.

          Finally BMWCH, while embracing your new business venture views, I can assure you that to assume any organic growth will be “green” is flawed. You must make that happen by being very direct in the specifications.

          And, by organic, I think you probably mean de novo aas the industry you are speaking of would require new ventures not a evolving spiral from an existing one.

          Ok, we have sparred some and I repeat welcome. Now I respectfully suggest we both put our minds to work in trying to get the City to work in the right directions.

          1. Offer what they can’t refuse
            Administrations in NR have to be presented with an offer which they cannot refuse. That is, if it makes them look good, they’ll go for it. If the State can be included as a ‘partner’ it’s even better for the local adminisrators to show how well they work with other government entities. You seem to have a dialogue with some city leaders and may suggest the city create a committee (rather than the BID and IDA) whose intention and goal is to partner with the State and court the type of different businesses mentioned.

            If the City is viewed as open and friendly to competitive development – at present it is the opposite – all sorts of ideas and opportunities will arise.

            As far as ‘Green’ development – there are many incentives and rebates avilable associated with installing and utilizing high efficient mechanical systems and building with to new types of materials. The structures would also include some open space and expanded landscaping very common in modern development which then provides the visual greening of the downtown you are after which is the organic greening I am referring to. To simply enlist and send out some school kids with shovels, grass seed and hanging ferns will, in the end, be a fruitless endeavor.

            I’ve yet to see an idea presented at ‘Citizens to be Heard’ implemented. But approach these guys on council with a solid idea, backed by professional developers and planners and they take action. Especially if they can take credit for it at the ribbon cuttings standing next to the Governor!!!

          2. A New and Welcome Voice
            Nice to hear from a person with ideas and interest. Please keep your views and thoughts coming. Lord knows we need them.

            Good material. The kids is more of a way to involve them and perhaps to sensitize their parents to get off their duffs and play a part in New Rochelle.

            If and when something happens it will be both symbolic and illustrative of the involvement of youngsters in something more lasting than the latest W1 release.

            Not sure of what that is yet… however your thoughts continue to provide concrete and substantive input and I hope some members of governments as well as community activists see what I am seeing; a new and instructive voice for our community.

            Take care and thank you.

          3. and BTW
            I appreciate your intellect and will to make changes for the betterment of the city and it’s citizens.

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