or What will happen at the September 2014 City Council meeting?
Despite objections, New Rochelle city council is moving forward with the Twining Company Echo Bay proposal. A preliminary Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will be prepared for a future meeting of council. Twining was selected from a group of three developers: Archi-Tectonics, CDR Studios-Vanguard Properties, and Twining Properties for Echo Bay. The New Rochelle Veterans Association also presented their Armory proposal to the city council on the same evening. Twining’s proposal included a small town center, shops, restaurants, parkland, housing and a possible hotel. The extended plan would use parcels that had been previously proposed by the city before Forest City Residential was chosen. The Commissioner of Development, Luiz C. Aragon, praised the new development proposal for its “visionary conceptual designs” especially since it could stimulate interest in the waterfront and link itself to the business area of the city. However, the pollution on some sites has been glossed over. Frank Mancuso, the former owner of the Mancuso Marina, has warned about the cancer causing PCB’s and dioxins that are present in several of these parcels under consideration.
This waterfront plan by Forest City Residential for this Echo Bay area received intense resident opposition and failed to materialize. At the July 8, 2014 meeting of city council several council members expressed concerns related to previous attempts to develop this area. The present city yard would have to be moved if a development in Echo Bay were to happen. While the Armory had been a sticking point previously, Twining Properties stated they will incorporate the building into their plan. The architect chosen by Twining is A. M. Stern Architects.
Objections and comments by council members reflected the past experiences with proposals for this area. Many taxpayers are wary of any tax abatements and increases in real estate taxes that may be needed for this project to proceed. Financial analysis according to Chuck Strome, City Manager, will be provided in this MOU.
The plans for the Armory in this agreement will be crucial to some council members. Councilman Lou Trangucci emphasized that since the Twining Company said they wanted to work with the veterans, he planned to “hold them” to their word. He also stated that if the Twining plan is similar to the Forest City Residential Plan (which failed) he will not vote for it. Councilman Al Tarantino continued that issues about the amount of housing and lack of sufficient retail needed to be addressed.
When questions arose about the other parcels in the area under consideration, the answer given was that they would be dealt with at a later time. Tarantino then stated the “elephant in the room” is the city yard. To make this project move forward a lot of taxpayer money will be needed to move the city yard. Tarantino continued by suggesting a “limited” time frame for this MOU.
Both the money necessary and the funding for the relocation of the city yard and the pollution clean-up of the site must be clarified. The residents deserve to know all the costs and changes necessary to complete this newly approved Twining plan. It is expected that the New Rochelle City Council will discuss this projected Memorandum of Understanding at the September City Council meeting. Many residents and taxpayers in New Rochelle have taken an extremely dim view of this project.