NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- "We just want to be heard. You represent us. Please think about this project. We deserve better," said Beth Acocella, president of New Rochelle's East End Civic Association.
Acocella was one of several New Rochelle residents who spoke out against the Echo Bay Waterfront Development project at a City Council public hearing on Tuesday at City Hall.
56 residents voiced their concerns to the council in an over three-hour meeting led by Mayor Noam Bramson.
The current Echo Bay plan aims to build 285 luxury apartments, 25,000 sq. ft. of retail space and a five acre park on the Echo Bay waterfront, armory and city yard properties.
The project anticipates $48 million dollars in revenue for the city of New Rochelle, increased school enrollment, and would create more than 2,000 jobs and relocate the city yard.
The most notable issues speakers had with the plan, which was dramatically reduced from its original goals over the past seven years due to the recession included lack of parking, unnecessary dredging, empty rental space, rising taxes, added strain to already struggling police and fire departments and the history of the developer, Forest City.
Eileen Walderick of New Rochelle, addressed the lack of parking as a major potential stressor on businesses and residents.
She said, "What retailer would lease space that doesn’t have adequate parking space? What lessee would want to rent an apartment where they will have to fight for space?"
Walderick said insufficient parking will cause major losses for the city.
Stephanie Clapp of New Rochelle shared her views on Forest City's history of alleged unethical practices as a concern, saying the developer did not give their laborers protective gear and dress against the asbestos present in past project sites, and furthermore dumped asbestos and other harmful materials in public landfills.
A representative from Uniformed Firefighters Local 273 said the plan would put excess strain on New Rochelle firefighters who are already working with old equipment.
Bramson, who is running for Westchester county executive in November, was not immune to criticism during the hearing.
Resident Ken Lewis expressed his disappointment in Bramson's policies and in the project's momentum.
While the overwhelming majority of speakers were against the project, supporters spoke out as well.
John Ravitz, vice president and chief operating officer of the Business Council of Westchester said the project would attract an invaluable amount of jobs and prevent youth flight in New Rochelle.
David Lacher, president of the New Rochelle Board of Education, said the board was “pleased to acknowledge Forest City has taken note of the New Rochelle school district's concerns. Forest City has shown commitment to modify their proposal so that district's objections are addressed.”
Long-time New Rochelle resident Steve Silverman said he wanted to see the city end its period of stagnation by proceeding with project.
"I've been living here too long," he said. "I've seen too many people asking to slow down or start over. Let’s get going.”
The City Council has yet to determine a date for a vote on the proposal.
For more information about the Echo Bay project, check visit www.echobayny.com
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