NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – For New Rochelle, “A season of challenge is ending. A season of opportunity is beginning,” Mayor Noam Bramson said in his State of the City address Thursday night at the Davenport Club.
“Tonight I can indeed report that a new season of possibility and promise is upon us,” Bramson said before a crowd at the event, which was sponsored by the New Rochelle Chamber of Commerce.
By partnering with other municipalities to hire private contractors to provide services, public works facilities and administrative functions, the city can get better service for less money, Bramson said. Road resurfacing, yard waste transfer, ambulance service, payroll processing, information systems and fleet maintenance are among the “low-hanging fruit” the city can look to partner with other municipalities on. “And there’s no excuse for leaving any of it on the tree, especially at a time when every dollar matters,” he added.
As for municipal employees, Bramson urged them to ask in the spirit of shared purpose, “What’s in it for all of us?” Bramson said the employees already have agreed to contracts that will provide for “responsible, measured compensation growth consistent with the challenges of our time.”
He also underscored the importance of partnering with the state to provide the city with the tools to hold down property taxes with a “broader menu of revenue choices, so that we can distribute the cost of public services more fairly.” Additionally, he called for the state to relieve the city of the annual $1.5 million “responsibility to pay for fire hydrant maintenance and use.”
Tax relief on it’s own, however, is not an economic strategy, Bramson said. He suggested improving the city through new investments in infrastructure, marketing and creative talent, rather than replacing depreciated assets.
To that end, Bramson stressed the importance of unlocking the potential of Echo Bay, which he expects to get final approval by the end of the year. “No one – no one – alive today has had the opportunity to take a simple stroll from East Main Street to Long Island Sound and look upon an unspoiled shore, and I cannot wait for the day, now nearly upon us, when we can join hands on a great lawn that stretches to the water’s edge, and reaffirm New Rochelle’s status as the Queen City of the Sound,” he said.
He also suggested making New Rochelle more business-friendly with grants that pay for new signs, targeted incentives to spur development and an enhanced Farmers and Crafts Market to serve as a magnet for shoppers. That also means working alongside New Rochelle’s three colleges, providing affordable housing for commuters and investing in transportation options, he said.
New Rochelle is taking the lead on planning for the future, Bramson said, through the completion of a new Comprehensive Plan as well as the city’s Sustainability Plan. These and other plans will create a better outlook for the city.
“The present always has strong advocates,” he said, later adding, “No one arrives in a time machine to lobby for tomorrow.”