State of the City 2018
Mayor Bramson Delivers State of the City Address
Speaking to an overflow crowd at the annual State of the City Address, New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson pledged to continue a comprehensive, community-wide focus on student safety, while also citing momentum on economic, environmental, and social priorities to affirm confidently that “there has never been better cause for optimism and excitement” about New Rochelle’s future
The first half of Bramson’s remarks concentrated primarily on the issues surrounding youth safety and enrichment. “We began the year with heartbreak,” said Bramson, recounting three incidents that have shaken parents and families and been at the center of public discussion in New Rochelle. “[O]ur first and primary duty,” said Bramson, “before everything else, is to meet this test, to meet it with every ounce of energy and wisdom we can summon, and to meet it together as one united community.”
Noting that the City government and School District had already taken several steps to enhance safety and security, Bramson argued for a wide-ranging strategy that looks at “how we intervene in the lives of at-risk young people to provide positive support and direction . . . encourag[e] a culture of respect and accountability and discipline, inside and outside the classroom . . . [and] create a nurturing environment in which every student can excel.”
But Bramson also urged listeners not to “surrender our good judgment to unwarranted fear or panic.” Highlighting New Rochelle’s impressive safety record, evidenced by the lowest crime rate in 57 years, Bramson said “New Rochelle is a safe city – our streets are safe, our schools are safe.”
Bramson then introduced several students whose academic, athletic, and extra-curricular accomplishments make them role models for peers and the larger community, including:
•Kimberly Collins, one of just two high school students in New York State selected to the U.S. Senate Youth Program;
•Jensy Maldonado, who has devoted her senior project to identifying scholarship opportunities for Dreamers;
•Zahra Masih, whose immunohistochemistry research holds great promise for the treatment of cancer;
•Juan Felipe Tobon-Rua, who led the New Rochelle High School varsity soccer team to the 2017 New York State championship;
•Randall St. Louis, an accomplished cellist, runner, and National Merit Finalist, who is the salutatorian of the class of 2018; and
•the Executive Committee of New Rochelle High School Model Congress, which has demonstrated exceptional leadership and advocacy skills.
“[A]lthough the events of the past two months have been profoundly serious and important,” said Bramson, “our students, our children refuse to be defined by them. We will not allow any incident to obscure or distort a larger and truer picture of hopeful, accomplished, good-hearted young people who make us proud every single day. Do not doubt for a second our ability to overcome the challenge of this moment, and emerge on the other side better than ever before.”
To demonstrate New Rochelle’s great and growing strength, Bramson cited three major categories of significant progress.
First, said Bramson, “our local economy is booming.” Bramson described fifteen significant developments that were poised to transform New Rochelle’s downtown, including three that Bramson unveiled for the first time:
•14 Lecount, containing two towers, each 27 stories, and a total of about 500 apartments, with a ground-breaking planned by the end of 2018;
•500 Main Street, a 16-story project with 243 apartments, with construction anticipated to start in 2019; and
•277 North Avenue, just across from the New Rochelle train station, where two additional 28-story towers will contain approximately 441 apartments.
“When our downtown plan was adopted in December 2015, some questioned whether we could achieve our ambitious vision . . . [tonight, we] answer that question with an emphatic, unambiguous, proud, confident YES.”
Bramson also noted that construction would begin on a new public works yard in April, allowing for the redevelopment of the Echo Bay waterfront, a long-awaiting civic objective with the potential to connect New Rochelle’s downtown to its shoreline.
And Bramson surprised his audience by announcing that New Rochelle City Hall would be relocated to a new site downtown, moving from its present location on North Avenue to the base of a high-rise development at 45 Harrison Street. “[This move] will put the people’s house back in the heart of our city, right between Main and Huguenot, bringing employees, visitors, and residents closer to shops and eateries, helping to create a more robust daytime office population, and making a bold statement of confidence in our downtown’s future,” said Bramson.
Second, said Bramson, “New Rochelle is making exciting strides toward a more sustainable future that blends the best of urban energy, with the tranquility and beauty of nature.”
Bramson offered an impressive list of environmental initiatives and successes, including the provision of renewable energy to consumers, an expansion of New Rochelle’s tree planting efforts, improvements at parks, open spaces, and water bodies, and implementation of a 10-year “complete streets” plan to allow safer pedestrian and bicycle circulation.
Bramson also announced the soft launch of New Rochelle’s Bike Share program, the first in Westchester County, noting that residents can receive a discount for joining early at www.bikenewrochelle.com.
Lastly, Bramson celebrated “the character of our city – our bedrock commitment to lift up the whole family of New Rochelle, so that all of us are valued, all of us enjoy the blessings of progress, and all of us have an opportunity to contribute together to the common good.”
Bramson gave several examples of public actions that support this principle, from the establishment of advisory committees on immigrant affairs and on veterans’ issues, to job training and placement efforts, to protections against discrimination and harassment for transgender employees.
But, said Bramson, “in the end our character is defined much more by the innumerable good works that occur person to person, group to group, quietly and without fanfare. It’s the volunteer who brings a meal to a homebound senior. It’s the artist who shares her creative talents with a youngster. It’s the friend who stands up to a bully.”
Concluding on a positive, upbeat, and forward-looking note, Bramson acknowledged that “[t]his has been a difficult winter, but spring is almost here . . . [a]nd as one season turns to the next, may we each in our own ways – and together as one – keep our community healthy and vital, worthy of its proud heritage, and thrilled by its bright future.”