Issuu on Google+ Vol. 15/Number 7 Council considers armory options By ALEXANDRA BOGDANOVIC STAFF REPORTER The New Rochelle Armory saga isn’t over yet. At its March 12 meeting, the City Council began hashing out what to do with the former armory building on Main Street now that a deal with the Westchester-based Good Profit group has fallen through. Good Profit had successfully submitted a proposal for the adaptive reuse of the building last year. But the plan, which called for the creation of an indoor farmers market and eateries at the armory, came to a screeching halt when Good Profit failed to submit a signed Letter of Agreement to the city by the end of last month. “I asked the Commissioner of Development to come up with a list of options for the armory-to look at this with a new set of eyes and a different perspective-just to facilitate the discussion,” City Manager Chuck Strome told the council. Having followed those marching orders, Commissioner Luiz Aragon briefed the council on several options. He said the armory site is important and that it must be marketed properly. “We need to attract developers to do what we want to have done,” Aragon said. “The burden is on us.” Past requests for proposal have garnered limited response, Aragon said. Only two organizations, the Good Profit group and a local veterans group, submitted proposals for the adaptive reuse of the building in response to the last RFP. Aragon said that “begs a question” about how the city is framing the requests. The council now has a few decisions to make, Aragon said. It can continue the existing RFP process and negotiate with the veterans group, which wants to turn the building into a performing arts center, or it can extend the deadline and ask the veterans group and Good Profit to resubmit amended proposals. In either case, the council would still have a limited number of proposals from which to choose, Aragon said. The council could also restart the RFP process with new and different parameters, or it could solicit “expressions of interest.” “You can ask people to come forward with ideas,” Aragon said. “With those ideas, you could decide how to move forward and get a larger picture of what you want to do.” Aragon and Strome said seeking expressions of interest is less restrictive than the RFP process and ARMORY, continued on page 4 March 29 & April 5, 2013 Sound Shore marks St. Paddy’s Teachers’ pensions driving cost in school budget By ALEXANDRA BOGDANOVIC STAFF REPORTER A dramatic increase in the New Rochelle City School District’s contribution to teachers’ pensions is a key factor in a proposed budget for the 2013-2014 school year, according to Assistant Superintendent of Schools John B. Quinn. The $238 million spending plan proposed by Superintendent of Schools Richard Organisciak reflects a 1.69 percent increase in expenditures over the 2012-2013 budget approved by New Rochelle voters last May. If approved, the budget would result in a 4.49 percent tax rate increase. At the Board of Education’s March 14 budget meeting, Quinn began his presentation by reviewing the “expenditure variances” that account for the 1.69 percent spending increase. While doing so, he pointed out a $625,000 decrease in the district’s debt service, a $545,000 decrease in contract expense, and a $580,000 decrease in special education tuition. But even when coupled with other reductions in the proposed budget, that cannot make up for the $4.7 million increase in the district’s contributions to the Teacher Retirement System for 2013-14, Quinn said. “That is the 3,000 pound gorilla in the room–it is higher than the whole [budget to budget spending increase],” Quinn said, noting that the jump in TRS contributions alone reflects a 2 percent spending increase. “Even with cost savings, it BUDGET, continued on page 8 New Ro police protest lack of contract, manpower By ALEXANDRA BOGDANOVIC STAFF REPORTER The City Council has some decisions to make about the long dormant armory. Photo/Alexandra Bogdanovic The city’s “finest” are not happy. At the March 12 City Council meeting, New Rochelle police protested about both reductions in manpower and the ongoing lack of a contract. “You’ve said you’re proud of the police department, but we’re increasingly concerned about the failure to reach a contract,” Ray Andolino, president of the New Rochelle Police Association, told the council. “We’ve been without a contract for four years.” Andolino also said experienced police officers can’t be replaced, and that further reductions in manpower would be “irresponsible.” “The practice of balancing the budget on our back must end,” Andolino said. Although the department’s morale is at an “all time low,” the union’s resolve is strong, Andolino added. He wasn’t alone. Neil Reynolds is president of the New Rochelle Superior Officers Association, which represents the department’s sergeants, lieutenants and captains. He urged the council to “hire more cops.” “These are dedicated professionals who care about this city and its residents,” Reynolds said. “We’ve been working without a contract, and we want to come to an agreement. All we want is a fair, equitable contract. Don’t let New Rochelle get caught short.” The occasion marked the second POLICE, continued on page 4

The Report, 3-29-2013

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