The New Rochelle City Council heard at a recent meeting options for the disposition of the Department of Public Works facility on East Main Street.
At issue is whether the city wants to approve financing to move the yard to city-owned property on Beechwood Avenue, renovate and modernize the current location or put off any action which would cancel proposed plans for the development of Echo Bay.
If the city were to build a new facility on Beechwood, it would cost $18.6 million, according to figures presented at the council meeting. Built into that is $2 million in contingency costs.
That figure is up from a previously estimated $14 million.
The Department of Development has estimated that it would cost $24.4 million—including $4.5 million in contingency costs—to modernize the current City Yard.
Not doing anything for three years—in other words, deferring the job, but losing the possibility of developing Echo Bay—would cost the city $21.4 million.
Factored into that number is over $1.7 million in inflation, estimated at 3 percent per year, and $600,000 in short-term costs from emergency repairs and salt loss.
Mayor Noam Bramson said a real pocketbook choice the council has to make is whether to finance the project by having the taxpayers pay the entire amount or to reduce taxpayers costs through a private-public partnership with the Forest City Residential development team.
The developer proposes to build 200-300 residential units at what is now City Yard on East Main Street with up to 50,000 square feet of retail space.
A key component of any agreement to develop Echo Bay would be helping to offset the cost of moving the public works department's facilities.
Under a development agreement, the city could receive $15.8 million over 20 years in permit and other fees, payment in lieu of taxes, refuse fees and sales and utility taxes.
It the project is completed, Echo Bay could also bring in over $24 million in revenue to the county and the library.
The agreement with Forest City regarding the schools is that they will pay all projected school costs, based on 22 projected students and marginal per pupil expenses of $17,500, which would increase 2.5 percent annually.
"That is way Echo Bay is relevant to the project," Bramson said.
Mayor Noam Bramson was clear on what he thought was the best approach.
"In my opinion, the evidence argues strongly in favor of relocating our public works yard and that doing so would benefit the city from a fiscal economic and planning perspective," he said.
"Among the worst decisions in the history of New Rochelle would be to modernize the City Yard on the site on East Main," he said. "It would be throwing tens of millions of taxpayer dollars into the garbage can."
Bramson said moving the yard to Beechwood Avenue and improving Echo Bay by a developer would be much better for the city and its residents.
"It would have a better bottom line and make a stronger economy," he said.
Property on Beechwood Avenue, which is zoned for light industrial use, was selected years ago, Bramson said, after a search of the entire community and was determined to be the most viable location from an operational and fiscal perspective.
Bramson said it was likely the council will select one of the options at its next meeting Nov. 16.