Barnes & Noble Coming to New Rochelle!

Noble“When can we get a book store in New Rochelle?”  For twenty years, I have heard that question from countless residents, and I’ve never had a good answer . . . until now.

Barnes & Noble is coming to New Rochelle.

Their new 9,000 square foot store (complete with a Starbucks cafe) will open in New Roc City this fall.  Here’s a full press release.

Big thanks are in order for Monroe College, which has partnered with Barnes & Noble to make this happen.

Of course, no single store can transform an entire commercial area.  Achieving our vision for downtown New Rochelle will require patience, persistence, and many other investments and openings.  But this sure helps!

 

New Rochelle’s Finances in Good Shape

DollarsNew Rochelle’s latest independent financial audit is – without a doubt – the most upbeat we’ve received since the onset of the Great Recession.

The City’s revenues last year exceeded projections by about $3.7 million, while our expenditures came in under budget by about $3.6 million.  Together these positive variances contributed to a surging fund balance of more than $13 million – a significant financial cushion that will help stabilize our fiscal health going forward.

Here’s the full report.

Also of note is the City’s historically low debt level.  At $62.6 million, total government debt is the smallest it’s been in at least a generation and only about half of what it was just ten years ago.

These figures, combined with today’s exceptionally low interest rates, suggest that this is a particularly good time to invest in infrastructure and long-term capital assets.  The City Council is committed to this priority, and I expect that our 2017 budget will feature a new, more ambitious capital budget framework.

The usual (and important) caveats apply.  Like all cities, New Rochelle continues to face long-term fiscal pressures.  Many vital investments and services remain underfunded.  And, of course, many taxpayers are strained to the limit.  For these reasons and others, economic growth and business development remain absolutely essential priorities.

But having coming through the dark fiscal tunnel of the recession and its aftermath, it’s a big relief to emerge finally into the sunshine.

Volunteer in New Ro

VolunteerNY LogoNew Rochelle is partnering with Volunteer New York to make it easier than ever for residents to donate energy and talent to worthwhile local needs and organizations.

In addition to launching this New Rochelle-specific web portal with lots of opportunities to get involved, Volunteer New York is also working with local not-for-profits so they can take full advantage of a regional volunteer network.

There’s more in this press release.

Volunteerism helps to better connect us with our neighbors, while addressing real community needs — and almost all of us have the capacity to contribute in some way to the common good.

Please take a moment to explore the new web portal and find out about local volunteer opportunities.   Then let’s all work together to make our community even stronger.

MTA Capital Plan is Big News for New Rochelle and Westchester

Train StationTry not to fall asleep while reading the next sentence.  The State’s Capital Plan Review Board has given the go-ahead to the MTA to proceed with a package of large regional transit improvements.

Yes.  I know that sounds like bureaucratic gobbledygook – but, in fact, the right response to the news is not to snore; it’s to cheer . . . and loudly.  Because contained within the MTA’s now-approved $27 billion long-term capital plan is new, direct service to Penn Station via Metro-North’s New Haven line.

That’s a huge deal for commuters along the Westchester Sound Shore and in Connecticut.  And it’s an even huger (if that’s a word) deal for New Rochelle.  Why?  Because the split in the rail line leading either to Grand Central or Penn Station is located right around Webster Avenue in New Rochelle — meaning that when this new service is introduced, New Rochelle will have the closest station to New York City with direct access to both the east and west sides of Manhattan.

The City put this unique distinction front-and-center in our successful effort to attract a master developer for our downtown, and it continues to be a major talking point as we bring new investment to New Rochelle.

There is an important caveat.  The connection won’t be completed until 2022 at the earliest.  But that’s not so far away.  And with this recent approval, the uncertainty surrounding the project is largely swept away.  This is going to happen, and it’ll be a big boost for our city and region.

Read all about it in the Journal News.