New Rochelle Mayor Delivers Emotional, Hopeful Final State of The City
New Rochelle Mayor Delivers Emotional, Hopeful Final State of The City

New Rochelle Mayor Delivers Emotional, Hopeful Final State of The City

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — In a sometimes emotional speech on Thursday, Mayor Noam Bramson took time during his final State of the City address to reflect on his nearly three-decade-long tenure leading the city.

Bramson, who announced last year he would not seek reelection, was visibly stirred as he recalled his 18 years as New Rochelle mayor and 10 years on the city council before that, but it was his greatest challenge as the city’s highest elected official that elicited one of the most poignant moments of the evening.

The mayor spoke with a mix of pride and sorrow as he remembered the trials faced by the community as the spotlight turned to New Rochelle and a global pandemic first showed signs of changing our lives forever.

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“Briefly the epicenter of the outbreak, the eyes of the world upon us, and then for month after month – longer than any of us could have imagined – joining all Americans and people across the globe in making our way through a crisis like no other,” Bramson said. “And yet for all the pain and loss, affecting each of us to greater or lesser degrees, and some in ways that are still unmeasured, my primary feeling is one of gratitude for the strength and resilience of our community, and the spirit of common purpose with which we confronted such an overwhelming challenge.”

He pointed out that this was the first in-person, State of the City address, since before the COVID-19 virus landed on our shores and in our city more than three years ago.

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Bramson spoke with the same passion looking forward as he did recounting his time in office and the all too fresh public health crisis.

Proclaiming New Rochelle’s recent economic boom, Bramson announced that the city is “the fastest growing in New York, enjoying a wave of investment and confidence unlike anything in a century.”

Bramson noted that 25 significant downtown projects were either completed or under construction.

“As our region and state grapple with an acute housing shortage,” Bramson told the gathered dignitaries. “New Rochelle is more than doing its part; we are setting the pace.”

Bramson highlighted the benefits of what he referred to as a “transit-oriented development strategy.” The mayor said the city has seen thousands of new jobs, hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue, and all-time high local sales, topping $1.5 billion, as a result.

“These dollars are reinvested in community needs, from youth programming to park master plans, from flood mitigation to public safety, while moderating the demands placed on our taxpayers,” Bramson said.

But the man who has helped to usher in New Rochelle’s development boom, said that the city’s non-commercial progress is perhaps even more important.

“We’re creating new public spaces where we can gather, celebrate, run and play, or simply enjoy the open water and sky,” Bramson said. “New plazas at Clinton Park and Anderson Place open to everyone. Pratt Landing bringing public access to the East Main waterfront for the first time in any of our lives. The Linc reshaping half of Memorial Highway into a linear park. A bold transformative vision, and the most ambitious expansion of open space in generations.”

Bramson said he is especially proud of New Rochelle’s commitment to environmental sustainability, including a comprehensive update of GreeNR, New Rochelle’s award-winning sustainability plan and “generational investments in infrastructure,” including a city-wide storm analysis, a new Public Works Operations Center, and greater budgets for road repair, resurfacing, and safety.

Bramson praised the work of municipal departments, singling out New Rochelle first responders, who have helped bring the city’s crime rate to a near 60-year-low, while answering thousands of calls for service with dedication and professionalism.

Bramson affirmed New Rochelle’s “unshakable, enduring commitment to inclusion and equity,” noting especially the city’s creation of new affordable housing and expanded youth programming.

“I have spoken tonight primarily of change – dramatic change in so many aspects of our city. And yet there are some things, thank goodness, that do not, should not, must not change,” Bramson averred. “The through-line, the constant, during a period otherwise defined by growth and evolution, has been our unshakable commitment to inclusion and equity. We reject hatred and bigotry in all its forms, we affirm everyone’s right to be who they are, we embrace waves of immigrants as our own. We celebrate our diversity, knowing that all of us are enriched and ennobled by it.”

The mayor said there is much more that can be accomplished on this front.

“Love of country or community, pride in country or community, does not require willful blindness to its flaws and failures,” he said. “Quite the opposite. True love seeks to repair what is broken, to heal what is wounded, to lift our reality until it reaches the height of our ideals. Not the weak tea of tolerance. Love is stronger, demanding more and giving more.”

While Bramsom said the leaving the job he loves is bittersweet, he is convinced that the future looks bright as he prepared to hand over the reins for the first time in recent memory.

“The state of our city is strong,” concluded Bramson. “It will be for others to shape our future, to take our hard-earned progress, our newfound capacity and resources and momentum, and apply them to fresh goals,” Mayor Bramson said. “But I take great satisfaction in knowing that our city – like a ship swift and sure – is ready to go boldly and in full sail to any shore we choose.”

Mayor Noam Bramson’s full State of the City address can be viewed here.

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