TARRYTOWN, N.Y. - Hope is springing anew in 2016 for Westchester County’s four largest cities, as local leaders guide the Lower Hudson Valley toward an “unprecendented renaissance” that includes billions of dollars in downtown developments.
At the Business Council of Westchester’s annual KeyBank Speaker Series breakfast, the mayors from New Rochelle, White Plains, Yonkers and Mount Vernon served on a panel to discuss “Westchester’s Booming Urban Centers.”
During the discussion, the mayors each described their plans for the future of their city, which includes billions worth of proposed development. They explained to the capacity crowd that in an effort to attract Millennials and future professionals, cities of the future need to transition to become more transit-oriented, walkable, accessible and environmentally conscious.
“Our interests here are all aligned. If we can’t attract the next generation, we’re going to lose out to other up and coming cities around the country,” New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson said. “Cities are the right way to go. We need to create places our children and grandchildren can live”
In White Plains, Mayor Thomas Roach said that he has a vision of a multi-modal transportation-centered district. In recent years, in an effort to begin attracting new blood to the city, bicycle lanes and additional electric car charging stations have been installed when available. He has also brought the popular Zip Car service to White Plains.
“It’s all about walkability now, Millennials and seniors want to be in cities where they can walk from place to place and there is less reliability on cars,” he said. “People are going to see our city, and they’re going to want to come here. That’s our brand: attracting the people who want to live in a place like this.”
For Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, he said that it was up to the leaders in the community to court investors as they continue their ambitious development plans.
“It’s up to the mayors to go out and your developers and developments. It’s all about forming that connection and relationship so they know that someone is committed to leading the way,” he noted. “You have to secure someone with deep pockets who believes in you and will make an investment. That in turn will spurn more investors.
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas, now in his third week in his first term in office, acknowledged that Mount Vernon “has some catching up to do,” to catch up to his peers, but committed to following the suit of his neighbors’ successful ongoing developments.
“We’re putting in a capital plan that makes sense. We’re playing from behind, so we’re building from the ground up. We’re going to do what we can to make our city an attractive destination, and you can’t get that done without basics,” he said. “We’re not that far behind. We’re going to step back and show we have the leaders in place to reach our destination.”
Spano noted that while each mayor is keyed in on their city’s own developments and plans for the future, each of the municipalities was in it together in the long haul as they hope to attract the next generation.
“When the tide goes up in the harbor, all the boats rise,” Spano concluded. “That’s what we have going on with these four mayors in these four cities. We’re in this together.”
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