A plan to tear down the New Rochelle Boys & Girls Club building at 116 Guion Place and build a new club along with a parking garage and 179-unit affordable apartment building drew some expressions of concern, along with plenty of support, from some residents at last night’s meeting of the New Rochelle Planning Board. The project is being proposed by the NRP Group along with 64 Lincoln Ave., Kensworth Consulting and the Boys & Girls Club.
One issue discussed was where the estimated 150 youngsters who regularly use the existing facility would go during the construction period. In addition, some felt that the project would bring an end to their use of the existing open space on the proposed project’s site.
Attorney Janet Giris of the White Plains-based law firm DelBello Donnellan Weingarten Wise & Wiederkehr LLP explained that there are 3.2 acres, which include approximately one acre where the Lincoln Towers building at 64 Lincoln Ave. is situated. That acre would be “carved off.”
“The remainder of the property, a portion of which is currently developed with the existing Boys & Girls Club, will be redeveloped,” she said. “The property will continue to comply in all aspects with the zoning ordinance.” She referred to the project as a public-private partnership.
Three new structures are proposed for the site – the apartment building, a parking garage and the new Boys & Girls Club. Lutonya Russell-Humes, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club, said, “The expectation is that the build will take anywhere from 18 to 24 months and that the Boys & Girls Club building itself will be built simultaneously with other parts of the project. As a result of that, we will relocate programming for our participants until the site itself is deemed safe for kids to return to the new building.”
One of the several residents who spoke, Sharon Footes said, “It is not OK for 18 to 24 months for these children being shuttled elsewhere. That is two school years, that is two summers, and that is two school years and two summers too many. These kids should be looked at like as being the issue and displacing these children for 18 to 24 months is absolutely absurd.”
Minister Mark McLean, branch president of the NAACP in New Rochelle said, “I realize there are some concerns and fears. Wherever there is change and progress, there is some concern and pain. But I think that pain is worth it for the payoff of having this wonderful project come into fruition and I 100% support the project.”
Architect David Gross, founding partner of GF55 Partners of New York City, said that the plan calls for the new Boys & Girls Club to be built closer to the Prince Street side of the property than is the current one.
“Our plan is to move it forward, make it prominent, more visually attractive, and put the parking (garage) between the Boys & Girls Club and the new apartment building.” He said decorative panels would be used on the exterior of the garage.
“It’s hard to make a 65-foot parking garage playful, but we’re working on that.”