It is recognized though rarely mentioned that the City of Yonkers (CoY) is a diamond in the rough. Yonkers is by every measure the centerpiece of the county. Yet when measured against the barometer of median wealth, it is outdistanced by most of Westchester County. Juxtaposed to that measurement, CoY is sought after by every retailer for its very location, location, location aspect, and every imaginable developer, for one reason or another. The very promise diversity of people inspire has languished mostly because the battles that have been fought to dominate the City of Hills have exhausted CoY’s ability to wrestle control of her destiny, often by bullying tactics that have shunned Yonkersites alike, no matter their innate capacity to excel beyond the opportunities in which they are permitted to engage. Lest anyone infer this conundrum of capacity for excellence and outcome is a recent environment of acknowledged malaise, study has proven the dilemma has exhausted CoY for some seven decades. A collective resurgent individual effort in search of doable vision worthy of attaining success and direction still eludes the city once referred, “The City of Gracious Living”. Such attributes were the “top” accolade of its time. They were gained with sweat and toil mostly by an immigrant population who created a robust sense of self acknowledgement throughout the metropolitan region that presently languishes in the minds of those old enough to remember or history buffs that yearn to appreciate the wealth of history and the contributions the City of Yonkers made over four centuries; laudable at the very least. The crossroads yearning for better can be afforded every Yonkersite the potential to create rather than replicate the past, indeed exceed in time with a vigorous, enterprising, cultural, redefinition of CoY. The history and the present attest to the delineation above. All required now is the engine to kick start the process. It is easier than most would imagine. In fact, it has stood openly camouflaged before us; to this day unseen.
It is the engine that will bring purpose to Yonkers once it is adopted. It will redefine bond-ratings based on verified standards rather than superficial hopes. It will create the gravitas that has for too long eluded Yonkers. It will mitigate the loquacious promises of “so-called” developers who stand cup in hand for a piece of the taxpayer’s largesse in Albany or the Yonkers IDA, who are otherwise incapable of moving forward with their “plan”. Truth be told, those “so-called” developers don’t have a pot to piss in; if they had, they would have begun the projects they assert they can complete. The promise of construction jobs, the rebuilding of a school infrastructure, the complimentary demand to invest in CoY eclipses every other concept brought forward to date. In fact, the project will heal the wounds between union membership and Yonkers City Hall, drive educational excellence, move Yonkersites up the economic ladder, bring an even greater sense of community and neighborhood culture, as well as an easier load for mitigating police work. This program will reassert the long lost commitment Yonkersites must make to the Yonkers Police Department, the Yonkers Fire Department, the Department of Public Works, the CSEA workers who remain the backbone to the Yonkers Board of Education, and the SEIU workers. Lest anyone believe this editorial will prove itself a panacea to that ailing Yonkers, think again. However, be assured the mechanism to kick start Yonkers toward a doable imprint that will draw people to consider Yonkers as the alternative to Brooklyn, Hoboken, Austin or elsewhere, can be accomplished and done so within no longer than six-months duration for its very adoption. Just recognizing the “miracle” it embodies is awesone.
The effort will only gain support and bring about a doable outcome if it is shared honestly and openly with Yonkersites; that is, gaining counsel expert at such concerns, with no familial ties to those in office and/or related to those in office. The focus must be to gain “trust” by working on maintaining the transparency of purpose and affordability. What is that kick-starter? It is the Public Private Partnership for Education (P3forE). The P3forE concept has the private sector making the investment for the cost of the project that needs to be paid off over time. At issue is only whether the P3forE debt can be paid over a a financial term commensurate with CoY’s ability to pay. That can be worked out. The size of the build out is only based on whether the debt service can be managed by CoY.
P3forE is a long-standing concept that brings together the public sector (the People, that is, Yonkersites), represented by Mayor Mike Spano, the Executive branch of office), and the Yonkers City Council (the legislative branch of government), with the private sector (financial institutions) to build and rebuild a school infrastructure (school buildings) that must be as modern and relevant to those in the field know to build. The buildings must include the appropriate wiring for Internet and other electricity based concepts, build out that incorporates expected increases in student registration populations, and most importantly, a bond to support the project structure for a 50 to 75 year term as debt payment is made over a likely 25 years term. Such a beginning should also spur a beginning that builds at minimum one school in ever council district to reduce busing costs and time to get to and from one’s home to the school and back. Adopting a P3forE program must incorporate the building of a four-year state endorsed university aligned with the New York State sponsored StartUp program that permits business investment in Yonkers relieved of paying state taxes for 10 years, but only in an area with a school of higher learning; a requirement demanded by the business inducement program. Even without the StartUp program, the fourth largest ciy in the state needs a school of higher learning.
A good friend suggested transforming the former Homes for America building becoming a Pre-K center. Pre-K is funded for only a half-day in Yonkers. While the need for full day is required, perhaps the second half of the day may need to be overseen by volunteers. Difficult times require volunteerism. Let’s not forget it IS all about “our” children. Besides, volunteerism can be managed so people need only offer an hour or two a week.
The task may seem daunting, but it is not. The task is doable. Yonkersites have the heart; we only lead the leadership to get us there. This plan is commensurate with serving the viability of a great city with specific needs. Graft of any kind must be ostracized; accomplished by total transparency. And lastly, the old guard that has brought Yonkers to her knees over the many years of corruption under their watch and over which few state or county departments have delved to correct it maligned outcome must be supplanted with credible experts who are willing to share their knowledge for the benefit of the City of Yonkers’ benefit. The time is now. Let’s do it.
Remember that the strife, bigotry, stress, animosity, nepotism, patronage, and graft revolves about only one thing; survival. Survival can only be accomplished by earning a living. P3forE will begin the process of reviving the cachet long ago lost to the bickering, finger-pointing antics of those wanting only to carve a larger piece of the pie for themselves. The $1 billion plus budget of the City of Yonkers must be managed to produce a return commensurate with and even exceeding the investment made over many years by Yonkersites. Do you agree? If there is another option, I would like to hear it. It is time Yonkersites speak their mind in name or anonymously to return CoY to a balanced frame of mind and purpose. If there is a better way to resuscitate a city yearning for more, please share it online. Let everyone know your thoughts; don’t just share your brilliant concepts among a few friends and associates. That hasn’t worked.
I beseech you to engage in the discourse. If City Hall and the Yonkers City Council can’t come to terms with the reality Yonkers presently faces, public input will help guide the process toward enlightening those demanded to serve the public interest. I’ve rolled up my sleeves. Please do likewise. Let’s get it done!