“Yonkers is undergoing an economic renaissance with more than $1 billion in development under way. According to the city’s Department of Planning and Development, Yonkers has more than 5,000 multi-family residential units recently completed, under construction and approved for development. The city’s hotel market is also booming with approximately 1,200 rooms. Since 2012, the Department of Planning and Development has been responsible for winning 13 grants valued at more than $10 million and has administered a total of more than $40 million of existing grants during the past four years.”
Mayor Mike Spano has saturated the media with the latest version of his Yonkers branding efforts, “Generation Yonkers,” which seeks “to reposition Yonkers as the next great urban frontier.”
This year in his State of the City address, Mayor Mike Spano espoused that there are 5,000 units of housing under construction and in a previous year told us there was $1 billion dollars in new construction coming our way. He challenged us to drive around Yonkers and see all the “marvelous” things that were and are happening! It all sounds good and can be used by the Mayor as a puff-piece but what of these tales he tells?
Have you taken that drive the Mayor suggested? I have, and I still see roads that need to be resurfaced, sidewalks that need replacing, parks that need refurbishing, not to mention the trash. In their Comprehensive Housing Market Analysis, HUD estimates that there are 12,000 vacant housing units in Westchester and that does not include the below market units HUD is requiring Westchester to build. So why will 5,000 new residents flock to Yonkers?
Oh, there was that article that appeared in the New York Times, “Downtown Yonkers: A Cleaner, Greener Place to Call Home”. Those of us who live here know this will represent just a very small portion of our population. While the author was honest in her writing about the school system and danced by the issue of crime, I wonder if she drove along the ribbon known as South Broadway? Riverdale Avenue?
Spano told us, “Believe that our streets will be safe.” Although ComStat says crime is down nine percent, we true believers know otherwise.
“Often referred to as the City of Hills, Yonkers has long had a Jekyll-and-Hyde quality to it. There are those who sit atop its many hills and those who dwell at the bottom – affluence amidst poverty, abundance alongside want…at the bottom of the hill and away from the slick media marketing campaigns, there is a different city, one short on optimism and opportunity” ~ The 461 Riverdale Ave. Tenants’ Association
We all received a copy of our tax bill within the last month and upon examination recognizedthat more than fifty percent goes to a failing school system. In the near future that portion of the bill will increase significantly as we homeowners have to pay for the bonding of new school construction.
The “balancing” of the budget has come with the increase in hidden fees, anticipated sales and hotel taxes and engineers telling us we need water and sewer line insurance. So what happens if the revenue does not materialize? And wait until you see your next water bill!
We are a city marching in place; we have no new sustainable revenue for at least five years (maybe) and if all pegs don’t fall into place this year, we could be faced with a $78 million short fall. So I ask the question, “how long before we become one city, short on optimism?”
Theodore William Schultz, whose influential studies of the role of “human capital”—education, talent, energy, and will—in economic development won him a share of the 1979 Nobel Prize for Economics said, “If you don’t grow, you die.”