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Gigabit Westchester $750M Project Aims To Advance Four Cities, And More

White Plains Mayor Tom Roach, center, at last week's Westchester County Association news conference. WCA President William Mooney Jr. and three other city mayors are standing right of Roach
White Plains Mayor Tom Roach, center, at last week's Westchester County Association news conference. WCA President William Mooney Jr. and three other city mayors are standing right of Roach Photo Credit: Jon Craig

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- While four cities were showcased during a news conference Thursday announcing a new smart high-technology growth initiative with the Westchester County Association, the $750 million project ultimately will benefit all county residents, a WCA official said on Tuesday.

Joan McDonald, strategic advisor for The Blueprint for Smart Growth, said, "We think the good starting point is with the four cities. . . . We are, of course, open to all towns and villages in Westchester in making this a big success."

McDonald, former state Commissioner of the Department of Transportation, was reacting to Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino's comments that the project should benefit all county residents -- not just those living or working in White Plains, New Rochelle, Mount Vernon and Yonkers.

Several town and village officials echoed Astorino's views about what's become dubbed "Gigabit Westchester."

Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner told Daily Voice he has written WCA President William Mooney Jr. to express his concerns.

"Although I am excited with this new initiative, I’m extremely disappointed that Greenburgh was not included in the list of communities involved," Feiner wrote. "Greenburgh is the largest town in Westchester. In fact, we’re larger than some of the cities. We have a very large business community on Central Ave, Route 119, Saw Mill River Road. Have two major bio tech corridors -- including the headquarters of Regeneron and Acorda. Have numerous hotels. I hope that the Westchester County Association will consider adding Greenburgh to the list of communities involved in this initiative."

On Thursday, Mooney said that in the coming months, WCA will be working with Westchester's four largest cities to assess their current infrastructure, needs and aspirations. “The key is to involve everyone; this is about our entire community and everyone in that community," Mooney said.

Mayors from Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, White Plains and Yonkers have agreed to sign a "Smart City ComPACT" and, as a first step, work with the WCA to bring gigabit broadband to every household, business, healthcare facility and educational institution within three to five years.

In addition to Feiner, mayors from Harrison, Mamaroneck and Port Chester told Daily Voice their communities could benefit from participation in WCA's Smart Growth initiatives.

Port Chester Mayor Dennis Pilla said, "Gigabit broadband would be an enabler to attract new tech businesses. I think it would be strategic for Port Chester to investigate this smart city compact."

Pilla added,  "Small startups and the 'creative class,' that is, young educated workers, are seeking to live and work in more urban environments where there are 'experiences' and things to do. That describes Port Chester to a tee."

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