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I am voting for Joe Sack for Mayor and the All Rye ticket on November 7. I urge all of your readers to do the same.

Regarding Joe Sack, his contributions to Rye started many years ago. Like many parents, Joe started as coach — coaching baseball and basketball for his daughters’ teams. Wanting to do more, he served on the Rye Zoning Board of Appeals for three years. He was elected twice to the City Council, first in 2007, then again in 2011. Many people may not know or remember that when Joe was a Councilmember times were turbulent. The City saw several scandals unfold, including the theft and embezzlement at Rye Golf and city uniform bidding improprieties – both of which resulted in criminal charges. You only had to read the local papers to know something was very wrong in City Hall.

But when Joe was elected Mayor in 2013, all of that changed. Joe and the City Council, including his running mate Terry McCartney, got the Council off the front pages and returned to calmly and professionally attending to the city’s business. Just a few of their many accomplishments: the City Council, under Joe’s leadership, found an experienced and competent city manager and created the important position of Commissioner of Public Safety. In addition, he put the City’s interests first when he fought the County’s plans for redevelopment of Playland – even opposing a popular county executive from his own party. Lastly, Joe restored transparency and accountability at all levels of city government.

Joe brings over a decade of service and experience to the job. His opponent has never held elected office or even volunteered for one of Rye’s many commissions or boards. Now is not the time to experiment with an inexperienced mayor.

— Scott Beechert

The Rye Marina (the DePauw Municipal Boat Basin) is operated by the Boat Basin Commission, which operates in a manner similar to a private enterprise. This is how the Rye Golf Club is also run. There is no funding from the City of Rye. Its future is in jeopardy.

The Boat Basin Commission recently sent a letter to the City Council explaining that significant repairs are now required as the result of deferred maintenance. These repairs are the proper responsibility of the boat owners who moor their vessels at the Marina. The fees charged by the Marina are adequate to make these repairs without municipal funding.

The Commission, however, has been saddled with 100% of the cost of dredging the channel. This is an expense that cannot be sustained by private funding alone. Debris from Blind Brook flows into the Basin, and the channel needs to be dredged on a regular basis in order to remain navigable. If the channel is not dredged, the buildup of debris will eventually worsen the potential for flooding in the Milton Harbor and Blind Brook areas. The Rye Marine Police are also moored at the Marina, and would be unable to respond to rescue calls.

It is past time for the City of Rye to formulate a long-term plan for the continued operation of the Marina and dredging the Basin and Milton Harbor channel. We are requesting that the City Council look at ways to:

  1. Improve the revenue of the Marina while remaining competitive with other Marinas in the area.
  2. Review the expenses of the Marina and find ways to reduce them.
  3. Find another source of funds for dredging without having to rely completely on the Boat Basin Enterprise Fund, which derives its funds solely from slip fees.
  4. Consider hiring a consultant on marina management to advise on fiscal management.

We are not asking the taxpayers to subsidize the cost to boat owners. We are asking the City to recognize that there is a possible flooding threat to homes in the area, which may emerge if the Harbor is not properly maintained, and that it is their responsibility to address it. We are also concerned that, if the Marina is forced to close operations, not only will Rye lose a major asset, but the City taxpayers will also have to foot the bill to clean up what would become a dilapidated eyesore with no outside revenue to help.

— Harvey Geller

To: Rye City Council
From: Boat Basin Commissioners
Dear City Council,
Regarding the City of Rye Boat Basin – the current model is unsustainable and will leave taxpayers on the hook for a multi- million dollar clean-up and remediation bill if nothing changes.
The Boat Basin operates at a loss of approximately $280,000 to $300,000 each year. As you are aware this is primarily due to so called “non cash” depreciation charges of approximately $400,000.  However, there are ongoing maintenance (depreciation) costs of maintaining both the Milton Harbor channel (regular dredging) and the Boat Basin buildings, ramps, docks and equipment that have been neglected for many, many years. We are now at the point where the facility requires significant expenditures to rebuild and maintain in a safe, effective manner. The cost of fixing the problem significantly exceeds the approximate $900k balance in the Boat Basin’s enterprise fund.
The facility is in need of major repairs – Supervisor Hogben estimates repair costs for dock piling replacement at $215k; repair cost for main dock ramp and covered atrium at $68k; boat launch ramp extension at $120k; main dock float replacements at $200k; parking lot repair at $42k. This list doesn’t include future repairs for the main office or maintenance shed.  While some of these expenses can be deferred, many are overdue and safety will increasingly become an issue as the facility deteriorates.
We are behind the 8 ball on Dredging - Milton Harbor requires ongoing maintenance dredging to keep the channel clear of debris which accumulates each year.  A recent presentation to the Commission and the City Manager from consulting firm Coastline Consulting & Development estimated the cost of a comprehensive dredging program to remove 94,000 cubic yards would cost several million dollars. A smaller, maintenance level of dredging to remove 25k cubic yards would cost closer to one million dollars but would need to be repeated the following season to try and “catch up” on the required dredging.  The Army Core of Engineer permits to dredge were allowed to expire in 2015. The permitting process will take approximately 15 months, meaning the earliest we could dredge is in the Spring of 2019. In short, we are behind the 8 ball on dredging.
What happens if we don’t dredge the channel? The larger boats that pay higher slip fees are now unable to get in and out of the Boat Basin at or near low tide. This situation will get worse. These boats will go elsewhere and the revenues will decline causing the operating budget gap to widen. 

Expenses have increased dramatically - In the meantime, the City has increased the primary expense consisting if employee wages & benefits over 30% in the past two years from $238k in 2015 to $316k (estimated) in 2017.
If nothing is done the taxpayers will be on the hook for the costs of dismantling and cleaning up the Boat Basin. In conclusion, the Boat Basin realistically needs several million dollars to fix the facility, the docks and dredge the channel. If the larger boats leave and the revenues shrink the operation will sink under its own weight and the City of Rye taxpayer will be on the hook for a multi-million dollar dismantling and environmental cleanup of the Boat Basin, the docks and surrounding property.
Its time for the City of Rye to formulate a long term plan for the continued operation of the Boat Basin.  Do we really want to be the only municipality in the Western Long Island Sound that cannot manage a successful marina, public or private?

Sincerely

Commissioners



LETTERS

The Rye Record often publishes good writing, and frequently publishes <very> good writing — Paul Hicks, Bill Lawyer, and Arthur Stampleman come to mind as consistently strong contributors. But Annabel Monaghan’s column, “Paved Paradise” in the September 22 issue rises to the level of <great> writing and deserves to be recognized as such.

Bravo!

Jonathan Spitz

LETTERS

Rye is extremely lucky to have Sara Goddard running for City Council. Sara is an exemplary leader — hardworking, whip smart, thoughtful, and a consensus builder. She combines big-picture thinking with a willingness to dive into the sometimes tedious tasks actually required to get a job done, a rare combination.

As important, Sara’s decency and kindness are at the heart of her every decision. We desperately need more of that right now, and I am so grateful to her for entering the fray. Rye City Council will be lucky to get her.

Caroline Walker

By Emily Proskine Hurd and Danielle Tagger-Epstein

In recent months, Rye residents have been hearing and reading about the NYS Thruway Authority property, Disbrow Park, and DPW. We are glad people are paying attention, because the plan in its current form goes against Rye’s best interests.  

The property in question is the piece of land on the Boston Post Road across from Rye Country Day School. The City has eyed it for decades, both to use for recreation and to prevent unwanted development. However, the cost, $7.4 million, is prohibitive. Other projects — maintaining roads and buildings, improving existing playing fields, upgrading buildings at DPW, and paying for general City operations — take precedence.

Instead, last year, the City asked the State to sell the land to Rye Country Day with provision for sharing recreational use with Rye. RCDS generously offered to raise the necessary funds. NYS passed legislation to allow it, and it awaits the governor’s signature. For Rye, this is a great deal; we would get a playing field at no cost.

Yet this summer, in June, the Mayor and some Council members switched course and began secret efforts to possibly pursue moving DPW from Disbrow to the Thruway site. 

DPW facilities need updating. A Disbrow planning process has been underway. However, one of the proposed plans, moving DPW to the Thruway site, is simply unaffordable. Furthermore, it was conceived without analyzing the most economical way to add playing fields. It ignored the potentially enormous expense of the environmental remediation required to turn a DPW site into a safe playing field. Perhaps even more shockingly, it ignored the cost of buying and developing a new DPW site. This plan would cost $50 million dollars or more. To put this in perspective, the biggest City borrowing in the last 20 years was $4.1 million to modernize a firehouse.

And it would give us only one additional field. If RCDS buys, develops, and shares the property, we would get one additional field plus a track – for $0.

When they understood this, residents objected vociferously. In response, Mayor Sack and Councilman McCartney backtracked, saying, “We are keeping all options open.” Instead of moving on to realistic alternatives, they accused the plan’s critics of partisanship. Instead of acting with the transparency residents deserve (and NYS law requires) they have continued to pursue this plan with closed-door conversations and secret actions.

In June, Mayor Sack asked the Governor to veto the Assembly bill allowing RCDS to buy the land. He did this behind the backs of at least some City Council members, in violation of our City Charter. It also went against Rye’s best interests, as it could cause a return to the original plan of selling the land to the highest bidder.

Worse, the Mayor has discussed with the Mayor of Port Chester a joint DPW facility at the Thruway site. He did not disclose this to the rest of the Council or the public. Only when we asked did we learn that the discussion had taken place, and that Sack, through the City Manager, had helped Port Chester send its own letter to the Governor requesting a veto of the legislation allowing the land sale. This letter mentioned Rye, Port Chester, and Rye Brook sharing the site for their DPWs.

To do this behind the backs of City Council members, in violation of the City Charter, and without extensive analysis of its potential effects, shows disregard for proper decision-making and breathtakingly poor judgment.

It is futile to keep saying, “We are considering all options,” rather than admitting that moving DPW is unaffordable and unwise. When a plan is glaringly wrong it is time to drop it and move on.