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How dreadful an idea to move Rye’s Department of Public Works to property on Boston Post Road across from Rye Country Day School, which is a beautifully set facility of learning and preparation for life for many young people.

We have all seen what the State of New York DPW does to property on and off the interstates where they need to store equipment and material for their million dollar projects; no thought for the landscape or the vista of drivers.

The residents of northeastern Rye (Hillside, Grandview, Evergreen) have their hands full trying to fight off the traffic incursion to be generated by the redevelopment of the former United Hospital property, and now they are having their backside truly dismantled with a DPW field office and storage lot.

I’m sure the Mayor and the City Council understands how wrong an idea this plan is.

An alternative would be to build a service road, a back door so to speak, from the DPW along the west side of the wetlands to Playland Parkway to be used during the work week by commercial and employee vehicles. It would have to be gated and restricted in its use for the sake of the residents living adjacent to the property.

Then over time, Disbrow Park and the DPW can go their separate ways — one to Oakland Beach Avenue and the other to Playland Parkway and I-95 — at a minimum of expense.

— Tim Harvey

Diminishing Downtown Business Community

<The following letter was sent to Mayor Joe Sack and forwarded to the paper for publication.>

My name is Caroline Schneider and I own a store in downtown Rye called Lola. We have been on Purchase Street for over 12 years.

We have watched our business diminish considerably due to both external factors (the Internet), as well as more local issues (disappearing shoppers, parking spaces). This is clearly not unique as we watch neighbors shutter their stores.

If we are to curtail this trend, I think it is critical that Rye take an active role in creating a more user-friendly retail environment, and would welcome the opportunity to speak with you about this.

I am also forwarding a recent article posted by LoHud, as Rye is not unique in this situation, and I think it important that the community gets involved.

— Caroline Schneider

The City of Rye has just gone through great effort to beautify the cityscape with the road and sidewalk improvements in the Central Business District along Purchase Street. However, an eyesore remains in our downtown: the open area next to Peachwave.

Who has responsibility for maintaining this area? Whoever it is, gets an “F”. Why is our City government not addressing this eyesore? If the landlord is responsible, fine them for not maintaining the property.

Why did we spend a great deal of money to improve the appearance of our downtown and allow this eyesore to exist a few blocks away?

— Jim O’Neill

This afternoon, in a moment of quiet at work, I snuck a quick peek at my personal email and noticed one from the city of Rye titled: AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM MAYOR JOE SACK. The all caps subject line was click bait; I couldn’t resist. 

I wish I had. I really didn’t need the cortisol spike.

In a nutshell, the mayor used a publicly owned communications channel to launch into a very personal attack on a fellow public servant, Assemblyman Steve Otis. He clearly wanted to share his opinion of the back-and-forth over the Disbrow Park initiative (and related purchase of public land across from Rye Country Day School). Unfortunately, any message he hoped to convey was obscured by vitriol and character assignations. To have our mayor use a public channel to conduct such a personal attack is absolutely disgraceful. 

The fact is, communication from the mayor about the Disbrow Park initiative (and related purchase of public land across from Rye Country Day) has been spotty at best. I am floored he felt slinging mud at a fellow public servant would be more productive than calling the community to an open forum in which we could all discuss the matter more productively.

We as a community deserve a more civil (and sane) level of discourse. People are going to disagree on things from time to time — that’s life. But if we cannot — or will not — find ways to discuss differences without resorting to personal below-the-belt blows, we all lose.

Mayor Sack ought to be ashamed of himself. He owes a huge apology to his constituents for violating their trust and to Assemblyman Otis for maligning his character.

— Sarah Welch

Glad to know about the [reopening] of PepsiCo Gardens, as reported in The Rye Record (July 14, 2017). Just wanted to clarify that the Frick garden that Russell Page designed is the one to the east of the house, and its formal name is the 70th Street Garden. The article in The Record cites the one on Fifth Avenue, which is the older one, from the period of family residence and the 1930s, and was never part of the building project plan that has since been shelved. (Some newspapers two years ago referenced the wrong one, hence the confusion perhaps).

I just thought to share this information in case Rye readers come down to see it. The two gardens at the Frick are quite different, and I want to be sure they know which one to seek out if looking for Russell Page’s work.

— Heidi Rosenau, Associate Director of Media Relations & Marketing, The Frick Collection

Moving the Department of Public Works to the Boston Post Road, across from the Rye Country Day School playing fields, may be an excellent idea. In the early surveys it is an outstanding favorite. If so, the concept will stand up to a thorough community discussion that could involve some of the following questions:

This move might well be the largest capital expense the City has ever undertaken. It also might well raise our City borrowing to the highest level ever reached. How does this fit in the City’s annual capital plan? Assuming this capital project proceeds, what effect would this expense have on the City’s other capital needs? Would the money be better spent on resurfacing roads, on repaving the Metro-North parking plaza, on building sidewalks, on reducing pollution flowing into Long Island Sound?

Moving the DPW to this new location would impact significantly on the Boston Post Road, where the City for generations has discouraged development, and locate it on a major gateway to Rye, another subject of long-term protection. Are we ready to commit to this at this time?

Does the whole City population benefit from this largest-ever expenditure? Or is the benefit limited to certain groups?

Is there a study of existing field utilization? Could existing playing field capacity be increased by converting more fields to turf?

In simple terms, maybe the most important question is: How many new playing fields would be created by moving the DPW facilities against how much will this cost? What is in effect the cost per field?

Again, moving the DPW to the Boston Post Road may be the best move the City can make. But let’s take the time to examine it thoroughly.

Edward B. Dunn

(The author served as Rye’s Mayor from 1993-1997 and on the City Council from 1991-1993.)

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