banner1gif.gif

 

By Bill Lawyer

Back in 2006, Westchester County applied for a federal grant to enhance the ways people could get to Playland Amusement Park if walking or biking from the Rye train station. It would also provide people with an enjoyable way to walk or ride safely just for the fun or fitness of it.

The $2 million pathway project grant called for a 2.65-mile walking and biking path that began from the start of Theodore Fremd Avenue to where the current pathway begins, on the east side of Boston Post Road. From there it would proceed parallel to the Parkway all the way to the Playland entrance.

The enhanced parkway would be a vast improvement from the existing one, which is an uneven blacktop path frequently narrower than two feet wide. The new one would be eight feet wide, properly graded, and handicap-accessible.

It would also include a bridge across Blind Brook for pedestrian safety, along with the planting of shrubs and other plants (let’s hope deer-resistant varieties).

The County’s proposal was approved, a contract was signed, and the first design drawings and details were presented at a public meeting in the spring of 2012.

The public in attendance at the meeting was overwhelmingly in support of the project. Only a few people whose houses were adjacent to the widened pathway expressed concern about the impact on their property.

Given public approval, the County planners at the meeting estimated that construction might commence as soon as 2014. However, between the many steps required by the Department of Transportation, it wasn’t until this fall that the County Executive’s Office announced the project has been green-lighted and construction will begin in late 2018 and be completed within a year.

The progress on the project was evidenced at the November 8 Rye City Council meeting, at which Anthony Zaino, Director of Design for the Westchester County Planning Department, made a presentation that included final specifications.

The City Council then authorized the City Manager to enter into an inter-municipal agreement with Westchester County to allow the County to make improvements to portions of the Theodore Fremd Avenue and McCullough sidewalks as part of the pathway project.

Mr. Zaino said that the costs of all the improvements to the City’s existing infrastructure would be borne by the County.

<For details, go to planning.westchestergov.com/playlandpkwypathwaypres.>

 

Existing Playland Parkway pathway by Milton Road

 By Robin Jovanovich

Voters elected Rob Astorino Westchester County Executive eight years ago with the promise of protecting taxpayers (keeping taxes flat) while preserving essential services and promoting economic growth, which he often referred to as the “three Ps”. That platform brought him far, and one step closer to higher office with a solid run to unseat Gov. Cuomo. But last month, in a reversal of fortunes for the Republicans, State Senator George Latimer unseated Astorino.

Meanwhile, the County Exec has a lot he needs to finish before leaving office next month. The lease for Macquarie Infrastructure Corporation to operate Westchester Airport, a $1.1 billion

 

By Bob Marrow

Endless Hudson was born in 1913 and died in 1950, four years after serving in the U.S. Army during World War II. He is buried at the African-American Cemetery in Rye, as are veterans of World War I, the Spanish-American War, and the Civil War. Samuel Eshmond Bell served in the 54th Massachusetts Regiment during the Civil War. He participated in the assault against Fort Wagner, S.C., dramatized in the motion picture, “Glory.” Edwin Purdy served on an ironclad ship during the Civil War. Frank Woods participated in the Civil War assault on Port Hudson, La., in Company E, 20th U.S.C.T. Their commanding general said of them, “They answered every expectation. Their conduct was heroic. No troops could be more daring. They made during the day three charges upon the batteries of the enemy, suffering heavy loses and holding their position at nightfall.... The highest commendation is bestowed upon them….”

Robert Purdy, a runaway slave from Louisiana who arrived in Westchester, saved enough working as a laborer to purchase 12 acres of land for $270 in Scarsdale, which he farmed with his family. He became one of the most successful African-American businessmen in the county and, in 1852, co-founded the Barry Avenue A.M.E. Zion Church. In 2012, his achievements were commemorated by Scarsdale’s mayor who declared August 11th “Robert Purdy Day”.

The cemetery is an essential link to the lives of African-Americans in Westchester County and their role in the story of our country. Sarah C. Smith was the first person buried at the cemetery in 1840. There are two former slaves interred there along with 35 documented veterans, 22 of whom fought in the Civil War. Of more than 290 documented burials there, only 79 headstones have been found.

<“Each person here was like a tiny wildflower — beauty unnoticed and worth unappreciated. Yet in their individual quiet splendor through humility and courage toils and love they left an indelible mark and the world is forevermore a better place.”> William Sutherland

A detailed history of the cemetery and the stories of many of those buried there can be found on three informative signs posted at the entrance located at the end of a winding footpath in the southeast quadrant of Greenwood Union Cemetery. The cemetery encompasses 1.4 acres of meadow bordered by wetlands and a pond. It is a serene site with trees, flowers, butterflies, chipmunks, birds, waterfowl, turtles, and, of course, an occasional deer.  

A number of interested Rye and Port Chester residents, including Doris B. Reavis (whose relatives are buried at the cemetery), David and Joan Thomas, David Parsons, Peter Rolland, Louise Perette, Maurio Sax, and myself and my wife Ellen, met recently at the home of Ann and Tony Spaeth to discuss future plans for the cemetery, which, while located in the City of Rye, was deeded to the Town of Rye in 1860. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003, the cemetery needs more friends to help restore gravestones, maintain the bucolic nature of the site, fund a project, using ground-penetrating radar, to identify unmarked graves, and build a permeable gravel roadway to replace the unpaved path leading to the entrance.

<The Friends of the African-American Cemetery is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Its founder, David Thomas, can be reached on the Facebook page “Friends of the African American Cemetery” or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..>

 

By Paul Hicks

To put the present-day “Police Blotter” reports in perspective, here is another glimpse into the happenings and mishaps of by-gone times, all taken from issues of the Rye Chronicle, but with a common equine theme.

<February 8, 1908>

“It is high time the village Trustees gave more police protection to Milton, where the great majority of this season’s burglaries have occurred. The knowledge of this unprotected and rich section of our village causes the burglars to be very bold. This week, when four houses were entered, it appears that the thieves even went to Milton with a horse and carriage, looted at leisure, though with small results, and drove away unmolested. Now that we have six men on our police force, would it not be wise, in justice to the Milton people, to station one man there who could keep in touch with headquarters by the police telephone recently placed near the boat works

<May 1, 1909>

Sergeant William Balls, who was shot while capturing a horse thief, was out this week and is improving rapidly. The wound is closing up nicely and within a short time the genial officer expects to be back at his place in Police Headquarters.

The horse thief has been identified as Barney Barrall, who lives at 51 Grand Street, Brooklyn. According to the police records he has served two terms in Sing Sing prison for grand larceny. He admits that he stole the horse and says that he intended to go into the junk business. Barrall had a clever way of finding out where he might lay his hands on good horses. He sold a disinfecting powder for horses, and used this as a subterfuge to visit many stables.

<February 10, 1910>

Justice of the Peace S. M. Ireland stopped H. O. Snedecor’s horse from doing damage on Tuesday after it had become frightened and started to run away. Mr. Ireland saw the horse coming down the Post Read and stopped it very cleverly.

<May 23, 1910>

FOR SALE — Chestnut horse, 16 hands, good family horse; not afraid of automobiles: also a high two-wheel road cart; a dos-a-dos runabout with rubber tires; a surrey and a set of single harness.

<July 18, 1910>

Agent Jacob Werner, Jr., of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, arrested James Hartung of Greenwich, during Thursday afternoon, upon a charge of driving a horse with a large sore on its back. Hartung was arraigned before Justice Connolly, and fined two dollars.

<August 20, 1910>

Redmond P. Keresey, a retired member of the New York’s finest, and now proprietor of a stock farm on the Post Road, neatly trapped a horse thief on Wednesday, and engineered a little game that resulted in the horse thief being caught red handed in trying to sell the goods, and his arrest in Rye territory by Mounted Patrolman Thomas Flaherty. The thief gave his name as Charles Gates, of New Haven. He said he came from Stamford and was anxious to sell the rig and would dispose of it very cheap. The man's actions and the low price he placed on the outfit aroused Mr. Keresey's suspicions… Gates, awaiting extradition papers from Connecticut, is now identified by the police of five different towns as the man wanted for horse stealing.

<August 27, 1910>

Much has been heard since the new law governing automobiles went into effect on August 1, respecting the rules of the road. These are covered by the highway law itself, and should be known to every driver of horses as well as vehicles propelled by power. With a full knowledge of the rules there need be few if any accidents occurring on the highways of the State. The important sections [include]:

Any such person so operating a motor vehicle shall, on overtaking any such horse, draft animal or other vehicle, pass on the left side thereof, and the rider or driver of such horse, draft animal or other vehicle shall, as soon as practical, turn to the right so as to allow free passage on the left.

<September 3, 1910>

Sheriff Scherp Tuesday turned over to the New Haven authorities Alfred Gates, a clever young horse thief, who was arrested in Rye two weeks ago and charged with the larceny of a horse and runabout from the Connecticut city. Gates, or Ridley, as he called himself when arrested, is only twenty-two years of age and the most plausible criminal ever taken in this county

His method was an unique one. Dressed in a suit of “store” clothes of the country village type and browned from exposure to the sun, he would drift into a village livery stable and explain that he had just arrived in town and wanted to drive out into the country. As soon as he had gotten to another town, he would hunt up the livery stable, explain that he was a farmer’s son, and asked the proprietor to lend him a fresh horse as his was “tuckered” out. He would keep on exchanging horses until he got several hundred miles from his starting point, where he would sell the particular outfit he was driving. As he has a splendid “down East” dialect and looks the part of a prosperous farmer’s son, he found his operations easy and only tripped up in Rye through the vigilance of R. P. Keresey, of the Rye Stork Farm, and the village police force.

<November 11, 1911>

News comes from Newport to the effect that the horse and smart equipage is again to be the sign of fashion. The automobile is all right for traveling, inasmuch as it can go about 10 times as far in a day as a horse; but it appears that the smart set have exhausted their ingenuity in trying to create a special automobile exclusiveness and are not satisfied with the result. Horses have been kept for style ever since the advent of the motorcar, and their race is in no danger of dying out, even as the dog’s is not in a land of burglar alarms and automatic revolvers.

<August 3, 1912>

Fred Fraser, the well-known wrestler, who is employed at the Apawamis Club, discovered that horses are contrary things and although they may know nothing about holds, etc., they can deliver a punch, and when its steel shoes are taken into consideration, something that persons are not anxious to stop. Well, Fred was inspecting a new set of shoes on a horse just brought from the blacksmith shop on Wednesday, when the horse kicked, striking him in the face, knocking out two teeth and injuring his face painfully. Fred says that that much damage wouldn’t happen in a life time wrestling.

<January 4, 1913>

The police are unable to make much headway against the thieves, and owners are becoming greatly concerned. Great vigilance is necessary against them. In former days, horse stealing was wiped out by posses who showed the offenders small mercy. Vigilantes are not feasible nowadays, but something must be done.

<January 14, 1914>

Within the past week Rye has had one of those unpleasant experiences that jar our civic pride when we discovered that we were not able to bring out all the fire apparatus to a blaze that might have proved more disastrous than it did. If Rye territory was more thickly settled, it is safe to say that more alarms would be rung in, and a recurrence of this lack of horses would soon force the citizens to take direct action. It would be foolish to deny that the day of the horse drawn tire engine is dawning to a close. It is being forced on Rye through the action of owners who claim that our smooth paved Streets are a menace to horses.

<July 23, 1919>

An hour after receiving a telephone call that three horse thieves were at large, Police Chief William Balls arrested them on Halstead Avenue.

<January 3, 1922>

The Board of Trustees of the Village of Rye will receive sealed bids for the sale of one horse drawn hook and ladder truck, one hose or patrol wagon and four complete sets of harness.

<March 27, 1926>

The death of George W. Galloway at his home. 75 Milton Road, on Sunday night, is mourned by many friends who knew him as a fine, country gentleman—one of the old school whose never-failing courtesy and kindness made him beloved by everyone. Mr. Galloway was one of the oldest commuters on the New Haven Railroad. Until taken ill early in January, he traveled back and forth to New York daily. Mr. Galloway’s love for animals was a conspicuous trait in his character. He was particularly fond of horses and drove to and from the railroad station every day. Although a man of ample means, he never owned an automobile, preferring to drive behind his horse.

<April 9, 1927>

Because his automobile was run into by a horse drawn truck at the recent fire on the Thomas property on Orchard Avenue, Frank M. Roberts, of Port Chester, seeks damages from the village to the amount of $140, alleging that the blowing of the siren on the motor apparatus frightened the horse. The Board could not see Mr. Roberts’ viewpoint and referred the matter to the Village Attorney.

<February 12, 1928>

Editor, Rye Chronicle: Rye Village has every right to be ashamed of its so-called better class neighborhoods, like the Apawamis Club districts in regard to the lack of shoveled sidewalks when the snow falls. The school children and adults who walk are forced to take their chances with skidding cars in the roadway. Our taxes have almost tripled in the last 12 years and it seems the least the Village could do is give us a safe place to walk in the bad, snowy weather, without endangering our lives by forcing us to walk with the heavy traffic of the street. When I first moved here there was a horse plow that plowed the sidewalks whenever it snowed. What has become of it? And can't we have a little comfort in the way of a place to walk for all the taxes and P. W. A. money we pay out. — A TAXPAYER OF ONE OF THE BETTER NEIGHBORHOODS

 

By Tom McDermott

The November 29 City Council meeting featured a Budget Workshop in which representatives from the Rye Free Reading Room, RyeTV, Police and Fire departments, the Boat Basin, and Rye Recreation made brief presentations to the Council in support of their financial requests for 2018. But, the most important budget discussion came towards the end of the workshop, when Comptroller Joe Fazzino and Councilwoman Kirstin Bucci presented options that would create a tax compliant 2018 budget. The City’s original budget request called for a 6.2 percent tax increase, $744,000 over a tax-compliant budget.

Fazzino presented the Council with revenue and cost savings options that would reduce the budget by $745,000.

He proposed savings of $145,000 created by

 

Having won the race for City Council handily last week, you might imagine that the four winners would be putting up their feet or taking a well-earned vacation. In fact, according to Josh Cohn, the Mayor-elect, they are trying to review “everything” — in progress, prioritized, on hold, much discussed, or long planned — before they take office New Year’s Day.

“This is no small thing,” said Cohn earlier this week. “There are a tremendous number of things to do, probably more than we can do by the end of the year. We’re now spectators in the 2018 budget discussions, but we are all very much aware that our first and biggest task is finding non-property tax revenue sources and grant funds.” He added, “A million dollars a year for street repair, for example, is maintenance-only spending. The City needs to build more parking downtown for its businesses.”

Thinking even further ahead, Cohn offered the following assurance: “We’re going to be active and in it for the community, and come out of our four years with residents feeling that the Council has made positive progress on a number of important issues, such as residential development.

“Rye has an identity, a striving municipal identity, and I’d like to strengthen that identity.”

— Robin Jovanovich