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The Rye, Rye Brook & Port Chester League of Women Voters invites residents to a Candidates’ Forum at which they will meet and listen to County Legislator Catherine Parker and former Mamaroneck Mayor Norman Rosenblum as they debate the issues of import within District 7.

The forum is set for Tuesday, October 17 at 7 p.m. at the Rye Middle School Multipurpose Room.

The Great Debates

What’s in an opening statement? Lots if you’re running for public office in Rye, as evidenced at the first Candidates’ Forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Rye, Rye Brook & Port Chester October 2 at Rye Middle School.

Six residents are running for three seats on the City Council — Sara Goddard, Julie Souza, and Ben Stacks on the Democratic slate; Terry McCartney, Elizabeth Parks and Susan Watson are running on the Republican slate with Terry McCartney, who is running for a second term. Josh Cohn, heading up the Democratic ticket, is hoping to unseat Mayor Joe Sack, a Republican.

By Jamie Jensen

More than 50 Rye residents and civic leaders gathered in City Hall the night of September 26 for the first of three public meetings to gather input for the City’s Comprehensive Master Plan.

A master plan is the result of an extensive public planning process that is meant to act as a reference point for land-use policy-making moving forward. It traditionally includes a close look at community resources and public needs for transportation, recreation and housing. However, given the last decade’s super storms — Irene and Sandy — the Rye City Comprehensive Master Plan will also highlight public discussion of flood mitigation and coastal resiliency.

Master plans are usually completed every five to ten years. Rye City’s last official one was completed in 1985, more than 30 years ago. Sporadically, over the last ten years, there have been pieces of a plan completed including: a Capital Improvements Plan (2017), an Attic Regulation Workshop (2013), A City Planning and Streetscape Plan (2009), a Central Business District Plan (2007) and a Hazard Mitigation Plan (2007). The 2018 Comprehensive Master Plan, while not a zoning blueprint, will guide official decisions regarding all future growth and development in Rye.

After a brief presentation from BFJ Consulting, the firm hired to manage the process, community members gathered at four stations to share ideas and concerns. Armed with markers, stickers, and their voices, residents were guided by the following questions:

<What is your vision for Rye?

What should we preserve?

How should we grow?

What should we provide?>

On September 29, the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee declared that the Moving Rye Forward Campaign Team consisting of Josh Cohn, Sara Goddard, Julie Souza, and Ben Stacks, Democratic candidates for Mayor and City Council in Rye used unfair practices in two instances. The complaint was brought by Joe Sack, Mayor of Rye.

The team placed an ad in the September 8 edition of The Rye City Review that stated there was a plan to “move the DPW for a staggering $50M+.” The Committee found that no such plan had been approved by the Rye City Council.

The same ad referred to “Crown Castle’s threat to put cell towers on residents’ lawns…”. The Committee found that the towers would be placed on utility poles in the right of way, not on residents’ property.

More information is available at faircampaignpractices.org.

Race to the Top

By Robin Jovanovich and Tom McDermott

If you’re challenging a seasoned and successful professional like Rob Astorino, who is running this fall for a third term as Westchester County Executive, you have to be prepared for a good fight. State Senator George Latimer has come out swinging.

In separate interviews with the Republican incumbent at his office and his Democratic challenger, in our office, the conversation ranged from the proposed public/private County Airport partnership to the HUD affordable housing settlement to Playland

By Tom McDermott

The process to upgrade Disbrow Park and Rye’s public works, which began in May, has taken another turn. On August 1, Mayor Joe Sack wrote to Rye City Manager Marcus Serrano, saying Port Chester Mayor Richard A. “Fritz” Falanka had informed him that Port Chester wanted “to participate in the long-term planning discussion we are having in Rye which potentially might lead to Rye considering purchasing the Thruway property” and exploring ways for potential shared services.

Sack also told Serrano that Port Chester wished to write to the Governor requesting he not sign Assemblyman Steve Otis’ pending bill to sell the land to rye Country Day School, as Sack had done. To that end, Falanka asked for a copy of Sack’s own letter to the governor.

On August 9, Falanka wrote to the Governor Cuomo, calling the site “a perfect example of your consolidation and shared-service philosophy.” It also says the pending bill would “deny Port Chester and its neighbors the opportunity to continue and deepen their cooperative efforts.” It did not cite any examples of that cooperation and did not mention playing fields.

The nine-acre parcel lies between the two municipalities and is bounded by Boston Post Road and I-95. Otis’ bill before the governor would allow Rye Country Day School to purchase the land with two caveats: the school must enter into a sharing agreement with Rye, and the land must be used for playing fields.

Otis said Falanka had not informed him of Port Chester’s interest in the land, but he did receive a copy of Falanka’s letter to Governor Cuomo.

At the September 13 City Council meeting Council member Danielle Tagger- Epstein and her Democratic colleague Emily Hurd raised the issue of the Village Port Chester’s interest and the fact that Council members had not been informed of Port Chester’s interest in a timely manner. She also cited a note in Port Chester’s portion of a County Shared Services Plan before the Board of Legislators, written by Village Manager Christopher Steers, stating that Otis’ bill “would block our ability to pursue jointly purchasing piece (sic) of property surplused by the thruway Authority for a proposed consolidated DPW yard with the City of Rye.”

Sack vehemently denied having initiated a discussion with Port Chester. “I initiated nothing.” Referring to the Shared Services Plan, he said, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Later, Sack told the paper he thought his Council colleagues tried to “sandbag the rest of us for partisan political purposes while we’re busy solving problems” and welcomed Port Chester’s participation. “I don’t know where it will lead if anywhere, but they ought to be able to register their point of view.”

Neither Mayor Falanka nor Steers returned calls for comment on their hopes to share a DPW facility with Rye and Rye Brook

Tagger-Epstein said she wanted to make sure the city has the best options. “By asking the governor to veto the bill, we relinquish the power of the city. DPW needs work, but let’s get information. It’s a referendum decision.”

Democratic County Legislator Catherine Parker, whose committee reviewed the shared services plan, commented that “Shared services does not need to be between municipalities. It could mean with a school”

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