Community Comes Out for RTP Forum

Members of the Rye Town Park Commission held a well-attended community forum at the Damiano Center January 7, which was an unseasonably warm winter day that fittingly resulted in a packed park.

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Published January 12, 2012 6:11 PM
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rtpthumbMembers of the Rye Town Park Commission held a well-attended community forum at the Damiano Center January 7, which was an unseasonably warm winter day that fittingly resulted in a packed park.

 

By Jim Byrne

Members of the Rye Town Park Commission held a well-attended community forum at the Damiano Center January 7, which was an unseasonably warm winter day that fittingly resulted in a packed park.

Rye Mayor Doug French, Rye Town Supervisor Joe Carvin, and Rye Brook Mayor Joan Feinstein sat front and center, and listened and responded to comments made by local residents.

rtpJohn Linder was the first to take the podium; he asked that the sign at the entrance to the park be changed to be more positive. “All the ‘no’s’ make it seem like a prison,” he said. He also commented that the pathways near the water need repair, to which Linda Wells, President of the Friends of Rye Town Park, noted were part of the master plan along with improved signage.

 

Twenty-year Rye resident Russ Gold, who frequents the park as both an open water swimmer and dog owner, hoped for more clarity with regard to park rules. “We understand they are necessary, but their nature seems arbitrary and many just show up … and, if you’re going to have them, you need to enforce them.”

 

Suki van Dijk followed up on enforcement, and expressed puzzlement at statements made only to be later contradicted. “Port Chester Mayor Dennis Pilla said they were going to keep the leash law in effect, but that they wouldn’t hire anyone to enforce it before 9 a.m. But every summons that was written happened between 8 and 9. We look to you to make the rules and tell us what to do, and then we go to the park and something totally different happens.”

 

Other residents focused on the quality of the sand on the beach, and then the conversation shifted to revenues, which were close to $150,000 less than in 2010.

 

Paula Schaefer, a member of the Rye Citizens Finance Committee, referred to Rye Town Park as a seasonal business that is very weather-dependent. “It would be great if we could put in place a system that accurately counts cars or the number of beachgoers,” she added.

 

“Unfortunately that requires a capital expenditure.” She went on to say that the level of control and transparency has improved significantly in recent years, and credited the Commission members and staff.

 

Mayor French said RTP could do better, but added that passive parks are an investment.

 

“We had snow on Halloween this year and 26 inches the day after Christmas last year,” said the Mayor. “It was a crazy weather year, but ending the year under $150,000 is not that bad – it’s quite good. As a City we’re investing $75,000 (Rye funds nearly 50% of the park) to have that amenity. I was there at 6:45 a.m. this morning and saw a beautiful sunrise coming up. That’s a win.”

 

City Councilwoman Catherine Parker thanked the Commission for reopening the beach in December. “It happened 1, 2, 3, and I think you’re all doing a great job.”

 

Mayor French replied, “Governance should not be that difficult. You hear an issue, gather feedback, get the pros and cons, and then try and meet somewhere in the middle.”

 

Other issues raised included the idea of boosting revenue by allowing a cell phone tower on one of the park structures, as well as future Commission representation based on dollar distribution. The City of Rye has only two members – Mayor French and Councilman Joe Sack – on the six-person Commission.

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