At the September 10 City Council meeting, Mayor Joe Sack had just finished encouraging the public to make contributions to help renovate City Hall.
By Bill Lawyer
At the September 10 City Council meeting, Mayor Joe Sack had just finished encouraging the public to make contributions to help renovate City Hall. He’d noted that philanthropist and former mayor John Motley Morehead donated the funds for the building, which opened in 1964.
Then the mayor called on resident Sis D’Angelo who had indicated she wished to speak.
Inspired by Mayor Sack’s call for contributions, she brought to the Council’s attention the sorry state of the old footbridge connecting the Milton Road sidewalk to the footbridge crossing Blind Brook. Interestingly, Mayor Morehouse also donated the funds for the footbridge.
“Why can’t people be encouraged to contribute money toward the footbridge as well?” she asked. D’Angelo reminded listeners that the bridge has been officially closed since the major flooding of 2007. Originally scheduled to be replaced in 2010, the project was put off again and again, due to other “higher priority” projects.
Back in 2010 the project was estimated at $40,000. When the City put together its 2014-2018 Capital Improvement Program in 2013, the cost was listed at the same amount.
D’Angelo, who was born in 1929 and is a lifelong resident, started attending City Council meetings when she was in high school and the meetings were held at the Square House. In 1991, she retired after many years at IBM, and since then has had more time to focus on local affairs.
D’Angelo, who is a firm believer in the importance of participating in local government, said: “I’ve always been interested in making Rye a great community, and this footbridge is a little thing that makes a big difference.”
She recommends that if people want to know what’s going on (or not going on) in Rye, they should ride around Rye by bicycle – which she did for many years.
D’Angelo noted that every time she’s gone by the footbridge it’s pained her to see the bridge closed and in such disrepair. She said that the reason Morehouse donated funds for the two footbridges was that he understood what a help they would be in allowing children to get more safely to and from school as well as to the various Disbrow sports fields after school.
She added, “Because the small bridge is closed, everyone has to go through the Milton Cemetery to get to the other side of the Brook. And I think we should be more respectful.”
So what did the $40,000 budgeted for the bridge project include? Back in 2010, the preliminary design drawings prepared by the firm of Woodard and Curran called for the bridge to be completely rebuilt. First, the streambed and banks would be shored up to repair the erosion damage and maintained with the use of erosion control products in the future. The stone piers would be dismantled so that new footings could be installed. The original stones were to be used to rebuild new piers, supported by five-foot footings and abutments.
Between the abutments and the piers would be new, galvanized steel beams, along with a new five-inch concrete deck, and aluminum handrails. Galvanized steel was selected to help protect against future corrosion by the brook’s relentless tides.
One bonus element of the new bridge would be that the sizeable gap between the bridge deck and the Milton side of the approach path would be eliminated, so that bikers and people with baby carriages would have a smoother ride, less likely to waken the baby or blow out a tire. The plans called for the railings to extend out from each end of the bridge, to provide additional stability for people using it in inclement weather.
City Engineer Ryan Coyne noted that for the project to go ahead next year, it would have to be considered in upcoming 2015 budget discussions and voted upon by the Council before the end of 2014.
D’Angelo said that she will be speaking up in favor of the footbridge project in the coming weeks so that it will not be put off for another year.