Honoring and Making History
There is a wonderful Rye tradition that dozens of people look forward to every spring — the City Council meeting that begins in the Square House, Rye’s first City Hall.
The Square House fills up quickly with current and former public officials, City staff, and members of Rye’s many volunteer Boards and Commissions who work hard to preserve Rye’s character and quality of life.
The May 9 meeting was Mayor Josh Cohn’s first time at the head of the oak table, where many mayors presided before him. “Service is one of the taproots of Rye,” he remarked, looking at the dozens of volunteers in the room, and the people whose portraits were on the walls “who made it a good place for us to come together and meet.” He recognized the great contribution City staff make to the continuum.
Councilmember Richard Mecca was glad to see “20 years of mayors in the front row.”
Deputy Mayor Emily Hurd noted that meeting at the Square House “helps us remember those who served before us and gives us the chance to say a few words about the City staff who do all the grunt work and make it look easy.”
Councilmember Danielle Tagger-Epstein said it is always good to be back in the Square House because one can’t help but “feel grateful to the entire community.”
For Councilmember Sara Goddard, “it is a big honor to be on this side of the room and have a bird’s eye view of the volunteers and the volunteer organizations. I am in awe of how many in this community step up and serve.” Goddard also loves the “office hours” established by the new Council, because during those time slots the Council hears a lot of good suggestions from residents.
Councilmember Ben Stacks said he was “humbled to take part in continuing all the good work done by the folks who came before us.”
Earlier in the day, the Square House had welcomed a fourth-grade class for a tour, Councilmember Julie Souza’s daughter among them. “I am glad that the Square House and City Hall are such accessible places.”
City Manager Marcus Serrano was proud to introduce the City staff, whom he described as “the most dedicated, intelligent, committed group I’ve worked with in my 30 years.” After asking them each to stand up, he noted how many years he or she had served the City. The record holder is Rye Recreation Superintendent Sally Rogol (33 years).
Assemblyman Steve Otis (who noted that he was the oldest former mayor in the room that night!), said what makes the meeting special is that “Rye is a unique place. The challenge for generations is to keep what is unique.”
Former Mayor Joe Sack shared a message from Former Mayor John Carey, who was unable to attend: “To have an effective national government, you have to start at the local level.”
Pat Levine, a former City Councilmember (“backbone of alumni”), appealed to everyone in the room regarding something that is not fake news: the proposal to build a tunnel from Long Island to Westchester, in or around Rye that seems to be gathering steam. “Some things come back (referring to the Oyster Bay Bridge proposal that Rye fought to prevent and did in the 1970s thanks in great part to the late Mayor Ed Grainger). This Council needs to identify your Ed Grainger.”