Echo Echoes Our Thanks
On behalf of the Fontana Family, we wish to thank the community of supporters who helped us locate our missing service dog. The Guiding Eyes School, Rye Police, local media outlets, our neighbors, friends, and countless strangers all contributed to Echo’s safe return. We are grateful and humbled by your tremendous support.
We also understand that the positive conclusion of this story was not an inevitability. Our hearts go out to all families who are missing loved ones, especially the family of Avante Oquendo, who is still missing after seven weeks. We pray for his safe return.
Paul and Emily Fontana, four children and Echo
It’s Always Open Season with Social Media, But “Shots” Too Often Fired Inaccurately
The following letter was written to Mayor French and the City Council and forwarded to us by the author for publication.
I am writing this letter to clarify several misleading and inaccurate statements that have been made by Deirdre Curran, Leon Sculti, and Ray Tartaglione on various social media sites. They did not contact me to verify the accuracy of their postings.
My wife and I both grew up in Rye and have lived here as adults since 1985. Two of our three children have returned and currently live here. We have volunteered for numerous organizations, and at the end of this year I will have served for 20 years on the Board of Architectural Review and the Planning Commission. Any implications that we are not interested in making Rye a better place to live and work are unfounded.
I have known Kim Morque, the current President of Sustainable Playland Inc. (SPI) for many years. In January 2011, he asked me to become involved with SPI. Despite the label that was attached to my name in the promotional video, I served as an unpaid volunteer. A.P. Construction, the company I work for, provided a pro bono conceptual construction estimate for the original SPI submission that led to their selection. A. P. Construction has never been paid by SPI and does not expect to be. Although I have attended a few meetings at the request of Mr. Morque since the selection, I did not participate in the preparation of the Playland Improvement Plan (PIP) dated September 2013 and am not currently involved with SPI.
The County Executive’s office has stated repeatedly that the site plan review process under SEQRA would be run by the County, and that they would declare themselves the lead agency. I would assume that the City of Rye, through the City Council, would be asked to comment as an interested party. I would also assume that the City Council would hold public hearings and would seek input from the relevant Boards and Commissions. As I have stated to anyone who asked, when the SPI plan is on the Planning Commission agenda, I will recuse myself.
I will patiently wait for Mr. Tartaglione, Mr. Sculti, and Ms. Curran to apologize for their actions but do not really expect that to happen. The world of social media seems to lend itself to quick, unfounded accusations without any accountability and with very little in the way of corrections or apologies.
SPI Welcomes Continued Community Input
The Board of Trustees of Sustainable Playland Inc. (SPI) wishes to thank the citizens of Rye for their support, encouragement, and donations in our efforts to restore Playland Park for the Westchester community.
A year ago last month, County Executive Rob Astorino announced that SPI was the successful respondent to his request for proposals to “Reinvent Playland for the 21st Century.” Then, last April, the Westchester County Board of Acquisition and Contract approved a ten-year Asset Management Agreement (AMA) with us.
Under the AMA, SPI and its operating partners will manage and begin restoration of the iconic park including its historic features and amusement components. We will add indoor and outdoor athletic fields and a variety of new restaurants and other elements that will make Playland Park a balanced, year-round attraction for Westchester County residents. As part of this work, SPI will seek additional historic recognition and designations of Playland to protect the park from inappropriate development and bolster fund raising efforts for restoration projects.
Restoring and revitalizing Playland is a multi-year effort but we are ready to begin the process. It is worth noting that the SPI park restoration plan is consistent with the County’s 2006 Playland Master Plan and adds more open space and recreational uses which are badly needed.
During the spring and early summer, SPI met and worked with local elected representatives and members of the Board of Legislators from districts across the county. During this period we also worked closely with the Westchester Children’s Museum and advocated for the County Executive to finalize their lease, which was signed last summer.
Members of the County Board of Legislators and other stakeholders had expressed specific concerns about our plan. The most significant were that too much of the amusement park would be converted to open space and that too much of the existing parking was being removed to allow construction of the new field house and outdoor fields. As a result, we worked with our operators to address the concerns and try to find a balance.
Adjustments to the plan enabled us to keep more parking spaces and retain more of the amusement components. At the request of the operator, Playland Sports, the size of the field house increased by approximately 20%, while the height and location of the building did not change.
In July, we prepared and submitted the Playland Improvement Plan, including the changes, to the Board of Legislators for their review and approval. We met with the Government Operations Committee in October, but took a quiet stance during the elections because we did not want Playland Park to be a political football.
With the election over, we are ready to resume the dialogue on the restoration of Playland. We are listening carefully to the issues being voiced and have a strong desire to work with the Rye community to address traffic and building concerns. In that spirit, we will hold a public information session December 11 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Rye library at which we will present our proposed plan and review issues of concern to the community.
The SPI Board of Trustees
Thanks, Rye Voters
We, the Rye United Team, would like to express our heartfelt thanks to the voters of Rye for your support in Tuesday’s election. We feel privileged to have the opportunity to serve our community on the City Council.
We enjoyed meeting many of you during the campaign and hearing the issues most prominent in your minds. It is this knowledge that will guide us during the next four years.
We are also grateful to all the candidates who put themselves forward to serve their communities and, in doing so, heightened the level of debate. We applaud their courage and commitment.
We would like to thank our families and friends for tolerating our campaign-oriented absences. Without their support, our service would not be possible.
Again, we thank you for the opportunity to serve.
The Rye United Team
One Paper Has Encouraged Good Public Discourse
During my ten-plus years as one of the people who helped make The Rye Record a reality, I kept track of politically-driven criticisms that occasionally crossed our desks. The first criticism came from the Rye Republican Party, accusing the paper of being too partisan for the left; then it was the Rye Democratic Party, charging the paper for favoring the right in its coverage and writing. Most recently, during the election just completed, some residents have tried to tar the paper for being biased in its coverage of candidate Peter Jovanovich, husband of Publisher Robin Jovanovich.
I have had the chance to be on the inside and, since 2008, look in on how this paper is run, and I feel I should comment. Never in the paper’s first ten years was there editorial discussion among the two or three of us in charge with regard to slanting the news, directly or indirectly. Not once. That the charges have come in equal doses from both sides attests to that fact.
Since leaving active involvement in the paper, I’ve watched carefully and believe it is fair to say that the paper has again not been biased in its reporting of the last two elections. If those who have complained could supply examples, I would be glad to reconsider. I doubt there is any such evidence.
What bothers me about such complaints is the fact that, without the tremendous time and commitment the staff of this paper has expended on its publication (not to mention its very existence), the people of Rye would not have the depth and breadth of political discourse they have today. It’s worth remembering that, before The Rye Record, there was no Rye paper (excluding the old Rye Chronicle, which was published in Yonkers and contained virtually no Rye news). Perhaps those who toss these complaints could appreciate that.
Spreading Halloween Cheer
Dear Rye Record,
Through the generosity of so many, I was able to bring nearly 200 costumes to the Carver Center in Port Chester for the annual Halloween Costume Drive last month.
It’s wonderful to see the kids’ eyes light up when they see all the choices. They’re all so happy and grateful to have something to wear at the Halloween Party at the center and when they go trick-or-treating.
The costume drive is in its seventh year, and so far we’ve distributed 1,000 costumes to the Carver Center.
A special thanks to Lois Lavelle, who provided a boxful of costumes, and to Craig Dreves of Rye Middle School’s Reach-out-Rye program for his assistance.