Mayor Sends a Positive Message in Annual Address
After two years on the job, Mayor Josh Cohn was pleased to share the good news, while not glossing over the challenges the City faces, at the January 22 City Council meeting.
He credited City staff for “their constant and continuing efforts in keeping Rye in very good shape”, and he praised Interim City Manager Greg Usry for stepping into his new role with “enthusiasm and intelligence.”
Describing the City’s financial condition as “good”, Cohn cautioned that the Save the Sound sewer lawsuit costs are as yet undetermined, and the City must earmark annual savings.
He was pleased to report that the City’s contractual agreements with both the Department of Public Works and the Clerical units had been signed. “We believe they constituted wins for the City and the City employees upon whom the City’s welfare depends,” he said. “And for the first time in years, we have contracts with all our union employees.”
Without going into the complex planning that is required for a number of projects on the City’s must-do list, the Mayor cited the immediacy of needing new facilities for Rye Recreation Summer Camp. Having been informed that they could not use City School District fields and buildings for the next several summers because the District was moving forward with its voter-approved renovations, the City decided it was prudent to no longer be dependent on the District and to go ahead with improvements and additions at Rye Recreation.
One of the City’s biggest concerns, Cohn noted, is that the increased costs of dredging “now threaten the viability” of the Boat Basin. He has formed a committee to review the facts and offer potential solutions.
Among the City’s upcoming capital projects are the Central Avenue pump station and sewer line, with work set to start this summer. Major road work across the community will continue, and long-awaited repairs to Theodore Fremd and Midland avenues, both County roads, are anticipated. The additional good news on road repair is that new City rules require Con Edison to repave parts or all of streets they tear up in the process of utility work.
“This fundamental renewal of our City cannot wait,” Cohn emphasized.
In order to oversee all the projects, the Council has decided to hire an Assistant City Manager and an assistant to the City Engineer.
In 2020, the City will commence a new study on parking with the goal of addressing the shortage of parking in the commuter and municipal lots. The Council will schedule a public work session on turf improvements at Nursery Field.
Having regained official status as a “Tree City” in 2019, the City will review its current tree regulations and consider new actions that will diminish clear cutting and preserve Rye’s natural beauty.
The Mayor said the Council was glad to have helped a major nonprofit, the Rye YMCA, expand its footprint through a change in permitted uses that enables the Y to take over the former Mrs. Green’s facility on Boston Post Road. The Avon building has been sold and the new owners have approached the City about a possible change in permitted uses, as well. The City is also working with The Osborn on its reconfiguration plans.
Cohn assured residents that the Council is staying on top of the redevelopment of the United Hospital property on Rye’s northern border. “This neighborhood has been living with tremendous uncertainty for years. The Council has been in prolonged and continuing conversation with the neighborhood as to how best to respond to this uncertainty,” he said.
In closing, Mayor Cohn remarked, “I have learned how many small, finite acts are needed to make municipal progress, and that things, especially good things, take time, far more time than one might imagine. It is vital that this Council persist energetically in the projects it has undertaken, or else progress will falter. We must recognize that though our ambitions may be unlimited, our capacities are finite.”