By Robin Jovanovich
Rye Nature Center Executive Director Christine Siller came to the March 28 City Council meeting with a dual purpose. She began by expressing her gratitude to City Manager Marcus Serrano, City Engineer Ryan Coyne, and electrician Gregg McKenzie for performing “world-class” assistance in restoring power to the Nature Center, after an 18-day interruption.
She praised DPW for not only setting up a generator, but manning it 24 hours a day, and acknowledged the work of Con Edison, a long-term friend of the Center, who worked with City staff.
“I want to thank everyone who cared for the City’s public park,” she continued.
Siller also reminded the Council that storms like the one that occurred on March 2, flooding the Nature Center bridge and causing its closure before the Center lost power, was not a one-off. “The entry bridge, which is beautiful and historic, needs to be cared for, but it eventually needs to be turned into a pedestrian-only entry.”
While she didn’t expect an answer from the Council that night, she emphasized, “This was a wake-up call, and the clock is ticking. At 8 a.m. that day we had to cancel all of our programs. This is a situation we’d like <not> to be in a year from now. Who would take that risk?”
She listed what was on the table for the entry: “some of that famous epoxy; a grant the Center is working on for stream rehabilitation, which includes the installation of natural features to slow fast-moving water down.”
The other thing that really needs to happen, added Siller, is creating a new access road through the high school snowfield, which has been in the Capital Improvements Plan for several years. “Is today the day the bridge is going on the table?” she asked.
“I realize there are competing projects, but this is <our> nature center and we need to keep it accessible.” She noted that it is used and enjoyed every day by all ages — from preschoolers to seniors — to learn, play, hike, birdwatch, and explore.
Siller pointed out that the New York Rising flood recovery funds still need to be allocated and she strongly recommended that the Council speak with the City Engineer on using some of those funds for that new access.
“I thank the heroes who helped in the massive repair at the Nature Center but urge the City to find a new way for the public to get to its park,” she concluded.