With the City coffers empty, and its roads, sidewalks, sewers, and storm drains in great need of repair, Rye is considering asking voters to approve an infrastructure bond this fall.
With the City coffers empty, and its roads, sidewalks, sewers, and storm drains in great need of repair, Rye is considering asking voters to approve an infrastructure bond this fall. At a special morning meeting, Saturday, January 28, Council members Laura Brett, Richard Filippi, Peter Jovanovich, Suzanna Keith, and Catherine Parker, along with Mayor Doug French and City Manger Scott Pickup, hashed out the various scenarios.
“We need to have a serious discussion with the public this spring and summer about our urgent capital needs,” said Mr. Pickup. “The City is in dire need of making repairs and improvements to its infrastructure,” he continued, “which can’t be paid out of surplus because the fund balance is depleted.” The City Manager noted that if the City does go out for bond to pay for capital projects, it must publicly announce the bond proposal at least 60 days before the general election in November.
Mayor French summarized the four steps to meaningfully reduce flooding: completion of the sluice gate at Bowman Avenue Dam, widening the upper pond behind the dam, reducing runoff into Blind Brook from Westchester County Airport, and creating a retention pond on the campus of SUNY Purchase. As Mayor French explained, the sluice gate buys residents a bit more time in heavy floods, but in order to keep Rye relatively flood-free an additional 900 acres of water would need to be detained upstream.
“We won’t know if we can successfully and practically deepen the upper pond, ” said Mr. Pickup, “without testing the soil and rock formations in and around the pond.” He held out hope that even if the FEMA money for that testing project doesn’t come through the City could find funds elsewhere to complete the bore testing. He also explained that he has been in preliminary discussions with the Airport Authority about their runoff issues, and that it would take a joint effort by Harrison, Rye Brook, and Rye to negotiate with SUNY Purchase for the creation of a retention pond on their property.
Roads, Sidewalks, the MTA Lot and the Theodore Fremd/Purdy Intersection
Purchase Street hasn’t been repaved since 1985, and areas of downtown, such as Elm Place, do not have a proper drainage system. Councilman Filippi recommended that the City do all of its repairs — the street and the utility lines beneath it, all at once “so that we don’t have to rebuild Purchase Street for another 25 to 50 years.
Councilwoman Suzanna Keith commented that the public “needs to see a bang for their buck.” She emphasized the need for pedestrian safety improvement as outline in the Shared Roadways report. Currently, the City spends about $50,000 a year of its money on sidewalk repair. Mr. Pickup suggested a priority task is to fix the sidewalks between Oakland Beach Avenue and Hewlett Street. “That’s a heavily used and rugged stretch of sidewalk.”
Councilwoman Parker suggested the first repairs downtown be on Smith and Elm Place. “We need to be mindful that the community is still going through a recession. I would hesitate to fix Purchase Street; it may be more important to redesign the Theodore Fremd and Purdy Avenue intersection first.” Mr. Pickup noted the MTA parking lot is “a mess”, with improvements in lighting, street surface, and drainage urgently needed.
Faced with more suggestions from various Council people than resources, the City Manager promised to shortly provide the Council with a range of scenarios as to how much to spend and what gets fixed.