Rye residents and officials have filled many of the seats at Village of Port Chester Council meetings in recent weeks.
By Robin Jovanovich
Rye residents and officials have filled many of the seats at Village of Port Chester Council meetings in recent weeks. The reason: Starwood’s redevelopment plan for the long-vacant former United Hospital site on our border. The citizens of Rye are concerned about the size (1,051,000 square feet) and duration of the project (three years), the resulting traffic spilling out at High Street and Route 1, and the impact on the surrounding neighborhoods in particular and downtown Rye.
The City of Rye has engaged Maser Consulting to review the traffic-related portions of the plan. In Maser’s view, many of the traffic assumptions made by Starwood are underestimated and the information inadequate.
At the most recent Port Chester meeting, September 21, Mayor Joe Sack listed several complaints regarding the proceedings to date. He noted that Rye citizens expected to participate in a traffic workshop that did not occur.
First, he noted that Mayor Dennis Pilla had promised a “deep dive” into the facts, including issues raised by the City of Rye’s traffic evaluation report. In Sack’s view, “still not a deep dive.”
Second, Sack was “hoping that Port Chester’s consultant would respond to the issues raised by Rye in its report.” Sack expressed his “disappointment” that the consultants for Starwood and the Village of Port Chester had merely restated their views without responding to the points raised by Rye.
Rye resident Richard Smith, a member of an ad hoc Rye citizens committee, expressed concern about massive impacts to the Hillside, Grandview, and Evergreen neighborhood, both before and after construction.
Some Village of Port Chester trustees took the view that such consultation was not legally required; that all that was required was that Rye’s views were considered in the final approval document.
Also speaking was Philip Grealy, Principal, Maser Consulting, the firm hired by the City of Rye. Greeley pointed out several areas where Starwood’s analysis was inadequate in dealing with increased congestion at intersections such as Midland and Peck avenues, and Purchase Street, Ridge Street, and Hillside Road. Further, he noted that there was nothing specific in their reports regarding how they planned to deal with the impact of construction on Rye neighborhoods.
The State Department of Transportation must also review the project. Rye officials have asked Mayor Pilla to ensure that they will be given a chance to read that review before any next steps are taken.
Mayor Pilla left public comment open to October 30. The next Port Chester Council meeting is October 5 at 7:30.