I am writing in response to Howard Husock’s commentary, “Making Rye’s Public Pool More Public”. It was enlightening to see a clear analysis of the Golf Club’s income and expenditures, including the fact that the pool and golf course subsidize the money-losing restaurant.
When my husband and I moved to Rye over 20 years ago, we looked forward to joining the pool but could not because it cost more than twice what we were paying in our former Westchester community for a more elaborate complex. Becoming seniors, we hoped that Rye would offer a senior discount. Unfortunately, Rye does not, although we recently heard whispers that members of the Rye Seniors were able to pay for a one-day admission to the pool. We were, and remain, flabbergasted by the price of a pool membership; when so many comparable communities use tax money to subsidize such recreational facilities, we do not understand why Rye does not.
We reluctantly accept that we are excluded from going to the pool because of the cost. However, I am incredibly offended by the suggestion that having people without high incomes would lower the standards of the Golf Club.
When I came to teach in Rye over 25 years ago, my friends and colleagues urged me not to come here. “You’ll hate it. It’s such an elitist and snobbish community.” I ignored their advice, came to Rye to teach, and eventually moved here. Never did I feel regarded as a “second class” person; instead, I found students and parents, for the most part, to be respectful and appreciative. I was, therefore, shocked to hear Rye Golf Club Commissioner Pat Geoghegan say that lowering the membership fee would “destroy the club atmosphere.” Apparently, I am acceptable as a teacher in this community: I can pay my property taxes, but I am not of the right ilk for our city-owned pool. Geoghegan also asserts that it would be “unfair to the general taxpayer” that might not use the facility. I disagree vehemently. By living in a society, we have an implicit contract to finance certain aspects of life: health and safety (fire, police), infrastructure (DPW), quality of life (parks and recreation, libraries), and the future of our world (education). People say that they do not want to pay for schools, roads, parks, libraries, etc. because they do not use them. However, we have a communal responsibility to pay taxes for items we might not use just as others pay for items we use. We have a responsibility to share in the cost of making our community a safe and comfortable place for everyone. I cannot understand why it is more acceptable to provide playing fields and tennis courts than it is to have an affordable pool. Each benefits the community and should be supported with tax money.
It seems to me that there are two issues: one is the use of tax dollars to benefit all segments of the community; the other is to erase the elitist attitude that using tax dollars to support a city-owned facility and lowering the membership fee to be more inclusive would, somehow, ruin the facility.
I hope that Rye reconsiders its funding for the Golf Club and, perhaps even more importantly, looks carefully at the message it sends to its residents.
— Jane Johnson