It’s such a joy to walk in Rye Town Park, with its specimen trees, duck pond, and swaying grasses, and along the beachside path with its views of Long Island Sound and beyond, that it’s easy to overlook the condition of the historic buildings designed by Upjohn & Conable a century ago.
At the beginning of summer, the Rye Town Park Commission announced the completion of two major projects: the FEMA-funded Beach Replenishment Project to mitigate the damage and erosion caused by Hurricane Ida, which required sand to be purchased and the beach re-leveled; and through a Community Development Block Grant, the installation of ADA-compliant beach mats and the acquisition of two beach wheelchairs. At the time, Town of Rye Supervisor said, “This is another step towards our goal of making all town and park facilities accessible to all of our residents.”
At the end of July, we took an hour-long tour of the park with Supervisor Zuckerman, Town Administrator Debbie Reisner, and Rye Town Park Director Russ Gold that included going inside all of the buildings, most of which are in serious need of restoration and repair. We walked down stairs that were falling apart, and watched as workmen installed new windows in buildings that needed new everything else.
The administrators have stepped up submission of grant applications and appeals to every elected official for help in securing funds. But as Zuckerman said, “We need a layer cake of funding.”
Assemblyman Steve Otis’ office helped them secure a SAM grant to redo the Pavilions. They have the ear and the support of State Senator Shelley Mayer.
What the Park needs is generous donors and a bond to be passed by both the Town of Rye and the City of Rye, which share the cost — 60/40 — of capital expenditures. If there is an operating deficit, the City and Town contribute equally to put the Park in the black.
“We have a wish list and a plan,” said Zuckerman.
The next park project is a hazard mitigation study of the water from the Duck Pond with the eventual goal of improving the hydrology. “The source of water in the pond is stormwater,” noted Reisner. “This study is critical to providing a solution that will mitigate flooding which currently occurs as a result of both stormwater piped to the park pond from the City of Rye’s drainage system as well as surface runoff within the park.”
They’re on their fourth grant application for a sustainable, tree-lined parking lot. “Congressman Bowman has provided a letter of support, but nothing more,” said Zuckerman.
They’re applying for grants to renovate the interior of the Bathhouse.
The landscape has never looked lovelier thanks to Director Gold and his hard-working crew, but revenues from events and beach and parking permits can’t repair buildings. And that’s a fact that every elected official must address now.