The Community on the Hill

When we moved to Rye in 1992, we did so because it was the closest town to Manhattan. I grew up in Manhattan, and messy as it was, I was not to the suburbs born.

Published November 1, 2013 5:00 AM
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When we moved to Rye in 1992, we did so because it was the closest town to Manhattan. I grew up in Manhattan, and messy as it was, I was not to the suburbs born.

 

By Robin Jovanovich

 

When we moved to Rye in 1992, we did so because it was the closest town to Manhattan. I grew up in Manhattan, and messy as it was, I was not to the suburbs born.

 

But good places grow on you. You join a church or a nonprofit organization, meet kindred souls and like-minded people, and before you know it you’re a wholly engaged member of the community.

 

Needless to say, I’m not the only person to move to Rye who’s had this experience. It’s a place where people show up, take pride in their traditions and history, but are ready to support new missions. They volunteer their time all the time.

 

Through membership at the Rye Arts Center, Rye Presbyterian Church, and the Rye Free Reading Room, I discovered the joys and challenges of being part of a community worth caring about. Through contributing to The Rye Record since 1997, I have enjoyed spending time talking with seniors, teens, athletes, businesspeople, police officers, City staff, candidates, leaders, achievers, and just plain folks.

 

But women too like a good fight, and our town has witnessed its fair share in recent years. The commonality of these battles is people who care enough about the community to devote their time to its maintenance, preservation, and long-term viability.

 

There’s more to “Keeping Rye Rye” than wordsmithing and restriping the crosswalks.

 

Ask citizens like Sis D’Angelo who for years pushed the City to clean up the old gas stations sites on North Purchase Street. Talk to any member of the Rye Flood Action Committee about the number of letters they have written, meetings they’ve attended, and detailed engineering reports they’ve read to make the case for far greater upstream retention. Attend a Planning, Zoning, or Board of Architectural Review meeting and discover how much pressure developers are putting on City boards and commissions to allow building within wetland buffers and ever closer to neighboring properties. Listen to the concerns of longtime residents at those meetings who decry the new “big box” homes that diminish neighborhood character and the continued clear cutting of property to make room for these outsize homes.

 

We may all live in a beautiful, welcoming community with an enviable number of organizations that make a difference, access to the water, and open space, but we have challenges aplenty. And on plenty of them we’re not moving ahead.

 

In part that’s due to the vocal “stop work” order and focus of all our attentions on: the Golf Club Scandal and the question of which City employee should be led to the “firing squad” first. (Imagine being a City employee in this climate.)

 

Should scandals be treated lightly? Of course not. Should they be allowed to consume so much of public meeting time that they derail good municipal governance?  We trust not.

 

We have an election next week. Citizens have an orderly way to express their hopes and their beliefs and make a difference.

 

If we want our community to be that model of good works at every level, we need to pick the people who will make sure that our laws are enforced and that our regulations are revisited as needed.

 

If we want action, we need to elect people of action, not merely reaction. The hard part isn’t bringing an issue to the City Council or the County, it’s ironing out a practicable plan and seeing it through to completion.

 

If we care about sustainability — fiscal as well as environmental —, flood mitigation, improvement of the crumbling train station lot, and safer intersections, downtown and across town, we need to vote for the people who will implement the plans.

 

It’s a privilege to live in Rye, and if we want to ensure that seniors can afford to stay and that young people starting off can afford to move here, we need to vote for people who understand that no community can be great without diversity of age, income, and perspective.

 

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