Playland Pathway before and after being expanded to 8-feet wide and rerouted around one of the largest oak trees in Rye.
- Photos by Chris Cohan
The Playland Parkway Path
By Howard Husock
It’s been a long and winding road through State and County government, but in recent days real progress has been made on what promises to be an important amenity for Rye: Rye Playland Parkway Pathway. What has been a narrow concrete trail along the busy Parkway will become a full-blown link between the Rye Metro-North station and Playland, featuring a new pedestrian and cyclist bridge across Blind Brook.
Once completed, the $3.8 million project will include a marked bike route from downtown Rye to Playland and Edith G. Read Sanctuary via marked bike lanes on Theodore Fremd Avenue, North Street, and Old Post Road. A new path will link the Old Post Road to an expanded path along Playland Parkway.
“It’s going to be great for pedestrians, cyclists, and the community,” says County Legislator Catherine Parker, who was among the County officials who pushed the project forward.
Delays in contracting for the project, however, have proven costly. It was originally discussed in 2006. The County’s share of construction costs will exceed those from a federal highway grant administered by the State, which was supposed to have paid 80 percent of the cost.
Parker is candid in saying that that process from design to shovel-ready project was so drawn-out and bureaucratic to have been “almost comical”. The first public hearings on the project were held before many young Rye cyclists were born — in 2009.
Parker agreed that it would likely have been quicker, easier, and less expensive for the County to finance the project on its own. Indeed, that seems likely. Although the type of federal funds which are being used for the project typically cover 80 percent of the cost, the long delay and resulting cost increases have led to the County paying more than half, according to County Executive George Latimer’s office.
As summarized in a June 2019 County Planning Department memo, the County had to amend its original contract three times with the State, including an additional $1.8 million in 2018 and an additional $350,000 in 2019. Even those figures understate the cost to the County, which will have to pay interest on the bond borrowing required to finance the construction cost.
Why the long delay? The requirement of State approval of the project was sidetracked, says Parker, by the retirement of a key state transportation official — followed by County design disagreements with his successor. It may seem a straightforward project, but details about regulatory compliance, including with the American Disabilities Act, did not prove to be simple, she says.
It’s also worth noting that, almost immediately following the original 2009 design contract for the project, a Republican County Executive, Rob Astorino, was elected. The project languished for the entire eight years of his tenure. It is only in the year following the 2017 election of his opponent, Democrat George Latimer, who had been serving as Rye’s representative in the State Senate, that the project began to move forward.
Such matters aside, with construction finally underway, Rye can look forward to a local green trail. In addition to the path itself, there will be explanatory signage about the Blind Brook ecosystem and Playland history.
It’s worth asking, however, whether the current name — Rye Playland Parkway Path — should be re-examined. What about the Parsons Path — to honor the family which donated the land for the Rye Nature Center, the Rye Free Reading Room, Rye High School, as well as City Hall? Or, in keeping with its funding history, the Red Tape Trail?
Playland Pathway Cost and Funding
Total Project Cost: $3,815,000 (Incl. Design & Construction, County and non-county funding)
Non-County Funding: $1,624,438 (including federal funds disbursed by New York State)
County Funding: $2,190,562