Rye is extremely lucky to have Sara Goddard running for City Council. Sara is an exemplary leader — hardworking, whip smart, thoughtful, and a consensus builder. She combines big-picture thinking with a willingness to dive into the sometimes tedious tasks actually required to get a job done, a rare combination.

As important, Sara’s decency and kindness are at the heart of her every decision. We desperately need more of that right now, and I am so grateful to her for entering the fray. Rye City Council will be lucky to get her.

Caroline Walker

By Emily Proskine Hurd and Danielle Tagger-Epstein

In recent months, Rye residents have been hearing and reading about the NYS Thruway Authority property, Disbrow Park, and DPW. We are glad people are paying attention, because the plan in its current form goes against Rye’s best interests.  

The property in question is the piece of land on the Boston Post Road across from Rye Country Day School. The City has eyed it for decades, both to use for recreation and to prevent unwanted development. However, the cost, $7.4 million, is prohibitive. Other projects — maintaining roads and buildings, improving existing playing fields, upgrading buildings at DPW, and paying for general City operations — take precedence.

Instead, last year, the City asked the State to sell the land to Rye Country Day with provision for sharing recreational use with Rye. RCDS generously offered to raise the necessary funds. NYS passed legislation to allow it, and it awaits the governor’s signature. For Rye, this is a great deal; we would get a playing field at no cost.

Yet this summer, in June, the Mayor and some Council members switched course and began secret efforts to possibly pursue moving DPW from Disbrow to the Thruway site. 

DPW facilities need updating. A Disbrow planning process has been underway. However, one of the proposed plans, moving DPW to the Thruway site, is simply unaffordable. Furthermore, it was conceived without analyzing the most economical way to add playing fields. It ignored the potentially enormous expense of the environmental remediation required to turn a DPW site into a safe playing field. Perhaps even more shockingly, it ignored the cost of buying and developing a new DPW site. This plan would cost $50 million dollars or more. To put this in perspective, the biggest City borrowing in the last 20 years was $4.1 million to modernize a firehouse.

And it would give us only one additional field. If RCDS buys, develops, and shares the property, we would get one additional field plus a track – for $0.

When they understood this, residents objected vociferously. In response, Mayor Sack and Councilman McCartney backtracked, saying, “We are keeping all options open.” Instead of moving on to realistic alternatives, they accused the plan’s critics of partisanship. Instead of acting with the transparency residents deserve (and NYS law requires) they have continued to pursue this plan with closed-door conversations and secret actions.

In June, Mayor Sack asked the Governor to veto the Assembly bill allowing RCDS to buy the land. He did this behind the backs of at least some City Council members, in violation of our City Charter. It also went against Rye’s best interests, as it could cause a return to the original plan of selling the land to the highest bidder.

Worse, the Mayor has discussed with the Mayor of Port Chester a joint DPW facility at the Thruway site. He did not disclose this to the rest of the Council or the public. Only when we asked did we learn that the discussion had taken place, and that Sack, through the City Manager, had helped Port Chester send its own letter to the Governor requesting a veto of the legislation allowing the land sale. This letter mentioned Rye, Port Chester, and Rye Brook sharing the site for their DPWs.

To do this behind the backs of City Council members, in violation of the City Charter, and without extensive analysis of its potential effects, shows disregard for proper decision-making and breathtakingly poor judgment.

It is futile to keep saying, “We are considering all options,” rather than admitting that moving DPW is unaffordable and unwise. When a plan is glaringly wrong it is time to drop it and move on.

The Rye Marina (the DePauw Municipal Boat Basin) is operated by the Boat Basin Commission, which operates in a manner similar to a private enterprise. This is how the Rye Golf Club is also run. There is no funding from the City of Rye. Its future is in jeopardy.

The Boat Basin Commission recently sent a letter to the City Council explaining that significant repairs are now required as the result of deferred maintenance. These repairs are the proper responsibility of the boat owners who moor their vessels at the Marina. The fees charged by the Marina are adequate to make these repairs without municipal funding.

The Commission, however, has been saddled with 100% of the cost of dredging the channel. This is an expense that cannot be sustained by private funding alone. Debris from Blind Brook flows into the Basin, and the channel needs to be dredged on a regular basis in order to remain navigable. If the channel is not dredged, the buildup of debris will eventually worsen the potential for flooding in the Milton Harbor and Blind Brook areas. The Rye Marine Police are also moored at the Marina, and would be unable to respond to rescue calls.

It is past time for the City of Rye to formulate a long-term plan for the continued operation of the Marina and dredging the Basin and Milton Harbor channel. We are requesting that the City Council look at ways to:

  1. Improve the revenue of the Marina while remaining competitive with other Marinas in the area.
  2. Review the expenses of the Marina and find ways to reduce them.
  3. Find another source of funds for dredging without having to rely completely on the Boat Basin Enterprise Fund, which derives its funds solely from slip fees.
  4. Consider hiring a consultant on marina management to advise on fiscal management.

We are not asking the taxpayers to subsidize the cost to boat owners. We are asking the City to recognize that there is a possible flooding threat to homes in the area, which may emerge if the Harbor is not properly maintained, and that it is their responsibility to address it. We are also concerned that, if the Marina is forced to close operations, not only will Rye lose a major asset, but the City taxpayers will also have to foot the bill to clean up what would become a dilapidated eyesore with no outside revenue to help.

— Harvey Geller

In July, the City Council endorsed a policy presented by the chair of the Human Rights Commission dealing with the City’s police, essentially providing that the City police would not give information to Federal immigration people except in limited circumstances.

The City Council endorsed this, a companion to sanctuary city legislation, on the grounds that it simply codifies existing practice.

Two things should be noted. First, if it simply codified existing practice, there was no need for it.

Second, while existing practice would not be binding on the City, by codifying the practice (or creating this practice), it created rights in anyone adversely affected by any error the City might make in what is now mandated as to what is permitted when dealing with the federal government on immigration issues.

In context, if prior to the codification an illegal immigrant were reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in violation of historic practices, and deported, that individual would have had no complaint against the City.

By codifying (or creating) this practice and making it binding on the police, that same individual could now point to the codification and sue the City if the policy were violated.

While this is a black swan event and the likelihood of this happening is almost non-existent, in light of the fact that the potential liability could be astronomical — presumably the difference between what the deported individual could earn in the States and what he or she could earn in his/her native country over the course of their business life — Rye should review this policy.

Irrespective of whether this is merely codification of existing practice, there is clearly no benefit to Rye from this.

I do not believe the City Council focused on the liability issue at the time they adopted the proposal.

They should review it and terminate it post-haste.

— Howard G. Seitz


The Rye Record often publishes good writing, and frequently publishes <very> good writing — Paul Hicks, Bill Lawyer, and Arthur Stampleman come to mind as consistently strong contributors. But Annabel Monaghan’s column, “Paved Paradise” in the September 22 issue rises to the level of <great> writing and deserves to be recognized as such.


Jonathan Spitz

Recently, an ad ran in this publication, suggesting any objections to the handling of the Disbrow Park/Thruway property decisions by the City Council majority are merely partisan rhetoric.

In response, I want to simply review the proposed actions and timelines put forth by the Council majority. No additional “partisan analysis” is required to show why many Rye taxpayers are concerned about the potential cost and impact of the Council’s plans.

At the June 7th Council meeting, although not listed on the agenda, the topic of the Thruway property/DPW redesign was introduced in relation to a “possible referendum ballot on fields or parking in November 2017.” For this to occur, final language would be required by September 8, before the September Council meeting; leaving only a single meeting in July for further discussion.

Councilmember Kristin Bucci dismissed concerns about the condensed timeline, stating that the Council could come up with a plan and final language by September, and recommending that people who have questions or want to see data send her an email. She even suggested scheduling a special August meeting, if necessary, because the opportunity was “too huge.”

I am curious how the “All Rye” team can explain this timeline as anything but the Council majority trying to finalize a huge decision with little public debate, and on an extremely accelerated timeline.

In addition, the All Rye team is now tying the Thruway property sale to the Disbrow Park reconfiguration.

However, Rye Country Day, Louden Woods and Rye Park neighborhood representatives all spoke at the June 7 meeting, and described likely <strong> neighborhood opposition to any move of the DPW to the Thruway location. This makes it unlikely that, even if DPW was moved, the City could use the Thruway location.

The current City Council majority refused to participate in the purchase of the Thruway property, leading to an agreement to have Rye Country Day purchase it, with an agreement to create field space for the City of Rye use. Further delay in the sale of the Thruway property might lead to an auction to the highest bidder. How can the All Rye team assert that this is in the best interest of the community?

Steve Otis’ proposed legislation does not require a sale to Rye Country Day, just allows it. And, the City of Rye has veto power if we don’t agree with the land use. Why does the All Rye team feel it is important to block a <potential > sale to Rye Country Day?

Finally, with a sale of the Thruway property to Rye Country Day, we might get a field that the City can use for $0, versus an estimated cost of $39 million for a DPW move, before cleanup or the purchase of property. With those costs factored in, the total could easily be northward of $50 million. How is this fiscally responsible?

There is little the public support for a complete reconfiguration of the park, and DPW move, based on the consulting work touted in the All Rye ad, in fact, a staggering 56% of respondents noted this option as “least favorite. In addition, the consulting work did not include any review of the existing recreational facilities in Rye, and how a Disbrow Park reconfiguration would fit into an overall master plan.

Although the Council majority scuttled their plans to ram it through, after a massive public outcry, I’d like to submit to the All Rye team that this proposal was poorly planned, extremely rushed, and certainly NOT best for all of Rye.

— Shari Punyon