By Tom McDermott
The process to upgrade Disbrow Park and Rye’s public works, which began in May, has taken another turn. On August 1, Mayor Joe Sack wrote to Rye City Manager Marcus Serrano, saying Port Chester Mayor Richard A. “Fritz” Falanka had informed him that Port Chester wanted “to participate in the long-term planning discussion we are having in Rye which potentially might lead to Rye considering purchasing the Thruway property” and exploring ways for potential shared services.
Sack also told Serrano that Port Chester wished to write to the Governor requesting he not sign Assemblyman Steve Otis’ pending bill to sell the land to rye Country Day School, as Sack had done. To that end, Falanka asked for a copy of Sack’s own letter to the governor.
On August 9, Falanka wrote to the Governor Cuomo, calling the site “a perfect example of your consolidation and shared-service philosophy.” It also says the pending bill would “deny Port Chester and its neighbors the opportunity to continue and deepen their cooperative efforts.” It did not cite any examples of that cooperation and did not mention playing fields.
The nine-acre parcel lies between the two municipalities and is bounded by Boston Post Road and I-95. Otis’ bill before the governor would allow Rye Country Day School to purchase the land with two caveats: the school must enter into a sharing agreement with Rye, and the land must be used for playing fields.
Otis said Falanka had not informed him of Port Chester’s interest in the land, but he did receive a copy of Falanka’s letter to Governor Cuomo.
At the September 13 City Council meeting Council member Danielle Tagger- Epstein and her Democratic colleague Emily Hurd raised the issue of the Village Port Chester’s interest and the fact that Council members had not been informed of Port Chester’s interest in a timely manner. She also cited a note in Port Chester’s portion of a County Shared Services Plan before the Board of Legislators, written by Village Manager Christopher Steers, stating that Otis’ bill “would block our ability to pursue jointly purchasing piece (sic) of property surplused by the thruway Authority for a proposed consolidated DPW yard with the City of Rye.”
Sack vehemently denied having initiated a discussion with Port Chester. “I initiated nothing.” Referring to the Shared Services Plan, he said, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Later, Sack told the paper he thought his Council colleagues tried to “sandbag the rest of us for partisan political purposes while we’re busy solving problems” and welcomed Port Chester’s participation. “I don’t know where it will lead if anywhere, but they ought to be able to register their point of view.”
Neither Mayor Falanka nor Steers returned calls for comment on their hopes to share a DPW facility with Rye and Rye Brook
Tagger-Epstein said she wanted to make sure the city has the best options. “By asking the governor to veto the bill, we relinquish the power of the city. DPW needs work, but let’s get information. It’s a referendum decision.”
Democratic County Legislator Catherine Parker, whose committee reviewed the shared services plan, commented that “Shared services does not need to be between municipalities. It could mean with a school”