By Tom McDermott

At its December 11 meeting, the Rye Recreation Commission approved a Disbrow Park & Facilities Master Plan proposal, designated “Plan B2,” developed by Stantec Consulting. The Commission described it as being the best parts of the original A and B concepts offered by Stantec in June (available at ryeny.gov). It includes significant upgrades to recreation areas and public works facilities within Disbrow Park.

The preliminary total cost estimate is $26 million, nearly evenly divided between recreation and public works costs. The estimate includes the highest range of public works facilities remediation costs, $4.8 million. The work would most likely be phased in over an unspecified number of years if approved by the City Council.

A week later, in a separate but related development, according to State Assemblyman Steve Otis, Gov. Cuomo signed a bill authorizing Rye Country Day School to purchase NYS Thruway land on Boston Post Road across from its campus. The bill requires the school to use the land for recreational purposes and be shared with the City of Rye before the land can be sold. Otis, the bill’s main sponsor, stated, “…Governor Cuomo’s support for our local goals for this property has been tremendous. The next step will be a shared-use agreement between the City and the school, transfer of the property, and a new field for the kids to play on.”

While the bill offers the City an opportunity to enter into an agreement with Rye Country Day, it is not bound by the bill to do so.

Some of the recreational highlights of the Disbrow Park proposal are:

  • Creation of a two-way vehicular circulation loop through the park;
  • A gathering area near the entrance with a playground, restrooms, and baseball/softball viewing areas;
  • A pedestrian plaza at Feeley Field;
  • Relocation of Grainger field and Founders Field No. 1;
  • Synthetic turf improvements to Sterling Field;
  • Relocation of public recycle drop-off into a covered facility;

Additionally, the proposal calls for four new public works buildings: salt shed and truck washing station; a refuse truck garage; a police garage bay, offices, and flexible storage; and a truck garage. Some of the public works upgrades have been in the City’s Capital Improvement plans for several years as “high priority.”

Councilman Terry McCartney Council liaison to the Commission, who attended the meeting, said that the work would be accomplished through bonding. The proposal is subject to some adjustments in design and cost estimates by Stantec.

The Recreation Commission hopes to have Stantec present the plan to the incoming City Council in early 2018. Asked how the process might go forward, City Manager Marcus Serrano said, “It comes down to what the Council wants to do. They may want to get better cost estimates and have both DPW and recreation staffs review the proposal more closely.” Ryan Coyne, the City Engineer who oversees DPW, did not return phone and email messages seeking comment.

How receptive will the new Council be toward the proposal? Mayor-elect Josh Cohn said, “Speaking for myself, I would be open to having a presentation. The Recreation Commission has gone to a lot of trouble and has put forward a point of view.” Cohn said that he and Councilmembers-elect – Sara Goddard, Julie Souza, and Ben Stacks – will prioritize “budget concerns, improving DPW, and being responsive to the need for fields.” To that end, Cohn expects the Council to conduct a comprehensive field-use survey.

The Disbrow plan does not include any new field for soccer or lacrosse, something that a number of Commission members had wanted. Asked if the Governor’s signing the bill offered Rye an opportunity to solve that problem, Cohn told the paper, “It is important that both Rye Country Day and the City be successful. Rye would need to get serious use of fields at the property.”