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Home People Rye People: Catherine Parker

Rye People: Catherine Parker

Your Name: Catherine Parker

Your Elected Position:  Rye City Council member as of January 1, 2008

Your Day Job:  I am President and founder of Parkers at 43 Purchase Street. I started Parkers in December of 1996. As a small business owner I “wear a lot of hats” as buyer, marketing and advertising director, office manager, and an assortment of other duties which keeps me busy.

Catherine_parker_photo_2_4MyRye.com: What is your political affiliation?

Independent. Usually that means I get mail from everyone.

Why did you run for elected office?

I first ran for Rye City Council four years ago when I was also asked by both the Democrats and Republicans. This time was actually the third election cycle when both parties had approached me to run. This year I felt it was especially important for me to run because it seemed a natural extension to the volunteering that I had already been doing for the community as a member of the Rye Flood Action Coalition, the CBD Taskforce, and the Rye Merchants Association, and I felt my sense of community would be a welcome addition to the council. On a more personal note, it is definitely a desire of mine to give my children the best hometown. Moving here to Rye was just the start and I feel good stewardship of our investment is the key to Rye being at its best.   

Rye sustained $80 million in damage from the April 15th flood. The Sells Report was just published with its recommendations on flood mitigation. What are the three most important things Rye needs to do to prepare for the next “100 Year” flood? 

The Sells Report has only addressed the issue of the Upper Pond at the Bowman Avenue Dam to date and the impact that changes to the Upper Pond will make farther downstream. I suspect the Lower Pond is really where we will get more bang for our buck so I would not speculate on the three best actions to take until the complete report from Charles Sells is presented. Will we need to bond? Yes, it seems fairly certain that that will be the best way to pay for mitigation projects that will serve the community for many years to come. 

A few months ago, City Councilman Andy Ball called for Rye to hire a Flood Czar that would oversee future flood mitigation efforts. Do you believe this is necessary?

Have any Czars really worked? In all seriousness, I think our city staff and our elected officials have worked long and hard to get Rye in the best possible position with FEMA/SEMO and what I took away with me from the Flood Summit held by Westchester County was that Rye is way ahead of our Sound Shore neighbors as far as getting the ground work done to be able to receive federal, state, and county money to help defray costs as we repair our infrastructure and protect ourselves from future flooding. The second part to that issue is the cost of another staff person – generally I do not think we are in a position to take on more staff. 

Besides flood mitigation, what are the three most important issues facing Rye over the next five years?

Where’s my crystal ball? I will tell you a couple of the issues that are big ticket items that I know will be a bear. First, there are four contracts with city employees that need to be negotiated. Second, the potential new police and court facility will need a location. Maybe it is the old CVS building and maybe not.  Overall it can be said that as a council we are going to be constantly evaluating needs in terms of affordability and quality of life.

You own and run Parker’s, a well-known travel store on Purchase Street in downtown Rye. What inspired you to start the store? How many countries have you travelled to and what are your favorite destinations?

My mother was a school teacher who told me growing up that the world is the best classroom. She was right, of course. Even on a teachers salary we traveled when I was a child to Europe and she encouraged me to become an exchange student in high school (AFS – Sweden) as well as study in Europe (Italy) during college. After college I traveled even more extensively both in Europe and South America and I had my last hurrah in 1996 when I spent two months traveling in India before I opened Parkers. I would have to say India has been my favorite. One thing I have had to adjust to since opening my travel store is that I get to travel vicariously now through my customers much more frequently than actually getting away.   

You serve on the Rye Central Business Task Force and helped start the Rye Merchants Association. Where we too late in putting a ban on new bank branches downtown? What types of controls are in place and what if any do we still need?

Yes, I have felt the horses were already out of the barn so to speak when it comes to the proliferation of banks in Rye. I don’t blame the city council, though I do think our city planner should have sounded the alarm that this was a trend occurring in other parts of our metropolitan area and others so that the council could have been more proactive instead of reactive.

MyRye.com has been told the Rye Hospital Center on the Boston Post Road may be put up for sale. Nearly three acres running from the Post Road down to the Blind Brook, the property borders an existing .48 acres of property along the brook designated park land according the city maps and is also very close to the Rye High School and Middle School property. Is there an opportunity here for the City?

To date, my understanding is that this is all conjecture.

What will be your three highest priorities during your first 12 months on Rye City Council?

My first priority is to see that flooding continues to be addressed in as expeditious a manner as possible. After that my priorities include making Rye more environmentally sound. Some small things we could do would be putting recycling bins in the Central Business District near the pizza and coffee shops, solar trash compactors in highly trafficked areas, solar lights as we add or replace existing lighting, and getting an energy audit done to name a few.  I would also like to see if there is an opportunity for the city to gain some revenue by generating power whether it is solar, wind, or hydraulic. Lastly, I want to see the fruition of a Boston Post Road diet. It will be terrific when it goes from a dangerous four lane to a safe three lane road with a bike path.

What are the three best reasons to live in Rye?

It doesn’t seem fair to pick only three reasons to live in Rye, but I will say that we are blessed with a beautiful community, full of lovely people, and being on the water is the added bonus. 

What are your three favorite restaurants in Rye that deliver?

Both my husband and I love to cook. He’s the pasta guy and I prepare more meat. Honestly, the only thing we have had delivered is pizza from Piazza Pizza and that is pretty infrequent. 921-4444 (520 Milton Road, Rye)

What is your favorite restaurant in Rye for a family meal?

My daughter, Julia, and I sometimes head to Al Dente on Elm Place after work on Friday. She absolutely loves the homemade soups! I can say they do make wonderful pastas, too. 921-5300 (7 Elm Place, Rye)

Where do you live in Rye?

We live on Milton Road. Our house is called Mill Pond Cottage and we love the view of the wetlands from our backyard. Our daughter goes to Milton School. Before we bought our house, we lived at Blind Brook Lodge for eight years.

How else are you involved in the community?

I have been on the board of the Rye Arts Center for many years. I helped found the Rye Merchants Association and I am currently on the board, I was president of the co-op board at BBL for three years, I teach Sunday school at Rye Presbyterian, I was Co-President of the League of Women Voters of Rye, Rye Brook and Port Chester. As mentioned previously I have served on two city committees focused on the CBD as well as the Beautification Committee. Oh, and last year I was a class mom. Unfortunately, it all cuts into my gym time.

Tell us your contact information.

Your phone: 921-8409
Your email address:parkersinrye (AT) aol.com

Thanks, Catherine.


  1. Mrs. Parker and Mrs. Gamache,
    On October 9th we posted on your Ticket of Experience facebook page
    the below massage and never received an answer. Could you please respond to our question?

    Thanking you in advance,

    Mrs. Parker and Mrs. Gamache,
    In this week’s Rye Record a letter to the editor was published with regard to Hen Island.


    Could you both please respond to it and also state your position as to; if you believe there is or is not a problem with sewage, Potable water, and mosquito infestation on Hen Island? If you believe there is, can you also state what you would do in attempting to rectify the problem?

    Seeing as you both have been silent on this issue for the past four years. I feel this would be an important issue to voting residents of Rye especially residents in your districts of Greenhaven and Milton Point, which are directly affected by Mosquitoes and Sewage.


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