UPDATE: Rye Mayor Steve Otis has told MyRye.com: "The date was set by the organizers before clearing the date with our schedule. We had a campaign event scheduled from 7-9. In addition, I had a Rye Town Park Commission meeting this evening that ended at 7:30. The organizers were informed of the conflict weeks ago. Our understanding was that if our event ended in time we would come to the library. Our event did not end until about 9:45."
In a strange turn of events, no candidates from "Team Otis" – Rye Mayor Steve Otis, City Councilman Andy Ball and candidates Myles Lavelle and Joe Murphy – showed up at the Environmental Advocacy Group of Rye (EAGR)'s environmental forum for Rye city council and mayoral candidates at the Rye Free Reading Room Tuesday night.
Rumor was Otis was attending a wake and the others were at a private fund raiser but it seemed unusually that no one was sent to speak on behalf of "Team Otis". Otis sent along a statement that was read aloud. The forum is scheduled to air on Rye TV Wednesday evening.
EAGR member Judy Martin filed the following report with MyRye.com on the forum:
The moderator (was) Simon Delecta from the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. He opened with comments about how the stated purpose of the fund is to get people to learn about the political process and the role elected officials play on environmental issues.
Doug French was the first speaker. He was to address the question about what type of sustainability plan would his team propose for Rye and what would be the timing of its implementation. He talked about the importance of enforcing the water retention rules that are on the books, improving and enforcing pedestrian safety codes, and proposed that the city leverage the school and city network to educate the public about environmental issues, a "shared network with schools".
Fillipi was next. His question was about how we can improve traffic and air quality in Rye. He first talked about his extensive experience on the water runoff issues and his endorsement from Green World Taxi. Specifically, he said step one is to get the message out on a complex issue and balance proposed steps against costs, next update the Master Plan on sustainability, encourage people to walk more and seek grants so that specific user groups can be engaged such as from AARP for the elderly, expand Safe Routes to School, possibly have more bike racks if the user groups think that would be helpful, replace city vehicles when needed with a bio-diesel truck and hybrid police cars, enforce the idling laws on the books.
Jovanovich was next. His question was about strengthening building codes to improve energy efficiency. He talked about the leaf blower ban and possibly expanding it to additional properties and the clubs, he said he was in favor of previously proposed regs on storm water runoff (implementing them), he is in favor of a public hearing on the deer problem and then thinks the city council should take a position and vote on culling, he thinks the city should expand what it is doing to limit pesticides to include ball fields. Regarding building codes, he said that as a member of the BAR, the regs are out of date and decisions are made on an ad hoc basis, e.g., with regard to solar panels. He would favor soliciting input from local architects.
Keith had question #6 regarding reduction of construction and household waste. In her general statement, Keith reiterated statements made about safe walking and biking routes for children and adults to town, mentioned developing a sustainability plan regarding public space and land use and establishing carbon footprint reduction goals. She said we should explore building codes to reduce constriction waste, expand the reusable bag program, encourage use of permanent water bottles, encourage the use of organizations such as Freecycle and Green Demolition.
Since there was time left at the end of all of the statements, the 4 candidates were given an opportunity to answer the other 4 prepared questions. Keith said she would move ahead with a sustainability plan and mentioned reduced water use, reduced impact of pesticides in LI Sound, energy efficiency in homes, choices of city vehicles, energy use in city buildings, and green roofs on city buildings such as has been done by SUNY Purchase to reduce storm water runoff.
French was there should be a more active role by government on initiatives for safe routes to schools.
Jovanovich said codes should be changed to improve land use within the city such as has been done with the Bird homestead. He cited keeping steeply sloping land as open land and mentioned some land use regs that should be "brought back". He also stated that the city was doing a good job with water runoff and thinks that it is important to give firm support of the staff so that when regs are enforce, the staff is not second guessed.
No questions were taken from the floor. There were 20-25 people in attendance.