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Monday, May 25, 2020
Home Government Rye Mayor Doug French on Police Commissioner Connors' Accident

Rye Mayor Doug French on Police Commissioner Connors’ Accident

Doug French, Mayor of the City of Rye, released the following statement to MyRye.com in regards to today's accident where a vehicle being driven by Rye Police Commissioner William Connors struck an 8th grader from Resurrection School. He is calling for Rye to "re-dedicate ourselves to pedestrian safety".

The statement: 

"I have spoken with the child's mother and the police and both the boy and Commissioner Conners are OK after going to the hospital.  However, this is another traumatic event for all involved as well as for our City.  Westchester County is conducting an investigation on the accident and should have a report in a few days.  There are no simple answers and they are called accidents for a reason.  Yet, we will re-dedicate ourselves to pedestrian safety.  We will begin Tuesday, February 9th in the joint meeting of the City Council and the Board of Education to address the key locations around town where the City, Schools and the community need to come together on pedestrian education, traffic enforcement and engineering solutions."

If you are interested in attending the February 9th meeting, here are the details:

The Rye City Council and the Rye City School District Board of Education will hold a joint meeting on February 9th for a public discussion of pedestrian and traffic safety.

The regularly-scheduled February 9th Board of Education meeting will be held early – at 6:00 p.m.   It will be followed at 8:00 p.m. by a public meeting with the Rye City Council.  Both meetings will be held in the Rye Middle School Multi-Purpose Room.

Residents are encouraged to participate.

"Pedestrian safety has been an issue of public concern for many years, and while the Safe Routes to School programs have had positive effect, we need to continually consider new perspectives as they arise.  This joint meeting will facilitate collaboration between the City and the District on this topic, as together we receive input from residents," said Board of Education President, Josh Nathan.

Tuesday, February 9th in the Rye Middle School Multi-Purpose Room

6:00 p.m. –  Board of Education Meeting (normally scheduled for 8:00 p.m.)

8:00 p.m. –  Rye City Council and Board of Education Joint Public Meeting on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety

18 COMMENTS

  1. Mayor French:

    Thanks for taking the lead on this. No one wants to hurt a child, but we have a bit of an epidemic on our hands.

    I recall several years ago in Darien a child was killed, and a massive community effort was launched, with a slogan of “slow down in town.”

    We need stricter enforcement of traffic law, the use of cell phones in cars, and a rise in the level of ‘awareness’ right down to the individual level.

    Sadly, until we start pulling people over en masse and writing them up, the message will not get through. Perhaps when police pull people over they can hand out a flyer of the several incidents in our community over the last few years as a reminder to slow down in town.

    Sincerley yours,
    Carl & Melinda Friedrich

  2. Carl & Melinda,
    I travel in that area often and have witnessed the impact of that slogan!

    That would never work here, we have a very dis-functional PD combined with residents who have no respect for the safety of others including themselves!

    Jim Amico & Bob Zahm have been speaking loud & clear for quite some time now, I see no evidence of a “massive community effort”!

    Sadly, you suggest the cops hand out reminder flyers…..sad that they should have to!
    One child is dead and several other injured, if that doesn’t hit home what will?

    Jim put up big yellow signs in his yard and his Dad’s and yet he says people are still SPEEDING!

    I don’t know if any of us have the answer!!!

    The lead that Mayor French needs to take is IMMEDIATE action and investigation into what is wrong with our Police Dept. so maybe one day they will issue summonses in MASSE!

  3. Dear Mayor French and City Council Members,

    I’m not a traffic expert, but I don’t understand why Rye doesn’t just put up 4 way stop signs every 1/4 mile or so on Milton, Midland and Forest. That would slow everyone down and give the kids plenty of places to cross safely. Doing so and also enforcing the crosswalk laws would get us a great deal closer to the pedestrian safety we all want. We’ve been living with this controversy for far too long. Let’s not have any more accidents before we act.

    Thanks very much for listening.

    Sincerely yours,
    Suki van Dijk

  4. Suki,
    Very well said!

    Here’s the problem, we have engineers telling the council how dangerous Stop Signs are and how they are NOT WARRANTED according to NYS LAWS!

    I have yet to see one report of fact from the CITY of RYE Managers Office and the RPD that shows how many accidents in “RYE” are caused by STOP SIGNS, new,old, or in between!!!

    SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!

  5. I know this wouldn’t solve all of the pedestrian problems…but why doesn’t the Rye School District use buses? I am not saying that I think the solution to our traffic problems is to eliminate pedestrians, but that would seem to eliminate the dangerous mix of kids and traffic that happens twice a day, 5 days a week. When I see the cluster of vehicles and young children darting in and out of cars every day at Midland, it almost surprises me that MORE accidents don’t happen.

  6. For busing to SOLVE the child pedestrian safety problem it would need to cover all children, including those living within 1 block of their schools. But a large part of the reason that people choose to live near schools is so that that they can walk to the school. Additionally, there remains the safety issue outside of to- / from- school travel which is also a significant concern.

    Additionally, while money should not get in the way of safety (a very general statement, I know), the cost of busing needs to be considered. The decision to drop busing pre-dates me significantly, but I believe that by state law, if it is provided to public school students, it would also need to be offered to all Rye City School District students attending private schools – independent of their location. That would be a significant cost ( > $1 million/year, I guess ) and not one I’m sure the taxpayers would support.

  7. It would be nice to hear from some pre-1950? Rye City residents to see what can be remembered about the establishment of the public school student crossing guard program. Perhaps the program’s establishment was rooted in some of the same safety issues we face today. Since I was only a member and not a manager or founder I can only attest to certain aspects of its operation. And the best aspect I remember is that getting responsibility early in life is a good thing.

  8. Re Busing:

    The minimal amount of past busing to/from the elementary schools (never to RMS/RHS) provided by the Rye City School District was more generous than required by NYS regulation (various distance/miles from school cut points). After conducting ridership surveys that yielded statistics that less than 50% of the families eligible for in-District busing actually placed their children on the buses, the Rye BOE eliminated busing about fifteen years ago (while I was a member of the Rye City School District Board of Education) having concluded busing to be a waste of taxpayer money. In two successive years in-District busing was eliminated followed by the cancelation of out-of-District busing (to private schools). Busing of special education students to out-of-District programs is required by NY State law/regulation and has been/continues to be provided by the District.

    Also, while somewhat efficient in getting the children to school in the mornings, busing is not effective in conjunction with the afternoon dismisals at the elementary schools due to in-school, after-school clubs or family determined/parent arranged after-school activities (dance, play dates, piano, sports, doctors appointments, haircuts, etal) requiring children to be picked up at school and delivered to their next activity on a timely basis rather than spending an incremental 15-45 minutes as the bus ran through its neighborhood routes.

    Busing in today’s environment would cost millions of dollars annually, would inflate the School District budget and would result in an uptick in the tax rate of 1.5% to 2% in the first year followed by annual inflationary increases thereafter. Rye has been fortunate that the past dollars dedicated to inefficient and ineffective busing programs have been diverted and invested in the classroom in the delivery of educational services rather than
    on busing services not utilized by Rye’s families.

    In short, busing is not the answer to Rye’s traffic safety challenges. Modification of each individual’s behavior and awareness is truly the answer.

    If anyone would like more details on the history of busing in Rye and the past actions taken by the Board of Education, feel free to contact me.

    Stephen M. Feeney

  9. I truly appreciate your explanation of the busing decision, Mr. Feeney. I have been a Rye resident for almost 8 years and never knew why busing wasn’t available here.

    But I am still not convinced it wouldn’t solve many problems. You said it only had a 50% ridership at the time. If I believe your numbers, that would mean that HALF of the children and the cars that we see now would be eliminated at peak hours.

    The 3 most recent accidents were not caused by speeding. They all occured at dismissal. While the Amico tragedy might not have been prevented by busing, the other two accidents may have been. Since speeding wasn’t a factor in any of these accidents, I am left to believe that the sheer quantity of cars and children at drop off and dismissal is just a recipe for disaster. Frankly, when I see the chaos of cars and people outside of Midland daily, I am shocked that there aren’t more incidents like the latest ones reported. I am quite certain that bringing busing back to Rye is not likely or favored by most. But I am not sure how the issue could otherwise be addressed. I think most people driving in school zones are reasonably aware. Children can be lectured and taught and informed but children, by their very nature, are unpredictable. So unless we reduce the numbers of pedestrians and cars at peak hours, I am just not sure what the answer is.

  10. Some in Rye credited Bill Connors’ most vocal critic, former PBA Pres. T. Chittenden, as a viable candidate for public office. Now his posturing is revealed for what it was: self-serving opportunism.

  11. Robert L. Byrne,

    Surely you must also have the same opinion for the Officer (CURRENT PBA PRES.) who will be costing us millions in Taxpayer $$$ for the lawsuit brought against him & 2 of his fellow officers for the BEATING they laid on an 18yr.old in a routine traffic stop???

  12. During the often contentious Mayor’s race this Fall, private conversations I’d had with the publisher of the Sound Shore Review were revealed on this blog within hours of when they occurred.
    Although they were leaked anonymously — with significant and deliberate errors — I had a pretty good idea of their source.
    I find it a shame that a citizen cannot have a confidential conversation with the publisher of a local paper — but that’s an issue I’ll take up in the future.
    My point is a handful of sorry souls spent a whole lot of time on this blog savaging decent people — and “news” found its way here in a hurry.
    Today I’d like to note that the usual suspects are strangely silent.
    HMMMM….no news today on the front page of any papers?

  13. “Above Average Citizen”
    My opinion would depend on information regarding the lawsuit. Right now I have no information other than your sketchy outline. Both men will defend their behavior, and should enjoy a presumption of innocence. But my criticism concerned an abuse of trust, repeated improper labor practices, and needless and expensive FOIL requests.
    P.S. Why the anonymity?

  14. It is a little disheartening that when the PC hit the child, it was on here in a couple of hours. But the PBA issue has yet to hit the presses.

    What gives?

    And altough Tim and I have had some “gives & takes” here, I still will not only wait to hear his side, but also hope that the accusations are not true.

  15. Mayor Doug – Ask the BOE with added temporary RHS classrooms (more teachers) why isn’t more parking be added to the RHS/RMS campus to improve local street safety? BOE has the parking design plans and costs-but will not pull the trigger.
    Make sure you ask Chittenden
    for his traffic safety comments!

  16. “Today I’d like to note that the usual suspects are strangely silent.”

    Never fear Charmian, we’re posting – you just need to read down a little further.

    Quite a mudslide on Tim Chittenden, eigh? Do you believe it? Do you think there might, just might, be an official legal answer coming? I for one don’t make up my mind about a play during the overture – especially one as potentially salacious as this one.

    But one thing I do know for sure – our current police management capability and efficacy is below what this city had for decades before this. That’s the story that threatens children’s lives and puts unnecessary stress on all of us.

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Doug French, Mayor of the City of Rye, released the following statement to MyRye.com in regards to today's accident where a vehicle being driven by Rye Police Commissioner William Connors struck an 8th grader from Resurrection School. He is calling for Rye to "re-dedicate ourselves to pedestrian safety".

The statement: 

"I have spoken with the child's mother and the police and both the boy and Commissioner Conners are OK after going to the hospital.  However, this is another traumatic event for all involved as well as for our City.  Westchester County is conducting an investigation on the accident and should have a report in a few days.  There are no simple answers and they are called accidents for a reason.  Yet, we will re-dedicate ourselves to pedestrian safety.  We will begin Tuesday, February 9th in the joint meeting of the City Council and the Board of Education to address the key locations around town where the City, Schools and the community need to come together on pedestrian education, traffic enforcement and engineering solutions."

If you are interested in attending the February 9th meeting, here are the details:

The Rye City Council and the Rye City School District Board of Education will hold a joint meeting on February 9th for a public discussion of pedestrian and traffic safety.

The regularly-scheduled February 9th Board of Education meeting will be held early – at 6:00 p.m.   It will be followed at 8:00 p.m. by a public meeting with the Rye City Council.  Both meetings will be held in the Rye Middle School Multi-Purpose Room.

Residents are encouraged to participate.

"Pedestrian safety has been an issue of public concern for many years, and while the Safe Routes to School programs have had positive effect, we need to continually consider new perspectives as they arise.  This joint meeting will facilitate collaboration between the City and the District on this topic, as together we receive input from residents," said Board of Education President, Josh Nathan.

Tuesday, February 9th in the Rye Middle School Multi-Purpose Room

6:00 p.m. –  Board of Education Meeting (normally scheduled for 8:00 p.m.)

8:00 p.m. –  Rye City Council and Board of Education Joint Public Meeting on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety