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French on the “New” Rye Town Park: Clamp Down on Cars, Charge Non-Residents More

Tuesday night Rye Mayor Doug French presented his parking recommendations to the Rye Town Park Commission. To us they bear a striking similarity to the recommendations presented to the same group by the RTP Task Force – the local citizens group - back in February.

Here are French's recos:

To:  Rye Town Park Commission
From:  Douglas French, Mayor – City of Rye
Date:  March 15, 2010

RE:  Parking Recommendations for Rye Town Park

Based on the discussions at our last Commission meeting, the conversations I have had with many of you, the work of the Rye Town Citizens Parking sub-committee, the recommendations of the City of Rye Finance Committee, high-level discussions with traffic and parking professionals as well as the recommendations of the Rye Town staff, below is a summary of the objectives, strategies and policy actions that I believe are before the Commission to either act upon or evaluate further.

From the City of Rye perspective, we are a co-partner of the park that shares in half of its financial risk and liability, 40% of the capital funding, and takes on the full responsibility when it comes to the surrounding neighborhood and City impacts.  While we all want open and affordable access to the park and beach, we also want a facility that restores its quality of life as a park, improves its safety and environmental conditions, and operates break-even at a minimum so as to not add additional financial burdens to our resident taxpayers.  All of this is attainable but will require clear and demonstrated changes that are very important to the City and our residents.

Operating Objectives and Supporting Strategies and Actions

1. Objective:  Restore the quality of life of the park land during the Summer months by creating more open green space for users and less parking for cars as a parking lot

 Strategy:  Restrict selected areas of the park for parking

a. Action:  Restrict sections along Rye Beach Ave.  Explore restricting as many cars as possible along NW section of Duck pond along Forest Ave.

b. Action:  Explore the financial potential of eliminating all parking restrictions during the 3 peak Summer Holiday weekends (9 days)

c. Action:  Promote and coordinate public transportation access (Bus 76)

d. Action:  Re-investigate resident on-street parking permits

2. Objective:  Increase pedestrian safety within park and reduce traffic risks

 Strategy:  Improve traffic flow in and out of and within park

a. Action:  Conduct traffic engineer study on traffic routes and directions upon entry into park

b. Action:  Obtain engineering report on the safety of the pedestrian bridge structure for traffic flow

c. Action:  Utilize staff, cones and stanchions to regulate traffic flow

d. Action:  Incorporate lighting fixtures that balance the aesthetic needs of the neighbors with increased safety for users

3. Objective:  Institute a break-even budget so the park pays for itself and is not reliant on taxpayers to make-up for revenue shortfalls/expense overruns

 Strategy:  Institute policy changes and operational controls

a. Action:  Incorporate significant differentiated pricing between residents and non-residents that equates value to price.  The proposed pricing by staff only allows for a $2 difference on weekdays and a $3 difference on weekends.  Should also allow for restaurant and evening allowances (tbd)

b. Action:  Institute tighter management controls and technology to reduce cash slippage (ticket-spitters, credit cards, on-line registration).  The average cash business traditionally loses up to 20%.

c. Action:  Explore shared services and private maintenance contracts for park

d. Action:  Increase collection, reporting and transparency of data and information for long-term planning

4. Objective:  Reduce the risk of having the high-volume of cars backed-up and blocking Rye City roadways (Dearborn Ave. and Forest Ave.) in order to get entry into the park

 Strategy:  Improve efficiency of entry into park

a. Action:  Institute ticket-spitters as entry into park (similar to Mall operations) in order to get cars into park faster and track number of cars.  2 ticket-spitters set 20-feet into park would allow up to 6 cars at a time to be off the road.

b. Action:  Open up the gate exit that is currently chained off and have cars pay on the way out.  Residents need to show resident parking permit for discounted fee.  Note:  The current entrance with booth could be flopped with this exit or vice versa

5. Objective:  Protect environment to reduce negative impacts
 Strategy:  Leverage Friends of Rye Town Park master plan
a. Action:  Work with Friends committee and the City of Rye Conservation Committee to develop a sustainability environmental plan and recommendations


  1. I cannot believe that the Mayor fell for their story. This is just about the neighbors not liking all the cars by their house. There is much less of a safety issue here than on the streets of Rye. They propose making the park self-sufficient, yet are going to restrict parking on the grass. Even with the parking on the grass, they park does not break even — how the hell is it going to with hundreds of cars less? Or is that the idea?

    In an environment where we could use every dollar, we have a park that thousands enjoy, yet we are going to keep the “undesireables” out and restrict parking.

    Amazing…simply amazing.

  2. I have a proposal Mr. Mayor. How about a compromise? On weekdays, there is no parking on the grass. On weekends, we allow it.
    This will reduce the amount of days the grass gets “abused” and also reduce the “safety issues” by 80%.
    Hmmm…fair? Or do you need to check with the Housewives first?

  3. Average Citizen is 100% right. Let’s face it. Most Rye residents don’t use the park. They belong to the clubs. These people don’t want the Afro Americans or Hispanics from the Bronx to come to our town! The problem with this town is everyone’s sense of entitlement. I buy a beautiful house by the beach/park. You must now change how everything has always been because they don’t want their precious views obstructed. They don’t want noise from the park so let’s not let “everyone” in. Exactly how much money do you want to charge outsiders when let’s face it most people don’t have Rye incomes and go to the beach because they can’t afford to go to the Caribbean. Mayor French you caved in already. Shame on you! I thought you would be better.

  4. Not every Rye resident belongs to a club……anyone who has walked across the park after fireworks knows how dangerous it can be dodging cars that are trying to work out which way out to use due to lack of signs and lighting. The same applies to the crosswalks on Forest. Come on, just because a system has been in place for a long time doesn’t mean its the best! “The average cash business traditionally loses up to 20%.” as taxpayers don’t we want to protect ourselves from these sort of practices. We pay enough in taxes lets get this park run efficiently and if it means non residents pay more that’s fine. Rye Town residents will still have their permits. In CT a non resident pays $30 for parking.

  5. My suspicion is akin to honest and average citizen’s – I’m thinking that this is an attempt to keep what some feel are “undesirables en mass” out. That’s not the history in our city. But I’m good with the technology idea so long as non local taxpaying constituents ( Port Chester, Town of Rye taxpayers) are always allowed a cash option.

    And if you think the RTP grass is so abused (which it’s not) why not reroute the overflow cars on peak days onto nearby Rye City streets and charge half price for parking? The concrete isn’t going to be hurt by the vehicle weight and the money collected by the city should be more than enough to fund the incremental post event early morning Rye City clean-up crew wages. Then put the residual funds directly into the affected neighborhoods with extra tree plantings and other green up things.

  6. tedc – I live near the park and while I’m not thrilled with the way it’s being used on the weekends as a giant parking lot, I understand that the park/beach are public space and everyone should have reasonable access to them.

    However, the suggestion that the neighborhood roads should be opened for parking is a dangerous and unnecessary option. If you have ever driven around these roads, you’ll notice 2 things immediately: 1) there are no sidewalks on many of these streets meaning people would have to walk down the middle of the street to get to the park. And 2) there are a lot of families with young children who live here. It would create extraordinary safety issues to open these roads to parking.

  7. To all,

    Let me start by saying, if you feel so strongly about something using your identity would go a long way!

    FTR- I’m for leaving the parking as is and has always been!!!

    I wonder what will happen when they raise the fees across the board and it chases these users away??? This is a huge risk, if it backfires the park is DOOMED!

    When the two women stood up to speak at the last council meeting they mentioned the list of residents (75 in total) that were on their side of the argument, I would like to know, are these residents that moved in the last 8 years or long time Rye Residents?

    They, along w/the Mayor also stated the parking is like this 1/2 the year…NOT TRUE, not even close!

    This is only “3 MONTHS”… Memorial Day(May 30th) to Labor Day (August 31st), and lets take into consideration how often the rain shuts the park down….LAST JUNE IT WAS 80% of the month!!!

    If you are going to argue a point, PLEASE use truthful facts and not fabricated lies to further your agenda!

    Here’s a suggestion, how about we pave the grass parking area, that should make everyone happy!!!

  8. Jim,

    Is it possible the reason the park is running in the red is the lack of days when RTP park is forced to park cars on the grass? Here’s a crazy idea …. how about deflating the tires if the car needs to park on the grass then reinflating them when they leave?

  9. “The park looks like a bad Christo sculpture – with tacky ropes strung hither and yon all in the name of parking. They were installed on a weekend. Hopefully, staff was not paid overtime. A waste of public funds either way. It appears that both landscaping and care of the pond have been reduced or eliminated. Is this a way to save the money they spent to put up the sticks and string?”

    Thanks for the above Chris – you of all of us surely have the standing to make this observation. I’ve been away but before I left the pond aeration was underperforming with the waterfall was down to a trickle and one of the two sprayers choked. Now I visit this morning and both sprayers are choked and the waterfall is even less vigorous. The result is that the pond is a scum factory and an environmental disgrace. Is there any management left at this park?

  10. Ed Koch always used to say “How my doin?”

    Well – after a glowing “interim” report on Rye Town Park finances from our new Mayor (which glossed over the disenfranchisement of hundreds of long term paying customers on the July 4th and several other key revenue weekends) the hard number verdict on all these bold “Operating Objectives and Supporting Strategies and Actions” is apparently in –

    “Like a scene out of The Twilight Zone, Rye City and Rye Town will again be subsidizing the park to make whole its 2010 deficit; this comes as word surfaced that the deficit grew in the final three months of the year to $142,000, leaving city officials to scratch their collective heads. The city’s 48 percent share equates to roughly $68,000.”

    A very nicely written story by Chris Falcone.


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