Rye Mayor Doug French has started to publish occasional missives regarding Rye City Council updates. MyRye.com will bring them to you – our readers. And then we'll bring your questions about these issues to Mayor French.
Leave your questions on these specific issues as a comment below. Mayor French has promised to answer questions posed by MyRye.com readers. Keep it clean people. Here is the mayoral manifesto:
Council Updates and Actions that Impact You
Highland Hall Settlement
This week the City of Rye announced it reached agreement with the plaintiff 151 Purchase Street Associates in a lawsuit commenced by them back in 2007 on the City's resolution for Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA) at the Highland Hall Apartments. ETPA is not a permanent designation and can be removed based on the total unit vacancy rates. The agreement re-affirms ETPA for all 99 units at 131 Purchase Street and provides certainty for those tenants that ETPA cannot be challenged or lifted. The agreement also establishes a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the 151 Purchase Street building that is consistent with MOUs and terms of other buildings in Rye of 10 units or less. As part of the MOU, the 7 remaining tenants at 151 also have the right of first refusal to move into 131 Purchase Street for ETPA protection based on unit availability.
Beaver Swamp Proceeding
The City will have another meeting next week with the Town/Village of Harrison, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Administrative Law Judge conducting the proceeding. There is still disagreement on the estimated amount of flood storage that can be held on the site with the revised plans for the park. Our position is to clearly understand why the estimates vary greatly, and that this project represents a good opportunity to meet the objectives of both communities and residents in the surrounding area for parkland and flood mitigation. However, we need to make sure we understand the flood and environmental impacts up front so that the proper remedies can be addressed.
Commuter Parking Fee Increase
The Council last week made the first in a series of difficult decisions as we begin to restructure the City's budget not only for 2011 but to make it sustainable for the long-term. Commuter parking fees were raised to $720 — more than doubling the current rate. Resident rates had not been raised for almost 10 years and parking was being subsidized to the point where all-day parking rates were roughly only $1.50 per day; well-below levels charged by surrounding communities. The demand for commuter parking remains incredibly high and the Council moved to set the rates to market levels. The move to one price also begins the implementation of our strategy to use technology to make the City more efficient. The permit process will now be automated where it used to take the Clerks' office 6 months to coordinate, manage and process.
Rye Town Park to Breakeven?
With the summer over, Rye Town Park is ahead $142,000 in revenue over expenses. Although there are still 4 months to go in park maintenance and operating expenses until year-end, there is the real possibility that Rye Town Park will breakeven for the first time in a very long time. In combination with the improved safety and park enhancements, not to mention the improved overall impacts to the surrounding neighborhoods, this is a good first step in a joint effort between the Town of Rye and City of Rye to bring our residents back to the beach and park where 90% of the users are not residents of Rye City or Rye Town. What does breakeven mean — no additional cost to the taxpayers to offset operating deficits and a much better park and beach experience for all.
Friends Meeting House
If you have driven down toward the end of Milton Road for the better part of the last 10 years, you will have seen the continued deterioration of the Friends Meeting House. Despite best efforts, Government is not working. The Council heard a presentation from a resident group who in combination with a pending City grant and a private donor will be able to get the meeting house rehabilitated and operational within a year. This is exciting news for our Landmarks Committee, the Historical Society, surrounding residents and the City overall. We will continue to explore this opportunity.
Additional information on these matters is posted on the City of Rye Website at www.ryeny.gov or, please contact me, your City Council members, or our City Manager if you have questions of comments. Your feedback is greatly encouraged. I also hold Mayor office hours at 7:00 pm in the Mayor's conference room at City Hall on the nights of regularly scheduled City Council meetings (not workshops or special meetings).
-Mayor Doug French
September 23rd 2010