The following is a Rye City Council update from Mayor Doug French
From the desk of Mayor Douglas French
A strong financial position, an improving infrastructure, and an enhanced quality of life are central to the City's goal in creating a community where people want to live, raise their families, and stay. Those themes were on display at the most recent meeting of the Rye City Council.
A Solid 2010 Financial Performance
The City's Auditor presented his findings this week in review of Rye's Comprehensive 2010 Annual Report for the fiscal year ended December 31st 2010. While most municipalities are drawing down their fund balances, reducing levels of service, and increasing spending, in 2010, Rye reversed those trends. Although operating expenses in the fiscal year were budgeted at $29.4M, actual expenditures finished at $28M or $1.4M less than budget and slightly lower than 2008 actuals. Rather than draw down the fund balance by $1.7M as budgeted, the City generated a surplus of revenue over expenses of roughly $700K to add to its fund balance. This was critical as benefits rose by nearly $800k last year. 2011 and 2012 will continue to pose significant challenges for municipalities in balancing levels of service and rising costs while holding the line on property taxes, but the difficult decisions made and implemented in 2010 put the City in a much better financial position for its future.
A Roadmap for a Safe and Active Community
Late last year, the Council created the Shared Roadways Committee to make recommendations to the City on policies, projects and programs that will make Rye a safer and more enjoyable walking, jogging and biking community. The Committee is a cross-section of non-profit organizations, schools, community leaders, and concerned residents that represent a continuation of the grassroots sentiments in Rye for improved pedestrian safety. In their initial report, the Committee sites the following recommended projects: Increased funding for sidewalk and crosswalk installation and maintenance, repaving and re-striping Forest Avenue, pedestrian buffers along Theodore Fremd, pedestrian improvements at the Rye train station, the Loudon Woods embankment wall along the Boston Post Road, and pedestrian improvements at the 5 corners intersection at Kelly's to name a few. The Committee's policy recommendations are to adopt a "Complete Streets" resolution that would allow for an advisory board to offer guidance on City projects, to designate "priority shared roadways corridors" for pedestrian improvements and maintenance, and to review and update the City's snow, sidewalk and crosswalk ordinances. The committee has done an excellent job in developing its initial plan and the Council will look to have a public workshop in the coming months to discuss these recommendations further with the committee, public and staff.
The Next Step for 1037 Boston Post Road
The Council set a Public Hearing for August 10th to review a change in zoning district designation of 1051, 1037 and 1031 Boston Post Road (BPR) properties from the B-1 neighborhood business district designation to the B-2 Central Business District designation and change 1031 BPR from "C" to an "A" parking district. The Council made the strategic decision last year not to continue with potential redevelopment of the site as a Police Station/Courthouse facility at a cost of over $20M. Without an implied public use for the site, the City is taking the next step in a process to a request for proposal. It is an opportunity for the City to recoup its investment, put the property back on the tax rolls and explore potential parking improvements.
Approvals for Summer Infrastructure Improvement Projects
At its last meeting the Council also approved several contracts for projects you will see around Rye this summer. The City awarded the contract to permanently install the stop signs and remove the traffic light at the intersection of Purchase Street and Locust Avenue along with other pedestrian safety, environmental and aesthetic enhancements at that intersection. Based on the City's pavement management system, the Council awarded the contract for repaving a section of the Boston Post Road. Also awarded was the contract for the extension of sanitary sewer service to 29 properties located on Kirby Lane south of Grace Church Street – as part of a district petitioned and to be paid for by residents. The Council also set aside funding to review the traffic improvements at BPR by Osborn School as well as for the design for improvements at the corner of Palisade Road and Midland Avenue.
Mayor Doug French
June 28, 2011