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Thursday, August 11, 2022
Home Government Speaking French: Mayor's Update - Bridge, Hotel, Bond, Keith Seat

Speaking French: Mayor’s Update – Bridge, Hotel, Bond, Keith Seat

Here is the next edition of Speaking French, the Mayor's Update.

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City Council Updates from Mayor Douglas French

The Central Avenue Bridge
The City held a meeting with the NY State Department of Transportation earlier this month to resolve the outstanding regulatory and compliance issues that have caused the ongoing delays in getting final state approval. The State has agreed to work toward a date of July 1st to have all matters resolved so the City can finally put the project out for contractor bidding. The Council also voted in favor of continuing the City's efforts to have the bridge rebuilt, as it is a central transportation route that connects City neighborhoods and destination points.

Adaptive Re-Use Application for 120 Old Post Road as a Hotel
The City heard a request from the owners of 120 Old Post Road, which is currently a three-story office building that has been almost entirely vacant for about two years, to amend to the Zoning Ordinance to facilitate the adaptive reuse of the building for use as a hotel. The proposed hotel would not be an extended stay hotel and would not have a bar, restaurant or banquet facility proposed. There would be 150 rooms and 169 parking spaces with a breakfast area and a small pool and workout area for guests. The traffic is estimated to be less than that generated by an office building and there is no significant environmental impact on the property or area. An open house for the public is being held on site on May 23rd between 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The applicants reviewed six planning factors and one economic factor that are important considerations: (1) the reduction in impervious surface of 15,000 sq. ft; (2) the reduction in parking spaces; (3) the additional landscaping throughout the site; (4) the lesser amount of peak hour traffic (approximately 20%) that will be generated by a hotel; (5) the low impact stormwater management; (6) the architectural character of the building that has a more residential feel than the existing office building; and (7) the hotel will generate additional revenue for the City through both hotel occupancy tax ($184,000 per year estimate) and property taxes ($65,000 per year estimate). The Council also asked for a review of potential impacts to public and pedestrian safety. The Council referred the application to the Planning Commission and the County Planning Department for advisory recommendations. The recommendations will then be referred back to the City Council in order for the Council to consider setting a public hearing on the proposed zoning change. Additional environmental review must also be done. If the zoning change is approved there will still be a substantial review process by the Planning Commission and other City boards before the project could go forward.

Potential Infrastructure Bond for Public Safety Needs
At the last meeting, City Manager Pickup reported on key dates for consideration of putting a bonding resolution together for the General Election in November. There will be discussions at the May and June meetings on the potential projects. The estimated size of the bond for consideration is between $5M and $10M to fund critical needs and public safety projects that have been neglected over time and are too large to fund through annual operating surpluses. Some of the projects for preliminary consideration include the expansion of the Bowman Avenue Dam Upper Pond for flood mitigation, the Boston Post Road retaining wall, Smith Street reconstruction, safety upgrades to the Police Station/Courthouse, flood prevention measures for the library, and additional sidewalk/pedestrian safety improvements. A sixty percent majority vote of the Council with a Mayoral vote will be required to go forward with the Referendum.

Appointment Process for City Council Vacancy
Contact me or one of the Council members if you are interested in being considered for the vacancy on the Rye City Council. Based on our charter, the Council will fill the vacancy for the balance of the year with a separate election held in November of 2012 to complete the term which expires December of 2013. The Council will make the appointment at our June 13th meeting, and I will ask those that are interested to address the Council and public at our May 23rd meeting.

Stewards of the Public Interest
The City celebrated its history as a volunteer government and commitment to public service with its annual meeting hosted by the Rye Historical society at the Square House last week. Former Mayors, Council, and Judges as well as current members of our boards and commissions came together in honor of our City Manager and volunteer form of government. It was also a time to acknowledge the Department heads and show appreciation for their hard work. Despite many challenges the City has faced in its history, the volunteer government has and continues to serve the City very well.


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