Here is the next edition of Speaking French, the Mayor's Update.
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City Council Updates from Mayor Douglas French
Hazing and Bullying
Hazing and bullying have no place in any community and anyone found responsible will be dealt with to the full extent of the law and within School Board policy. While this incident is not a reflection of Rye, the collective and immediate response by the Board, City, parents and children will deter these types of incidents happening in the future.
The City heard the presentation from the auditor who presented that the City is in a good position heading into 2012 even though it must deal with issues such as rising pension and health care costs; expired labor contracts; the issue of the 1037 Boston Post Road property; and the tax cap.
The Central Avenue Bridge
The City continues to close out all remaining regulatory and compliance issues with the NY State Department of Transportation in order to move the project forward. 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 City is waiting on one Utility Agreement issue with Con Edison and the City Engineer will submit the final package addressing all of the comments that came out of a joint meeting with the DOT.
1037 Boston Post Road
The City has been offered $3.6M for the building by the current tenant – Lester's. The site was appraised at $4.5M prior to the City's purchase in 2006 and the subsequent decline of the commercial real estate market. The City has decided not to build a $25M police station/courthouse at that site and continues to explore all options and alternatives. The offer includes some designated parking for the City and also puts the building back on the tax rolls. The City is also considering hiring a broker to market the building more broadly.
Making a Difference
The City celebrated its unique volunteer form of government by honoring former Mayor Steve Otis with a photo/portrait of him displayed in Council chambers with other former Mayors. On the same night, outgoing Councilwoman Suzanna Keith was recognized for her contributions to the City, and Julie Killian was appointed by the Council to the vacated seat who was one of 3 people who sought the appointment. The City Charter states – "If a vacancy shall occur in the office of Mayor or Councilman, the Council shall, by a vote of a majority of the members of the Council remaining in office, appoint a person to fill such vacancy."
Potential Infrastructure Bond for Public Safety Needs
The City has held several public meetings to discuss critical infrastructure and public safety needs for potential bonding for the General Election in November. The estimated size of the bond for consideration is between $5M and $10M to fund City critical needs 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.
The City held public hearings on expanding the existing tree ordinance based on community and committee feedback to review the law. Many residents have participated on both sides of the issue. Some spoke of the benefits of trees to a community and the environment; said that the law would remove a loophole in the current law and prevent the unnecessary removal of trees; and that the new law would bring Rye more in line with what other communities are doing. Others spoke of concerns that the rights of property owners were being taken away; that there was no real need for the new law; and that the proposed law was too restrictive. The public hearing was closed with no action taken on the suggested recommendations and the Council asked for further review.
Dapolite vs, City Manager
The city was pleased to approve a settlement of the article 78 employee matter brought against the City. No financial terms were part of the settlement. The pending ethics allegations which are before the Board of Ethics will resume now that the litigation has been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.