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Thursday, December 2, 2021
Home Government City of Rye Q&A: Councilmember & Candidate Ben Stacks

Q&A: Councilmember & Candidate Ben Stacks

Ben Stacks Rye City Council 2021
(PHOTO: Councilman Ben Stacks.)

Meet Rye Councilman Ben Stacks, up for reelection this fall on Tuesday, November 2nd. Stacks will be running to fill one of three council seats for a four year term. Others running for the same three seats are Bill Henderson, Julie Souza and Lisa Tannenbaum. We are running interviews with all the candidates.

There will be a second race (also on November 2nd) to fill the remaining two years of Pam Tarlow’s council seat.

Your Name: Benjamin Stacks

Running for: Council

MyRye.com: Why are you running for Rye City Council?

Stacks: I am running to continue to try to make the City a better place for everyone that lives here. Additionally, we have undertaken a lot of initiatives (many complete, many not) and I would like to see them through to the end. Lastly, I believe my professional work and not-for-profit board experience makes me very qualified to help guide the City.

Why are you running for Council now?

Stacks: See above – much work is still to be done!

What are the three biggest opportunities / challenges facing the City of Rye over the next 3-5 years?

Stacks:

  1. Infrastructure/Capital Expenditures – for many years the City did not keep up with the basic work necessary to maintain a minimum level of general infrastructure and building maintenance.;
  2. Protecting Rye’s environment – general quality of life concerns from leaf blowers to placement of cell towers to tree laws to development that conflicts with the town’s character.;
  3. Assessing the post-COVID world and its impact on the City.

What are the three biggest areas for cost containment with the City of Rye over the next 3-5 years? 

Stacks:

  1. Infrastructure/Capital Expenditures – as noted above the City is facing a long list of critical projects that will need to be dealt with: Boat Basin; Sewer settlement; road resurfacing – to name a few. We need to be very careful with how we spend taxpayers money.
  2. Making sure we take advantage of grants for any project we undertake.
  3. Maintaining general fiscal discipline over the entire City budget.

Please Answer the following questions Yes or No:

Question: Stacks: Yes or No Stacks:
Do you believe the City has done a responsible and an effective job of navigating the Coronavirus pandemic? Yes Despite huge challenges the entire City staff was able to manage through the crisis in an extremely professional and efficient manner.
Have you been, or will you be in the next six weeks, fully vaccinated against COVID-19? Yes I am fully vaccinated and I will also get a booster shot when available.
Were you supportive of the various stages of Purchase Plaza during the pandemic? Yes I know that the arrangements were not ideal for all merchants so I’m looking forward to making changes this year, if we do the Plaza at all.
Would you be supportive of Purchase Plaza after the pandemic? Maybe But not under the previous plan. This would need to be studied and have much community and business input.
Do you support the raising of the Pride flag on City flagpoles this June and every June? Yes And given that several close friends and family members identify, I have actually supported this movement for well over 20 years. I fly the flag in front of my own home as well.
Do you believe there is an issue with racial bias and equality in our community and that the City has a role to play in addressing it? Yes Rye, as with much of Westchester, is a historically red-lined (discrimination against borrowers, buyers, or renters based on race, color, religion, sex, origin, disability, or other differences) city. I think one of the ways the city can involve itself in supporting equality in our community is through further investigating affordable housing options.
Rye City should have additional restrictions on residential development Maybe This would be discovered in a Master Plan process where the whole community would have an opportunity to provide input.
Are you supportive of the Wainwright House working with Row America Rye? Yes I am supportive of Wainwright House working with any entity that can help it maintain its core mission while also maintaining its independence and relationship with its neighbors.
Do you agree the loss of Wainwright House and its property as a public resource would be a significant detriment to the City? Yes
Do you agree the closure of the Durland Scout Center on Milton Point in 2007, and its subsequent sale to a developer for private homes, was a real loss for the City? n/a I am not familiar enough with the facts of the situation to render an opinion.
Rye City is prepared for the next “100 year” flood No Through a Master Plan process the City will have to address potential flooding issues.
Leaf blowers are a health and quality of life nuisance and should be banned entirely from the City No But their use should be largely limited to certain times of the year. We should also investigate whether electric leaf blowers can be used instead of gas-powered blowers.
Curbside food scrap recycling should be expanded across the City. Maybe The results of the curbside food scrap trial need to be further studied to make sure that the cost/benefit makes sense for the City. I am personally participating in the drop off program and love it.
Rye City property taxes are too high n/a This could be answered as both Yes and No depending on one’s perspective of the value received for the services the City provides.
Rye Playland will be in good hands with Standard Amusements n/a I am hopeful that SA can operate Playland as a good neighbor and they are successful, but I don’t know yet.
Rye Town Park should be controlled (or owned) by Rye City No I am happy with the current arrangement.
Rye City needs to reduce its deer population by active management including sharp shooters or bow hunting n/a Yes to active management but we need to study the best way to accomplish this.
Rye City parking downtown is a serious mess and has a negative impact on local business and residents enjoying downtown No I wouldn’t describe it as a “serious mess”, pre-COVID it was very challenging and was something that was on the Council’s agenda to address. We need to see what the post-COVID ramifications are before proceeding with a holistic, and potentially costly, parking solution.
Rye City paid meter parking downtown has a negative impact on local business and on residents enjoying downtown No
Rye City should be more pedestrian and bike friendly Yes

 

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests last year concerning stories about bias in our schools and community came out. Do you acknowledge these stories and believe we should actively address issues of bias? Yes, or No? If Yes, what role should the City have? 

Stacks: Yes, the City has a role to play in addressing bias in the community (see Pride Flag) as do other stakeholders in the community (schools, Rye Act, Rye Youth Council, etc.). The City can function as a catalyst in bringing all groups together to foster discussion and action to address these issues.

Land use and the control of development has been raised as an issue in Rye, fueled by a variety of concerns including flood control and the development of flag lots. Should more be done to bring transparency and control to land use decisions in Rye? If so, what are three of the top recommendations you would make? 

Stacks: Yes, this again would come out in the Master Plan process.

Further on land use, what benchmarks could the City publish annually or semi-annually that could help residents understand the state of land use in the City?

Stacks: This would be disclosed/decided in the Master Plan process.

What are the current plans for the former United Hospital site just over the Rye City line in Port Chester? And what should the City be doing to represent its interests? 

Stacks: No comment.

The City’s Master Plan was written in 1985, over 35 years ago. Should the City update its Master Plan? If yes, describe the process, timeline, stakeholders, and a few of the issues and policies that might be addressed in this work. 

Stacks: Yes, it should. Process would be to identify appropriate stakeholders in the City; timeline is ASAP but taking into consideration the massive demands on City staff at the moment with infrastructure and cap/ex. A few issues are land use; future technological impacts (e.g. self-driving cars); commuting patterns; diversity of housing needs; zoning laws; recreational needs of the community; shifts in population growth; post-COVID changes to the ways we work and live.

Tell us about you:

What is your day job? 

Stacks: Head of Commercial Real Estate Lending for a commercial bank.

If you could travel anywhere in the world (post pandemic!), where would you go and why, and who would you take with you? 

Stacks: I would take my wife and daughters to Argentina. One of my daughters was studying abroad in Buenos Aires in the spring of 2020 and had to come home a week before my wife and I had planned on meeting her there.

What are you watching these days? 

Stacks: Veep/HBOMax; Outlander (Netflix)

Where do you live in Rye and how many years have you been in the City? 

Stacks: I live in Rye Gardens on Sonn Drive. My family and I have lived in Rye for 20 years (as of August 2021).

What are three of your favorite food takeout / delivery restaurants in or around Rye? 

Stacks:

  1. Watermoon
  2. Ruby’s
  3. Jerry’s

Thanks, Ben!

Please provide links to:

Your LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ben-stacks-a539b41a/

Your Twitter: n/a

Your Facebook: n/a

Your bio:

Ben Stacks is a seasoned real estate banking executive with almost 30 years of experience building profitable real estate banking relationships in the Commercial Real Estate sector.  He runs BankUnited’s Commercial Real Estate Banking group spanning the Bank’s entire footprint. Ben has been with the Bank for nearly 3 years.

Ben started his career at M&T Bank and followed that with roles at HSBC, Eurohypo and Capital One prior to joining BankUnited.

Ben received his M.B.A. in Finance and Real Estate from the American University Kogod School of Business, and his B.A. in International Relations from Syracuse University.

Ben is currently a member of the boards of directors of the Real Estate Lenders Association as Vice-Chairman and Breaking Ground, the largest supportive housing not-for-profit in New York City, where he is Chairman of the Audit Committee.

He currently resides in Rye, NY and is married to Kim with two adult children, Hannah and Kate.

Note: this interview was completed in May 2021.

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