A number of City of Rye employees and one local business were recognized at City Council Wednesday evening for their commitment to local recreation programs. The three employees and one business had received awards from The New York State Recreation & Park Society and The Westchester Recreation and Parks Society. Rye Recreation Superintendent Erin Mantz took to the Council podium to provide some insight on each of the awardees.
Ricky DiRago of Rye Recreation received the New York State Young Professional Award from the The New York State Recreation & Park Society. The Young Professional Award is presented to a current parks and recreation professional who exhibits the attributes of an emerging leader, as displayed through their initiative, innovation, and contributions to the park and recreation field.
Mantz explained DiRago started at the Rec seven days prior to the COVID lockdown. He has a myriad of responsibilities including adult softball director, manager of tennis and pickleball facilities, supervisor of the food truck festival and race director for the annual Turkey Run. He also “assists Santa with some letters and coordinating back and forth with him during the holiday,” said Mantz.
Ryan Coyne, Rye City Engineer and Head of the Department of Public Works received The Austin Welch PIERRE Award from the The Westchester Recreation and Parks Society for his commitment to Rye Rec Park and its amphitheater project. The purpose and function of the PIERRE Award, as distinguished from the other categories, is to acclaim and recognize not only those in the recreation, parks, conservation, and allied professions but also those who interpret the public in general, excellence of effort in the recreation and park field. To receive the PIERRE Award, the individual or organization nominated should have completed in the year before the selection, a piece of outstanding creative work; or have demonstrated leadership of excellence having an impact on recreation and parks participation, not merely county or statewide, but even regionally, nationally and internationally.
“Ryan is an outstanding and creative dedicated engineer who created a new vision for Recreation Park including a one of a kind amphitheater for the recreation department in the residents of Rye,” said Mantz. “Over the last three years Rye Rec has undergone numerous renovations including replacement of two picnic shelters, two outdoor restrooms, three patios, updated and added pathways, hundreds of new trees, the creation of a pollinator garden and bio-retention area and the crown jewel, the amphitheater which opened in November of 2022. ”
Sophie Diamond, a 20+ year well-loved part time employee of Rye Recreation received the Staff Associate Award from The Westchester Recreation and Parks Society. To receive the Staff Associate Award the nominee shall be a part-time or seasonal employee of a local agency or recreation and parks department who has provided service above and beyond the expectations of his or her position for a period of three years since 2020.
Diamond has worked at the Rec for 22 years, stating as a bus driver for the senior adult programs. She continues to do this and now also chaperones and supervises the trips. “She makes all of the coffee for the senior meetings and programs,” said Mantz. “And they know when it’s not her coffee, and they’re vocal about it. She prepares the best butter rolls and treats for numerous programs.”
Carpet Trends and its owner Rob Rodgers received the Irwin “Red” Klein Commercial Recreation Award from the The Westchester Recreation and Parks Society for supporting Rye Recreation special events and programs for over 20 years. To receive the Commercial Recreation Award, a commercial organization, business or agency should provide, to a group or municipality served by the Westchester Recreation and Park Society, a service over and above its own financial gains such as the contribution of time, equipment, products, studies, education, or other related services since 2020.
Mantz reported Carpet Trends has been a local business sponsor of recreation events for decades, including support for both the Turkey Run and Halloween Window Painting since 1985. “In times of need carpet trends is always there willing to help,” said Mantz. “When our lower level big room wood floor was destroyed due to a sprinkler head, Rob and team were there within hours of us needing his assistance and expertise.”