The proposal to install an artificial turf field at Rye Recreation’s Nursery Field on Milton Road is back on the City Council’s agenda for Wednesday night. The proposal has stirred controversy because the general area is a wetland and adjacent to the Blind Brook. A consultant presentation and public hearing at the May 24 Council meeting brought out strong views on all sides.
On Wednesday the City Council will hear a resolution to spend $150,000 to have consultants advance the field design to 60% completion, apparently a magic number that will allow the City to get an accurate cost estimate. The money will also pay for the completion of various requirements under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR). In addition, the Council will also ask the Planning Commission for an advisory opinion on wetland impacts.
“It’s upsetting that this still has become a bit of an us versus them based on the way that the City has put this together,” said Dan Adler of the Friends of Nursery Field, a group opposed to an artificial turf conversion. “Because on the surface, there’s so many things that are unifying all of us in regard to our kids playing time, our kids mental health, our environment, and the fact that we’re still stuck on this one particular location and this issue when there are so many things that feel like this is not the right place. It’s frustrating.”
The Friends of Nursery Field group says the City should be looking at a $500 million State grant program that could make funds available to improve drainage at Nursery while maintaining all wetlands. They also maintain a 2011 study done for the City said Nursery was inappropriate for artificial turf and that another location should be chosen.
Another group, Let The Kids Play, has collected pledges to fund the cost of turf fields in Rye. The group says it is agnostic as the where the turf fields go and has $1.5 million in private funds committed for turf field projects.
“It’s not our job to tell them where to put it,” said Let The Kids Play Board Member Matt Pymm. “It’s not our job to stop them to put it somewhere … we’re here to just be supportive because the town just can’t afford it … we’re all for Nursery if that’s the choice.”
Rye City Council member and Rye Recreation Commission liaison Julie Souza wants to see the Council approve the resolution and move forward to “get to a point that we know what we’re talking about, in in real terms, not an abstract and people assuming the worst.”
Souza also said while the City will front the $150,000 for the study, the Let The Kids Play group will pick up the tab if the project is approved and moves ahead.
“I don’t know how everybody will vote,” said Souza. “I will be voting to move this along and see if that we can meet this community need.”