The city Landmarks Advisory Committee has pulled its proposal to relocate one of Rye’s Benjamin Franklin mile markers, causing a stir amongst some of members of the City Council.
The committee rescinded the long-discussed plan after several local organizations publicly opposed it, and now one member of the City Council is blaming the “nature of representative government” for getting in the way of what she said was supposed to be a fair process.
“I think the way everything was handled is unfortunate,” said Councilwoman Emily Hurd, a Democrat and liaison to the landmarks committee. She added that council members and local organizations that opposed the proposal were given the opportunity to speak about the idea at meetings when representatives from the landmarks committee were not in attendance.
On one occasion, the City Council allowed public input on the landmarks committee’s proposal when the public hearing had been canceled and rescheduled for another date.
On Dec. 21, 2016, Sheri Jordan of the Rye Historical Society opposed the proposal to relocate and restore one of the city’s milestones during the meeting’s segment on matters for Council consideration.
That opposition was further echoed by Suzanne Clary, the president of the Jay Heritage Center, who questioned whether or not the milestone was originally located on Old Post Road near the Osborn retirement community property.
The mile marker, known as the 25th, which is currently embedded in a stone wall running along Boston Post Road, was proposed to be relocated to that position as it was believed to be the mile marker’s original.
The Jay Heritage Center is the location of another one of the city’s three mile markers, locally known as the 24th.
The historical mile markers were first established to create postal rates. In 1763, Benjamin Franklin, who was the deputy postmaster general at the time, constructed 230 milestones at 1-mile intervals for regulating postal rates and aiding mail delivery between New York City and Boston.
However, after an alteration in the route between the two cities in the early 1800s to make the traverse shorter, the Westchester Turnpike Authority placed a second set of milestones along the road.
That set of milestones, which includes the 24th, 25th and 26th, were repositioned again along the current Boston Post Road by former Rye Mayor John Motley Morehead almost 100 years ago in an effort to preserve them.
According to Maurio Sax, a member of the landmarks committee, although the plan gained support early on from members of the City Council—A.M. Art Conservation Company in Scarsdale had been commissioned to undertake the assignment for $14,600—the committee ultimately decided to pull the proposal after it lost support from the city’s mayor. The proposal was officially introduced last October.
Rye City Mayor Joe Sack, a Republican who opposed the plan, said he believes the proposal was an “ill-advised idea” from the get-go.
Sack also said the notion that the landmarks committee was treated unfairly is an “unseemly” way of playing politics.
“I find it unfortunate that a council member after the fact is keeping this issue alive by kicking up dust that is unnecessary and detrimental to moving forward,” he told the Review. “When there are two different perspectives, just because yours is not the one that is adopted, does not mean you were treated unfairly.”
Despite frustration from two opposing sides, Hurd told the Review she hopes there’s a way to figure out a solution where everyone wins.
As of press time, there is no other plan on the table regarding the milestone.