Opinion

On Disbrow Park and the Thruway property

To the Editor,

I am extremely disappointed and concerned about the recent series of unprovoked attacks by our Mayor Joe Sack, and some City Council members on both our state Assemblyman Steve Otis, the Rye City Democratic chair, and, it seems, anyone who questions their handling of both a potential renovation of Disbrow Park and sale of a property currently owned by the Thruway Authority.

However, I do not want to focus on what was said on social media and our city’s Listserv, or the unfortunate behavior of some City Council members at the July 12 meeting. I want to address the proposed actions and timelines put forth by the council in regard to these two matters.

I do want to directly address council member Terrence McCartney’s apparent confusion about “why people think that we are rushing this.” I ask McCartney to consider the following:

At the June 7 council meeting, the topic of Thruway property/Department of Public Works redesign was introduced as part of Item 13, a discussion of a possible referendum ballot on these measures in November 2017. For this to occur, final language would be required by Sept. 8, before the September council meeting; leaving only a single meeting in July for further discussion.

Council member Kirstin Bucci dismissed concerns about the condensed timeline, stating that the council could come up with a plan and final language by September, and recommending that people who have questions or want to see data send her an email! She also recommended a special August meeting, if necessary, because the opportunity is “too huge.” Bucci’s comments take place approximately 24 minutes into the discussion of Item 13.

It is hard to read this timeline as anything but the Republican council majority trying to finalize a huge decision with little public debate, and on an extremely accelerated timeline.

As to the public swell of support for a complete reconfiguration of the park, and need to move the DPW, trumpeted by some council members, and described approximately 15 minutes into the discussion by McCartney, the numbers presented in the June 27 presentation, named the Disbrow Park & Facilities Master Plan, simply do not bear this out.

In fact, if you review the Stantec presentation online at ryeny.gov, under City News on the homepage, Options A and B (no DPW move) each have a much higher percentage of respondents picking them as a first or second favorite, with a staggering 56 percent of respondents noting Option C (DPW move) as a least favorite.

Now both the mayor and some City Council members are directly tying the Thruway property sale to the Disbrow Park reconfiguration.

However, Rye Country Day School, Louden Woods and Rye Park neighborhood representatives all spoke at the June 7 meeting, describing likely strong neighborhood opposition to any move of the DPW to the Thruway location. This makes it unlikely that, even if the DPW was moved, the city would use the Thruway location. So why try to block a potential sale to Rye Country Day?

Note: Otis’ proposed legislation does not require a sale to the RCDS; it just allows it. And, the city of Rye has veto power if we don’t agree with the land use. So the legislation would keep our options open, rather than narrowing them, as suggested by Mayor Sack.

See the actual legislation by visiting nyassembly.gov/leg/?bn=A08183.

Delay in the sale of the Thruway property could lead to an auction to the highest bidder. The long-term goal of Rye City for this property has been to ensure this doesn’t happen. Why risk it now, when we are so close to resolution?

I have another question for the members of the council pushing for a DPW move: If the council is not solely focused on the Thruway property, what other locations are being considered?

Finally, with a sale of the Thruway property to RCDS, we might get a field that the city can use for $0, versus an estimated cost of $39 million for a DPW move, before cleanup or the purchase of property. With those costs factored in, the total could easily be northward of $50 million, and even more than $100 million. How is this fiscally responsible?

Given the proposed time frame by the council, the lack of strong public support, for a DPW move and likely opposition to the proposed location, it is not “scare tactics” to suggest this is an expensive and ill thought-out proposal.

 

Shari Punyon,

Rye

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