September 06, 2005 Newsletter
September 6, 2005 To My Rye Brook Friends and Neighbors:
It has been said that for every season, there is a reason, and there is a rhythm and rhyme to each. As far as your Board of Trustees is concerned, our agenda does reflect both the calendar as promulgated by law as well as the dictates of nature. Sincerely,
To that end, it is in the spring when the Board’s primary focus is usually fiscal, since that is the season in which the staff and Trustees develop and approve the Village’s budget for the coming year. This past spring, we also negotiated and approved a new 5-year Fire Protection Service agreement with Port Chester. In addition, we finalized agreements with Westchester County, The Blind Brook School District and The Arbors for, respectively, the financing and the land acquisitions for the construction of the King Street Athletic Fields, which will be out to bid early this month.
It is during the summer when the Board is able to spend more time on quality of life and policy issues that the Village faces. The following is a brief summation of some of those issues the Board addressed over the past three months:
• Traffic and Parking: Working together with the Town of Greenwich, Rye Brook developed a plan for better traffic control on King Street. The plan, that received the unanimous approval of both the Rye Brook Village Board and the Greenwich Board of Selectman, is designed to improve traffic flow (at a lower speed level) than currently exists on this major Village artery. Each governing body forwarded their resolutions to the officials and representatives in Albany and Hartford with the hope that our respective Departments of Transportation will act quickly on constructing dual roundabouts on each side of the King Street Bridge.
On a less pleasant note, Con Edison has spent most of the summer replacing gas lines throughout the Village, especially on and around Ridge Street. This project has been a nuisance, but Con Ed needed to fix this problem to avoid leaks in aged lines. The utility intends to complete the project on Ridge Street (and repair the road and return the sidewalks to their prior condition) by mid-September at the latest.
Thanks to the work of our Traffic Commission and neighbors, the Trustees were able to create new parking rules around Port Chester High School by instituting a “permit” parking system for teachers and school employees. Also, restricted parking regulations were put into effect in and around Dixon Street, thereby enabling the residents of that area to have better access to police, fire, and EMS services, and to provide overall better traffic flow.
• Residential Construction: Throughout the Village, you can see construction and re-construction activity. What you may not notice is that the Board has adopted (and is continuing to study) additional changes in our codes and regulations that, on the one hand, will enable residents to improve their properties, and on the other, protect the environment and the physical character of the community. Thus, we have in place Scenic Road Overlay Districts, more stringent setback and land usage ratios (that prohibit, among other things, “McMansions” from being built) and tougher tree removal procedures.
The Board of Trustees, along with the Village’s other approval authorities, the Planning Board, the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Architectural Board of Review, are working cooperatively to make the application process move more quickly yet protect the overall look and feel of the Village.
• Open Space/Parkland: A key objective of the Board is to preserve open space and enhance the Village’s parklands. In addition to building and upgrading our “active” recreational facilities, such as the planned King Street Athletic Fields, we are exploring ways to create more “passive” recreational facilities. One such plan is to create nature/walking trails on Village property located on Lincoln Avenue (near BelleFair). We believe that we can do this in a very cost-effective manner.
We will also be undertaking the remediation of Rich Manor Park (near Rock Ridge Drive). The County has received a $100,000 grant from the federal government for this project, which will improve water quality and the environment by removing the invasive growth that is killing the natural habitat. Another highlight of this project is the planting of new trees, shrubs and other native vegetation. Work on this project should begin in the fall of 2005 and, when completed, will restore this lovely, relatively private area to a healthier environment and improve water quality downstream from Rich Manor Park.
Safe Housing Task Force: The Village is also beginning its Safe Housing Task Force program. Please be aware that throughout the upcoming months you may receive a visit from our building code enforcement officials to inspect your property. This program has been instituted with the goal of providing safer housing for Rye Brook residents.
Draft Hazard Mitigation Plan: The draft of the Hazard Mitigation Plan, which has been created to identify and assess our risks with natural and man-made hazards, and reduce our exposure to these hazards, has been competed and is available on our website. The Village Board expects to adopt this draft plan in September and then send it for State approval. Once it is accepted by the State, this plan will also provide additional grant opportunities for funding certain aspects of this plan.
Resident Survey of Village Services: The Village Board has also approved a professional survey to receive feedback from residents on village services. This survey will be mailed to 1,200 resident households over the next two months. If you receive this survey in the mail, please make every effort to complete and return the survey, as the results will be used to help the Village Board focus on areas where we can improve service delivery and establish priorities.
I began this update by alluding to the cycle of the seasons. Thus, it is only fitting to end on a similar note. Last year the leaf collection program worked very well. Thanks to the efforts of our Highway Department staff, with oversight from Chris Bradbury, Victor Carosi, and Ron Romano, the process went smoothly. However, without resident participation and adherence to the guidelines the staff provided, the program would not have been a success. Once again, please follow the simple rules for leaf collection. As usual, those guidelines, along with other useful informational tidbits, can be found on the Village website, www.ryebrook.org.
Finally, as you know, our schools are now open, and there will be additional foot traffic on the streets. Please pay special attention while driving on our Village roadways.
Lawrence A. Rand