December 15, 2005 Newsletter
December 15, 2005To My Rye Brook Friends and Neighbors:
There is an old saying that if you take care of the small stuff, the big stuff will take care of itself. I have found that “conventional wisdom” tends to be common, but is rarely wise. Indeed, while paying attention to the details is important, it is also necessary to look at the big picture. So look at the trees and the forest.
Over the last several months, your Board of Trustees dealt with a number of issues, large and small, that will have an impact on the quality of life in Rye Brook.First, some of the “detail work”:
- As I have often noted in prior letters, the Board has spent countless hours on code and regulation revisions. Most of the work should not be seen as a “ general overhaul of the Village’s existing code,” but rather should be viewed as “fine tuning.” In that regard, working with the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Trustees have made a number of modifications to our code, primarily designed to make life easier and simpler for residents who want to make relatively minor changes to their property. We realize, however, that any change in Village code can cause confusion and frustration, even for the most experienced construction professional. In that regard, the Village Staff has created “check lists” that explain the process that is needed to obtain the necessary work permits and Certificates of Occupancy. We urge residents who are about to embark on construction projects to talk first with our Building Department and to carefully review the “check list.”
- Parking and Traffic, the ongoing frustration for most of us, continues to remain a high priority item for the Board. New parking regulations have been instituted in Village streets around Port Chester High School, and we have already received positive feedback from residents who see a marked decline in littering and loitering in that locale. We continue to get input from residents and the Port Chester School District to further improve that situation.
In the Dixon-Westview-Roanoke area, we have instituted 24-hour alternate side parking as a safety measure to allow emergency vehicles to better navigate those streets.
While the result has been a reduction in the number of on-street parking available, thanks to the generosity of our commercial neighbors, the Rye Ridge and Washington Park shopping centers have expressed their support to develop a program to make overnight parking available in designated areas of their parking lots. Please call the Village Administrator’s office for updates on the progress of this program.
- The plan for constructing two roundabouts at the King Street/Ridge Street/Hutch intersection has been submitted to the New York State Department of Transportation for implementation. Unfortunately, despite many hours of work by a number of residents from Rye Brook and Greenwich and the expenditure of substantial funds from our two communities (not to mention the unanimous approval of this plan by the Rye Brook Board of Trustees and the Town of Greenwich Selectmen), New York State’s Department of Transportation has rejected certain aspects of this concept. For instance, it wants to totally replace the King Street bridge, an idea that was a major concern of Greenwich residents. This may lead to an impasse, but thanks to the good efforts of our State Assemblyman, George Latimer, we are meeting with NYSDOT officials to see if some compromise can be reached. Please be assured that we will continue to press our case. The Town of Greenwich is completely supportive of these efforts as well.
As for some of the larger issues we are facing, I am pleased to report that the Board has addressed some items that have been in process for quite some time. These include working out a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement with Reckson that, among other things, calls for the forgiveness of approximately $256,000 in back taxes owed to this developer by the Village and the Blind Brook School District as a result of tax certiorari proceedings, and the payment to the Village of $500,000. This money will be used to help pay for construction of the King Street Athletic Fields.
In other real estate matters, we are seeking to come to closure on the “Keyhole Project” on Bowman Avenue and the Board has also entered into an agreement to develop an alternate plan for the property located at the corner of Anderson Hill Road and King Street, the site of the proposed Garden Inn Hotel.
While it is premature to spell out the details of all of these two latter negotiations, suffice it to say that if we are successful, these projects, as well as our recently completed PILOT agreement with RPW, the owner of the former Altria buildings on Westchester Avenue, will provide new and predictable sources of revenue to the Village, the Town of Rye and to both the Blind Brook and Port Chester school districts.
Finally, I referenced above the King Street Athletic Fields. For those who have driven past the site, you have seen that work has commenced on this project, and we anticipate that construction of these fields will be finished by the Spring. As was noted in an earlier letter, because we were successful in obtaining a County Legacy Grant for approximately $2.75 million, combined with the funds we will get from the Reckson agreement, as well as the funds previously allocated by the Village, we should have these fields built without any outlay of additional Rye Brook tax dollars. The fields clearly will be a welcome addition to our community and the to the quality of life in Rye Brook.
In closing, 2005 has been a very active year for the Board and Staff, and, on balance, we have accomplished many of the projects things that we set out to do. As the year draws to a close, on behalf of my fellow Trustees and the staff, I wish you a happy holiday season, and the best of health and happiness in 2006.Sincerely,
Lawrence A. Rand