To my Rye Brook Friends and Neighbors:
We all tend to look at the new year as a time of new beginnings. We make resolutions - - and lists - - outlining those things we wish to accomplish over the next twelve months and, until the disappointment of reality steps in, we all believe that we will meet or even exceed those lofty goals.
I can say with a degree of impunity that 2008 will be a year of significant change, perhaps even a year marked by sea changes in our nation and in our more immediate neighborhood. In this year of a Presidential election, no matter who will take the Oath of Office on January 20, 2009, we know for certain that he or she will usher in a new style and substance from the recent past.
On a more local scene, the Town of Rye has had a change of leadership at its Town Council. As an integral part of the Town in terms of certain services that entity provides for Rye Brook, we are anxious to see how that change will affect us, especially in matters pertaining to fiscal issues and the attendant impact on Rye Brook residents. If the new Town Council is successful at reducing operating expenses, as promised, it would bode well for Rye Brook’s municipal costs and for the Port Chester and Blind Brook school districts.
Since I have begun this update by commenting on new beginnings, I should cite two potentially significant recent developments that received unanimous support from your Board of Trustees: the creation of a Comprehensive Plan (“the Plan”) for the future development and direction of the Village; and the voter referendum on extending the terms of the Mayor and Trustees to three years.
As for the former, in 2000, the Village undertook an extensive Vision Plan that involved a cross-section of Rye Brook residents who, as a whole, developed a “vision” for Rye Brook. While never formally adopted by the various Boards of Trustees, a number of the ideas, concepts and wishes that were incorporated into that document, such as providing several of our volunteer boards, committees and councils with “final approval” authority, the creation of Scenic Road Overlay districts, simplifying our governmental processes, to name just a few were enacted into Village Code. One suggestion from the Vision Plan was the development of a master plan for the future physical development of the Village in terms of zoning, land use, green space, flood (mitigation) and so forth. The development of such a plan is now being studied.
Under Trustee Pat Romano’s leadership, a Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee produced a document that was turned into a Board of Trustees resolution to issue a “Request for Proposals” (RFP) to consultants to work with the Village on producing this extensive Plan. Based upon the receipt of such RFPs, which is expected in early 2008, the Board will consider, during its 2008-2009 budget process, which planning firm will receive the contract and at what cost to Rye Brook. A copy of the RFP is available on our web site at www.ryebrook.org and I encourage you to read it, and provide us with comments.
Earlier this month, the Board unanimously voted to place on the March ballot a referendum for Rye Brook voters to consider changing the existing term of elected Village officials from two years to three years. This referendum, which first required the Village to obtain the approvals of our State Assembly, Senate and the Governor, will, if passed by the voters, provide Rye Brook’s Mayor and Trustees the same term of office that is granted to our school boards and several of our neighboring municipalities. If approved in March, the new terms for Village officials would not go into effect until the March 2009 election. Thus any candidate for office in this year’s election will still be elected for a two-year term.
Other forward-looking items on our 2008 “to do wish” list reflect significant progress on certain “carryovers” from prior years. Briefly they include:
• The Library: while the future of the Port Chester Public Library has been a much debated issue, both in terms of its physical as well as fiscal well being, it is fair to say that much of the sturm und drang lacked a cool analysis of the difficulties faced by that institution and what was needed to put the Library on a more steady course. I am pleased to say that on a collegial basis, the Library Board, along with the Villages of Port Chester and Rye Brook, are working to develop a long-term plan that will ensure its financial future and adopt a governance process that meets the needs of all three entities. Progress is being made and I believe that in the spirit of community cooperation we will succeed in keeping the Library a vital institution for many years to come.
• Again, while much heat has also been generated over the Keyhole Project on Bowman Avenue, I am pleased to say that as a result of a joint engineering study underwritten by both Rye and our Village, both communities filed an application to NYS for storm water mitigation funds. Rye City and Rye Brook are working cooperatively on several fronts to contain and control these downstream water flows. We have also made applications for storm water management projects “upstream” of the Keyhole area, specifically on the Blind Brook flood plain around Brook Lane and elsewhere in the Village. As for the project itself, the developer has received the required approvals from the various Rye Brook boards,
and the next step is the developer's decision.
• The Kingswood development on Anderson Hill Road is still in the final planning stages with the developer of the planned 31 upscale condominium units preparing a site plan for Village approvals. This development, on the site originally designated as the location for a hotel, will add new residents to Rye Brook with a minimum impact on our school system or existing Village services.
I began this letter by citing changes that can be expected in 2008, so, if you will forgive me, I would like to close by noting a change on a very local and personal level. As you may know, I have announced my intention not to seek re-election as Mayor. Having recently passed a milestone birthday, dealing with new and exciting challenges in my business, and watching my nuclear family expand, it is time for me to move on. I can truly say that I have enjoyed immensely my nearly fifteen years of serving this Village in various capacities and the many thanks I get from my friends and neighbors make me feel that we made a positive contribution to Rye Brook.
While I will miss certain aspects of my “night job” in Rye Brook, especially working with our highly competent Board and our very capable Village employees, I am confident about our future. I look forward to watching our Village grow and prosper, secure in the knowledge that those individuals….our Trustees and other residents who volunteer their time and efforts for us…and our staff are committed to the high standards we have set for ourselves and to maintaining the quality of life we enjoy.
Lawrence A. Rand
An Additional Thought
I have always felt that the primary role of government, at each and every level, is to provide a safe environment for people and property. Hence, it should be of no surprise that when we, as taxpayers, read our national, state or municipal budgets, we find the greatest amounts allocated to armed forces, police, fire and health care, including EMS, etc. Our Village budget is no different in this respect with safety issues accounting for our largest expense. Recently, however, an event took place that reminded me that we can all do something for our own protection. When you call 911 from a “land line” in the Village, you can directly inform the Rye Brook police of the problem and they have a display at the police desk indicating the caller’s address. But, if you call 911 from a cell phone, that call does not automatically go to the Rye Brook Police Department; it is transmitted to the NYS Police dispatch in Hawthorne and then the call is routed to either the Rye Brook Police Department (for police or EMS calls) or Westchester County 60 Control (for fire calls). Even though the State and County’s dispatch systems are capable of facilitating the call, a more rapid response to the local police department for police and EMS calls might be achieved if you program RBPD on your cell phone’s speed dial. Our police department number is 914-937-1020. Hopefully, you will not have to use it, but this can be a life saver if you need assistance and you are not calling from a Rye Brook “land line.”