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Plans have recently been refined from an original sketch and estimate of the efforts to remodel the Village of Bronxville’s Department of Public Works’ facility on Palumbo Place. Pictured is the plan to construct just two new standalone buildings, shaded in green, instead 
of the original three behind Village Hall. Photo courtesy Village of Bronxville

Plans evolve for DPW facility

Plans have recently been refined from an original sketch and estimate of the efforts to remodel the Village of Bronxville’s Department of Public Works’ facility on Palumbo Place. Pictured is the plan to construct just two new standalone buildings, shaded in green, instead  of the original three behind Village Hall. Photo courtesy Village of Bronxville

Plans have recently been refined from an original sketch and estimate of the efforts to remodel the Village of Bronxville’s Department of Public Works’ facility on Palumbo Place. Pictured is the plan to construct just two new standalone buildings, shaded in green, instead
of the original three behind Village Hall. Photo courtesy Village of Bronxville

By JOHN BRANDI
The Bronxville Board of Trustees is still not pleased with the costs associated with a plan to remodel and rebuild two sections of the Department of Public Works’ facility on Palumbo Place.

The original cost of approximately $8 million struck a nerve with the board, so much so that it asked White Plains-based Calgi Construction Management and architect Michael Smith to revise the price per square footage and find some cost-cutting in the project. Village Administrator James Palmer said the plans came back at a reduced cost of $6.2 million and with a revised layout, scaling down the proposal from a three-building plan back to two.

However, the village board is still concerned about the financial ramifications associated with the project and has tasked Palmer with trying to slash the costs further. The board has also requested that the village administrator figure out a funding source for the project.

The original plan, presented back in May, called for the removal of the two current structures, which have outgrown their purpose, to make way for three newly-constructed, standalone buildings to increase parking and storage of the village’s service vehicles and roadway salt.

After that plan was scrapped due to cost, the architect presented the current iteration, which calls for the remodeling—not overall removal—of the building where DPW workers have downtime and gather across from the Bronxville Cemetery. Onto this structure, Palmer said, would be the incorporation of an indoor wash bay because the current outdoor system is ineffective.

Palmer previously told the Review that an indoor wash bay was a high priority, as the vehicles are being washed outside in a sort of “vortex system” which cleans the trucks. That system, Palmer said, does not adequately wash the trucks as thoroughly as an in-door system.

The remodeled building would also be used for parking, with spots laid out for around 14 vehicles.

The second building, in place of the current obsolete storage shed, would be constructed closer to Midland Avenue and would house the village’s garbage trucks, according to Palmer. A separate compartment would be used for the storage of the roadway salt supply, which is used in the winter months for de-icing.

The lack of indoor storage has had a disastrous effect on the village’s service vehicles’ lifespan, according to village
officials.

Meanwhile, the design also showed paving and additional parking spaces around the new salt shed and along Palumbo Place, according to the architect. The thinking is that this salt shed would be smaller in size than the current one and would free up the surrounding space.

When revised plans with a softer pricetag will be presented to the Board of
Trustees remains unknown, as of press time.

CONTACT: johnb@hometwn.com

 
The proposed senior living facility known in short as Brightview, which is being conceptualized for the old quarry site in West Harrison, has undergone some changes to its site plan. File photo

Senior living facility plans updated

The proposed senior living facility known in short as Brightview, which is being conceptualized for the old quarry site in West Harrison, has undergone some changes to its site plan. File photo

The proposed senior living facility known in short as Brightview, which is being conceptualized for the old quarry site in West Harrison, has undergone some changes to its site plan. File photo

By JOHN BRANDI
A plan to place a senior living facility, known formally as Brightview Senior Living of Harrison, on top of the defunct Lake Street quarry site in West Harrison has evolved to potentially include medical services and access in the case of an emergency.

The applicant, Shelter Development, LLC, based in Baltimore, Md., has decided to make some changes to the site plan and presented them to the Planning Board at its June 23 meeting. The alterations now include construction of an emergency medical services, EMS, substation on the site and also to move the development forward on the 7.3-acre property so medical service vehicles have better access to residents in need.

Since the facility is proposed in the middle of a residential neighborhood, the repositioning of the planned 160-unit, four-story building was intended as an effort for not only safety but neighborly consideration, according to attorney David Steinmetz, who is representing the applicant. The idea behind the move is so the applicant does not impede on the nearest neighbor on Old Lake Street and to ensure the slope of the land is consistent, which in some areas can dip from 30 to 70 feet due to the former quarry operations.

The backdrop for when the facility is completed will be a natural rock wall to preserve the character of the property, located at 600 Lake St.

Steinmetz previously told the Planning Board the final gradient will be consistent throughout the site. He said right now, more toward the northern part of the property, the gradient is soft material with processed or broken fill and isn’t ideal for construction.

Meanwhile, the applicant, Steinmetz said, recently conducted a traffic analysis for vehicles entering and exiting Brightview from Lake Street. On the peak morning hours of 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., the facility will generate 12 vehicles entering the complex and 16 vehicles exiting. During the peak evening hours of 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., the complex will generate 19 cars in and 16 cars out.

The attorney said the applicant is also working with an acoustical engineer to sort out any noise complications associated with the project.

Town Planner Pat Cleary said although the Planning Board has made its intentions known to be the lead agency for the environmental review of the site, the board still has to declare it. Steinmetz said the other two facets the applicant is now asking the Planning Board to accept are a special zoning text amendment change and to set a formal public hearing for the project.

The applicant needs a special zoning exception of a “senior living facilities” designation to transition the site from its current R-1, or residential district, label. Steinmetz said he’s worked with the town on modifying the wording behind this zoning exception to make it unique to just this project and prevent it from being mimicked by future
developments.

CONTACT: johnb@hometwn.com

 
Several housing organizations in Westchester County are concerned over a proposed Platinum Mile housing development’s lack of affordable units. File photo

Organizations advocate for affordable housing

Several housing organizations in Westchester County are concerned over a proposed Platinum Mile housing development’s lack of affordable units. File photo

Several housing organizations in Westchester County are concerned over a proposed Platinum Mile housing development’s lack of affordable units. File photo

By JOHN BRANDI
Members of several housing organizations within Westchester County have come together to take issue with the lack of affordable housing options in a proposed mixed-use apartment building’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement, DEIS. 

Members of three organizations—Westchester Workforce Housing Coalition, Habitat for Humanity for Westchester and Community Housing Innovations, Inc.—spoke before the town’s Planning Board at its June 23 meeting to make a case that affordable housing should be included in the proposed 421-unit, mixed-use building known as the Residences at Corporate Park Drive.  The breakdown is 214, one bedrooms, 190, two bedrooms and 17 studio apartments all at market share, as of press time.

Meanwhile, the project’s DEIS claims that there would be no significant impact on the surrounding environment in terms of noise, traffic or stress on water resources. According to the statement, the proposal will generate about 29 school-age children, increase traffic wait time on Corporate Park Drive by a couple of seconds, increase the property taxes from the Platinum Mile area from $1.5 million to $1.9 million and grow Harrison’s overall population by 3 percent.

James Killoran, director of the Habitat for Humanity branch in Westchester, said the Corporate Park Drive proposal offers the opportunity for the town to recommit to providing adequate housing to those who keep the municipality running. Killoran said it’s an opportunity for the nearby workers of Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital and the volunteer firefighters in Purchase to have “simple, decent homes.”

“To do less would continue the exodus of business and young people from Westchester County due to lack of workforce housing,” Killoran said. “We have enough luxury housing in New York. People of all ages can’t afford to live here [and] we need to change that now.”

According to the housing coalition, affordability is defined as a two-bedroom apartment renting for approximately $1,400 a month for a family of three on an income of $56,000 annually. The coalition added that this rate compares with the market rate apartments expected to rent for about $3,500.

The site in question is bound on all sides by I-287, I-684 and the Hutchinson River Parkway, and is often referred to by its teardrop shape. The site had previously been occupied by commercial office spaces, although roughly 30 percent of these offices in the teardrop are currently
vacant.

The proposed site currently has two vacant office buildings in place, constructed in the 1960s, which will be demolished in order for the applicant, Normandy Real Estate Partners, based in Morristown, N.J., to erect a four to five story residential building at 103-105 Corporate Park Drive. The proposal is geared toward young professionals who work nearby and empty-nesters looking to downsize while still remaining in Harrison.

Meanwhile, Richard Hyman, an urban planner for the housing coalition and former housing consultant for Westchester County, said he thought the project was a great idea, but criticized the plans for “no discussion in the DEIS regarding affordable housing.”

Hyman once kept track of affordable housing as part of a Rutgers University study to implement and benchmark a certain number of units in the county from 1993 to 2010. That study, however, predates the 2009 HUD settlement reached with Westchester County that required 750 units of affordable housing be built by the end of 2016.

As part of that settlement, Harrison was cited as the most exclusionary with its zoning code on the basis of race and socio-economic clustering.

Hyman said this case could come back to haunt the town and force its hand in providing a certain number of units in its boundary.

The standard unit number set forth in the 2009 settlement of 10 percent is low—which would account for 42 units in the corporate drive complex—according to Hyman, but he’d ideally like to see it rise to 15 percent.

Community Housing Innovations Director Alexander Roberts was also critical of the project, but also of Harrison specifically. He noted that its neighbor White Plains and even Manhattan continue to make strides with incorporating affordable housing in their boundaries.

“It’s ridiculous that as [New York City] Mayor [Bill] de Blasio commits the city to producing or preserving 200,000 affordable units that Westchester County can’t meet the benchmarks to do 107 units per year under a federal consent decree,” Roberts said. “Harrison should do its fair share.”

The public hearing for the projection was kept open for the Planning Board’s next meeting on July 23.

CONTACT: johnb@hometwn.com

 

Harrison High School Principal Steven Siciliano welcomes family and friends to the Class of 2015 commencement exercises, which took place at SUNY Purchase on June 26.

Harrison seniors look to the future

Harrison High School Principal Steven Siciliano welcomes family and friends to the Class of 2015 commencement exercises, which took place at SUNY Purchase on June 26.

Harrison High School Principal Steven Siciliano welcomes family and friends to the Class of 2015 commencement exercises, which took place at SUNY Purchase on June 26.

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At the commencement ceremony, senior chorus members perform “Memory Mash-Up.”

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Senior Class President Erica LaManna reflects on the past year along with her 2015 classmates. Photos/Bobby Begun

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Senior Class Student Speaker Joseph Lagani addresses the capacity crowd at the SUNY Purchase Performing Arts Center.

The top dogs at Harrison High School are officially off the leash, as the Class of 2015 said its goodbyes and officially graduated on Friday, June 26.

Approximately 246 students sat on the stage of SUNY Purchase’s Performing Arts Center facing their biggest fans, the relatives and friends who supported them along their four-year journey through the high school’s halls. The graduates were adorned in the school’s official colors, all in white for the girls and the boys made up a sea of maroon.

Harrison Superintendent of Schools Louis Wool said, although the students have faced tragedy with the loss of two of their own, this class’ standing is better now than in years past.

“You have done so successfully,’’ Wool said. “Frankly, the amount of tragedy this class has had to deal with has been insurmountable.”

Wool was referring to the growth in both students who received diplomas and have gone off to a four-year college.

In 2003, 68 percent of students received state Regents diplomas, and now, the superintendent said, that number has risen to 97 percent. Meanwhile, at the same time as diploma numbers were low, only 70 percent of the graduating class enrolled in four-year institutions. Next fall, nearly all of the senior class will attend that type of higher learning.

Wool concluded his address by quoting Christopher Robin who told his best friend Winnie the Pooh, “There is something you should always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think, but the most important thing is…even if we’re apart…I’ll always be with you.”

-Reporting by John Brandi

 

A New York state constitutional amendment to strip taxpayer-funded pensions from elected officials at the state and local levels who commit felonies has just passed the state Assembly, advancing the measure to eventually reach voters by 2017. The measure comes on the heels of Sheldon Silver’s arrest back in January in the face of corruption charges. Photo courtesy assembly.state.ny.us/Sheldon-Silver

Pension forfeiture bill targets 2017

A New York state constitutional amendment to strip taxpayer-funded pensions from elected officials at the state and local levels who commit felonies has just passed the state Assembly, advancing the measure to eventually reach voters by 2017. The measure comes on the heels of Sheldon Silver’s arrest back in January in the face of corruption charges. Photo courtesy assembly.state.ny.us/Sheldon-Silver

A New York state constitutional amendment to strip taxpayer-funded pensions from elected officials at the state and local levels who commit felonies has just passed the state Assembly, advancing the measure to eventually reach voters by 2017. The measure comes on the heels of Sheldon Silver’s arrest back in January in the face of corruption charges. Photo courtesy assembly.state.ny.us/Sheldon-Silver

To punish elected officials who have engaged in criminal behavior and perhaps curtail future offenders, the New York state Assembly has advanced a proposed constitutional amendment that would strip taxpayer-funded pensions from those who have been convicted of felonies.

The proposed amendment, which was approved on June 16, would apply to all elected officials at the state and local levels, judges, executive appointees, policymakers and certain members of public boards and governing bodies. The amendment’s companion portion in the state Senate passed back in March as part of a measure in the 2015-2016 state budget.

The measure comes on the heels of former Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver’s arrest and resignation from his leadership position back in January in the face of corruption charges. Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, faces federal corruption charges brought on by U.S. District Attorney Preet Bharara and the FBI, and the matter is currently making its way through the courts. Silver held the leadership post in the Assembly for more than 20 years; he remains a member of the Assembly.

In response, lawmakers then rushed to push for ethical reform through the state Legislature.

Assemblyman David Buchwald, a White Plains Democrat, was one of the proponents publicly calling for Silver’s resignation at that time and has been championing legislative reforms since May 2013. Buchwald said, if anything, the amendment should act as a deterrent for this kind of behavior.

“My biggest focus is getting public officials to think twice before they engage in corruption,” Buchwald previously told the Review.

A pension forfeiture bill was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, in 2011 which only goes as far as to strip a convicted person’s pension from 2011 and on. Therefore, the law wouldn’t be retroactively applied to those receiving a state pension before the date when the bill became law.

The amendment now still needs to be reconciled and voted on a second time by the state Legislature in 2017. If the bills pass then they would each appear on a statewide ballot via a public referendum either in the same year or the following one.

-Reporting by John Brandi

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Town approves $5.27M budget

The Harrison Town Council approved a $5.27 million capital budget for 2015 which will be primarily geared toward the Harrison Department of Public Works and road resurfacing efforts. File photo

The Harrison Town Council approved a $5.27 million capital budget for 2015 which will be primarily geared toward the Harrison Department of Public Works and road resurfacing efforts. File photo

By JOHN BRANDI
After months of deliberations, the Harrison town board members signed off on more than $5 million in funds for its capital budget.

With budgets from the Department of Public Works, police department and the local libraries up for consideration, the all-Republican Town Council adopted $5.27 million toward capital expenses for 2015. Capital budgets consist of major projects and investments for a municipality to make in a given year, most of the time for work on public parks and buildings, and buying new equipment and supplies for departments.

For the final approved budgets, the total breaks down as $2.3 million for the Department of Public Works, nearly $140,000 for the West Harrison Library and $515,000 for the police department. An additional request of $2.28 million was rolled over from the initial 2014 road resurfacing project and the ongoing expenses related to the work in 2015.

The capital budget hasn’t grown much from the adopted $5 million for 2014.

Meanwhile, the town’s debt level has also remained the same, at nearly $51.6 million, since 2011, according to Comptroller Maureen MacKenzie.

The public works’ original $4 million request for capital funding called for much needed equipment purchases. But Commissioner of Public Works Anthony Robinson said that estimate was scaled back without affecting the quality of services for residents.

This year’s capital budget makes allowances for nine new vehicles, such as a dump truck with a salting mechanism for winter time cleanup and a pickup truck with a plow. A request was put in for two new split-body recycling trucks, which are trucks with two separate rear compartments for waste, after one was in a fire. Robinson said that one was repaired and ready to go to work for the town again eliminating the need for the purchase of an additional new one.

An allowance has also been made to purchase a sidewalk plow and a new wheel loader, which is used for the installation of mulch in the town’s parks, according to the public works commissioner.

Meanwhile, as road resurfacing continues on the three arterial roadways previously identified to be big problem areas—Barnes Lane, Underhill Avenue and West Street—Robinson wants to get a jump on next year’s resurfacing efforts by requesting $250,000 in consultant fees in this year’s capital budget.

“The design work for the next round is preemptive so that we’re shovel ready by spring 2016,” Robinson said. “So we can hit the ground running.”

The road resurfacing was approved back in April by the Town Council and the total was projected at $2.1 million. The breakdown was $1.12 million for the actual road resurfacing, $55,000 for sidewalk repair and $270,000 for tree replacement associated with the work, according to figures provided by MacKenzie.

Robinson said the street repair, when finished, would have a 20-year lifespan.

As for the other departments, Harrison Police Chief Anthony Marraccini said the $515,000, with $200,000 transferred from unspent funds earmarked in last year’s capital budget, will be used to outfit the entire department with TASER guns. The chief said this cuts down on officer injury. Right now, nearly 20 officers carry tasers with them, but it wasn’t disclosed how many the department plans to purchase.

The chief also wants to expand the number of license plate readers in the town’s arsenal of police vehicles and to move forward with the department obtaining a crime scene scanner, which is a 3-D device that measures the distance between objects. Ma–rraccini said it could provide investigators an “expanded view” of what’s going on.

The $150,000 in requests from Harrison Library Director Galina Cherynkh for the West Harrison Library will be used for interior painting and carpet replacement. These cosmetic repairs follow the window and door renovations from last year which stopped issues related to storm water damage.

The carpet, according to the town comptroller, is 10 years old and significantly worn and stained. The cost comes with an asbestos expectation as the carpet will be removed down to the tile, which was installed sometime in the 1960s.

CONTACT: johnb@hometwn.com

 

 

A New York state constitutional amendment to strip taxpayer-funded pensions from elected officials at the state and local levels who commit felonies has just passed the state Assembly, advancing the measure to eventually reach voters by 2017. The measure comes 
on the heels of Sheldon Silver’s arrest back in January in the face of corruption charges.
Photo courtesy assembly.state.ny.us/Sheldon-Silver

Pension forfeiture bill targets 2017

A New York state constitutional amendment to strip taxpayer-funded pensions from elected officials at the state and local levels who commit felonies has just passed the state Assembly, advancing the measure to eventually reach voters by 2017. The measure comes  on the heels of Sheldon Silver’s arrest back in January in the face of corruption charges. Photo courtesy assembly.state.ny.us/Sheldon-Silver

A New York state constitutional amendment to strip taxpayer-funded pensions from elected officials at the state and local levels who commit felonies has just passed the state Assembly, advancing the measure to eventually reach voters by 2017. The measure comes
on the heels of Sheldon Silver’s arrest back in January in the face of corruption charges.
Photo courtesy assembly.state.ny.us/Sheldon-Silver

To punish elected officials who have engaged in criminal behavior and perhaps curtail future offenders, the New York state Assembly has advanced a proposed constitutional amendment that would strip taxpayer-funded pensions from those who have been convicted of felonies.

The proposed amendment, which was approved on June 16, would apply to all elected officials at the state and local levels, judges, executive appointees, policymakers and certain members of public boards and governing bodies. The amendment’s companion portion in the state Senate passed back in March as part of a measure in the 2015-2016 state budget.

The measure comes on the heels of former Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver’s arrest and resignation from his leadership position back in January in the face of corruption charges. Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, faces federal corruption charges brought on by U.S. District Attorney Preet Bharara and the FBI, and the matter is currently making its way through the courts. Silver held the leadership post in the Assembly for more than 20 years; he remains a member of the Assembly.

In response, lawmakers then rushed to push for ethical reform through the state Legislature.

Assemblyman David Buchwald, a White Plains Democrat, was one of the proponents publicly calling for Silver’s resignation at that time and has been championing legislative reforms since May 2013. Buchwald said, if anything, the amendment should act as a deterrent for this kind of behavior.

“My biggest focus is getting public officials to think twice before they engage in corruption,” Buchwald
previously told the Review.

A pension forfeiture bill was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, in 2011 which only goes as far as to strip a convicted person’s pension from 2011 and on. Therefore, the law wouldn’t be retroactively applied to those receiving a state pension before the date when the bill became law.

The amendment now still needs to be reconciled and voted on a second time by the state Legislature in 2017. If the bills pass then they would each appear on a statewide ballot via a public referendum either in
the same year or the following one.

-Reporting by John Brandi

Organic waste station repairs underway

Organic waste station repairs underway

Organic waste station repairs underway

Organic waste station repairs underway

The effort to remodel the New King Street organic waste station is underway, as the town board, at its June 18 meeting, allowed the project to go out to bid.

The Harrison Town Council unanimously approved sending the project out to bid for upgrades to the station, which is responsible for processing the town’s organic waste. Commissioner of Public Works Anthony Robinson previously told the Review that the upgrades would include some regrading to the contour of the land, repavement to certain areas around the facility, improvements to drainage and the installation of special contaminant filters within each basin to catch water runoff.

Robinson estimates the cost of these improvements to be approximately $250,000.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, the facility suspended collection and treatment of grass clippings as part of a settlement reached with New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection. The West Harrison organic waste transfer station is located too close to the Kensico Reservoir and, as a result, the agency claimed that potential pollutants from the clippings could enter the watershed and cause significant damage.

Currently, the station can only handle the town’s brush and leaf bulk collection.

Councilman Stephen Malfitano, a Republican, told the Review after the June 18 meeting that the waste station in question used to be located at the top of Park Lane, in a residential neighborhood, in a facility once owned by the federal government. At the time, the site was used as a military air defense missile base to protect Manhattan from potential threats of attack.

The councilman said during his time as Harrison’s mayor, from 2002 to 2008, the station was moved as residents’ began complaining over the constant transportation of organic waste to and from the site.

“We had to find an alternative location, and that was near the Westchester County Airport,” Malfitano said.

The councilman said it was more cost effective to move it from Park Lane than to keep the status quo of disturbing residents. The station was relocated around 2004.

-Reporting by John Brandi

Lincoln Lane drainage moves forward

Lincoln Lane drainage moves forward

Lincoln Lane drainage moves forward

Lincoln Lane drainage moves forward

To offset flooding in the Purchase neighborhood of Lincoln Lane, a drainage project which was approved last year is moving forward and will now be put out to bid.

The Harrison Town Council, at its June 18 meeting, unanimously approved Town Engineer Michael Amodeo’s request to bid out the project so a construction firm can start work on the project. Amodeo said the bids should return to his desk by mid-July.

Over the coming year, potential efforts call for drainage improvements in the surrounding area of the homes and structural repair to ensure the stability of a nearby bridge, which has been cited for the flooding troubles in the neighborhood. The cost for the project is undetermined, as of press time, according to Amodeo. However, an original estimate placed the cost at around $66,200.

The project was first proposed more than a year ago for 10 homes on Lincoln Lane which experience drainage problems due to runoff from a nearby bridge that has led to pools of water accumulating on the street, as well as icing in the colder weather.

Neighbors on the street gathered together, frustrated with the stormwater damage, in an effort to become their own drainage district and from there they petitioned the town board.

“The Lincoln Lane residents wanted to address the situation on the road and address some poor drainage that was proposing some hazards,”Amodeo previously told the Review.

A drainage district is a specific mapped region that pays for its own drainage issues and needed fixes via taxes on the district itself, not the entire municipality, according to Daniel Laub, of Cuddy & Feder, LLP, who represents the residents on Lincoln Lane.

-Reporting by John Brandi

George Baker, a historical re-enactor, tells the story of Abigail Adams through the eyes of her husband, John Adams. The re-enactment took place during the Rye Historical Society’s spring luncheon on March 6. Photo/Ashley Helms

Re-enactor tells story of Abigail Adams

By ASHLEY HELMS

George Baker, a historical re-enactor, tells the story of Abigail Adams through the eyes of her husband, John Adams. The re-enactment took place during the Rye Historical Society’s spring luncheon on March 6. Photo/Ashley Helms

George Baker, a historical re-enactor, tells the story of Abigail Adams through the eyes of her husband, John Adams. The re-enactment took place during the Rye Historical Society’s spring luncheon on March 6. Photo/Ashley Helms

Though she lived during a time when women weren’t allowed to own their own property, Abigail Adams proclaimed women should have more of a place in society than just being subservient to their husbands, leading some, including members of the Rye Historical Society, to consider her “America’s first modern woman.”

Adams’ outspoken nature on such issues made her the perfect topic for the historical society’s annual spring luncheon at the American Yacht Club on March 6, with her story told by George Baker, a John Adams re-enactor from New Canaan, Conn.

Baker told the story of being married to Abigail Adams, whose sharp financial skills, intelligence and strong will made her family prosper and helped shape the establishment of the United States as a separate entity from Great Britain. She became the country’s second first lady when John Adams was elected president in 1797.

Sheri Jordan, director of the historical society, said she met Baker during Rye’s 350th incorporation anniversary in 2010 and he told her he was working on an Abigail Adams performance. Jordan said, by bringing Baker’s performance to a broader audience, she wanted to highlight the part women played in history. She thought a presentation centered on Abigail Adams’ life would be a perfect match for the luncheon audience.

“I know [Baker] was an engaging speaker; it’s as if you had John Adams fast forwarded,” Jordan said. “Since it’s primarily women at a luncheon, I wanted to focus on women in history.”

Baker, dressed in full colonial attire, began with Abigail Adams’ upbringing.

She was born in 1744 in Weymouth, Mass., to a wealthy family. Her father was a reverend and her mother was a member of the Quincy family, after whom Quincy, Mass., is named. Baker said John Adams fell in love with Abigail, who was nine years his junior, because of her wit and energetic mind.

“Saucy was how I described her to a friend and saucy is how she always was,” Baker said.

Their marriage was tested continuously by John Adams’ travel, which spanned roughly 10 years. The two wrote letters back and forth to each other during the time they were apart. John Adams served as an ambassador to France and a delegate in Philadelphia, Pa. during the Continental Congress of 1774 and he often traveled back and forth between the two locations.

Abigail Adams stayed behind in Massachusetts on the couple’s farm, raising the children, but Baker said she was never angry at him for leaving and knew it was best for the country.

In one of the 1,100 letters John and Abigail Adams wrote to each other, Baker said Abigail Adams wrote to her husband in 1776 requesting the Continental Congress “remember the ladies.” She spoke out against the country’s Common Law, which stated that anything a woman had would come under her husband’s ownership when she got married. Baker said Abigail urged her husband to help establish laws that would give women autonomy.

“Your sex are naturally tyrannical is a truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh tide of master for the more tender and endearing one of friend,” Baker said as he read an excerpt from one of Abigail’s letters.

Just before Abigail Adams died in 1818, Baker said she wrote a will that left $5,000, which would be the equivalent of roughly $200,000 today, to 25 women so they would be able to be somewhat independent from their husbands.

Baker said John Adams made sure the women received the money after Abigail’s death, even though, legally, he didn’t have to, and ensured equal educational opportunities for both men and women when he crafted Massachusetts’ constitution in 1780.

Baker has told stories of John Adams to businesses, schools and national conventions around the country. According to Jordan, proceeds from the historical society luncheon will go towards the society’s educational programs as well as storage of historical documents.