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From left to right, Eastchester Republicans are running a slate of incumbents including Town Supervisor Anthony Colavita and members of the Town Council, Joe Dooley, Glenn Belitto and Theresa Nicholson.

Colavita tops full GOP ticket

From left to right, Eastchester Republicans are running a slate of incumbents including Town Supervisor Anthony Colavita and members of the Town Council, Joe Dooley, Glenn Belitto and Theresa Nicholson.

From left to right, Eastchester Republicans are running a slate of incumbents including Town Supervisor Anthony Colavita and members of the Town Council, Joe Dooley, Glenn Belitto and Theresa Nicholson.

By CHRIS EBERHART
Eastchester Town Supervisor Anthony Colavita will headline the town’s Republican slate this November, which includes all incumbents. 

Town Council members Joe Dooley, Glenn Bellitto and Theresa Nicholson, are all seeking re-election.

For Colavita, 53, this year’s election will be a run at his seventh, two-year term as town supervisor. In 2013, he defeated former Eastchester Police Officer Michael Denning, the first time Colavita was opposed for the supervisor’s seat since taking over the position in 2004. Councilmen Dooley and Bellitto are running for their second, four-year terms and Councilwoman Nicholson will be running in a special election to fill out the remainder of the unexpired term of former Councilman Fred Salanitro, who vacated his seat for a judgeship following Town Judge Domenic Porco’s resignation last October. Salanitro’s council term doesn’t expire until the end of 2018.

For all four council members, taxes remain the top priority along with the continued revitalization of Lake Isle as a profit-generating entity and beautification of the town, specifically the town’s ball fields.

“I don’t think things have changed, taxes are the big issue,” Dooley, 57, said. “And I want to continue to do my share in keeping costs under control. That’s important to me. That’s why I got into this thing.”

Bellitto, 57, said keeping costs down is important for both keeping residents and attracting new residents to the town, and Eastchester has done just that in remaining under the state-mandated tax levy cap since it was first implemented in 2011.

Colavita said the town has been able to remain under the cap through privatization of areas such as the Lake Isle Golf Course maintenance and consolidation of positions. Most recently, the 2014 budget included the consolidation of the superintendent of parks, buildings and grounds, who accepted a retirement package, and the superintendent of recreations, which Colavita said saved the town $75,000 in salary costs and another $40,000 in benefits.

“I have a proven record of accomplishment, particularly in cost-savings and consolation,” Colavita said. “I think I’ve done a good job of keeping taxes low while preserving the services the town has come to expect.”

The town scored highly on the Office of the New York State Comptroller’s fiscal stress monitoring system, which reviews all financial information of municipalities to identify local governments and school districts that are in fiscal stress. The lower the score, the less likely there is fiscal stress. Eastchester had a score of 9.6 percent in 2013, the most recent number, which was among the lowest in the state.

Nicholson, 52, said she wants to encourage more volunteerism in the town as a cost-saving method, using the landscaping work around the library that she and other town volunteers did as an example.

Nicholson, who has been on the Town Council for about six months, wasn’t involved in the creation of the 2015 Eastchester budget, but she said she’s looking forward to using her professional experience in finance and accounting to comb through the budget and trim areas.

“We definitely want to keep our town running smoothly and affordable,” Nicholson said. “The goal is always to keep the taxes down and provide the best quality of services. When we go through the budget process this year, it will give me a better chance to find opportunities where we can save.”

Colavita and Dooley touted the town’s beautification efforts and the progress made at Lake Isle—with the indoor tennis bubble and hiring a new caterer, who renovated the catering hall.

As part of the 2014 capital budget, the town set aside $140,000 to fund refurbishment and drainage-installation projects at the Chester Heights and Parkway Oval fields. In the 2015 capital budget, there’s another $30,000 to install handicap-accessible bleachers at Parkway Oval. The next project, Colavita said, will be focused on Leewood Park.

Dooley said the town will also turn its attention to the restoration of the vacant property next to the Marble Schoolhouse. The property previously thought to be owned by the state, but Dooley, who spearheaded the town’s 350th anniversary activities last year, discovered through land records the property was actually owned by the town. Included in the 2015 capital budget was $15,000 to hire an architect and an engineer to see what Eastchester can do with that property, which is located at the intersection of New Rochelle and California roads.

Collectively, the goal for the council members, if re-elected, is to continue to return Lake Isle back to its glory days from 2006 to 2008, when it was generating more than $4 million in revenue for the town. The next project, Colavita said, would be the construction of an indoor swimming pool at Lake Isle, which he said the town is already looking into.

Bellitto, who is heavily involved with the Eastchester library and has served as the council liaison to the Eastchester Environmental Committee, touted the upgrades at the library. The town board committed more than $100,000 over the past two years’ capital budgets to fix the leaking roof in the library, which hasn’t been replaced since the 1960s, and another $35,000 to replace the overhead lights with LED lighting.

“As the board liaison to the Eastchester Environmental Committee, I have encouraged our use of LED lighting on town streets,” Bellitto said. “This lighting will cut the cost of electricity because of its efficiency…and the board now appropriates funds yearly for this purpose.”

Elected members of the Town Council take home $15,831 a year stipends, while the town supervisor position makes an annual salary of $97,717.

As of press time, there has been no indication whether the town’s Democratic Party will field any candidates for this year’s elections.

CONTACT: christopher@hometwn.com

 
The Westchester County GOP has nominated Rye resident Susan Watson to go up against the incumbent county Legislator Catherine Parker, a Rye Democrat. File photo

County GOP nominates Watson

The Westchester County GOP has nominated Rye resident Susan Watson to go up against the incumbent county Legislator Catherine Parker, a Rye Democrat. File photo

The Westchester County GOP has nominated Rye resident Susan Watson to go up against the incumbent county Legislator Catherine Parker, a Rye Democrat. File photo

Westchester County Republicans have nominated Susan Watson as their candidate in an effort to take majority control of the 17-member Board of Legislators.

With the Democrats holding 10 of the 17 seats, the county GOP is trying to gain traction on the board with the nomination of Watson, a Rye resident. Watson was officially nominated on May 27 at the GOP nominating convention at Westchester Manor in Hastings-on-Hudson.

While without a background in local government, Watson is equipped with an extensive history of professional business management. Most recently, she’s spent more than four years working as an executive search associate at Spencer Stuart, a New York City based headhunting and consulting firm.

“I think Susan [Watson] has a great background in business,” said Anthony Piscionere, chairman of the Rye City Republican Committee. “She’s going to be a very dynamic campaigner and she has a lot to add to the county legislator.”

According to Piscionere, Watson was put through an extensive vetting process and has already met with the county Republicans on a number of occasions. The Rye chairman said the genesis of Watson’s interest spawned from recent discussions where she pointed out that Republicans didn’t have any candidates to contest the incumbent Congressman Eliot Engel when he ran for re-election last year. Piscionere said the result of those discussions led to interest from Watson to run for county legislator.

However, it won’t be an easy election as Watson has no experience in a political campaign and will be facing off against county Legislator Catherine Parker, a Rye Democrat, for the District 7 seat. That legislative district includes Rye City, the Town and Village of Mamaroneck, Larchmont and parts of New Rochelle and Harrison.

Watson and Douglas Colety, chairman of the Westchester County Republican Committee, could not be reached for comment, as of press time.

-Reporting by Jackson Chen

Republican Deputy Mayor Lou Santoro proposed a 10 percent cut for the trustees’ stipends, but was met with three abstaining votes from the Democratic majority of the board. File photo

Board salary cuts proposal unsuccessful

Republican Deputy Mayor Lou Santoro proposed a 10 percent cut for the trustees’ stipends, but was met with three abstaining votes from the Democratic majority of the board. File photo

Republican Deputy Mayor Lou Santoro proposed a 10 percent cut for the trustees’ stipends, but was met with three abstaining votes from the Democratic majority of the board. File photo

By JACKSON CHEN
A proposal to slash the Village of Mamaroneck Board of Trustees’ annual stipends by 10 percent did not pass on May 26.

During the village board meeting, Deputy Mayor Lou Santoro, a Republican, proposed a 10 percent cut in the nominal compensation that the mayor and trustees receive for their public service to the community. Santoro originally proposed a discussion of the salaries during the May 11 board meeting, but the discussion was postponed to May 26.

With the 10 percent cut resolution now on the table, the motion failed to carry after Democratic trustees Ilissa Miller, Leon Potok and David Finch all abstained from voting. Santoro and Mayor Norman Rosenblum, a Republican, supported the cut.

The proposed pay cut would’ve reduced the stipends of the trustees from $4,590 to $4,131, while the mayor’s stipend would have been cut from $8,427 to $7,584. While the savings seemed meager, Santoro said it sends a message to the residents and department heads that the people running the village are showing concern for taxpayer money.

For Trustee Finch, a newcomer to the village board this year, he said that the cut was a political move. “The amount of money we’re paid is so insignificant,” Finch said. “We’re put in a position where you can’t vote against this and if you do, you lose political points.”

While the stipend cuts may seem out of the blue, Santoro said he proposed the resolution in response to the talks of a 2.5 percent increase to the stipends during the village’s recent budget sessions that spanned from late March to the budget’s adoption on April 27. Santoro said the raise was proposed by Potok.

According to Village Manager Richard Slingerland, the non-union raises, inclusive of the mayor and trustee salaries, are brought up each year as part of the annual budget process.

Potok said during budget deliberations this year, the village board went into executive sessions to discuss these raises, but no decision was ever made regarding the board’s stipends. Further, if any decision was to be made, it would be done in public sessions, Potok said.

During the numerous budget meetings, the board discussed the annual raises of non-union employees, including the mayor and trustees, according to Village Manager Richard Slingerland. However, he added that the board agreed to table the idea of raising the mayor and trustees’ salaries.

Slingerland said salaries were cut by 10 percent several years ago, which was then followed by a 2 percent increase the next year. Assistant Village Manager Daniel Sarnoff added that most recently in 2010, there was another 10 percent cut in board salaries.

As for Santoro’s proposal, the deputy mayor said he plans to form a stronger resolution on the stipend cuts to put in front of the village board again for the June 15 work session.

CONTACT: jackson@hometwn.com

 
According to documents obtained by the Review, the Village of Mamaroneck’s Republican Mayor Norman Rosenblum has used $1,200 of village funds to attend charity events. File photo

Mayor uses village funds for charity events

According to documents obtained by the Review, the Village of Mamaroneck’s Republican Mayor Norman Rosenblum has used $1,200 of village funds to attend charity events. File photo

According to documents obtained by the Review, the Village of Mamaroneck’s Republican Mayor Norman Rosenblum has used $1,200 of village funds to attend charity events. File photo

By JACKSON CHEN
Village of Mamaroneck Mayor Norman Rosenblum, a Republican, has used $1,200 of village funds to attend charity events over the last year, the Review has learned. 

Most recently, Rosenblum used $300 from the village’s general fund to pay for two tickets for At Home on the Sound’s fourth annual spring gala on April 30, according to documents obtained by the Review. The evening gala, which the mayor attended along with the Republican Deputy Mayor Lou Santoro, was hosted by the non-profit organization that caters to residents over the age of 60 and provides them with transportation services, assistance with menial labor, as well as various social events and gatherings.

“It’s been normal practice for the office of the mayor to get invited to make proclamations at these different functions,” Rosenblum said of the tickets.

However, Trustee Ilissa Miller, a Democrat, said the gala wasn’t the first time that the mayor used village funds to attend charity events. According to village records, Rosenblum spent $400 of the village’s funds for two tickets to a Westchester Jewish Center dinner and dance event in May 2015. In addition to the Mamaroneck-based synagogue event, village records also show vouchers for two $250 purchases by for Rosenblum to attend a benefit event at The Holocaust and Human Rights Center on September 2014.

The mayor said that the village board approved of several of the purchased vouchers that included the event tickets. Rosenblum said that while there are charges for two tickets for the Westchester Jewish Center event and The Holocaust and Human Rights Center event, he was the only one to attend and represent the village for mayoral proclamations.

As for the accusations of spending village funds for personal use, Rosenblum said, “this is the desperation of back-room politicians that can’t find anything to use.”

While both the mayor and Santoro’s seat are up for re-election this year, Miller considered using taxpayer money for the events to be misappropriating village funds.

Despite the questions of impropriety and legality floating throughout the Board of Trustees, Assistant Village Manager Daniel Sarnoff said that there’s been no talk about involving the ethics committee for review.

“There’s no real case law or opinions about this,” Sarnoff said of the purchased event tickets. “It’s the type of thing where no one really has asked about it one way or another.”

The gray area centers on the question of legality if the village is allowed to donate to charitable organizations. While the charity event tickets that were purchased include admission and dinner, many of these tickets usually carry some sort of donation to the charitable organization.

According to an unnamed source, Village Attorney Charles Goldberger advised the village board that it was not illegal to make contributions through the purchase of tickets to these events, but that it shouldn’t be something the board should be doing in the future.

Sarnoff said that the ticket purchases shouldn’t be tied to Rosenblum, but rather the position of village mayor. “This happens in every community in America where local officials are invited to events,” Sarnoff said. “When you’re the mayor of the village, it’s like being the head of state, you represent the village.”

After sparse discussions of the matter during the June 1 work session, Sarnoff said Goldberger offered his concluding opinions and that the village would be more judicious on things like this in the future.

CONTACT: jackson@hometwn.com

 
Osborn-School-3

Judge dismisses Rye teacher’s lawsuit

A federal judge dismissed fourth grade Rye Osborn School teacher Carin Mehler’s lawsuit against the Rye City School District. Mehler was reassigned from her classroom in 2013 following allegations of improper coaching on state tests and had filed suit against the district claiming her civil rights had been violated. File photo

A federal judge dismissed fourth grade Rye Osborn School teacher Carin Mehler’s lawsuit against the Rye City School District. Mehler was reassigned from her classroom in 2013 following allegations of improper coaching on state tests and had filed suit against the district claiming her civil rights had been violated. File photo

By CHRIS EBERHART
A federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit brought against the Rye City School District by Carin Mehler, the reassigned Osborn School teacher who was implicated in a testing scandal two years ago. 

Mehler was one of four Rye teachers who was placed on administrative reassignment with full pay and benefits in May 2013 following allegations of “improper coaching” during state exams and a subsequent internal investigation by the school district. The other three teachers—Shannon Gold, of Milton School, Gail Topol, of Osborn School, and Dana Coppola, also of Milton School—all settled their cases with the school district. Gold resigned, and Topol and Coppola were allowed back into their classrooms.

To date, Mehler remains the only teacher still reassigned with full pay and benefits. Yet, the school district has yet to bring any charges against the fourth grade teacher, so Mehler brought a lawsuit against the district, Rye City Schools Superintendent Dr. Frank Alvarez and the Rye City Board of Education in March 2014 alleging the school district violated her civil rights.

In the lawsuit, she demanded “either that charges be brought forward or the matter be put to rest.”

Mehler claims that her reputation has been tarnished as a result of her lengthy reassignment and she has been forced to accept her situation because she has tenure in the school district and leaving to work in a different school district would result in a pay cut and loss of tenured status.

She claimed her property interests in her employment as a tenured classroom teacher and contractual right to professional development were deprived. So too, Mehler said, were her liberty interests in being free from reputational harm and in directing and participating in her daughter’s education because she is not allowed to return to the classroom and is being forced to remain off of the school property.

But, because Mehler is still being paid with full pay and benefits, U.S. Judge Cathy Seibel said in her May 26 decision that Mehler cannot claim to be deprived.

“No court has held that an employee on fully paid leave has been deprived of a property right merely by virtue of being relieved of [her] job duties.”

Mehler’s attorney Arthur Schwartz said the decision is “very disappointing.”

“There is no question in anyone’s mind that her two-year ‘reassignment’ is punishment. But it is punishment meted out without any sort of due process,” Schwartz said. “Both the state and federal courts have now said that the school district can do what it is doing without utilizing any sort of due process, and, to us, it is an ‘answer’ which seems untenable in a democratic society which cherishes the due process rights given to citizens, like Carin,  to protect against arbitrary government action.”

Seibel’s ruling was in line with her previous oral decision last May to deny Mehler’s motion for preliminary injunction that would’ve required the school district to end her reassignment and allow her return to the classroom.

Seibel said Mehler already amended her complaint twice, including once after Seibel denied the preliminary injunction.  Seibel said, in her oral decision last year that denied Mehler’s request for a preliminary injunction, that she identified deficiencies in Mehler’s complaint, which the federal judge said were not corrected in the amended complaint. And that, Seibel said, is grounds to dismiss the case.

The Rye City School District released a statement regarding the decision on June 2 but couldn’t comment further.

“We are gratified that the federal court dismissed Ms. Mehler’s complaint in its entirety.”

CONTACT: christopher@hometwn.com

 
A draft of a memorandum of understanding among the Astorino administration, Board of Legislators and Standard Amusements will include the promises to retain Playland’s workers as county employees and eliminate the temporary fields as well as a list of capital projects that the county will be responsible for. File photo

Playland concerns addressed in committee

A draft of a memorandum of understanding among the Astorino administration, Board of Legislators and Standard Amusements will include the promises to retain Playland’s workers as county employees and eliminate the temporary fields as well as a list of capital projects that the county will be responsible for. File photo

A draft of a memorandum of understanding among the Astorino administration, Board of Legislators and Standard Amusements will include the promises to retain Playland’s workers as county employees and eliminate the temporary fields as well as a list of capital projects that the county will be responsible for. File photo

By CHRIS EBERHART
The nearly two-month review of the county executive’s Playland management agreement with Standard Amusements by the Westchester County Board of Legislators has been chiseled down to a memorandum of understanding—a written agreement—that answers the major questions raised during the review process.

Included in the written agreement will be the promise the county made about retaining the 29 full-time Playland workers as county employees—as opposed to Standard employees—so they won’t lose their pensions. The agreement will also include Standard Amusements’ promise to eliminate the temporary fields, included in a consulting report and in the management agreement with Standard, which had some Rye City residents and neighbors of the amusement park up in arms.

Temporary fields were an option that was included in the contract between Standard Amusements and Republican County Executive Rob Astorino when he chose the vendor to run Playland, which is the only county-owned park in the nation. But residents abutting the Rye-based amusement park still had a bitter taste in their mouths from the proposal of Astorino’s first choice, Sustainable Playland, Inc., to build a 95,000-square-foot field house in the main parking lot of the park.

Aware of the sensitivity of the park’s neighbors towards the fields, Nick Singer, who leads Standard Amusements, previously told the Review that the fields were pushed by Astorino and his administration but they weren’t part of Standard’s vision. Singer repeated his assertions during a subsequent parks subcommittee meeting of the Board of Legislators, which has been vetting the management agreement with Standard.

The memorandum, which is still in draft form and will be finalized in the coming week, was drawn up by Standard Amusements’ legal team and originally intended to be between the Board of Legislators and Standard. The Astorino administration was included after Deputy County Executive Kevin Plunkett and Astorino’s Chief of Staff George Oros attended the June 3 parks subcommittee meeting to discuss what capital projects the county is responsible for, and those projects will be outlined in the memorandum.

Plunkett said the capital projects for the first five years—2015 to 2019—of the 15-year agreement with Standard Amusements are already outlined in the county’s 2015 capital budget, which includes, among other projects, replacing the crumbling colonnades and small buildings at Playland. A full list of  projects to be reviewed by the county will be included in the memorandum.

But there’s no schedule of capital projects for years 6 through 15 of the agreement, and Plunkett said the county doesn’t know what those projects would be until Standard Amusements has been running the park for a period of time.

“We’ve done a five-year analysis not a 15-year analysis,” Plunkett said. “So I can’t sit here and tell you exactly what those projects would be. We would be working with our parks department and DPW and Standard, as the manager, to come up with a capital plan of what [Standard] needs to do for their operation and what we need to do as the owner of the infrastructure.”

While Plunkett said a list of capital projects would be provided in the memorandum to be reviewed, there is no written commitment from the Astorino administration to spend the money and undertake the projects that may arise.

But Board of Legislators Chairman Mike Kaplowitz, a Yorktown Democrat, said he isn’t concerned.

“The legislators and the administration have interests in completing the capital projects and now you add a third player [Standard Amusements]. They’re not going to want to put a Maserati engine in a broken down car,” Kaplowitz said.

The subcommittee vote on the management agreement is scheduled to take place during its June 10 meeting. If it’s voted out of committee, the full Board of Legislators vote will then vote on the agreement the following Monday, June 15, during the board’s regularly-scheduled legislative meeting.

CONTACT: christopher@hometwn.com

 
Girl Scout Troop 2521 dances and waves the flag at The Memorial Day Parade last Saturday morning. Photos/Bobby Begun

Parade helped by gorgeous weather

Kevin McEvily, 2, keeps the beat with his drum as the parade marches down Mamaroneck Avenue to honor  veterans on Memorial Day.

Kevin McEvily, 2, keeps the beat with his drum as the parade marches down Mamaroneck Avenue to honor veterans on Memorial Day.

Early in the morning on a sunny Saturday, May 30, the extensive parade line-up began forming at the Mamaroneck Avenue School for the Village of Mamaroneck’s Memorial Day Parade.

Police escorts from various towns were on hand on Saturday, May 30 for the Village of Mamaroneck’s Memorial Day parade.

Police escorts from various towns were on hand on Saturday, May 30 for the Village of Mamaroneck’s Memorial Day parade.

Once the clock struck 10 a.m., the marching crowd of village officials and residents made their way down Mamaroneck Avenue.

Bystanders watched as local officials like Village of Mamaroneck Mayor Norman Rosenblum and Town of Mamaroneck Supervisor Nancy Seligson walked alongside State Assemblyman Steve Otis and State Sen. George Latimer. Besides the officials, patriotic tunes belted from the Hommocks Middle School band and the bagpipes from the New York Police Department Emerald Society.

On the closed off avenue, the village’s police department led the line-up towards the American Legion Post 90 on Prospect Avenue, across from the village’s municipal building. The ceremony ended a little after 11 a.m. after the symbolic placement of wreaths on the memorial across from the American Legion building.

-Reporting by Jackson Chen

A draft of a memorandum of understanding among the Astorino administration, Board of Legislators and Standard Amusements will include the promises to retain Playland’s workers as county employees and eliminate the temporary fields as well as a list of capital projects that the county will be responsible for.
File photo

Playland concerns addressed in committee

A draft of a memorandum of understanding among the Astorino administration, Board of Legislators and Standard Amusements will include the promises to retain Playland’s workers as county employees and eliminate the temporary fields as well as a list of capital projects that the county will be responsible for. File photo

A draft of a memorandum of understanding among the Astorino administration, Board of Legislators and Standard Amusements will include the promises to retain Playland’s workers as county employees and eliminate the temporary fields as well as a list of capital projects that the county will be responsible for.
File photo

By CHRIS EBERHART
The nearly two-month review of the county executive’s Playland management agreement with Standard Amusements by the Westchester County Board of Legislators has been chiseled down to a memorandum of understanding—a written agreement—that answers the major questions raised during the review process.

Included in the written agreement will be the promise the county made about retaining the 29 full-time Playland workers as county employees—as opposed to Standard employees—so they won’t lose their pensions. The agreement will also include Standard Amusements’ promise to eliminate the temporary fields, included in a consulting report and in the management agreement with Standard, which had some Rye City residents and neighbors of the amusement park up in arms.

Temporary fields were an option that was included in the contract between Standard Amusements and Republican County Executive Rob Astorino when he chose the vendor to run Playland, which is the only county-owned park in the nation. But residents abutting the Rye-based amusement park still had a bitter taste in their mouths from the proposal of Astorino’s first choice, Sustainable Playland, Inc., to build a 95,000-square-foot field house in the main parking lot of the park.

Aware of the sensitivity of the park’s neighbors towards the fields, Nick Singer, who leads Standard Amusements, previously told the Review that the fields were pushed by Astorino and his administration but they weren’t part of Standard’s vision. Singer repeated his assertions during a subsequent parks subcommittee meeting of the Board of Legislators, which has been vetting the management agreement with Standard.

The memorandum, which is still in draft form and will be finalized in the coming week, was drawn up by Standard Amusements’ legal team and originally intended to be between the Board of Legislators and Standard. The Astorino administration was included after Deputy County Executive Kevin Plunkett and Astorino’s Chief of Staff George Oros attended the June 3 parks subcommittee meeting to discuss what capital projects the county
is responsible for, and those projects will be outlined in the memorandum.

Plunkett said the capital projects for the first five years—2015 to 2019—of the 15-year agreement with Standard Amusements are already outlined in the county’s 2015 capital budget, which includes, among other projects, replacing the crumbling colonnades and small buildings at Playland. A full list of  projects to be reviewed by the county will be included in the memorandum.

But there’s no schedule of capital projects for years 6 through 15 of the agreement, and Plunkett said the county doesn’t know what those projects would be until Standard Amusements has been running the park for a period of time.

“We’ve done a five-year analysis not a 15-year analysis,” Plunkett said. “So I can’t sit here and tell you exactly what those projects would be. We would be working with our parks department and DPW and Standard, as the manager, to come up with a capital plan of what [Standard] needs to do for their operation and what we need to do as the owner of the infrastructure.”

While Plunkett said a list of capital projects would be provided in the memorandum to be reviewed, there is no written commitment from the Astorino administration to spend the money and undertake the projects that may arise.

But Board of Legislators Chairman Mike Kaplowitz, a Yorktown Democrat, said he isn’t concerned.

“The legislators and the administration have interests in completing the capital projects and now you add a third player [Standard Amusements]. They’re not going to want to put a Maserati engine in a broken down car,” Kaplowitz said.

The subcommittee vote on the management agreement is scheduled to take place during its June 10 meeting. If it’s voted out of committee, the full Board of Legislators vote will then vote on the agreement the following Monday, June 15, during the board’s regularly-scheduled legislative meeting.

CONTACT: christopher@hometwn.com

 
One of the new signs at Rye Town Park informing visitors of the off-leash dog policy. This sign sits at the entrance of the park on the corner of Forest and Rye Beach avenues. Photo/Sibylla Chipaziwa

Rye Town Park dog policy reviewed, enforcement increased

A new policy regarding off-leash dogs at Rye Town Park has been under review. A decision was made in April to ramp up enforcement of the law, and since then city officials have been pleased with the results. File photos

A new policy regarding off-leash dogs at Rye Town Park has been under review. A decision was made in April to ramp up enforcement of the law, and since then city officials have been pleased with the results. File photos

By Sibylla Chipaziwa
Since January, the City of Rye has allowed dogs that have been licensed and proven to be healthy and current with all their shots to be off leash in Rye Town Park daily from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. 

The specified “dog area” borders the duck pond in the middle of the park and Rye Beach Avenue. To register, dog owners have to pay either $15 if the dog is neutered or spayed, or $23 if unaltered. The off-leash tag is free and must be worn by the dog at all times in the park, with the dog owner having the permit on their person as well.

Rye City Clerk Dawn Nodarse told the Review that more than 230 permit applications have been received as of May 20. There is no limit to how many permits can be given out, and each permit can include up to three dogs. Nodarse said that it’s “very possible” that the number of applications will increase.

“We’re getting more and more people every day,” the city clerk said.

Rye City Councilwoman Laura Brett, who also serves on the Rye Town Park Commission, the park’s governing body which was instrumental in putting the policy in place, said the changes were made when the policy was then reviewed in April was to make sure people are abiding by the law.

One of the new signs at Rye Town Park informing visitors of the off-leash dog policy. This sign sits at the entrance of the park on the corner of Forest and Rye Beach avenues. Photo/Sibylla Chipaziwa

One of the new signs at Rye Town Park informing visitors of the off-leash dog policy. This sign sits at the entrance of the park on the corner of Forest and Rye Beach avenues. Photo/Sibylla Chipaziwa

“There’s a police officer that observes the park during both regular and off-leash hours to give warnings and to let people know about the policy,” Brett, a Republican, said about the decision to increase enforcement of the policy.

She said that most people who use Rye Town Park are dog owners, and the policy helps strike a balance between dog lovers and those who may be afraid of them.

Brett added that while there are repeat offenders who don’t follow the policy of having their dogs off-leash only during the specified hours in the park, more dog owners are complying with the new law by registering their dogs with the city.

Enforcement of the policy in the park has been increased to not only give warnings, but also to inform people on how to be a part of the off-leash program. Rye Police Lt. Scott Craig said the policy has not been difficult to enforce. According to Craig, the police department gets about one or two complaints daily, but nothing extraordinary.

“This all comes from people not abiding by the rule, but most people seem to follow the rule,” he said.

Rye Town Supervisor Joe Carvin, a Republican who also serves as chairman of the park commission, said upon reviewing the policy last month, the increased enforcement presence in the park has helped.

“So far, it’s working as we had hoped,” Carvin said. “The dog owners’ support is very important.”

After Rye resident Tomoko Abe got her dog Marlo as a pet, she realized how important socialization is for dogs. She wishes that the off-leash period were longer, especially for dog owners who have busy mornings.

“One hour more would make a huge difference,” Abe said, while in the park one morning with Marlo. “We love coming here. But, even until 9 a.m., I appreciate that we can have a little bit of time with other dogs.”

A portion of the grassy area of Rye Town Park is now legally open to off-leash dogs following implementation of a new law in January. Rye Town Supervisor Joe Carvin said, “So far, it’s working as we had hoped.”

A portion of the grassy area of Rye Town Park is now legally open to off-leash dogs following implementation of a new law in January. Rye Town Supervisor Joe Carvin said, “So far, it’s working as we had hoped.”

When asked if there may be changes to the policy in the near future, Carvin said, “I think we’ve achieved the right balance with taking people’s interests into consideration. If people take advantage, we’ll have to revisit it.”

Brett added that it’s premature, at this point, to see if hours could be extended. “We’re just not there yet,” she said.

Brett said the policy took the cooperation of not just Rye City and Rye, but also the villages of Port Chester and Rye Brook, which fall within the umbrella of the Town of Rye.

 

The proposed renovations to a pre-existing structure on Eastchester’s Main Street are moving forward after the Planning Board, at its May 28 meeting, gave final approval to the applicant.

Mixed-use building gets green light

The proposed renovations to a pre-existing structure on Eastchester’s Main Street are moving forward after the Planning Board, at its May 28 meeting, gave final approval to the applicant.

The proposed renovations to a pre-existing structure on Eastchester’s Main Street are moving forward after the Planning Board, at its May 28 meeting, gave final approval to the applicant.

By JOHN BRANDI
A pre-existing building on Eastchester’s main thoroughfare is set to be remodeled, as the town’s Planning Board, at its May 28 meeting, gave its final approval to the proposed site plan. 

The 233 Main St., building, which is significantly set back from the street, is currently a two-story, landlocked space with an office and studio apartment on the ground level, and another residential studio above that. The applicant, John Iannacito Architect, has submitted plans to renovate the building into a mixed-use space and gut the first floor, to add just a hair salon while moving any apartment units to the second story. This will include two, one bedroom dwellings.

The Planning Board approved the proposal at its most recent meeting. The next step is for the applicant to obtain the appropriate building permits from the town before the remodeling can begin.

Iannacito previously told the Review that the construction effort could take between six and eight months to complete.

Meanwhile, with the studio removed, the first floor hair salon will gain an additional 1,689 feet in floor space, according to the architect. And the building will also once again meet the sidewalk and street, having been previously set back, as part of the restoration efforts, according to Eastchester’s Director of Planning Margaret Uhle. This will create one, metered parking spot in front of the location.

Uhle had previously anticipated that the project would have been approved back in March, but the applicant ran into some trouble with the town’s Architectural Review Board, ARB, over a proposed pattern to the arched windows on the front of the building. The applicant, Uhle said, had stepped away from the town’s land use boards to address the issue and has incorporated the suggestions from the ARB into an updated design.

The applicant was also requesting four variances associated with his proposal, and on Feb. 10, the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals approved them.

The variances consisted of asking for a front yard setback of 1.66 feet, where the town allows for 10 feet; a right side yard setback of zero feet, where 10 feet is allowed; a left side yard setback of also zero feet, where the allowable number from the town is the same. And the applicant also sought an increase of zero parking spaces, where the allowable number is 12.

Iannacito said work done to the hair salon will be ADA compliant with a lift up to the hair cutting station, and green technology will be considered with a more efficient heating and cooling system for the building as a whole.

The architect also said previously that, for a hair salon, it’s important to provide adequate lighting per chair in the hair cutting station.

Iannactio could not be reached for further comment as of press time.

CONTACT: johnb@hometwn.com