Category Archives: Letters

LETTER

Letter: Years of neglect is MBYC problem

 

 

To the Editor,

I am writing in reference to Jackson Chen’s recent article on the sale of Mamaroneck Beach and Yacht Club, “MBYC on the market,” and must say that I read Ms. Rosenshein’s comments about her club with a mix of bewilderment, amusement and sadness. Firstly, she mentions that “all we want to do is renovate and bring this property to the standard it deserves.” But I am puzzled how building two condominium blocks, a function suite and a yacht club building has anything to do with the renovation of existing club facilities.

Most people would agree that this has more to do with expansion of the club than the updating of it—in a zone where this type and size of development is not permitted.

Ms. Rosenshein speaks like a real estate salesperson (rather than a concerned club owner) when she says it is a “gorgeous piece of property” whose historic buildings stand proud in a wonderful setting. So why ruin that by overcrowding the property with five huge modern buildings? These buildings, by the way, will not necessarily generate any tax revenue for the village, but rather will be an additional burden on our infrastructural services.

Secondly, Rosenshein says that all she wants to do is “improve the club for our members,” which is somewhat laughable given she has seemingly failed to invest in the improvement of the club for years. The result has been that “true” annual membership is less than a third of what it was in previous years, as people have apparently become disillusioned by the poor state of the facilities and by the club’s emphasis on non-member profit making functions at their expense.

And the shame of it all, as Rosenshein states in the article, is that “the whole process has been unfortunate, lengthy, and costly for the club and taxpayers of the village.”

Although the cost to us as taxpayers has only been as a result of the club suing the village for
$30 million and receiving $825,000 in damages. It has also been unnecessary.

If, a decade ago, those development plans had kept within the zoning laws for purpose, use and
size, then Mamaroneck Beach and Yacht Club, MBYC, would now be a thriving and conforming
membership club like the others in our neighborhood.

Let’s hope that any new owner will have the business skills to be able to turn MBYC around by increasing membership, updating existing facilities, attracting local community support, limiting development and keeping within the zoning code for our village, as the other clubs in our village have managed to do.

 

Keith Waitt,

Mamaroneck

LETTER

Letter: Barry Avenue signs are mean-spirited

 

 

To the Editor,

Some years ago, Mr. Bernard Rosenshein’s vision of “seasonal residences” on South Barry Avenue was approved by the Mamaroneck Village Board. Not “condos.”

The destructive and mean-spirited litigious nature of some residents has hampered the ability for improvements to the 63-year-old Mamaroneck Beach and Yacht Club proposed by its current owners. For those who can remember, the club had overnight accommodations way back in its early years before the destruction of part of the original building.

The club has been, for 63 years, longer than most residents who currently live in Shore Acres, a positive addition to the village, and a far better friend and asset to the community than the current neighbors are willing to acknowledge. The signs posted now along Barry Avenue, filled with inaccuracy and some homeowners’ notions that they have some legal right to their view in perpetuity of their creek is absurd.

Neighbors have strolled the grounds of the imposing Stanford White complex, rode their bikes, attended countless municipal meetings, school events, proms ,dinners, philanthropic events without a complaint. They didn’t look to other venues for their hometown celebrations.

I have driven down Barry Avenue for the past 62 years to the club. Never, in all those years, have
I experienced anything so nasty and mean-spirited as the signs that now line the side of the road—nastiness and mean spirits that reflect more on the people who put the signs there than the attempt of the current owners to maintain and develop their facility in the best interests of the club and the community.

The fear of the future is false. The signs violate the spirit of free speech. The signs and the antipathy to the club are unfounded. How much better it would be, and certainly lessen the tax burden of litigation for residents, if all concerned had been able, under the law, to reach a workable, mutually agreeable resolution. Clearly, the club has tried.

 

Ida Luckower,

White Plains

LETTER

Letter: Take the time to vote for the school budget

To the Editor,

We are the parents of three elementary school age girls. Like most Rye families, we live a very full and active life, fun but chaotic. There never seems to be enough time in the day. The hours between school drop-off and pickup pass in an instant. As parents, we may complain about the tedious parts of our routine, but there isn’t anything we wouldn’t do for our children. We always find the time to help them with their homework, support their extra-curricular interests, and keep them safe and sound. Now fellow parents, we all need to make time to vote.

On May 19, there is likely to be nothing more important on our calendars than the Rye City school budget vote. It’s the best opportunity to support your children’s education, to help maintain our standing as a top tier school district in the county, state and country, and to protect the home values that are uniquely strong in Rye. Please make sure to save 10 minutes on May 19 to vote yes to the 2015-16 school budget. Each vote is even more important this year because we need a 60 percent majority to pass. If we only achieve 59.9 percent the budget will fail. Every vote is necessary. Our kids, schools and community need each yes vote.

 

Carrie and Kirk Parker,

Rye

 
LETTER

Letter: School budget doesn’t need to override cap

 

 

To the Editor,

Why should Rye pay more and get less?

90 percent of all New York State schools are capable of meeting their budget cap. There are some terrific school districts with tighter budgets that deliver exceptional scores while respecting all taxpayers.

Isn’t it a shame that the Rye Board of Education uses scare tactics to generate support for their tax-busting budget. They threaten parents with cuts to the most popular items if there is not a big budget increase. It seems awfully irresponsible to upset parents with these tactics. We all know there are many ways to meet the district’s needs without resorting to this brinkmanship.

It is time for the Rye Board of Education to have an honest conversation with our entire community. They need to embrace education enhancing/cost-saving opportunities. For instance, more than $7 million in cost savings were presented to and ignored by our Board of Education. Honestly, within that $7 million there must have been a few good proposals. Yes, is the answer; no, was the board’s response. Why?

Implementing some of those savings would:

Preserve quality education

Preserve New York State tax breaks for all homeowners and limit local tax increases

Improve community support for schools

Real estate values are based on various issues especially smart and judicious use of local tax dollars.  That is why many have voted with their feet and left Rye. We have an opportunity to improve our schools, maintain a strong tax base, while respecting all stakeholders and their hard earned money by keeping tax burdens sensible.

We can be more efficient without losing quality; it is just a matter of being more careful with the Rye taxpayer’s money. We must do better, we can do better and the Rye Board of Education knows it.

Vote no on the board’s tax-busting budget.

 

Christopher J. Cohan,

Rye

 
LETTER

Letter: The beauty of April

 

To the Editor,

The snowdrops came up late this year as did the crocus. Next came the daffodils, they were on time. The forthistha flowered late and the hyacinthds were early; the tulips were early too.

The magnolias and the dogwoods already flowered while some other trees flowered as well.

All this in the month of April.

All trees flower. The flowers become leaves on leave-producing trees. Scrubs flower too.

The flowers on the trees have pollen, which is a sticky powder, in the middle of their flower.

Sometimes the wind or bees carry the pollen into another flower on that tree or into the flower of the same kind of tree. When this happens a seed is made. The seed then falls to the ground and a new tree is formed.

 

Kent Iarocci, 

Rye

 
LETTER

Letter: Know the facts before you vote

To the Editor,

May 19 is an extremely important day for the students in the Rye City School District. I learned this by attending Board of Education meetings through late winter/early spring where I was enlightened about both the details of the excellence underlying our Rye City School District as well as the dire risk to this top-tier program from state-imposed funding restrictions. Each meeting highlighted how the administration, board and teachers work tirelessly as a team to ensure Rye follows best practices and leads the way in public education.

Over the span of a few meetings, I saw enthusiastic Spanish teachers present modifications to the Rye Middle School Spanish program due to the overwhelming success of implementing foreign language into our elementary schools, energetic students present convincing arguments lobbying to keep their Mandarin program fully funded in the event the override fails, board dedication to gender equality as a rugby coach presented plans to upgrade the high school team to a club sport and an independent project initiated by the entire Math department to rework the Math curriculum to make content presentation more in-depth and logical for our students.

We have all seen the high scores Rye earns in state and national rankings and know the students of our system earn spots at the nation’s top colleges; it became clear to me in these Board of Education meetings that this success is directly due to the thoughtful planning, long-term vision and researched investment of our tax dollars to meticulously create a top-tier school district.

Sadly however, these achievements are at high risk due to the current state laws surrounding our school budget process. With a tax cap that does not allow logical exemptions for pension costs or enrollment growth coupled with meager state aid and continued unfunded mandates, our schools have relied heavily on reserves to fund core programming and maintain excellence in the district. This year, the fund reserves must be spared to protect our credit ratings and future borrowing costs and the district must rely on residents to fund the gap.

No one wants to pay higher taxes, but after spending hours learning about the budget specifics I am convinced this board has presented a fair, efficient and appropriate budget for our schools, and I urge you to take the time to make your own conclusion in this regard. The override request of $3.05 million equates to $105 per month for the average home in Rye. For families with multiple children in the school system, this number is further diluted on a per child basis.

For those without children in the system, it only takes a quick Google search to find
exhaustive research directly linking strong public schools to increased property value. That said, the administration is sensitive to the impact of the override on each resident of the town, and refined the budget to reduce the original override request by more than $500,000, even as they listened to parent feedback to include funding to restore the Rye Middle School Modified Athletics Program.

The Board of Education, Friends of Rye City School District and school PTOs are available to discuss any element of the budget to ensure that your vote is informed. Take the time to learn the issues, walk through the transparent proposed budget and ask questions. Voter participation is the key element to success. Apathy is akin to a no vote and may directly lead to severe cuts in our schools for the 2015-2016 year. This is a real threat and residents must actively engage in this process to avoid the potential catastrophic cuts.

Rye has created a top-tier school district and it is in our power to keep it that way.
Please get informed and vote on May 19.

 

Kelsey Johnson,

Rye

LETTER

Letter: We moved to Rye for the schools

 

 

To the editor,

Nearly six years ago, our family moved to Rye from Europe. As a multicultural family of French/English, we lived in Paris and London before we settled here. And we have been celebrating our decision since the moment we arrived.

We chose Rye because of its renowned school system and we stayed because it is such a warm and nurturing community. Our children can walk safely to school and the class sizes are small.  What’s more, we know our children will be well prepared for college and beyond.

Currently, our ninth grade daughter is able to study her two languages and our seventh grade special needs son is educated out of district in an extraordinary school. Up until now the Rye schools and the system here have enchanted us.

We are green card holders, we own our home and pay our taxes but we are not citizens and would like to have a voting voice, too. Particularly now that our schools need every vote to ensure that we continue to have a foreign language program. The study of foreign languages is such a vital part of international life. This country was founded on the promise it gives to all its hard working immigrants—many of whom came to its shores not speaking English. We need to build on this legacy by maintaining our strong, diverse foreign language program.

When we told our ninth grade daughter that languages may be cut, her response was “Being able to learn a second language is worth more than a few dollars per month, isn’t it?” We had to agree with her there.

If we do not pass the superintendent’s recommended school budget, classes will rise to 30 students; we will lose much of our foreign language program; all of the writing mentor program and a much needed guidance counselor at the high school. Unfortunately, a failed budget vote would make us think very carefully about our future here in Rye.

The first class schooling is the reason families move here; let’s not make it also the reason families move away. Please vote yes on May 19. We owe it to our children in this community.

 

Caitlin and Francis Verdier,

Rye

LETTER

Letter: Vote the budget override for us

 

 

To the Editor,

Last week my family celebrated our first anniversary in Rye, having relocated from the United Kingdom.

Shortly after we arrived on April 7, 2014, we kept hearing and seeing things about voting for the  school budget. Preoccupied by the relocation, we gladly ignored the whole thing.

Since we’d chosen Rye over other towns because of the supposedly excellent schools, I assumed they were generously funded, and then I was  informed matter-of-factly by a new acquaintance that kindergarten was only in half days.I wondered what we were paying extortionate rent for if we didn’t even get full-day kindergarten.

The more I discovered about our school’s funding, the more alarmed I have become; a deficit dating back several years, increasing attendance at the high school that just can’t be sustained and the budget cap.

Such is the impression you have all made on us here in Rye, that we are applying for our green cards in the hope of staying longer term—perhaps indefinitely. So it isn’t just because of the half-day/full-day kindergarten that we believe people should vote for the school override.

The thought that as my children progress into middle and high school they may lose out on foreign language learning, be in bigger classes with fewer teachers, not to mention cuts to literacy, sports and technology makes me wonder if staying here indefinitely is such a good idea after all.

Property prices here are eye wateringly expensive. The reason of course, is because apart from being such a fine place to live, the schools here have a fantastic reputation. Those Rye property owners who may no longer have children in the public school system and who don’t want to vote in favor of the override because it would increase their taxes, I would say this: if you—or if we—don’t, we run the risk of the schools losing that good reputation, the risk of Rye becoming less desirable for young families and the risk of overall property prices tailing off. Support the schools and the budget override they need to put Rye on the map for education, and that in turn will keep Rye on the map as a desirable location and the property prices on the up.

As expats, we cannot vote. So to those of you Rye residents who are U.S. citizens and are therefore allowed to vote, I would urge you please to make a little time on May 19 to vote yes for this override budget. It makes sense for all of us.

Luisa and Julian March,

Rye

LETTER

Letter: Support an override budget

 

 

To the Editor,

My family moved to Rye in May 2012 from New York City. The reason we moved was because our older daughter was getting ready to attend kindergarten and we made the decision that we wanted our two daughters to live a suburban lifestyle and to attend public school. We quickly narrowed down our search to Rye. Why? Well, three reasons: the schools, the community and the commute. I am sure that many of you reading this are shaking your heads in agreement since that is why most of us moved here.

However, unbeknownst to us, and likely to many of you, the school district was faced with major funding cuts from Albany while at the same time experiencing a population boom that has caused enrollment to increase 18 percent since 2005. The result is that the district’s costs (salaries, healthcare and pensions) are outweighing revenues, and have been for a while, and the district has been using reserves to fill the gaps in the revenue shortfalls.

The district is now looking to bridge that revenue gap. The district presented a proposed 2015-2016 school budget that included a tax cap override in order to refrain from further depleting reserves to below acceptable levels. The district has made every effort to maintain our excellent schools while keeping spending down. Unfortunately, our taxes do not even begin to cover our students. It costs the district a little under $22,000 per year to educate each child at our schools. That means, if you have two children in public school they are attending school for about $11,000 per year. In comparison, districts like Scarsdale and Bronxville spend almost $29,000 and $26,000, respectively. Yet, Rye recently ranked No. 4 (above both Scarsdale and Bronxville) in New York State as one of the best high schools.

We can no longer rely on reserves to fill in budget gaps and we all need to remember that we moved here for our top ranked schools. If we do not pass this budget, the schools we all moved here for will be very different. We as a community need to address the structural deficits caused by too many years of state-mandated expenses outweighing taxpayer revenue and do the fiscally responsible thing and pass a tax cap override. We need everyone to get out there and vote because we need 60 percent to pass the budget. This is one of those times that every single vote will count. Our children’s futures and our property values depend upon it.

Erika Lee,

Rye

LETTER

Letter: Invest in schools, override tax cap

To the Editor,

When my husband and I moved here 10 years ago, we looked at three factors to decide where to live. We looked at the commuting time from New York City, the community and the strength of the public schools. Even if we weren’t sure that our children would use the public schools (and only half of them currently do), we knew that communities with good school systems hold their investment value. The direct correlation between good public schools and increasing real estate values has certainly been proven in Rye. The average sale price in Rye, from $1.4 million in 2009 to $1.9 million in 2015, and the national ranking of Rye schools (currently fourth out of 19,000 open enrollment schools in US News & World Report) have improved yearly in lockstep. However, the health of the Rye public schools and indirectly every Rye resident’s property value is truly in peril.

The tax cap compliant alternative budget implements cost cutting methods that cut deep into current programs and staffing. In total, 48 full or part-time employees would be cut across all of the schools. As a mother of children at Rye Middle School, I was sad to see that all modified and club sports will be completely eliminated and the theatre offerings substantially reduced. These changes will cause approximately 240 students to finish school at 2:30 p.m. rather than constructively joining after school sport teams or clubs. Mandarin, French and Latin would be phased out at the middle school and the beginner version of those language classes completely eliminated from Rye High School. The nationally recognized Rye High Writing Mentor program would be eliminated. Even though many non-core middle school classes and every current sophomore math class at the high school already has 30 students per class, the tax cap compliant budget would further increase class size. The high school guidance office will not be able to expand to accommodate the increasing number of students or their college applications needs.

At the same time that the school’s academic and athletic offerings are being cut or eliminated, the graduating class has increased by 36 percent in the last nine years.

Since the tax cap does not allow any exemptions for increasing enrollment, the additional students need to be absorbed without any increased funding. No school can possibly improve if it has less teachers, less resources, less money for sports and clubs and more students. Rye’s national rankings will certainly be affected.

My children have asked me “Didn’t you have middle school sports when you were growing up?” It is difficult to explain to my children that sports (or foreign language choices or core class sizes of less than 30) may be luxury items that Rye is no longer willing to afford.

The tax increase will be approximately $115 a month. Nobody wants to pay more taxes. But even if you have children in private school or don’t have school-age children, you should still vote yes on May 19 to approve the tax cap override budget.

According to the Westchester multiple listing service, Rye, Bronxville and Scarsdale have the highest real estate values in Westchester. These three towns also have Westchester’s top-rated school systems. This correlation between good public schools and high real estate prices is not a coincidence. A yes vote on May 19 may directly benefit the school children of Rye, but it is ultimately in every homeowner’s best interest.

 

Veronica Iuliano,

Rye