Column: A kind word for Rye’s former city manager

careyOn the sunny Saturday that followed the downpour the night of May 16, I drove along the Post Road past Central Avenue. The new grass on the mini-park at the corner is bright green, and I just wish our own front lawn looked half as verdant.

One of the last things Scott Pickup must have done as city manager before leaving us for greener pastures was to have the gravel removed from the park and grass seed sown instead. Those of us who used to sound-off about preserving the park should remember who it was that, in the end, prevented it from being turned into a parking lot.

I know something about how hard the job of city manager can be, even if no one on the City Council is gunning for him or her. I served on the City Council during the tenures of several of our previous managers, starting with Jack Paulus, the first one we hired, back in the 1960s. His office was the tiny space in back of the Square House meeting room.

There could be a naming contest for the park, with everyone in Rye eligible to propose a name and the winner to be chosen by a jury of all ages. It could, for instance, be called “Rye’s Green Park.” That would call attention to the need for it to be forever grassy. We could have a formal ceremony of re-dedication, so that everyone would be reminded that the land is forever untouchable, except with permission from the state Legislature.

The dedication could be accompanied by a serious conference at Whitby Castle on the usefulness of the office of city manager in contrast with the strong-mayor system in which the mayor is the chief executive officer, as in Harrison, and the council members function as department heads.

It would be especially appropriate to hold such a conference now, in view of our 50-plus years with the city manager form of government and our almost 50 years in the present City Hall. Such a conference should be of interest to the City/County Managers Association, which our council hired to help us find us a new police commissioner and in which Scott Pickup is prominent. No holds should be barred. Representatives from not only Harrison but other comparable communities should be invited to participate.