Column: Are we ready for the next hurricane?

Mayor Sack has come up with a quaint idea; ask residents for money to buy new seats for the public to sit on and new flooring to walk on in City Hall.

I don’t get it.carey

Having sat in the present seats and walked the floor so many times, I have never felt uncomfortable or seen anything wrong with the floor.

The mayor’s announced purpose is to encourage generosity toward the community in the spirit of former Mayor John Motley Morehead, who donated the entire City Hall to the tune of half a million dollars. I met Mayor Morehead and doubt he would be enthralled with softer seating or newer flooring as a tribute to himself. He was made of bigger things.

No, I think he would prefer something more imaginative and beneficial to Rye residents in general. One idea comes immediately to mind with the approach of hurricane season; let the mayor, and the whole City Council, call out
for preparedness.

Rye has not starred in recent emergencies. But let’s look forward, not back. Let’s see how we can be better organized, better equipped and better prepared in general for what we know lies ahead for us.

I have taken a careful look at how New Canaan, Conn., handles emergencies. This is a community of 20,000, a little larger than Rye, but comparable in other respects. It makes heavy use of citizen volunteers, and this is where the spirit of Mayor Morehead could lead and inspire. Instead of being styled simply as a community emergency response team, as in New Canaan, our volunteers could be looked up to as members of a “Morehead Mobilization.”

There is already in existence an entity the City Council could take hold of as a vehicle around which to structure a Morehead Mobilization. It is a New York not-for-profit corporation called Rye Community Emergency Response Team, Inc., or Rye CERT. It’s not yet active, but available for use by volunteers answering the call for a Morehead Mobilization.

Mr. Mayor and council, let’s give it a shot.

Let’s really honor Mayor Morehead with something truly significant in the way of citizen action, not just with new floor boards and comfy seats.

But as long as improvement to the City Hall meeting chamber is being advocated, there is one improvement that is really needed. That is better sound amplification. At present, there is a little mic on the desk near each dais occupant. But, as everyone knows who has watched vocalists perform, a microphone must be close to the mouth to be effective. Mics a couple of feet away are not much help; especially if the speaker is turning this way and that to face her or his colleagues on the dais.

So what the Rye public needs, in order to be able to hear clearly at meetings at City Hall, is for each dais occupant to pin on a lapel mic. These could be obtained at a fraction of the cost of new chairs or flooring, and the public would not have to stay home and watch meetings on Rye TV in order to know what is going on.

Knowing what is going on is essential for good government.