Follow-Up on the News

March 3, 2011
– By Robin Jovanovich

RYE – At the March 2 City Council meeting, City staff and Councilmembers provided input on a number of longstanding issues.

Central Avenue Bridge

City Manager Scott Pickup reported that he’d met with Department of Transportation officials in late February and they’d agreed to move the bridge project on a different track from the Theodore Fremd Retaining Wall, which was also severely damaged in the 2007 floods.

“We estimate that bids will go out this summer and work will begin in the fall,” said the city manager. “If we get the steel within six months, the project will be done within a year.”

Mark your calendars, Rye residents!

The Schubert Case

Forest Avenue resident Bob Schubert, who has been mostly absent from Council meetings after being a regular at them for five years concerning the sudden and dramatic depletion of water in his pond, was back for the second meeting in a row. He apologized for the statement he’d made at the previous meeting, describing the treatment he’d received as German justice. “I should have said Nazi justice!”

Mr. Schubert filed a $5 million civil rights suit against the City in November 2009 and claims he and his attorney have tried to settle the case but there has been no response from the City. The suit is pending before a Federal judge. He asked the Council to conduct a citywide referendum on the matter.

“As defendants in a lawsuit representing the City, the Council cannot engage in public discussions about any aspect of the case,” responded Mayor Doug French. “We would all like resolution to the matter. However, our singular focus has been to uphold our fiduciary responsibility to the citizens and not speak publicly about it. Our representatives have and will continue to communicate with the Schubert representatives as appropriate.”

Corporation Counsel Kristin Wilson directed her comments to Mr. Schubert, “Your representatives have been contacted and we’ll continue to engage them. Both sides are waiting for guidance from the Federal judge.”

Enforcement of Health Code Compliance on Hen Island

Watch for the Return of Mr. Floatie

Hen Island resident Ray Tartaglione has sued the City to compel them to complete sewage disposal inspections mandated by the Rye City Code, but the judge dismissed the lawsuit, concluding that it was up to the discretion of the City whether or not to enforce Article 161 of the City Code. Sewage disposal inspections were transferred to the County Health Department years ago.

But Mr. Tartaglione remains undeterred. “Rye, like any municipality, has discretionary enforcement powers and by not doing anything they’re enabling an entire community to avoid code compliance.”

He went on to explain that on Hen Island, drinking water is still collected from roof tops, and the pollution of Long Island Sound continues, as does the largest mosquito infestation in the county.

Mr. Tartaglione has publicly stated that if the environmental issues are not resolved, a rolling billboard pulled by the Floatiemobile van (with the distinctive toilet on the roof) will, before the fall election season, display the following message: “One of the first lessons we teach our children is where to put their effluents. Why has the Rye City Council not learned this message?” Mr. Floatie was last seen during the administration of Mayor Otis.

Mayor Doug French said, “Hen Island is a seasonal island, and with the upcoming season and now that the lawsuit against Rye has been dismissed, the City has re-engaged the County to review the status of these complaints, as it does in any other matter. The complaints range across four areas: potable water, storage and disposal of sewage, building violations, and mosquitoes. Some of the violations have been resolved, others are open and the City will meet with the affected parties prior to the new season.”

The City expects to hear back from the County within a week or two and will proceed in due course, the mayor assured Mr. Tartaglione.

Kirby Lane Sewer District

After years of planning, many meetings, and a public hearing, the City Council approved the establishment of the Kirby Lane Extension Sanitary Sewer Special Assessment District. Twenty-five of the 29 residents in that area voted to approve the measure, well above the 66 2/3% statutory requirement.

Council Amends Playland Resolution

With the deadline for the Playland RFPS March 10, the Council reviewed and did the final edit of the resolution it would send to the County. After careful consideration, the Council agreed to a statement of the primary principles and values it hopes the County will apply during its review of the Playland proposals. The resolution includes support of the Westchester Children’s


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