January 21, 2013

Greetings Honorable Mayor Feinstein (Rye Brook, NY), Trustee Heiser (Rye Brook, NY), Trustee Marrow (Rye Brook, NY), Trustee Rednick (Rye Brook, NY), Trustee Rosenberg (Rye Brook, NY) and Administrator Bradbury (Rye Brook, NY):

I have been prompted to write today to express my thoughts and concerns regarding not only the proposed Ice Rink at the Reckson Center on King Street in Rye Brook, NY but also regarding King Street and the surrounding roads in general.

I believed the Ice Rink at Reckson to be positive addition for the community when it was originally announced. However, over the last few weeks that feeling has definitely changed especially given my prior reservations to the impact of the surrounding area.

I do not believe a residential neighborhood or an office park community needs a recreational amusement park type of facility. Although the facility would be pushed back from the surrounding neighborhood, the only roadway leading to it is not. I feel the Board should not approve the Ice Rink and at the very least should not rush into a decision regarding it. Issues and questions need to be addressed. Complete studies are also needed especially ones dealing with the issues described herein.  It must be the obligation of the Village Board to maintain the roads for the safety of its citizens and put their well being first.

King Street is the major thoroughfare for many in the Village. The additional traffic is a tremendous concern for area residents. It is already too narrow for the amount of traffic that uses it daily. King Street is also the most direct roadway to reach Greenwich Hospital for many. Although located in Connecticut, it is the closest hospital for Rye Brook residents. King Street is the main road between Greenwich Hospital, Hutchinson River Parkway, I287/I684 and Westchester County Airport. It also serves direct access to Rye Brook's neighbors: Armonk, Port Chester, Rye and Greenwich, CT.  Increased traffic is going to have a negative effect on Police, Ambulance and Fire response times. Anyone who does not understand or believe the volume of EMS activity along King Street is welcome to spend a day at my house. Ambulances and police cars can be heard throughout the day and night. I certainly do not think a playground is more important than a life that may be lost due to the traffic that undoubtedly will occur. Coupled with these concerns is the upsetting news that the Harrison EMS chief is proposing a reduction in EMS staffing and taking one of department's two emergency trucks of the road. Rye Brook Residents could potentially be waiting longer to get a Port Chester-Rye Brook ambulance that is responding to emergencies in Harrison.

The traffic lighting all along King Street from Port Chester, NY through Greenwich, CT is ridiculously sad. It is an absolute community safety hazard for both Rye Brook, NY and Greenwich, CT. There are only five working traffic lights between Ridge St. and Anderson Hill Road. Between Anderson Hill Road and Connecticut Liquors/Willow Run Rd. Greenwich, CT there are three to four working lights at any given time. Most of those are situated on a curve leaving one other light for this stretch of road. After this point there is one dim light. If not for the Atria Rye Brook, there would be no more lighting on the road. (Reckson Executive Park's security lights and the traffic light do help but they are not on the roadway.) Once past the Atria Rye Brook, it is pitch black for over a mile, including the entrance to Bellefair where over two hundred and fifty homes are located. Past Bellefair, at the corner of Lincoln Avenue & King Street, there is one more traffic light which barely illuminates the roadway. It is the middle of winter and there are no leaves on the trees yet this light is blocked by overgrown tree branches.  This is the last light on King Street before Rye Lake Road (the turnoff for Westchester County Airport.). Most of the traffic, especially during this time of year, takes place during darkness. The poor roadway lighting described is a travesty and should be remedied regardless of whether the Ice Rink is granted approval but most certainly if it does.

Anderson Hill Road is another area that is in desperate need of lighting and landscaping. It is pitch black from King Street to Doral Arrowwood and then beyond the hotel. The overgrowth on the sides of the road is dangerous on a good day. It is extremely hazardous in inclement weather. If the Reckson Ice Rink is approved it will undeniably cause more use of Anderson Hill Road. This needs to be considered and improved regardless of the Ice Rink’s approval as well.

The King Street Area between Anderson Hill Road and Lincoln Avenue is more than unsettling. There are tree limbs and branches growing between the power, telephone and cable lines for a good amount of the way. It is not that way along the entire length of the Bellefair property--only parts of it.  Most of Rye Brook looks lovely and the trees are well kept, back from the road and not in the power lines. Why is this area so poorly maintained? In some areas the tree branches from the sidewalk extend over the double yellow lines on King Street. The walkways for pedestrians along this route is similarly upsetting. Sidewalks are either completely nonexistent or cracked and useless.

Both King Street and Anderson Hill Road have a tremendous amount of bicycle traffic. There is no legal or safe way for both cars and cyclers to share these roads. The area needs improvement to existing roads for drivers, cyclers and pedestrians more than another Ice Rink in the community.

For the residents of Bellefair, King Street is the only road by which to get anywhere. It was recently pointed out to me that we are somewhat of an “island”. King Street is already congested at numerous different times of the day. During Sandy the residents were basically on lockdown in the development because of downed trees on King Street between Lincoln Ave. and Sherwood Ave. Residents should not have to deal with increased traffic on the main road and be held hostage to their homes. Furthermore the houses facing/backing up to King Street should not have to deal with additional pollution and exhaust from additional slow traffic on King Street. These residents will be forced not use their yards and decks. Many homes, including mine, will be subjected to a lower market value which is completely unacceptable.

The neighboring development and hotel and conference center, Doral Greens and Doral Arrowwood, are in almost the same predicament. Although they are not directly on King St. and have a little more adaptability, it seems unreasonable for residents and guests to be put out of their way for this proposed Ice Rink. Doral Greens has approximately One Hundred Fifty (150) residences. Doral Arrowwood has numerous conferences weeklong and caterers celebrations on the weekends. This half mile of roadway generates a tremendous amount of traffic on its own while also contributing to the Village tax rolls.

A quick drive along King Street shows numerous residential and nonresidential buildings which would be negatively impacted by a delayed response from Emergency Services. Some of these are (in no particular order):

Another matter to be considered is the additional financial cost to Rye Brook residents. Not only are Police, Fire and Ambulance services going to be impacted but also the Rye Brook Highway Department and Refuse Collections due the additional time it will cost each department to perform their duties. Both work diligently year round. Throughout the fall season the Rye Brook Highway Department is tasked with picking up leaves throughout the Village and depositing them at the compost site on Lincoln Avenue. The additional traffic the Highway Department and Carting Company will encounter throughout the Village (particularly on Anderson Hill Road & King Street) in their day to day activities, such as clearing the roads during inclement weather and storm occurrences, leaf pick up, and trash collection, will negatively impact their performance. This leads to a diminished quality of life for Rye Brook residents which is expected and relied on.

Along with Emergency Response Services, the Highway Department and the Carting Company, the quality of life for residents needs to be considered and valued. Will the potential revenue gained from the Ice Rink recoup the costs to the Village Taxpayers for Emergency Service Delays and additional time and labor (which translates into tax dollars) required for both EMS, the Highway Department and other Village Services?  How many residents will have increased waiting times for Emergency Services? How much longer will refuse be lingering in front of our homes? How much longer will it take residents to commute to and from work daily? This week I’ve been informed that the financial benefit to the Village will be inconsequential and not recouped for numerous years. How on earth does this benefit the people of Rye Brook who are already paying an extraordinary property tax amount? I do not believe my tax dollars should go to support an amusement park that is a threat to the residential neighborhood I purchased into.

Coupled with other development plans, I was informed this week that the Ice Rink plans to have four rinks with seating for Fifteen Hundred (1,500) people and serve liquor at their events. Anyone who thinks about that for a second can realize the impending disaster being proposed. Fifteen Hundred (1,500) people drinking and watching hockey, a sport not known for graciousness toward its players. Given the state of the only road leading to Reckson Executive Park, this seems absurd and ludicrous. The first thoughts that came to mind when I heard the size and sales of liquor was traffic and safety and the cost to residents of the Village. Who is going to pay for additional police to monitor the crowds? Not only will police officers and EMS workers need to be on standby for traffic and crowd control, there will have to monitoring for drinking and driving. If there is not, there will certainly be additional accidents (at best) and fatalities (at worst) on the surrounding roads given their condition and the increased number of drivers who will be leaving the Reckson Ice Rink after consuming alcohol. Recurrently, this proposal is requesting tax dollars and Village resources be spent and allocated on a non tax income generating project.

Rye Playland has secured its bond to begin reconstruction of its Ice Rink and Congress has passed bills to aid in recovering due to damage from Sandy. Reconstruction at Playland is already a top priority and is scheduled to reopen in the Fall of 2013. Bronx legislators are about to approve an Ice Rink Complex at the Kingsbridge Armory and that facility has the support of former NY Ranger Captain Mark Messier. It is not as if any of these will be ready before the others or the Reckson Ice Rink would fill a void. It too needs to be constructed. In the meantime there are local  Ice Rinks in Mount Vernon, NY, Yonkers, NY, Elmsford, NY, Mamaroneck, NY, Greenwich, CT, Stamford, CT and Darien, CT.

There are numerous environmental factors which will have a negative impact on the surrounding areas as well. Although I am concerned about these, I admittedly do not know enough to speak of them. Because of this, I will only voice my concern regarding storm runoff, noise, construction issues, air pollution and other general environmental factors. People who are more knowledgeable than myself can speak to these matters. What I do notice about both the Playland and Kingsbridge Armory sites are that they are secured away from residential homes and developments. Perhaps Rye and the Bronx are more concerned with the safety of their residents.

Both King Street and Anderson Hill Road are in the jurisdiction of  the Village of Rye Brook, NY and the Town of Greenwich, CT. I believe there is a requisite for the governments of both states to address the safety hazard issues on these roads and to protect the citizens and guests of their states. It will of course require cooperation and agreement from both states but surely protecting the citizens of New York and Connecticut is what each of you aspire to do each day.

I am enclosing two articles from the NY Times describing Rye Brook, one from 1991 and one from 2012. These describe the original vision for the village and the beauty of it. The Reckson Ice Rink does nothing to enhance our community and I respectfully ask the Mayor and Village Trustees to deny the application at the Rye Brook Village meeting on January 22, 2013.

Thanking you for your time and attention, I remain,

Very truly yours,