To the Editrix:
I’ve been following with interest the story of the fire at Larchmont Acres in the Town of Mamaroneck, and the concerns about the response time
and jurisdictional issues. I have shared those concerns for quite some time, at one point, writing an article for the Daily Times (the once local Gannett paper for Mamaroneck and Larchmont) circa 1982. Unfortunately, it was too long and never published, and I never followed up.
I grew up in Mamaroneck, on Livingston Avenue near the Harbor, leaving in 1979 to join the Army. I returned for brief periods during the 80’s, finally leaving Mamaroneck for good in 1991. I love the area, but God had other plans for me. I’ve followed the local news on and off since leaving, have been back to visit, and have maintained some local contacts. It pains me to see that the issues there have changed so little in 30 years.
So what are the solutions? Some have proposed that Mamaroneck Village withdraw from the towns of Mamaroneck and Rye and become its own "coterminous" town/village. Yes, the Village of Mamaroneck lies in two towns, divided by the Mamaroneck River. I believe two referendums on the matter were held in the 70’s; possibly even three. All were defeated, primarily by opposition in Larchmont as I recall (all affected municipalities had to approve). Rye Town, which essentially has ceased to exist as it is entirely incorporated by Mamaroneck, Port Chester, and Rye Brook (who successfully formed a village out of unincorporated Rye east of Rye City, which is itself distinct.
Are you dizzy yet? It gets better.
There was also a proposal to form a city of Mamaroneck Harbor. Of course, that would have to get through a dysfunctional state legislature which can’t get out of its own way. Being a city also has other complicating factors, I believe, to do with property and sales taxes.
Neither of those two solutions fix the entire problem, though. You’re still left with the squiggly line border along Richbell Rd. You’re left with an unincorporated swatch between Larchmont and New Rochelle. You have Town of Mamaroneck police and other municipal functions located in the Village of Mamaroneck at the once school building (which housed the first High School and Central Elementary School) which sits atop the Boston Post Rd behind Rockland Avenue.
You also still have three disparate municipalities (four if you count the town of Rye) managing a relatively small geographic area governed by parochial interests, and two school districts (Rye Neck which covers the area of the same name east of the Mamaroneck River).
Here’s my solution: merge all areas into one coterminous town/village. Think of the services and costs that will be saved: one police chief, fire chief, mayor/town supervisor (a combined position under a coterminous town/village), and one executive position for other departments such as sanitation, roads, etc.
Now, some won’t be happy with that, particularly Larchmont, and that’s understandable. Right now they have all their own services, including fire and police within their own confines. Being subsumed by Mamaroneck can’t be all that appealing to residents.
However, Larchmont can keep its identity; it will still have its downtown, with a post office (with Larchmont address, ahem, for the real estate listings) and library. It can even keep a police precinct in its village hall, which can be used for rotating meetings of the new town. Larchmont Tavern will still be Larchmont Tavern.
Mamaroneck can more effectively manage its buildings then. They can keep either the Village Hall on Prospect, or use the Mamaroneck Town building, with one or the other being redeveloped into affordable housing. Fire houses in both Mamaroneck and Larchmont can remain right where they are. Other facilities can be combined, and more comprehensive zoning and land usage policies can be implemented.
The question is: will Larchmont bite? If not, I suggest this: Larchmont forms its own coterminous town/village, annexing any unincorporated areas more accessible to Larchmont than Mamaroneck (think N. Chatsworth Avenue and perhaps Weaver Street), with Mamaroneck taking the area of its village from Rye Town, and the area of Mamaroneck more accessible to its village (think Rockland Avenue, Fenimore Road, and Old White Plains Road).
Either way, the fragmentation needs to end, and sensible boundaries drawn. Once that’s done, can someone send me a slice of Sicilian from Sal’s, a hotdog from Walter’s, and a draft from The Knight Spot? Okay, two out of three, then.