Merge Larchmont, the Mamaronecks and Rye Town?

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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.

–Jeffrey Smith

 

14 thoughts on “Merge Larchmont, the Mamaronecks and Rye Town?

  1. It makes no sense to have as many layers in our fire/police and most importantly, schools.

    Does Westchester really need 32 superintendants and their staffs? Absolutely not…

    Mandatory pensions will destroy this country!

  2. [quote][i]Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.[/i]
    – Aaron Levenstein[/quote]

    Big round apologies Toll House, for the prior misrepresentation of your pseudonym. But given your pseudonym one might expect that you’d appreciate that it is the little bits hidden among the [i]dough[/i] that are most tasty and some must just eat beyond the edge ;)

    Oreo already conceded that getting to the real number is perhaps like getting to those cocoa beans. In good cookie fashion, various numbers are going ’round. And perhaps some could make a case for any of those cookies. So Oreo is content to let others ‘chip’ in with answers ;)

    If it’s in ‘the sun’, then it must be true. But haven’t seen the sun recently, so Oreo is looking for Santa Claus cause your number sounds better, even if not sufficiently low to save the future. And of course, there always the Dewey headline – no not one about a decimal number catalog system.

    So if you’re interested, perhaps as your URL suggests, you can find an official source on the ‘Town of Mamaroneck Web site’.

    Or if you’re interested, perhaps you can get these or other equations resolved, non-headline numbers from your URL:

    [i]($284.63-$18.61)*n%=$284.63
    where $284.63 is the tentative 2011 town resident property tax rate per $1,000. assessed value
    and $18.61 is the tentative 2011 town property tax increase per $1,000. assessed value
    and n is a decimal number required to solve the equation[/i]

    [i]18.61/($284.63-$18.61)*100=n%
    where $18.61 is the tentative 2011 town property tax increase per $1,000. assessed value
    and $284.63 is the tentative 2011 town resident property tax rate per $1,000. assessed value
    where 100 is an integer constant required to convert the decimal number to a percent
    and the value of n% is an approximation of the increase[/i]

    Many Thanks.

  3. [quote]Tollgate, just a number going ’round like a cookie; “chip” away smilies/wink.gif

    After all, there are property taxes, town taxes for town residents, town taxes for non-town residents, school taxes, county taxes. Take your pick and try the numbers in your URL, or perhaps there’s someone in our schools who can do the “proper” computations.

    Or maybe the Town will tell smilies/smiley.gif

    Unfortunately, bottom line, unless the actual increase is negative, the impact on our future will be smilies/sad.gif[/quote]

    You still haven’t answered the question. You claimed a 7 1/2 percent tax increase, and insinuated that this increase is coming from the town. Where does this number come from? You cite vague references to increases in school and county taxes, which the “kings in the Town of Mamaroneck Government” have little to no control over. I cited an article which reports a 2.2% increase in taxes from the “kings” in the town. All I’m asking is how did you come up with 7 1/2 percent? It’s a simple question. Post your math! If there’s a discrepancy between the tax increase the town is telling us (2.2%) and what you claim (7.5%) we have quite a story on our hands. Otherwise it’s irresponsible to the rest of us taxpayers to post something like this if you can’t back it up.

  4. [i]Torture numbers, and they’ll confess to anything.[/i]
    [quote]- Gregg Easterbrook[/quote]

    Tollgate, just a number going ’round like a cookie; “chip” away ;)

    After all, there are property taxes, town taxes for town residents, town taxes for non-town residents, school taxes, county taxes. Take your pick and try the numbers in your URL, or perhaps there’s someone in our schools who can do the “proper” computations.

    Or maybe the Town will tell :)

    Unfortunately, bottom line, unless the actual increase is negative, the impact on our future will be :(

  5. [quote]But, if the kings in the Town of Mamaroneck Government really think they can subject the people to a seven 7 and a half percent (7-1/2 %) tax increase, or to any tax increase this year, well they need to think again and perhaps again and again. [/quote]

    [url]
    http://larchmont.patch.com/articles/difficult-mamaroneck-budget-calls-for-22-property-tax-hike%5B/url%5D
    [quote]
    ‘Difficult’ Mamaroneck Budget Calls for 2.2% Property Tax Hike

    The Town of Mamaroneck will hold budget work sessions leading up to a Nov. 30 public hearing[/quote]

    Where does the 7 1/2 percent come from?

  6. [quote][i]Seven and a half cents doesn’t mean a thing![/i]
    – The Pajama Game, Adler & Ross[/quote]

    But, if the kings in the Town of Mamaroneck Government really think they can subject the people to a seven 7 and a half percent (7-1/2 %) tax increase, or to any tax increase this year, well they need to think again and perhaps again and again.

    – Cause we’ve figured it out,
    – And know what that means
    – For we can see it as a vision
    – What it mean for today
    – And only five years from today
    – Well ………………………………

    Just what did happen to that consolidation of services report? Fuzzy thinking and dysfunctional operations by government must turn now to constructive action.

    Water rates went up and the people’s well is dry. While municipal governments only complain about ‘mandates’ and pass them down, we the people can say no to our local ‘governmenters’ mandating more taxes.

    [quote]
    [i]hear me roar
    In numbers too big to ignore[/i]
    – Helen Reddy and Ray Burton[/quote]

  7. This is fuzzy thinking.
    There should be a merger, but not on those lines.

    I remember how very concerned for the residents of New Rochelle that the Larchmonters were , when they passed a local law giving them zoning right of approval to development projects over the border in New Rochelle. They assured New Rochelle that they were only protecting the interests of the people living in New Rochelle at the area of the development (IKEA.)

    In light of that history of asserting concern for, and legal power over, the people of New Rochelle; it is only fitting that Larchmont would be absorbed by New Rochelle in any Sound Shore consolidation. Larchmont would gain a professional Fire Department, and the various boards and commissions would integrate nicly with the New Rochelle city government.

    For continuity and convenience sake, it would be fitting for Mamarioneck Town to renounce that sliver of land now between New Rochelle and Larchmont (near Dillon Rd.,) which would actually become an intrusion into New Rochelle. But, unlike Larchmont, there is no legal precident for this land being part and parcel of New Rochelle.

  8. Larchmont is 1 square mile, they have had a semi-dysfunctional fire department for a few years now thanks to past and present Mayorial Staffs, they spent over 135 thousand dollars a year for a Fire Chief that was often out on Manuevers and not in his Village protecting the tax/salary payers and he rarely showed any gratitude or appreciation the Village’s long-time Volunteers.

    Merge at least the Town of Mamaroneck & Village of Larchmont (of which Larchmont is a part of anyway) let them keep their higher taxes and zip code, and let the rest of us save some money with a combined government representation.

  9. [quote][i]Common sense is what tells us the Earth is flat and the Sun goes around it.[/i]
    – Unknown[/quote]

    The author makes much sense, so people will oppose it. Unfortunately, the ways of the past no longer work. The ability to reach out and touch someone does not necessarily make an organization functional, especially at a time when you can reach out across the world instantly.

    Fortunately, eventually some agreed the world was round so we’re here with an opportunity to confront this issue.

  10. Keep in mind that once you consolidate services residents will be giving up a huge piece of how their town is run and will need the agreements of other neighboring towns and/or villages on a host of issues. You think it will be less bureaucracy? Think about how it might impact zoning laws, school district policy and school boards, just for starters. Once you give in, there is no going back. It is because Larchmont has survived as a separate entity through the decades that it boasts excellent services for its residents, maintains thriving businesses and an unmatched interest in it remaining so by its community.

  11. How come no one mentions merging the school districts? Merging all of our local governments would still do nothing to reduce our school tax burden.

    For the proposal above, let’s say we merge the towns of Mamaroneck and Rye into one big town. Minus the City of Rye (due to state legislative hurdles), we would reduce government services from Rye Brook, Port Chester, Rye Town, Mamaroneck Village, Mamaroneck Town, and Larchmont Village into one. But we would still have Mamaroneck, Rye Neck, Blind Brook, and Port Chester School Districts. 10 police and fire departments into 2. Two ambulance departments into 1. 6 DPW’s into 1. Numerous bureaucracies reduced. But still 4 school districts?

    And another thing, consolidation to improve services and increase efficiency is a good idea, but what was the real crisis in the recent fire on Richbell road? Was it one that consolidation could overcome? No loss of life, no serious injuries, limited property damage, and it turned out the response time from the agency responsible, TMFD, was more than acceptable. On the police side of the issue, with the above mentioned Larchmont/TOM detective merger, the proposal suggested to have Larchmont, with one dedicated detective, run investigations for both agencies. Isn’t the town department twice the size of Larchmont? Conceivably the town agencies(police, fire, DPW) could take over larchmont with little increase in costs and personnel. No wonder the town board is balking at the idea.

    Like I said, its a good idea if it saves tax dollars and improves services, but let’s make sure we have the right solutions for the problems we face, instead of haphazardly merging everyone and creating worse problems down the road.

  12. “Larchmont residents treasure the benefits that come from living in a small village, especially for the direct connection to the Mayor and other officials. They may be reluctant to give that up. ”

    And that’s definitely understandable. One thing I omitted from my article and should have been included would be a recommendation for any consolidated government to have representation by district/area. The representation can remain part-time with nominal compensation. Say, two from Larchmont, two from Mamaroneck, two from the town, and an at-large rep, or some similar structure. Such a “plurality” arrangement would have the benefit of not allowing any one area to dominate, and to make sure there is still a strong local component in representation.

  13. The Town and Larchmont discussed consolidating police detective services back in May but failed to reach any agreement. Most of the objections came from the Town; Supervisor O’Keeffe said the Council had to discuss it before it made any commitment. Nothing has been heard from either the Town or Larchmont on the subject since then.

    Little would be saved by combining the Supervisor position with the Larchmont Mayor’s job, since the Mayor serves as an unpaid volunteer.

    Larchmont residents treasure the benefits that come from living in a small village, especially for the direct connection to the Mayor and other officials. They may be reluctant to give that up.

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