On Wednesday October 9th, 2013 I attended the Rye City Council meeting, which started at 8pm. For the first two full hours, I sat and listened to local residents have a very badly needed discussion regarding zoning laws, the construction of over-sized houses etc. and was heartened to hear that so many people were concerned with maintaining a certain sense of community here in Rye. There was lots of talk of the height of houses, attic space, seven feet versus seven feet six inches. All of this was architectural shop talk that is a foreign language to me.
What was not foreign language to me was the multitude of comments regarding having a sense of community; and the idea that kept surfacing of caring about your neighbors, the neighborhood around you and well being of the whole town in general. There was a good deal of talk about what kind of town we want Rye to be.
Then…all those good folks left and the room was virtually emptied as Sustainable Playland got up to make yet another presentation to the Rye City Council. This time it was to bring them an update on the new and improved plan they are working on, submitted in September 2013 and titled the “Playland Improvement Plan”.
Anyone who has been paying attention since February knows I have been a vocal and outspoken opponent of the SPI plan for a multitude of reasons. Today, I want to highlight one of those many reasons, and it’s something that should have everyone in this town hopping mad. It’s called the “Field Zone” and it involves putting outdoor soccer fields and a 95,000 square foot – and yes, you read that correctly: 95,000 SQUARE FOOT – indoor, multi-use year round sports facility right smack in the middle of Playland parking lot.
Although they certainly didn’t dare make such a detailed presentation as to include the following at a public open meeting that was being videotaped for all to see, here is SPI’s description of the “Field Zone” as they call it. This is copied and pasted directly from the PDF download they have on their own web site (www.sustainableplayland.org) that’s titled the “Playland Improvement Plan”:
“The new Field Zone– operated by Playland Sports LLC – will include a state of the art indoor 95,000 square foot field house and multi-purpose outdoor fields to help fill a significant gap in the supply of athletic venues for the County and beyond. The new athletic facilities will further enhance Playland’s reputation as a destination for athletics, tapping into excess demand in the region and also helping establish year-round activity at Playland Park.”
(From Page 5 of the Executive Summary of the Playland Improvement Plan submitted by SPI.)
The Playland Sports facility will be an impressive, 95,000 square foot building with state-of-the-art, energy-efficient construction and design, along with the latest in sports equipment.
Indoor amenities will include, at a minimum:
•Two 100’ by 200’ soccer/lacrosse fields
•Six tournament-specification volleyball courts which can convert to all, or a combination of, three regulation high school basketball courts (or six basketball training courts)
•Four 15’ by 75’ batting cages
•Accessible spectator viewing areas
•A full service café with healthy food options
•20 large, flat-screen TVs with a professional sound system
•Amenities such as restrooms, meeting rooms, and party rooms. “
(Page 46 of the Playland Improvement Plan)
If you want to see all their graphics, get online via the link below scroll down to Page 42 for the start of detailed information about the Field Zone, along with renderings:
Interestingly enough Kim Morque, the current President of Sustainable Playland, and Bruce McLeod, one of the Board Members, never got up to address any questions or concerns presented by the Public after they were done giving the presentation on Wednesday night. This is yet another glaring example of their absolute arrogance. And the Rye City Council, under the direction of Mayor Doug French, allowed this without a word. Cowards, every one of them. When you watch that video, note the deafening silence when I am done speaking, and note how quickly Mayor French moves on to the next agenda item without one comment from anyone sitting on that dais.
Here’s the link to the Rye City Council video, click on Agenda Item 6, “Update On The Playland Improvement Plan from Sustainable Playland Inc.”:
Here are just SOME of the questions ALL Rye residents should be asking themselves about this “plan” for Playland Amusement Park:
1) Since when does Playland hold a reputation as being a “destination for athletics”? That’s news to me, because for the last 85 years, it’s had a reputation as a destination for a beach, a pool, a boardwalk and an AMUSEMENT PARK. It’s never been a destination for sports related activities other than swim meets, but those will be gone under SPI because they are going to replace the historic pool with a water park they are calling the “Aqua Zone”. So much for “athletics”. I don’t see a replacement pool going anywhere in the “Field Zone”.
2) If Sustainable Playland is so concerned about historic preservation and honoring the historic integrity of the park, how do they reconcile a state-of-the-art, multi-story indoor sports facility and outdoor playing fields covered with astro-turf into that “historic” vision of “preservation”? (And yes, for whatever woefully un-informed Rye resident it was that told Julie Killian that it will be nice to look out on the parking lot and “see green” – that isn’t going to be “real” green –that’s going to be Astro-Turf my dear…do your research.)
3) Do Rye residents really want a busy “year round” venue at Playland? Most people I know who live in the vicinity of that park love the sounds of the summer…and they put up with crowds and traffic…and then breathe a collective sigh of relief when the season is over and things become quiet again for a few months. Part of why this seasonal park works within such a residential neighborhood is because it is just that – SEASONAL. If local residents had to deal with a never ending flow of traffic and activity on that sight twelve months out of the year, they may not be anywhere near as “keen” on it as SPI thinks they should be.
4) Where are people coming to the amusement park, beach and other amenities going to park when two thirds of the parking lot is filled in with soccer fields and a gigantic structure? How much parking revenue will be lost? How can the Amusement Park area possibly function, survive and be profitable if there is nowhere for the cars to go? I remember what things were like in that area of town when I worked there in the 1980’s and the Park was jamming – there were lines down Playland Parkway to Milton Road and farther towards I-95 almost every weekend as people waited to get in. Cars were feeding off into all the local side streets. The staff had to park cars on the back field next to Edith Read almost every Friday, Saturday and Sunday while traffic was spilling over into all our local roads. I can assure you that wasn’t just on July 4th. Local residents had to deal with Park patrons parking on the local side streets in front of homes…and this was all while the BUSY park had the entire parking lot available. What are Rye residents going to be dealing with now when an experienced park operator (Central Amusements) gets things humming again down there, customers start coming…and there’s nowhere to put their cars? The projections they are using for attendance to qualify saying they are leaving in enough parking spaces are based on recent years with a drastically decreased attendance from what it can – and should – go back to being. And it is not at all realistic. There is no way that Amusement park can function and be profitable with a reduced parking lot. Period.
5) What about all the people living in the area directly adjacent to the park? Beck, Wainwright, Horton, Rosemere, Adelaide, Sanford, Beary Court, Heritage Lane? What buffer will they have between them and these soccer fields and this monstrosity of a structure? How are residents in those homes supposed to deal with the construction of this thing, and then just think about the particulars such as lighting, noise from air conditioning and heating units and vents….start picturing it folks. It ain’t going to be pretty. Do YOU want that 50-75 yards from your home?
6) Where is the study by the Rye City Council OR SPI about how this is going to affect the property values of homes in the area? That whole corridor of town may be affected, Forest Ave., Bulkley Manor, Redfield, Rye Beach Avenue…who’s talking about that? Where has that discussion been within this community? Why have our community leaders not demanded detailed specifics on this? Do the property values there matter less than other parts of town for some reason?
7) Who, exactly is going to use this facility? The SPI group has sold Rye residents a bill of goods that adding soccer fields is going to be a bonus to the community, because of course we always need more soccer fields (question in a question: Do we? REALLY??). What they aren’t telling you – and what Joe Sack got to the bottom of at the City Council Meeting –is that it’s still going to be a WESTCHESTER COUNTY FACILITY – just like it is now. A COUNTY park. No group from Rye is going to get first dibs, special use-age or preferential treatment in regards to those soccer fields or any of the indoor sports amenities. And if you think you should, you are dead wrong. That’s not how it works. So guess what Rye? The joke’s on you.
8) Just exactly how big *is* a 95,000 sq. foot structure anyway? This was the big doozie for me personally, because I’m not good at math and I just could not get myself a visual of just how much space this would occupy. So I did a little research and with some help from a friend (and I had to delete her included plethora of expletives that mostly consisted of two words, one staring with an “h” and the other starting with an “s”) I got a little list of comparable pieces of property in town that Rye residents can use as a guideline for themselves to sort of get a sense of just how big this is going to be. Here it is:
135,000 sq ft – The Osborn Main Building (So 2/3rds of that is 90,000 sq ft)
166,000 sq ft – All the Glass Buildings Together – 555 Theodore Fremd (So 2/3rds of that is 110 sq ft)
81,000 sq ft – The Marriott Hotel on Midland Avenue – 631 Midland Avenue – Larger than that Building – Add 1/4 more
78,000 sq ft – Con Edison – 511 Theo Fremd – Larger than that Building – Add 1/4 more
36,800 sq ft – Office Building – 411 Theodore Fremd – Add 3 of those together
31,600 sq ft – Avon Building – 621 Midland Avenue – Add 3 of those together
30,000 sq ft – IBM Building – 600 Midland – Add 3 of those together
28,600 sq ft – Blind Brook Lodge – 66 Milton Road – Fill in Courtyard and it’s still only about 60,000 sq ft
20,000 sq ft – City Hall – 1051 Boston Post Road – Add 5 buildings together
So, it looks like this Sustainable Playland “Field Zone” indoor sports facility may just stand to be the third largest structure ever erected in the City of Rye.
Where else within the city limits could ANYONE propose a structure of this magnitude and have it just sail on through the City Council with no questions, no studies done, no research and no public discussion or outcry? On Meadow Lane where Mayor French lives? How about right across the street on Milton Road from where staunchly pro-SPI Councilwoman Parker lives? Maybe down Milton road a little further in between Councilman Jovanovich’s house and his lovely view of the Marina? (That would be convenient for Councilwoman Brett too, I think.) Maybe we could build one of these babies on Thorne place a few houses down from Councilman Sack..you know, in Disbrow park? Councilwoman Killian is suffering the construction of two McMansions directly adjacent to her property at the end of Forest Ave – perhaps we could have had room for this badly needed public amenity there? Maybe on Loewen Court – we could have put this in at the end of the street near Counciman Fillipi’s house instead of that danged Central Ave. Bridge.
With all that talk on Tuesday night of concerns about the height of homes… where was the concern about how high THIS structure is going to be?
Be outraged Rye. Even if you don’t live in that part of town, care about your neighbors who do.
The next Rye City Council Meeting should be on Weds. Oct. 23rd. 8:00pm, Rye City Hall. Be there. If you can’t be there, call or email your City Council. As it stands now, they claim that there is “overwhelming public support” for this nonsense.
CITY OF RYE
Mayor Douglas H. French – firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura U. Brett- email@example.com
Richard P. Filippi – firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter W. Jovanovich – email@example.com
Julie P. Killian – firstname.lastname@example.org
Catherine F. Parker – email@example.com
Joseph A. Sack – firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mayor and Council Members may be reached by phone through the City Manager’s Office at (914) 967-7404
— Submitted by Dierdre Curran