Politics on Rye


Parker, Gamache and Nathan

Rye is one of the only cities in the County where being a Democrat is not an automatic shoe-in. Three democrats hope to remain on or join the City Council: from left, Catherine Parker, incumbent, also a founder and past president of Rye Merchants Association; Josh Nathan, past President of the Rye Board of Ed; and Paula Gamache, Deputy Mayor and Council member.

At a gathering at a Rye home, Legislator Judy Myers showed support for Gamache, below, with whom she has worked on flood mitigation projects.

2 thoughts on “Politics on Rye


    Unfortunately, it’s now readily apparent to pretty much everyone that this Rye City Council – as constituted – would rather do little more than nothing to resolve the long running health and safety issues out on Hen Island. And the recent political game of “pass the buck” with The Westchester County Government Health Department has now ended – with the County directing Rye City to be the first mover in Hen Island sanitary and safety enforcement – as everyone always knew it must be.
    Long before being charged by the City of Rye with building without permits, In his pre-election campaign, then candidate & now mayor Douglas French assured Heal the Harbor’s director Ray Tartaglione and other prominent citizens that if elected he would see that the multi decade issues surrounding Hen Island’s sanitary and safety code enforcement would be speedily remedied in accordance with Rye’s laws.
    Yet this summer Hen Island again remained a breeding haven for fresh water mosquitoes and with them the potential remained for bringing West Nile Virus infections to the residents of Greenhaven, Milton Point and beyond.
    The residents of Rye know that the City Council has the authority and responsibility to enforce its ordinances as they relate to human sewage handling and stagnant water storage. And the decision of whether or not to enforce the city code is in the hands of the Mayor and City Council.
    When it comes to protecting the environment, issues like these should be easy, bright line, decisions. Heal The Harbor cannot understand why the City Council and Mayor they helped elect have been struggling with and resisting this matter for so long. Mayor French is now falsely claiming Mr. Tartaglione is trying to “develop the Island.” (Even if that were true, which it is not, it could not be done without the approval of more than a half of dozen City Boards and governmental agencies.)
    For the past five years, both Paula Gamache and Catherine Parker have been silent on these serious issues. Not only has Ms. Gamache been silent but her husband Serge Nivelle served on the zoning board of appeals in 2008 when a home on Hen Island was approved for construction without meeting any of the current Rye City or Westchester County codes for sewage or potable water. Ms. Gamache’s husband voted in favor of allowing this application to proceed. Why reward council persons for not speaking up against pollution, health and safety risks? On November 8th help send a message to Mayor French and the entire Rye City Council by not reelecting Paula Gamache and Catharine Parker to the Rye City Council.

    Bringing attention to environmental injustice one harbor at a time!

  2. Mrs. Parker and Mrs. Gamache,
    In last week’s Rye Record a letter to the editor was published with regard to Hen Island. We have re-posted the letter below for your review.
    Could you both please respond to it and also state your position as to; if you believe there is or is not a problem with sewage, Potable water, and mosquito infestation on Hen Island? If you believe there is, can you also state what you would do in attempting to rectify the problem should you be re-elected?
    Seeing as you both have been silent on this issue for the past four years. I feel this would be an important issue to voting residents of Rye especially residents in your districts of Greenhaven and Milton Point, which are directly affected by Mosquitoes and Sewage.

    Dear Editor,
    In the last Rye Record, you wrote that “green toilets are coming to Hen Island” as well as coverings for Hen Island cottage rainwater collection systems. Rye residents deserve a few more facts about this so-called “progress” before things go much further.
    Hen Island is Rye’s offshore seasonal cottage community with 34 houses spread over three separate islands. Today, none of these island homes has municipal water, sanitary sewer, or electric service. Many of the cottage water and sewage systems on the island today are makeshift, built by the cottage owners and operated completely outside of Westchester County’s and Rye’s municipal laws for sanitation and safety. Thus readers may not be surprised to learn that Hen Island is Westchester County’s last working outhouse. Really.
    Now, after a series of closed-door negotiations this summer with Hen Island representatives, Mayor French has announced that next year Hen Island cottage owners would install coverings over their rooftop water collection systems and install composting toilets. He has publicly called this “an easy fix.” for Hen Island. This is quite simply a ludicrous, empty, political gesture given the serious, long festering health problems Hen Island creates for Rye City residents and users of the Long Island Sound.
    Composting toilets require continuously supplied full power electricity to work properly. There is none on Hen Island. Solar electric systems installed on some of the cottages do not supply continuous 24-hour power – and these systems must be switched off when the homeowner is not in residence. Improper composting of human waste will require storage of the improperly composted material for a period of one year in 55-gallon drums, in the sun, along the shores of Milton Harbor. According to state code, Hen Island would still be required to install an approved sewage disposal system for the remaining gray water.
    Likewise, covering up the rooftop rainwater collection systems on cottages will not prevent the annual clouds of fresh water mosquitoes from hatching in the cisterns of Hen Island. Nor will it make the roof water safe to drink – potable – for the cottage dwellers under any circumstances.
    Mayor French knows that a legal sanitary sewer and potable water supply hook-up easement is in place on Hen Island. This municipal utility easement is incorporated into the Island’s deed, and can be installed by Hen Island at the direction of, and under the supervision of, Rye. This would allow sewage and potable water issues for the islands to be handled according to the regulations that all other City residents comply with. It’s a straightforward and technically feasible solution, and Rye City taxpayers wouldn’t be charged one dime. They would even make money if the City issued violations and collected fines.
    I have to ask why Rye’s elected officials are trying to do everything wrong first before doing what’s right as required by law.

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