VILLAGE OF RYE BROOK STATEMENT
June 14, 2005
On behalf of the Village Board, I would like to clarify the Village of Rye Brook’s position on the various park projects at Rich Manor Park.
Over the last few years Rye Brook, at Village expense, surveyed Village-owned park properties to delineate the various property lines. We then had residents whose properties were abutting these park properties remove any physical encroachments (fences, sheds, etc.) that were on public properties.
In Rich Manor Park, at the residents’ request the Village allowed residents to voluntarily and temporarily continue to cut the lawn on Village property that was behind their homes until Rye Brook, in coordination with Westchester County, decided on an appropriate course of action to stabilize and restore the stream banks and buffer (corridor adjacent to the stream) in the park.
Currently, two projects are being considered in Rich Manor Park. Westchester County, using a federal appropriation to the Soil and Water Conservation District and Department of Planning, will be implementing a program to stabilize and restore the stream bank and stream bank buffer along the East Branch of Blind Brook in Rich Manor Park by removing invasive, non-native plant species and replanting the corridor with native grasses, sedges, rushes, wildflowers, shrubs and trees. The primary goal of this project is to improve water quality with secondary benefits being habitat improvements. The boundary of the stream buffer adjacent to Rock Ridge Drive properties would be marked with in a naturalistic manner, such as with small boulders. The Village and County consultants met with area residents on two separate occasions, May 23 and June 7, to review the project and its impact on the neighboring properties. At the June 7 meeting, which was a publicly noticed Special Meeting of the Board of Trustees, several Rock Ridge Drive residents requested that the Village allow them to continue to maintain certain grass areas on public property behind their homes. The Village Board unanimously approved granting these residents use of up to fifteen (15) feet of existing turfgrass area on public property, providing they sign a boundary agreement with the Village to maintain these turfgrass areas. The Village’s legal counsel was then charged with obtaining these boundary agreements. In response to a question by the Board, counsel said that without an agreement, the Village could permit the County to establish the remediation zone up to the property line.
What may not have been made clear at the June 7 meeting is that the Village of Rye Brook is ultimately responsible for the final determination of what is a reasonable distance from the property line to be maintained by abutting neighbors’ properties. This decision is not determined by Westchester County, whose primary concern with this project is water quality and habitat improvements through the installation of a viable and “reasonably-sized” buffer area. If this caused any confusion to any area neighbors we apologize. In making its decision, the Village Board weighed all issues and balanced the goals of the project with the impact on neighbors. The Village Board is not willing to grant the use of any additional public property beyond a maximum of 15 feet to adjacent neighbors on Rock Ridge Drive, but may choose to bring the buffer area to the physical property line for those residents who do not wish to avail themselves of the l5 foot zone that the Village is offering for the residents’ personal use. In terms of the project time frame, the County must have a contractor under contract for this project by September 30, 2005 or the County could lose this federal funding and the Village of Rye Brook would have to consider funding the project on its own.
The second, and more extensive project is a proposal to consider a detention basin upstream from Rich Manor Park. Evaluation of this potential project is at its early stages. This basin, which would be located in the northern section of Rich Manor Park, would help minimize flooding concerns of properties located along the eastern branch of Blind Brook that are south of the basin. Although the project was preliminarily discussed at the public meeting on May 23, this project is not on the immediate horizon and will receive extensive discussions and evaluation.
Lawrence A. Rand