Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill that allows the Rye Country Day School to purchase land along Boston Post Road known locally as the Thruway property.
Put forth by state Assemblyman Steve Otis, a Rye Democrat, and state Sen. Michael Razenhofer, a Republican from Erie County, the bill authorizes the private school to negotiate the purchase of the property with its current owner, the New York State Thruway Authority, under the condition that it enters into a shared-use agreement with the city of Rye.
Cuomo, a Democrat, signed the bill on Dec. 18.
“The legislation provides an excellent opportunity for a partnership between the city and Rye Country Day School,” Otis, also a former Rye mayor, told the Review. “The next step is going to be for the city and the school to work on a shared-use agreement that meets the needs of the community and the school.”
According to the legislation, the Rye Country Day School, RCDS, can utilize the land for recreational and educational purposes, including the construction of a playing field, track and field house.
A stipulation in the bill requires the independent preparatory school to come to terms with the Rye City Council first on a shared-use agreement for the 4.7-acre vacant land parcel located parallel to the private school, along Boston Post Road and at the entryway of one of Rye’s municipal borders.
Last year, the bill drew opposition from the Republican-led City Council, which was interested in potentially purchasing the property, which is estimated to cost as much as $8 million, to consider constructing a new Department of Public Works facility at the location. Then-Mayor Joe Sack, a Republican, even sent a letter to the governor asking him not to refrain from signing the bill to allow the city the opportunity to continue its due diligence in weighing whether it wanted to seek purchase of the property.
The issue even became a focal point during the City Council elections in November, with the Democratic slate favoring allowing RCDS the option of purchasing the property.
The Democrats sweep the election and now, with the state authorizing RCDS to purchase the land, more than three decades of on again, off again discussions related to the space look to be finally coming to end. Since the 1980s, both city and school officials have expressed interest, but have ultimately been unsuccessful in purchasing the property jointly and independently on a number of occasions.
“At the end of the day, we’ll have kids playing on the field, which is going to be great for everybody,” Otis said. “That’s been the desire of the community for at least the last 25 years and we’re a big step closer to making that a reality.”
There is currently no further information on any discussions between the city and RCDS about a shared-use agreement.
Councilwoman Danielle Tagger-Epstein, a Democrat, could not be reached for comment, as of press time.