Working Together for Cleaner Water in Rye, NY

On June 30, 2021, Save the Sound staff met with residents, elected officials, and leaders of local organizations engaged in supporting a clean and green Rye. We gathered at the beautiful Jay Heritage Cultural Center to share knowledge and identify areas for projects and collaboration.

Left: Save the Sound staff chat with community forum participants during a break in the program. Right: Rye City Councilmember Carolina Johnson (left) with Libby Alexander.

Save the Sound experts opened the event with presentations on local water quality conditions and ecological restoration opportunities and challenges. County Legislator Catherine Parker presented on the living shoreline project planned for the Edith Read Natural Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. State Senator Shelley Mayer and State Assemblyman Steve Otis reported on the work they are engaged in at the state level to support a greener, cleaner, more sustainable Rye. Specifically, the Senator discussed work now happening under New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act that addresses public health and education actions related to climate. Assemblyman Otis explained the different state funding sources that Rye and other communities can apply for to get final support for on the ground projects.

Standing together for a cleaner, greener Rye. From left to right: New York State Assemblyman Steve Otis, Suzanne Clary – President of the Jay Heritage Center, Tracy Brown – Regional Director of Water Protection at Save the Sound, Westchester County Legislator Catherine Parker, and New York State Senator Shelley Mayer.

A workshop session followed the presentations where more tactical discussions took place to identify local challenges associated with water quality and/or quantity, as well as discuss possible strategies to address them. There were three topical areas of focus – 1) restoration of wetlands and marshes, 2) dams and aging infrastructure, and 3) green infrastructure for stormwater management.

Pins placed to represent community assets, environmental problem areas, and potential project sites in Rye.

During the breakout conversations, community members talked with Save the Sound staff about potential project areas and used thumbtacks to identify problem areas, project sites, and community assets within each subject area. Our team was overwhelmed by the passion and specificity present in these conversations, and is following up individually with all participants who recommended a project. Potential projects ranged from green infrastructure parking lot retrofits and backyard rain gardens to marsh restoration and dam removals.

Mitchell Stern talks with Director of Water Quality, Peter Linderoth while Maryanne Joyce Farley – staffer for State Senator Mayer – chats with Director of Ecological Restoration, Gwen Macdonald on the veranda at the Jay Heritage Center.

As we seek to do more restoration work in Westchester County, NYC, and the North Shore of Long Island, this sort of local input and project ideation is incredibly valuable for our team. It takes all of us to protect, restore, and care for the waters upon which all life depends, and we’re so grateful to have connected with so many great allies in Rye!

View the presentations

How’s the Water: Report from Save the Sound

Ecological Restoration Challenges and Opportunities

Edith Read Living Shoreline

Thank you to Suzanne Clary at the Jay Heritage Center and Rob and Libby Alexander for hosting this event, and thank you to all the participants.


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