The Village of Rye Brook has scheduled a public hearing for later this month on a proposal to build a four-rink ice sports facility in the Reckson Park office complex on King Street.
Reckson LLC is working with QMC Group is proposing a , on the Greenwich border at 1100 King St. in Rye Brook. The office complex is just south of St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church located at the corner of King Street at Sherwood Avenue.
The facility would and open seating for 320, and 244 parking spaces. The developer hopes to have the facility built by Sept. 1, 2013, in time for next year’s hockey season.
Despite concerns about increased traffic and storm water runoff raised by Greenwich and Rye officials, the Rye Brook Board of Trustees voted on Jan. 8 to schedule a public hearing on the proposal for Jan. 22. The village's planning board already approved the project in a 4-2 vote on Jan. 3.
During the Jan. 8 meeting, William S. Null, the lawyer representing Reckson, gave a brief overview of several steps they have taken to address some of the Rye Brook planning board’s questions, and written concerns submitted by Greenwich Town and Rye City officials.
Reckson expects it will answer local officials' concerns, discuss additional drainage and other studies, and present computer simulations and information from meetings with representatives of the Doral Greens and Bellefaire subdivisions which abut the Reckson property, Null said. That information should be gathered by the Jan. 22 hearing, Null said.
During its Jan. 10 Board of Selectmen meeting, Greenwich First Selectman Peter Tesei said the planned facility will have "several potential impacts" upon Greenwich.
"There is a lot to think about. One of things they need to assess is hours of operation and this thing will run well past midnight," Tesei said. He said that the developer presented a traffic study conducted during daytime hours mid-week and did not include traffic generated from "several schools and Westchester Airport."
King Street is a major north-south thoroughfare bisecting Greenwich and Westchester County, and the only access to Brunswick School, Convent of the Sacred Heart school and the airport. He said the road is considered a "bi-state highway" and traffic studies also may be subject to review by both the Connecticut and New York State Departments of Transportation.
Tesei also said that the project may be interpreted as "an intensifaction of use and there’s potential environmental impact with the manufacturing of ice." However, at Tuesday night's meeting, Null said there wouldn't be any impact from the creation of ice in the facility. The ice is pure water and has no additives, Null added.
Tesei also said that at the Jan. 8 meeting questions were raised on whether the proposed use "is applicable under the town of Rye Brook planning regulations." Originally, Rye Brook approved the construction of more office buildings—a plan that has since been abandoned.
One point that needs investigation, Tesei said, is the developer's assertion that traffic only will enter King Street from the south side of the road. "The developers say traffic will only enter from New York," Tesei said at the selectmen's meeting Thursday. "We have to look at that." He also questioned the financial viability of the project given the competition from Cheslea Piers and Twin Rinks ice rink facilities in Stamford.
Greenwich also asked Reckson to conduct more studies into similar ice rinks in the country, which during the Jan. 8 meeting, Null said they were working on.
"The question was asked whether it would be used by NHL teams for practice," Tesei added. "They said no."
When asked about Greenwich’s concerns on storm water runoff , Null said it wouldn't be directed towards the Byram River.
The City of Rye was concerned about the impacts the facility could have on the Blind Brook and its watershed.
“Both of our communities have struggled with the impact of flooding to homes, businesses and community facilities along Blind Brook,” Rye City Manager Scott Pickup wrote in a letter to the Board of Trustees. Pickup stated the proposal will increase the impervious area in the watershed and asked the board to consider the potential impacts the project may have on flood elevations.
Null said there would be less impervious surface with the new facility than there would have been with a previously approved 280,000 square foot office building that was never built. He said there existing drainage systems are large enough to handle the runoff from the increased impervious surfaces.
The president of the Doral Green Homeowner’s Association asked about chemicals used in the building cooling system and noted Reckson has been a good neighbor for many years. Bob Richardson, of the Greenwich King-Merritt Association asked Rye Brook Mayor Joan Feinstein to delay the public hearing so the public would have time to review new information from Reckson.
Feinstein said she felt it is important that all have time to review additional information, but that opening the public hearing on Jan. 22 will help identify any additional concerns that may need to be considered. The public hearing will remain open until all questions and concerns have been resolved, Feinstein said.
Tesei predicted, "They will have challenges from within their own population."
The public will be allowed to comment about the proposed four-rink ice facility at the Jan. 22 public hearing scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at 938 King St., Rye Brook, NY.