Parks not for sale
Dunfey states her case
5-year capital plan submitted
Selectmen hold off on suit
Stimulus comes to Rye
Teens pull up pepperweed
Staff of Rye Reflections
This is summer? Above, cowled lifeguard, clinging to cup of coffee, surveys the scene at Jenness/Cable Beach on June 30, while, below, Gail Beamer and Julie Schlacter demonstrate how loyal beachgoers contended with the chilly months of June and July. How cold was it? Check out "New Castle Saltines" in this issue. (Photos by Gail Beamer and Rachel Schlacter)
The sun came out one day in mid-July but so too did the high-bacteria advisory sign, discouraging swimming for 24 hours before it was lifted by the Department of Environmental Services on Jenness/Cable. Updated information on bacteria notices is available at www.des.state.nh.us. Lifeguard sign notes the water temperature was 59 degrees. Meanwhile, through rain and shine, surfers thrived. Shown below at the end of a good run is a participant in a North Beach, Hampton, competition on July 25. (Photos by Gail Beamer and Judy Palm)
All of the key officials were gathered in Rye Town Hall courtroom, but it was as though a pin had been stuck into a balloon.
Two weeks after the Rye Board of Selectmen had passed a motion expressing interest in re-acquiring Jenness State Beach, Rep. David Borden gathered an all-star cast for the July 13 Selectmen's meeting that included: George Bald, state commissioner of the Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED), Ted Austin, director of the N.H. Division of Parks and Recreation and two of his top staffers, Executive Councilor Beverly Hollingworth, state Senator Margaret Fuller Clark and Rep. Judith Spang. Present from the Rye board were Priscilla Jenness, chair, and Joe Mills. Craig Musselman participated via telephone hookup from Maryland, where he was on vacation.
Only about 10 days earlier Bald had pulled back a draft of a statewide Parks and Recreation Strategic Plan, because the media and public got the impression from wording in the report that some parks might be sold. "We have no intention of selling the parks," Bald said He spoke of forging partnerships, having closer interplay with local communities, but offered no specific steps.
Senator Fuller Clark, Councilor Hollingworth and Reps. Spang and Borden pushed for a committee to be formed or public-private coalition, especially as regarded Jenness State Beach and White Island, but nothing more than better state-local cooperation was agreed to.
Bald has promised that "a revised draft plan will be available for public comment in August." He told the Rye gathering that the notion of "selling" was started in one newspaper and picked up by others and said the media failed to use the word "draft" in referring to the report. (Using Google to search the internet, Rye Reflections
has done an analysis
of the coverage from the time the report surfaced on the Parks website on June 4 until the first story on June 18 as well as subsequent statewide coverage. In each news story the report was referred to as a draft.)
Hollingworth complained that "a lot of people didn't hear" about the report in time for the public hearing. Mills added, "We had no warning."
Mills also told Bald and Austin that the big problem at Jenness State Beach is the restrooms. He said the lines were long on a recent good weekend day and, because of a nearby private parking lot that adds to the beach crowdedness, the restrooms get "triple the use" they would if there were only the state parking lot. "More than triple," said Jenness to underscore the point.
Bald promised that he and Austin would personally check the restroom situation at Jenness State Beach.
A change in operational procedures in the Rye Building Inspector's office is causing some adjustments, prompting longtime secretary Sue Dunfey to make two appearances before the Board of Selectmen asking for a promotion to Deputy Building Inspector. She had done some homework.
Dunfey told the Board that the position of Deputy Building Inspector was created in 1988. For nine years, she said, she has been handling duties listed in 1988 for a position that was never filled. Among those duties was the signing of routine building permits "those that do not require prior review" which she said she has been handling until ordered to desist in early July. She said she signed her own name above "For Susan Labrie." (Labrie, who was not present, having gone home sick earlier that day, is Rye's Building Inspector.)
Interim Town Administrator Mike Farrell said he had sent a note ending the practice early in July, because "the fact that she has been doing it doesn't have any bearing
she is not qualified to sign anything." Dunfey responded that she called "30 or so" other town building inspector offices who have been doing the same as Rye, that there is no RSA (state law) specifying qualifications for such signings and that there are other assistants in Town Hall who sign basic documents on behalf of their department heads. "It's common practice," she said.
Dunfey also said there are not even state laws defining qualification for being a building inspector.
"Do you make building-code determinations?" Craig Musselman asked.
"No, I look it up and copy that section for them (contractors)," Dunfey said.
In response to a question from Joe Mills, Dunfey said she signed septic permits, too, but added that they have prior state approval, part of which is based on input from Dennis Plante, septic consultant for Rye.
Dunfey said that any permit request that required review "goes directly onto her (Labrie's) desk, and I don't touch it". Dunfey emphasized that she never signed Labrie's name to a document. "I sign my own name for Susan Labrie.
Those points made, Dunfey didn't seem to convince chairwoman Priscilla Jenness regarding the title and promotion. Jenness's late husband, Bill, was longtime Building Inspector.
The matter was taken under advisement.
Gull stands guard on Star Island, not afraid to buzz visitors
if they landed too near baby seagulls.(Gail Beamer photos)
- Martin Klenke, chairman of the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) committee, presented a five-year plan to the Rye Board of Selectmen on July 27, prompting interim Town Administrator Farrell to remark, "This is one of the best if not the best I have ever seen." Klenke emphasized that the plan is non-binding but is the product of lengthy discussions and study among his committee and town department heads. He also suggested it would be prudent for each town building to have its own plan in the future. (The full report is now available on the town website. Click on Capital Improvements Plan under Town on left side.
- At the same meeting the Selectmen decided to wait and gather more information before joining court action against the State concerning purported unfunded mandates contained in the recently passed New Hampshire budget. Joint action is being contemplated by the N.H. Municipal Association, N.H. School Boards Association and the N.H. Association of Counties along with individual communities. "We absolutely have to fight it," Craig Musselman said in concurring with Joe Mills' suggestion that there was no need to act immediately.
- The question of whether the Town should acquire the Pulpit Rock Tower from the State Fish & Game Department is still on the back burner, but the heat was turned down even further when Musselman on July 27 made reference to still-unresolved state and federal code issues, raising a question as to whether major expenditures would be required to enable public access.
- A group calling itself the Concerned Residents of Rye has formed to oppose a proposal by the Wentworth By The Sea Country Club to locate a beach and swim club for its members on the south corner of Wallis Road and Route 1A (Click here for story on proposal in June issue of Rye Reflections). The group, which held an organizational meeting at the Rye Public Library on July 30, numbers about 25, according to one of the founders, Jo Ann B. Price of Park Ridge Avenue.
- The federal stimulus program has come to Rye, sort of through the back door. As reported in last month's "Rye Crisp", The Housing Partnership (THP) expects to break ground in the next couple of months for its 22-unit senior housing facility at the old Rye Airfield. The economic downturn forced the need for a creative approach to raising money. THP in the past has received funding from investors who receive tax credits. About $3 million was hoped for through that source for the 10.5-acre housing in Rye, according to Executive Director Marty Chapman, but that type of investing has dried up of late. Concerned about the overall threat to public housing, Congress approved a second round of stimulus money that amounted to more than $27 million for New Hampshire, according to U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, and allowed for agencies, such as THP, to receive cash in exchange for unused tax credits.
- Drew Doherty has been handling the time-consuming job of maintaining the Rye town website for many years on a volunteer basis. He is understandably seeking relief. An organization called Virtual Hall has made a presentation to the Town of Rye for development of a new website and staff training. Its proposed contract has been taken under advisement by the Rye Board of Selectmen
- The Serenity Cafe has opened at Foye's Corner, next to Summer House Furnishings, serving breakfast starting at 7 a.m., plus salads, wraps, deli sandwiches and more. One of its specialties is pizza with all-homemade ingredients. Call ahead to order takeout at 319-1671. The plan is to stay open till 9 p.m. for pizza, ice cream and other evening fare.
- And the Sheva Jewelry Boutique, holding pre-grand opening hours from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays in August, is getting ready to open at the Rosewood Mall on Route 1. Julie Alexenberg, the proprietor, is offering a "large outlet selection" of jewelry, scarves, pashinas and vegan leather handbags. Telephone number is 969-0585.
- CORRECTION: An item in the July issue of "Rye Crisp" was corrected after it erroneously stated that a joint Planning Board/Zoning Board meeting would be held in July. In fact it was a meeting of the Planning Board and its zoning committee. For minutes of that meeting go to www.town.rye.nh.us.htm#Planning click on July 22, 2009.
The pesky perennial pepperweed plant continues its invasively destructive ways, requiring diligence and creativity on the part of the Department of Environmental Services just to keep up with its spread. Enlisting the help of the Seacoast Youth Services
has been one approach this summer. The DES's Coastal Program is working with 22 teenagers who have been trained to identify and hand pull pepperweeds. Last year DES identified Odiorne State Park in Rye and the Hampton Transfer Station as hard-hit areas. But pepperweed is likely to take root in salt marshes or along roadsides as well and is inhospitable to wildlife, according to the agency, For more information see the special presention at the DES website
, or to report a sighting, contact the Coastal Program at (603) 559-1500.