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Rye Council Marks History at Square House Meeting

RYE, N.Y. — Rye's City Council members joined with other dignitaries in celebrating the city's storied history Wednesday evening at the annual Square House meeting. The Square House, now home to the Rye Historical Society, previously served as Village and City Hall.

"This is a night where the people who have served Rye in the past and the people who serve Rye in the present come together to reaffirm our commitment to the city in which we all live, and which we all love," Council member Joe Sack said.

Rye Mayor Doug French and the council recognized the many current and former officials in attendance, including longtime Rye Mayor Steve Otis, former Rye Mayor Ted Dunn, former Rye Judge John Alfano and State Assembly member George Latimer, a former Rye City Council member.

"This meeting is always a meeting about renewal and rededication," Otis said. "We share so much with the history of Rye. It is part of what makes Rye so special."

As part of the special meeting, the council heard a presentation from the Landmarks Advisory Committee on preserving and restoring four New York City milestones placed in Rye by Benjamin Franklin in 1765.

"The agenda of landmarks is to keep historic Rye, Rye," Landmarks Chairman George Zahringer said.

Keeping with the theme of the evening and the motto of the landmarks committee, the council, after moving back to the current City Hall, heard a plea from Owen and Amber Nee. They asked the council to assist in stopping the landlord from repurposing the iconic Rye Smoke Shop located downtown.

The Nees have collected more than 620 signatures imploring the council to help preserve the landmark shop.

"If you think of the downtown of Rye, and the smoke shop wasn't there, it would be quite a different place," Nee said.

Council member Catherine Parker, who owns a business a block from the Smoke Shop, encouraged the public to pledge their support by patronizing the shop regularly. Council member Laura Brett, who previously served as director of the Rye Historical Society, said a number of hurdles need to be overcome when it comes to designating buildings as landmarks.

The council agreed to have Corporation Counsel Kristen Wilson look into preserving the building.

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