RYE, N.Y. – A 10-year public-private partnership agreement to restore Rye’s historic John Jay property has received final approval by the County Board of Acquisition and Contract.
The property includes the 21.5-acre county-owned Marshlands Conservancy, which will be turned over to the Jay Heritage Center. The agreement is designed to ensure preservation of the landmark and promote heritage tourism.
The Jay Heritage Center owns the other 1.5-acre segment of the John Jay property. It includes the 1838 Jay House, built by Jay’s son on the site where his father grew up. The property was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1993 as part of the Boston Post Road Historic District.
Legislation creating the 10-year partnership agreement was unanimously approved by the Westchester County Board of Legislators on Nov. 26. The agreement allows the Jay Heritage Center to manage and restore the county park land.
“The Jay Property is one of the many historic jewels in Westchester County," said County Legislator Judy Myers (D-Larchmont), sponsor of the agreement. "It provides a window to our past, beginning when our nation was being founded."
Under the agreement, the property will continue to be operated and maintained as state and county parkland and will be accessible to the public. However, the Heritage Center may establish admission fees.
The county will no longer spend $25,000 annually to maintain the property; instead, the Heritage Center will be responsible for ongoing maintenance, landscaping, invasive-plant removal, restoration of historic structures and any capital improvements required.
The 10-year license granted to the Jay Heritage Center is renewable after the initial term. This will give the Jay Heritage Center the ability to raise private funds and also apply for grants. Tax-deductible donations from individuals and corporations will help restore the historic meadow, gardens and apple orchards and rehabilitate historic structures for public educational use as lecture halls, classical music spaces and art galleries.
While the Heritage Center will take on much of the financial responsibility, the county will remain responsible for the costs of any environmental remediation that may be required on the property for conditions that existed prior to the license agreement.
In addition, the agreement states that the county and state will have the right to approve or reject any physical alterations to the property. The county will continue to police the property.
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