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Maroon and White Celebrates Winter Athletes at the Crowne Plaza

swimteamAt the Maroon and White's Winter Sports Awards dinner Tuesday night, athletes met with their teammates one last time to celebrate the season.

The Boys' swim team placed first at Conferences and Second at the Sectional competition. The team only lost one dual meet to Horace Greeley. Senior Charlie Musoff says, "I think we've made an increasing effort to engage and include swimmers in every grade in our team dynamic. I feel like the upperclassmen do a better and better job of making the underclassmen feel like they are truly on the team." With a larger team than many other winter sports, feeling valued is important. Musoff says the team's depth contributed most to their success this season. There are always a valued few who score a higher percentage of the points, but having strong swimmers in second and third place for each event can make a significant difference. The team is always reminded that 5th place scores 1 point, which makes everyone feel like they play a significant part even if it is a small one. Since the annual team lunch before Thanksgiving, Musoff says the team chemistry has been stronger every day.

The Ski team had a slushy season thanks to skiteamglobal warming, but did not let this misfortune prevent them from sending nine competitors to Sectionals this year. Senior Captain Sarah Weintraub, #1 Skiier for the girls' team, says "I think that having such a long dryland season, although tiring, helps contribute to our success because everyone is together during dryland, regardless of their skiing ability. This causes a lot of adhesiveness on the team and a lot of bonding. Once we got on snow, that dynamic definitely translated well and there were lots of friendships between the grades." The Raiders had only one official race and a few practice days at Thunder Ridge. Unfortunately, this meant the Seniors had a fragmented season and freshmen might not have had the full experience of being on ski team. The older skiiers hope the newcomers will stick with it. Last-minute schedule changes left students stressed, checking their email between classes. Sarah Weintraub, Cameron Swift, Connie Ferragu, Joe Weintraub, Spencer Mann, Harry Liu, John Lloyd, Jared Blinken, and Owen Marsh competed in Sectionals. Weintraub's freshman year, only two skiers were sent to Sectionals, four her sophomore year, six last year, and nine this year. The downhill Ski team is definitely on an up-hill trend.

hockeyThe Hockey team, whose games are popular social events with their own hashtag #derspuck, did not go as far as they hoped this season since their widely-known "Road to Utica" journey last year. Continuing a legacy for this strong team, Seniors Noah Marinelli and Stephen Nicholas made a statement on the ice this winter. Unfortunately, the Raiders lost in the Section Semi-final in a close game against the Raider rival, the Mamaroneck Tigers.

The Boys basketball team was 12-8 this season, losing in the first round of playoffs. The guys attracted large hordes of fans to their home games, and the team's basketballchemistry was fun to watch. The team will lose seven Seniors, so the 2016-17 squad will rely on a core of juniors to step up next season and put the Raider name back on the map.

Girls' Varsity Basketball saw an intense season come to a close with a one point loss in the Section Quarterfinals. This close result reflects the exciting ride the past few months have been for the Raiders, who worked hard day in and day out to have a memorable season to honor their five graduating star Seniors. Senior Kayle Waterhouse says, "This year we were much closer as a whole and I think that showed through our playing. I hope the closeness carries on to the team next year. This year was very, very intense and I think that improved our playing and mental toughness on the court. I think the biggest thing that must be carried over is our sportsmanship. We are all very supportive and root for one another." Emmeline GirlsBballBerridge, the sole freshman on the Girls Varsity Basketball team, says being the youngest on an upperclassman-dominated team was a little scary at first. Her teammates, coaches, and spectators soon saw that the pressure did not crack her and Berridge established her presence well on the court during a physical and intense season for the Raiders. "I think it isn't so much age that makes a difference on the court, but it's more about maturity. Poise on the court is what sets a mature player apart from others... Aside from talent, being calm and levelheaded is what can give you an edge against competition." Waterhouse says it was the team's intensity, and their skill in preparing both physically and mentally for every game no matter the opponent that led to their success this season. The Raiders were League Champions, winning the title after crushing rival Ursuline for a 20 point victory. This was a huge achievement for the girls since it has been twenty-one years since Scarsdale's last League title for Girls Varsity Basketball.

Unfortunately, the team did not reach their goal of returning to the County Center to play in Sectionals. There is no good way to bring a fun and exciting final season to a close, but the Senior can at least walk away knowing they met their goals and set the bar high for the legacy of their team. Waterhouse says, "We definitely had great chemistry as a team. I think that helped with us not being selfish with the ball and passing to the open player. Chemistry leads to trust." The girls knew each other's strengths each had an acute sense of her position and role. Emmeline adds, "When we were executing, nothing could stop our momentum. Off the court, all of the girls supported each other. Having this tight knit group helped us work hard and have each others backs." Looking forward to the next three years, Berridge knows a gap will be left in their team and the underclassmen will need to work hard to make the necessary adjustments. She says, "I hope to step up to the plate and help our team work really hard to be successful."

Scarsdale Raider Wrestling Team had a banner 2015-16 wrestlersseason. Led by an extremely talented group of seniors, the team placed in the top three of every tournament and brought home 1st place at their own Scarsdale Invitational. The team finished with a 21-7 record. The Raiders brought home the League 1A Championship finishing 5-0 in the league. The last league championship Scarsdale won was in 1999. The team qualified 8 boys for Sections and had three boys place in the top 4. The season was capped off with 113Lbs Michael Dabramo receiving a wildcard for the State tournament where he placed fifth in the State. He finished with an amazing 46-6 record. His only losses came from Nationally ranked wrestlers.

The stats for the eight wrestlers that went to Sectionals are: 99lbs Johnny Keltz,25-14,113lbs Michael DaBramo 46-6,113lbs Jack Ortner 16-13, 132lbs Seth Schulman 25-14, 170lbs Raphael Rogoff 17-16, 182lbs Andrew Braun 31-8, 195 lbs Brendan Knaack 25-10, and at heavyweight 285 lbs Ethan Raff 32-9.

 

The three seniors who were named All Section were Brendan Knaack, Ethan Raff took and Michael Dabramo.

As Raiders Athletics closes one chapter, the Spring teams are ready to go. Captains' practices are already in full swing in preparation for Monday's tryouts. It will be another exciting few months for SHS to continue its Athletic reputation of dedication and pride.
blowlingBlumsteintrackgirls track

The Invitations are Out!

bowlphotoThe entire Scarsdale community is warmly invited to attend the Scarsdale Bowl dinner on Wednesday, April 13 at The Fountainhead in New Rochelle, NY. Pictured above are members of the Bowl committee and trustees of the Scarsdale Foundation preparing invitations that will arrive in mailboxes in March. This year the Bowl, which celebrates volunteerism and community, will honor Susie Rush. All are also welcome to RSVP online here.

Photo:
Seated (l to r): Michelle Lichtenberg, Susie Rush, Gary Katz, Janet Korins

Standing (l to r): Jane Veron, Jay Musoff, Jonathan Bradlow, Randy Guggenheim, Ann Lyons, Felicia Block

Photo credit: Robert Jeremiah

In Opposition to the 2016 Scarsdale Homestead Tax Option

Christie-PlaceBelow is a letter from Christie Place resident Richard Garwin:
I am Richard Garwin, living with my wife Lois Garwin at 1 Christie Place, Unit 402W since September 2010—5 years ago. We had lived for 55 years in a house at 16 Ridgecrest East which we sold in order to buy our condominium apartment at Christie Place. Our ages: 87 and 88. Our three children attended and graduated from the Scarsdale schools.

For Scarsdale to adopt Homestead would be a misuse of the law, the stated purpose of which is to "prevent any large shift to the residential class of properties" as a result of revaluation. Homestead would apply only to the 42 residential units on Christie Place and not to the cooperative apartments in Scarsdale that are of comparable size and market price. Contrary to the implication that the traditional valuation of residential condominium units is "special interest legislation" for Christie Place, it was the only valuation approach possible under NYS law. Although the NYS legislature passed Homestead legislation in 1981, Scarsdale could consider it only after the revaluation of 2014, when the Village Board unanimously rejected the Homestead option.

The Christie Place development is an award-winning public-private partnership which made possible the 42 residential suites that can be sold only for occupancy by a resident over 55, two restaurants and three commercial units, plus off-street parking for the residents, the short-term municipal garage on Christie Place, and underground commuter parking, for which the Condominium provided the mortgage—all on 1.73 acres of land. The Village controls, manages, and profits from 310 of the 370 parking spaces; on weekends and holidays the 234 underground commuter parking spaces are available to all for free.

According to the Village Assessor at the Joint Board meeting of 02/01/2016, the 42 condos are valued for tax purposes in 2016 at $31 million, and under Homestead they would be valued at a market sales price of $59 million, so that the tax bill would just about double if Homestead were adopted. As a matter of fact, without Homestead, my own tax bill doubled last year as a result of the 2014 revaluation and would apparently double again if Homestead is adopted.

The Town of Greenburgh will consider adopting Homestead as it completes its revaluation, but Greenburgh has 5,000 residential condominium units in contrast to the 42 in Scarsdale, If Scarsdale adopts Homestead it risks turning Christie Place from a triumph of public-private partnership into a travesty.

It was not in the distant past that the Village leadership saw the Christie Place development as a good package deal, including the traditional approach to real estate tax on the 42 residential condominium units. Less than two years ago, the Village Board confirmed that judgment. I ask it to do so again.

Here are remarks from Mayor Carolyn Stevens, made at a joint meeting of the Village Trustees and Board of Education on May 27 [2010]. "Earlier this week I attended the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) Annual meeting in Saratoga, New York. One of the reasons I attended was that Scarsdale was awarded First Place in the area of Economic Development for the Christie Place development. NYCOM found the project to be an innovative and creative. The project, as many of you know, involved a public/private partnership that provided the Village with many benefits, including much needed parking, senior housing, and accessibility to transportation, while adding to the vitality of the Village center with retail on the first level and housing above. In addition, the development provides the Village with several streams of revenue. For all these reasons, the NYCOM board found the project to be a model of progressive and innovative problem solving."

From Village Hall: CNC Deliberations and Homestead Act

silberfeinMattie Silberfein, an 11 year-old student at Greenacres was Mayor for the day on Tuesday February 9 and she was invited to open the meeting of the Village Board with a roll call and pledge of allegiance. Her parents purchased that honor at a fundraiser for Greenacres and she was clearly up for the job. She was poised and well spoken as she took the Mayor's chair and the spotlight in Rutherford Hall.

Mayor Jon Mark then went from young to old, wishing his 92 year-old mother Ruth Friendly a happy birthday, saying, that he has the job of Mayor today because his parents chose to move to Scarsdale in the summer of 1951.

It was a very busy night for the board, who held a meeting on the proposed library renovation prior to the 8 pm meeting, and scheduled a public hearing on adoption of the Homestead Tax Option at a meeting of the Town Board, immediately following the 8 pm session.

Before Trustees turned to discuss Homestead, many spoke in support of the proposed library renovation and expansion. Watch them speak here.

In a surprise appearance before the board, Trustee Deb Pekarek's husband John Leslie addressed the group about the Citizen's Nominating Committee's failure to re-nominate his wife Deb for a second term as Village Trustee. He praised her outstanding service, saying "she does her homework, is honest and upfront, asks questions that others are asking, encourages open discussion, and is sensitive to others." He continued, "Based on her performance it was a no brainer that she should have another term as trustee."

However Leslie said "The non partisan system is broken. It appears that the non-partisan system has become the partisan system. The committee grew into a political minefield. Volunteerism has taken a big hit."

Discussing the new board he noted that their credentials are impressive but questioned whether only those with an Ivy League degree can serve. He said, "Are we becoming even more elitist?" He also noted that no one from Greenaces would be on the new board and that there would be only one woman. He observed that there will be three lawyers, commenting, "In my experience too many lawyers impede progress." About the two new nominees he said, "One of them should wait another year to serve. What the CNC has done is wrong on many levels. We need to do something now."

The Mayor then commented, "There should be no doubt what a fine trustee Deb has been."

Howie Nadel, who chaired the Citizens Nominating Commitee deliberations responded to Leslie's comments and defended the committee. He reminded the trustees that they were all selected by the CNC. He said, "The committee is not a gang, they are not prejudiced, they are not territorial. They did not view this as a political event or a football game. They looked at facts, they processed them, they researched and researched again. They came up with what I believe is the best slate. I think it's a shame that their voluntary service is denigrated. It is very upsetting to lose. Don't turn them into a gang. They viewed their positions and responsibilities seriously and they deserve an apology."

Homestead Act:

After the Village Board meeting, the Town Board convened to discuss the Homestead Tax Option. As the Village proceeds through its second Village-wide revaluation in just two years, it feels like Groundhog Day. Though the Village and School Boards considered and rejected the adoption of the Homestead Act in 2014, they are now revisiting this issue again, as a part of the second village-wide tax revaluation. The question is whether the 42 owners of residential condominium units at Christie Place should be taxed based on their potential rental income or as single family homes.

Village Assessor Nanette Albanese estimates that if Homestead is not passed and these units continue to be assessed based on their potential rental income, in 2017 residents will pay an average of $14,464 in real estate taxes per unit, for condos valued at $737,000 t0 $1.9 million. If Homestead were adopted the average real estate tax for a unit at Christie Place is estimated to rise by $13,409 to $27,873 or almost double. On the other hand, if the Village does not adopt Homestead, and does not collect the additional $563,185 from Christie Place homeowners, the burden will be shared among Scarsdale's 5,698 homeowners at a cost of approximately $99 per household.

Residents of Christie Place, the Scarsdale Forum and the Scarsdale League of Women Voters all had positions on Homestead two years ago – and those opinions are being re-stated again this year.

The Scarsdale Forum has issued a report urging the both the school and the village boards to adopt homestead, while the League of Women Voters does not support adoption. The Tuesday night hearing drew a crowd, and you can listen to all the statements on the Scarsdale Cable Channel here.

Here are some sound bites from some of the speakers:

Deb Morel, President of the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale read the league's statement. Here is an excerpt from the statement explaining their viewpoint:

"It bears pointing out that the taxes of the One Christie Place residents were already almost doubled after the 2014 revaluation, using the legally prescribed income approach. It also should be mentioned that the original public/private partnership between the developer and the Village continues to provide much needed short-term and long-term parking, a police station and public restrooms at the One Christie Place site. If the Homestead Tax Option is not adopted, the Town estimates that the tax burden on the remaining approximately 5,700 single-family homeowners would be, on average, about $99.00 per property. This is even lower than the $150 average tax increase per single-family home estimated in 2014. The League believes that the harm to the One Christie Place residential condo owners from adoption of the Homestead Tax Option would not be justified by the potential benefits to single- family homeowners at this time.

In addition, the League reiterates its long-standing position of advocating for an increased supply of housing that provides residential alternatives for long-term Scarsdalians and we believe that adoption of the Homestead Tax Option under the present circumstances would counteract that aim."

The report from the Scarsdale Forum can be read in its entirety on the Forum website – however here is the conclusion of the document,

"The bottom line is that the reason Scarsdale is undergoing the costly and complex process of revaluation – for the second time just two years -- is to try to ensure the most equitable distribution of the property tax burden based on the fair market value of the properties. Is it fair to the rest of Scarsdale taxpayers for them to have to continue to subsidize to the tune of $563,185 per year the property taxes of the residents of these high-end, luxury condominium units?"

"...These condominiums are benefitting from a loophole in the Real Property Tax Law that allows certain condominiums to be assessed under an unrealistic income valuation approach, instead of the comparable sales method which provides a much more accurate measure of true current market value. When one is reaping a very substantial benefit from such a tax law loophole, one cannot seriously complain when that loophole is closed, especially when the mechanism to close that loophole – the Homestead Tax Option – has been the law of the State of New York for thirty-five years."

Laura Miller, a lifelong Scarsdale resident whose mother lives in the Christie Place Condominiums spoke against the adoption of Homestead, bringing up the benefits to Scarsdale Village that are built into the project. She said,

"Christie Place must allow the Village to utilize portions of the building for retail purposes, commuter parking and public amenities such as a public safety facility and two restrooms. Ginsburg Development Corporation was required to construct a parking facility with up to 224 spaces for Village use. The cost of this construction was about $300,000 per unit in the building, which was passed along to the buyers in their purchase prices.

The Village now owns these parking spaces at no cost to it. The Village charges approximately $1500 per spot per year for these spaces so they are earning approximately $336,000 per year plus the money from the 80 metered spots in the Christie Place municipal lot. I believe the owners of Christie Place still carry a note of over $2 million dollars from the construction of the garage facility. I believe the homeowners at Christie Place STILL pay the annual interest on that note. Single-family homeowners are not subsidizing the Village in this way so again, those homeowners should not be taxed in the same manner as the Christie Place units, just because they may be over 55."

The residential owners at Christie Place also pay a share of the public garage maintenance and cleaning costs from which the Village benefits.

Bob Berg said Christie Place homeowners have a "gaping property tax loophole,"
And ... "that after Christie Place was built in 2008, until the 2015 tax year, the owners of the Christie Place condos were able to pay only 1/3 of the property tax that owners of the same value single family houses must pay."

He called the situation "fundamentally unfair ...indefensible and unprincipled. " In his view it "discriminate(s) grossly in favor of a small class of residents -- some of whom are exceptionally wealthy and all of whom live in luxury, high-end condos -- without any income or asset screening test – just because you felt sorry for them because they might not have known when they bought their apartments that their Blue Light Special might not last forever."

He said that the 2014 revaluation slammed "legions of 55 year old plus residents who live in single family homes – many of whom have seen a doubling of their property taxes."

He suggested that "Residents who feel badly for the Christie Place residents are free to contribute to a "Save the Christie Place Residents Property Tax Subsidy Fund."

Richard Garwin age 88 lives in Christie Place with his wife who is 87 years old. He called the adoption of Homestead a "misuse of the law," and also pointed out all the benefits the Village enjoys from the public-private partnership. Read his statement in opposition to Homestead here. 

Sean Cohen of Chesterfield Road agreed with Miller. He said, "The Village gets $400,000 a year from that garage. The village has an income stream. No one in a house in Scarsdale provides an income stream. There is a restrictive covenant that only permits sales to seniors. These should be taxed like co-ops."

Howie Nadel, President of the Scarsdale Forum said, " The Executive Committee of the Scarsdale Forum favors the board adopting the Homestead Act. It's not about Christie Place. There will be additional units coming into Scarsdale. How will they be treated? More units are coming; I would hate to see this group make a 20-year mistake."

William Seltzer, an attorney representing the Christie Place Board of Managers reminded trustees that none of the underlying facts have changed since 2014.
He reviewed the rules and restrictions that govern sales agreements and the terms of the agreement between Ginsburg Development and the Village including the garage, the police station and public parking. He said that residents are now paying $166,000 per year for the debt on the garage which the attorney called a "$15 million garage." He read a letter from Mayor Peter Strauss who signed the original deal with Ginsburg objecting to the adoption of Homestead, calling it "unfair."

Michael Levine of 54 Walworth, who has studied the Village tax structure said, "I came to this meeting without an opinion on this issue, but I now believe the board should not adopt Homestead. The fairness is between coops and condos, not between condos and single-family homes. The parking revenue from Christie Place practically compensates for the difference. The Village has reduced costs in service for a multi-dwelling building. We need to conclude that things are fine as they are."

The Mayor read a statement from Carol Silverman, the Chair of the Advisory Council on Senior Citizens who reported that members agree that Christie Place residents be assessed at fair market value. Other seniors were hit hard by the revaluation. In their view, Christie Place homeowners are subsidized and Homestead should be passed.

At the end of the meeting the Board agreed to vote on the matter at their February 23rd meeting.

Share Your Snow Photos Please!

snnowphotoWith a Village ban on driving, and more than a foot of snow on the ground, most of us hunkered down for a day indoors. The light powder left a beautiful tableau. Please take some snow photos and send them to scarsdalecomments@gmail.com to share with your neighbors.

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