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Vote Row A All the Way

democratdonkeyThis letter to the editor was submitted by Mark Lewis of Brewster Road:
I am supporting the Democratic Party candidates of Christi Acker for Supreme Court, George Latimer for County Executive, Tim Idoni for County Clerk, George Fufidio for County Court and Arlene Gordon Oliver for Family Court. They are the pro-choice candidates endorsed by the Westchester Coalition for Legalized Abortion.

Judge Christi Acker – Judge Acker is running for Supreme Court. She is the only candidate running for Supreme Court who has been rated Highly Qualified by the Independent Judicial Qualifications Commission of the 9th Judicial District and Well Qualified the Westchester Bar Association.. Judge Acker's lengthy legal career has spanned almost twenty five years and includes her work as a judge, court attorney, and litigator in both trial and appellate-level courts.

George Latimer – George Latimer is running for County Executive. He has vast experience as a County Legislator, Chair of the County Legislature, Assemblyman and State Senator. We have worked with George when he represented four districts in Scarsdale as a County Legislator. Whatever the issue, even when it did not deal with the four districts George represented, he was there for us. When the County wanted to put in a double decker driving range at the Saxon Woods Golf Course, George opposed and helped stop it being placed there.

When George was a County Legislator, the Democrats won a majority for the first time. George became the first Democratic Party chairman of the County Board of Legislators. Under his time as chairman, he either cut or froze the County tax levy for three straight years, so George understands budgets. In contrast, Rob Astorino promised a 20% cut in the County Budget, which he never delivered.

In an article last week in the Journal News it stated that from 2011 to 2017 Scarsdale actually had a 29% increase in our County taxes and Greenburgh had a 12% increase in their county taxes. What happened to our 20% decrease Rob that you promised us?

This year, Astorino submitted a budget with a $15 million hole in it because he tried to rush through the privatization of the County Airport. This proposal was opposed by the Scarsdale Forum and the League of Women Voters. In addition it was pointed out by both groups that he was overestimating the amount of sales tax money that would be collected. So far the County is short another $10 million in sales tax collected. If this holds up the County will have to take it out of reserve funds. Moody's and other credit rating companies have already downgraded Westchester County's bond rating from AAA to AA1. This will cost us money in the future when we need to borrow money to repair roads.

He has been a co-sponsor of legislation to end the statute of limitations on rape and early voter registration and campaign finance reform. He also voted for equal pay for women.

He co-sponsored legislation to Raise the Age which raises the age from 16 to 18 for minors in N.Y. to be tried as juveniles instead of adults in N.Y.S. courts. We were only one of two states that tried 16 and 17 year old children in adult courts instead of Family Court.

George opposed hydro-fracking in N.Y.S. He saw what hydro-fracking did to drinking water in other states and wanted to ensure that our drinking water was safe from chemicals used in hydro-fracking.

George Latimer supports gun control. He voted for the County safe gun storage act and for the N.Y.S. Safe Act on gun control.

Tim Idoni – Time Idoni is running for County Clerk. As County Clerk, he has lowered the operating budget by over 30% and reduced staff by 35%. Tim has eliminated months long backlogs by instituting online systems that have revolutionized county clerk operations statewide. He has expanded community outreach, serving us closer to home. i.e. processing passports.

George Fufidio – George Fufidio is running for County Court Judge. George was rated Highly Qualified by the Independent Judicial Elections Qualifications Commission of the 9th Judicial District and Well Qualified the Westchester Bar Association. George is a member of N.Y.S. Permanent Commission on Sentencing. This commission was selected to review state sentencing guidelines. He was a former Assistant District Attorney and former Deputy Chief of the Homicide and Special Investigations Bureau. George was the former Co-Chair of the Westchester Bar Association Criminal Justice Section. He is also an Administrative Law Judge.

Arlene Gordon-Oliver – Judge Arlene Gordon-Oliver is running for Family Court Judge. Judge Oliver was rated Well Qualified by the Westchester Bar Association. Arlene has served as an Acting Family Court Judge when the Family Court is not in session and Family Court issues have to be heard. She was President of the Westchester Black Bar Association and served on the National Bar Association's Board of Governors. As a judge, Arlene has heard thousands of civil and criminal cases that involve families and children, domestic abuse, endangering the welfare of children, and the exploitation of children. She has also acted to improve the lives of Westchester families and children, including establishing community-based programs to protect children from Internet predators, human trafficking and abuse; and supervision of programs for at-risk children.

Ben Boykin – Ben Boykin is running for re-election for County Legislator. He has fought to hold down property taxes. He is a committee member of the Budget and Appropriations Committee and is currently reviewing the proposals to lease Westchester Airport. Ben is a Certified Public Accountant which helps him review the County Budget. He has voted against the last two budgets because he felt they were not balanced. He has fought to protect our most vulnerable citizens and has worked on solving flooding and infrastructure issues.

Polls are open from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday November 7, 2017.

Remember to vote Row A All The Way.
Mark Lewis
Chair, Scarsdale Democratic Town Committee
Mark Lewis
98 Brewster Road
Scarsdale, N.Y. 10583
915-723-3766

(914) Pop Up Store in Scarsdale Village On Thursday

ccd650a0-d291-4c1a-bf18-cabc766759f3On Nov. 2, (914)PopUps will open its doors from 4pm to 9pm at 13-15 Bonifice Circle in Scarsdale Village (formerly Space NK) to host an evening of shopping across the street from a beauty event at BLVD at 12 Chase Road.

They will have great collection of vendors offering clothing, bags, winter accessories, athleisure, kids clothing and more. BLVD will also be providing free dry services at the Bonifice Circle Boutique, including hair braiding and hair curling. Sjal Skincare will be offering complimentary mini gemstone facials (email info@sjalskincare.com to book your appointment). Light bites will be provided by The Birch Collective, a new restaurant in White Plains.

Make sure to book your complimentary blow outs, brows, manis, and make up at BLVD by calling 646-360-1450.

Looking forward to seeing you all, Melissa Tomlin and Sarah Roth.

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What is the Real Cost of a Greenacres Renovation?

constructioncostsThe following article was written by site founder, Joanne Wallenstein:
The flurry of comments on the proposed bond referendum contains many good points that warrant further discussion and clarification. Having thoroughly studied the current proposal and attended many meetings, I think I have as good a grasp as anyone of what's in and out of the latest proposal for the renovation of Greenacres. It seems to me that the reason this argument continues is that the cost to adequately renovate the school to meet current standards for student health and safety may be prohibitive.

Here's why:

The current plan costs $34.7 million and includes 8 new classrooms and a learning commons/cafeteria along with 8 modular classrooms on the field.

What it does not include are vital infrastructure updates to the current facility, despite reports that these are badly needed:

Here is what is NOT included:

New water pipes (current ones contain lead). This would require extensive and expensive work on the interior walls of the school.

New waste pipes inside the building. The waste pipe outside has been replaced after a "catastrophic failure" but the interior sanitary pipes remain.

New bathrooms in the existing school: These facilities are seriously outdated and in need of replacement. The July 6, 2017 proposal says that $268,000 is included in the bonds to "upgrade classroom toilet rooms." However architects now say that the challenge is that the bathrooms in the classrooms are too small and do not meet ADA requirements. As the classrooms are also too small, there is no room to borrow space to expand the bathrooms using the existing classroom space. Therefore, the current floor plan prevents the district from creating ADA compliant facilities.

Adequate Ventilation: Teachers and students report that during warm months, the classrooms are simply too hot to facilitate effective teaching. Teachers bring fans into the rooms and film has been placed on the windows, but the rooms remain uncomfortable. The unit ventilators proposed by the architects will blow in air from the outside – and if it's hot outside, hot air will be blown in. They will not cool or heat the classrooms. If the district does approve air conditioning, it is questionable whether or not the attic of the school can accommodate heavy air handlers. With global warming bringing more hot days to our area, this is a need that cannot be ignored, even if air conditioning puts the school at an advantage over other elementary schools.

Adequate sized classrooms: All of the classrooms (including the eight new ones) are below the recommended size of 900 square feet – despite the fact that the district is now permitting "Co-taught classes "with more than the maximum number of students in the room – along with two teachers. If the district plans to continue this practice, larger classrooms are needed.

Other issues to consider:

The Basement: There is a persistent smell in the basement foundation that indicates moisture, humidity and mildew ... or worse. The administration proposes to remediate this by moving the kids upstairs and installing dehumidifiers. No one knows for sure if this will work. Should the problems persist after $40 million is spent, then what?

Enrollment : Despite the administration's claims of a dip in enrollment, the population of the Greenacres School has remained very constant for years. A large part of the variation in the number of students result from the administration's decisions on where to hold inclusion and special needs classrooms and the placement of staff children. This year, Quaker Ridge now has four sections of both kindergarten and first graders, each grade with inclusion classes, as presumably they have the space. With a constant population of at least 350 kids, the need for a neighborhood Greenacres School persists.

Traffic and Parking: Issues with traffic, parking, and access to the building and the playground at the current site are real – and will only be exacerbated by the expansion of the building on the limited site footprint and the elimination of more parking spaces to accommodate the larger building. Additional staff may also be needed to man the cafeteria and they too will need to park. The district has made no recommendation on these issues – nor retained a consultant to analyze the impact on students, parents and the community.

So how does this add up? Take the current renovation estimate of $34.7 million and add the cost for plumbing, ventilation, bathrooms - and the possible relocation of the entire school population for a longer period to accommodate a more extensive interior renovation, Add in another $6 million in deferred work on the building needed down the road. What is the total cost of this decision?

As much as we would all like to compromise, the district cannot compromise on children's heath and safety. So if we consider the totality of the needs, the current state of this aged facility and the near certainty that additional non-budgeted expenses will accrue over the coming decades, it looks like the district may need to go back to the drawing board to find a feasible solution.

Third Man Arrested for Berwick Road Burglary

Burglary

The Scarsdale Police Department, along with the Westchester County District Attorney's Office, announced the arrest of a third suspect in the burglary of an occupied residence on Berwick Road in April 2017.

Around 2 am on April 19, 2017 residents of Berwick Road in Fox Meadow were awoken by the sounds of two men running through their house. According to Captain Thomas Altizio of the Scarsdale Police, the husband and wife heard the suspects making noise and confronted them. The husband grabbed one of the suspects, attempting to detain him – and the wife chased the other one out of the house. After both suspects fled through the front door, the residents called 911. None of their injuries were serious enough to required medical attention.

Two men were previously arrested and charged. Alexander Crooks was arrested by the Scarsdale Police on June 13th, and Antwan Hall was arrested on May 16th. Both Crooks and Hall were charged with Burglary 2nd Degree, a Class "C" Felony and remanded to Westchester County Jail. Both were later indicted by a Grand Jury on Robbery 2nd charges as well.

Now the Scarsdale Police have arrested a third suspect. On October 10th, detectives from the Scarsdale Police Department, and Westchester County District Attorney's Investigators traveled to Goldsboro, North Carolina to apprehend Jayvahne Hamilton, the third participant in the Berwick Road burglary. Mr. Hamilton was extradited back to Westchester by Detectives, and was arraigned in Scarsdale Justice Court on a charge of Burglary 2nd degree and remanded to the Westchester County Jail.

According to Scarsdale Captain Thomas Alitzio, "Our investigation determined that the burglary victims on Berwick Road were randomly selected, and not specifically targeted. The three suspects were in the area removing property from unlocked vehicles in driveways just prior to the burglary. For reasons unknown, they decided to enter the residence on Berwick. I think it is important to stress that residents lock cars that are left outside, lock their homes and close their garage doors. Making a home more difficult to enter and eliminating opportunities for theft in the driveway will reduce your chances of becoming a victim."

The arrests of all three defendants are the result of a collaborative ongoing investigation by the Scarsdale Police Department and the Westchester County District Attorney's Office into the April Berwick Road Burglary. Scarsdale Police Chief Andrew Matturro would like to thank Westchester District Attorney Anthony Scarpino for his agency's support and assistance throughout this investigation.

Chief Matturro stated that this case has always been a top priority for the Scarsdale Police Department, and although limited information was released during the ongoing investigation, this case made progress on a daily basis. Detectives assigned to this cased tracked down the remaining suspect, Jayvahne Hamilton, who had fled New York, to Goldsboro, North Carolina. With the assistance of the Goldsboro, NC Police Department, he was taken into custody and returned to New York. Additional charges against Mr. Hamilton are expected to be added at a future court proceeding.

Greenacres: Relocation Options, Including Modular Classrooms, Must Be Part of Bond Planning

modularclassroomThis letter to the editor was sent to Scarsdale10583.com by Greenacres resident Sara Cetron:
The Greenacres Elementary Task Force, a group of concerned Greenacres parents and their supporters from across Scarsdale, have been advocating for the relocation of all Greenacres students off-site during a large construction project expected to begin in 2019.

Shockingly, at the September 11th School Board meeting, only one Board Member spoke in favor of even studying relocation options, despite a petition signed by hundreds of Scarsdale residents, frequent advocacy in the press and requests to the Board from concerned residents.

Why is the Board so reluctant to even think about relocating Greenacres' kids? The Board appears to misunderstand types of relocation options available as well as their costs and benefits. Let's review the reasons that several Board Members gave for not wanting to even consider relocation to show why they are misinformed:

"Relocation Isn't Better Than Being in the School Building" -- Relocation is much better because it keeps the kids as far away from construction as possible rather than forcing them to learn, travel and play next to it every school day for more than a year. This may come as a surprise to District administrators who already enjoy modern comforts such as air conditioning, but modular classrooms are significantly better than the conditions at Greenacres school. Nice modulars are modern with comforts like air conditioning that won't be found in most Greenacres classrooms even after a $40 million project! They have modern bathrooms, great lighting and are built with green materials. Modulars are not meant to replace permanent structures, though some cash-strapped school districts (not Scarsdale) use them for that, but modulars are certainly a modern, healthy and desirable choice and preferable to keeping kids in the construction zone.

"It's Financially Unfeasible" -- It's difficult to see how such a determination could be made until specific options have been studied and priced out, but the current plan budgets $1.5 million for 8 modular classrooms (about 2 grades) on the Greenacres field. To accommodate the rest of the regular classrooms at Greenacres, add another 16 classrooms for $3 million. $1.5 million has already been budgeted for Greenacres field restoration -- that can be used for site work. Modular classroom should be located at the back of the field as far away from the construction as possible. A temporary playground should be installed next to the modulars so that no child has to go near the construction to play. Can Scarsdale afford this? Of course it can, but it all comes down to priorities. The bond currently budgets $1.4 million for a baseball field renovation at the high school. That amount could fund half of the additional modular classrooms for Greenacres. If the School Board were interested in relocation, they could find a way to fund it. As Task Force member Tony Corriggio pointed out to the Board during public comment, there is the potential for cost savings if relocation allows all of the Greenacres work to be done at one time rather than spread out over several years. Contractors may offer better bids which would lower costs for the entire project, which is why these options must be studied in detail by the Board.

"We've Done Construction Before Without Relocation" -- Scarsdale has never done a project of this scale at a school this old on such a tight site plan and with kids this close. You can't compare this project with other District work that involved a corner of a building on a much larger lot. Greenacres' site is tiny, and this project covers the entire front of the school and the kids' play area next to their playground, leaving them right in the middle of construction.

"The Consultants Say It's Not Necessary" -- The District administration has steered their paid consultants toward a particular path for this project. If the School Board had asked for relocation options, the consultants would be talking about them.

The reason there is so much unfamiliarity with these options, even among members of the School Board, is that relocation options haven't been properly studied or discussed.

Time is running out to finalize these plans before the bond is presented to Scarsdale voters. But it's not too late for the School Board to change course and show that it wants to work in good faith to address significant concerns and pursue all potential options for relocation. These options, including modular classrooms, must be a major part of bond planning going forward.

Sincerely,

Sara Cetron
Greenacres Resident

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