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Neighbors Object to Proposed 7-Eleven Move to Scarsdale Avenue

7-ElevenRenderingWill the Scarsdale 7-Eleven move from Garth Road to Scarsdale Avenue? Not if residents of the Overhill Neighborhood Association have their say. At a meeting of the Scarsdale Planning Board on Wednesday night April 19, the Planning Board heard applicants who hoped to move 7-11 to the previous site of Bodyfit on Scarsdale Avenue.

The owners of the Bodyfit building, a Florida LLC called "858 Scarsdale Avenue Associates and 7-Eleven Inc. have applied to renovate Body Fit and turn it into a convenience store. Their attorney and engineer attended the meeting to apply for a parking waiver and show their parking plan and a rendering of the proposed redesign. The neighbors behind the building on Overhill Road are concerned about the potential commotion from a 24-hour retailer and have raised concerns about the traffic and parking at the busy intersection.

7-Elevent the meeting, a discussion ensued about the number of parking spots that were required. Speaking after the meeting, Village Planner Elizabeth Marrinan explained that back in the 1980's when the original zoning was done, a retail spot like this would have required 19-22 spaces. At the time, there was a gas station on the site. However the Village quickly realized that it would not be possible to include 22 spaces and gave the owners a waiver to allow them to open with 11 parking spots. On Wednesday night, the applicants for 7-Eleven put forth a plan for two curb cuts and nine parking spaces perpendicular to Scarsdale Avenue. Cars would enter at one side and exit on the other.

In response to questions about traffic at this very busy intersection,bodyfit the applicants referred to a study they had done; however they had not shared it with the Planning Department. The residents raised concerns about deliveries, which are often made in large trailer size trucks. Where would these large trucks park? The applicants claimed that big deliveries would only be necessary once a week and that box trucks would make smaller deliveries.

More questions arose about the square footage of the parking lot and the possibility of a buffer between the parking lot and the street to allow a safe byway for pedestrians. Questions about whether or not the design of the façade needs to conform to standards for Scarsdale Village will be referred to the Board of Architectural Review.

At the end of the meeting, the applicants asked that consideration be held over to the next meeting of the Planning Board on May 24 to allow them time to rerun the traffic report.

Here is the statement from the Overhill Neighborhood Association, as read by the association Vice President Richard Pinto:

The Overhill Neighborhood Association is concerned about the recently announced plans for 7-Eleven to relocate from Garth Road to the Bodyfit building on Scarsdale Avenue. The Overhill Association (which I will refer to from now on as simply "the Association") believes that granting 7-Eleven its requested parking waiver so that they may effectuate this move is a mistake and request that the Planning Board deny the waiver tonight. The Association only learned about this proposed relocation recently and would like to formally note some points for consideration.

In its current location 7-Eleven is part of the commercial fabric that runs along Garth Road; as such it is isolated from any single-family homes. If 7-Eleven were to relocate to Scarsdale Avenue, it would immediately abut the backyards of lower Overhill Road. Since there are currently no 24/7 retailers immediately abutting a neighborhood of single-family homes anywhere in Scarsdale, the Association feels strongly that this would create a bad precedent.

This introduces one of the specific concern the Association has – a 24/7 retailer is likely to introduce noise at late hours in an otherwise quiet area. The shape of the land here is a slope up from Scarsdale Avenue to a high point on Circle Road; noise will be scooped up that slope. All other businesses along Scarsdale Avenue are closed by 11p.m. It is easy to imagine car doors slamming and car engines revving in the late evening, people inadvertently speaking loudly, groups of teens congregating there because it's the only establishment open at those hours – it is not difficult to see that this concern of a late-hours retailer is realistic.

Similarly, there is a legitimate fear for the potential for increased incidences of crime in our neighborhood. It is important to note that the residences along this stretch of Overhill Road and Circle Lane are 100% occupied by families with either elementary school-aged children or senior residents. While we laud the Scarsdale Police for their recent excellent work, we understand that they will be operating in a reactive mode. We are not concerned whether the Police will respond to any and all complaints – we trust 100% that they will; however, the nature of these complaints will be such that by the time officers arrive on the scene, the issue will have gone away – but the residents will have been disturbed already. Again – we are talking about a dozen elementary school-aged children along Overhill Rd and Circle Rd, as well as senior homeowners – these are demographics that do not typically keep late hours and will be most affected immediately.

Another point: this relocation would increase traffic to Scarsdale Avenue, an area that is infamous within our village for traffic. Problems at the intersection of Scarsdale Avenue and Popham Road were acknowledged by Chief Matturo himself at the April SNAP meeting. Again, it is not difficult to imagine how a retailer whose business model relies on a large volume of customers to make frequent stops will quickly become a significant headache. If we circle back to the issue of requesting a parking waiver, please imagine where cars will park to pop into the store for the proverbial gallon of milk – especially when you consider that the site is immediately adjacent to two gas stations that often have lines of their own that stretch onto Scarsdale Ave.

Finally, the Association would like to state plainly and clearly: we are concerned about a drop in the property value of our homes.

Further: it is not simply the Overhill Association that is concerned by this proposed relocation. A quick (and unofficial) survey of merchants along Scarsdale Ave today showed 100% solidarity against the relocation. This is at least partly because such a retailer is not in line with the broader vision of the Village Center Comprehensive Plan.

In 2010, the Comprehensive Plan envisioned a "restaurant row" for Scarsdale Avenue. New retailers – food and otherwise – joining Metro and Moscato (as well as the Eastchester establishments to the immediate south) were to be of a certain kind. From the report: "Any development should adhere to the character of the Village Center."

Now, the village government and concerned citizen groups have been working diligently to revitalize our center and to ensure that it be pedestrian-oriented and replete with the sort of retailers that are attractive to Scarsdale residents. Scarsdale Avenue is part of that central business district, and with a fifteenth store that has just closed in our village center, there is no disrespect intended when we say that the Association does not feel that relocating 7-Eleven into the Bodyfit building fulfils that vision.

Bringing this full circle, because the Association does not think that a 7-Eleven is what this report envisions, nor is it in fact a restaurant at all, no consideration should be given or effected towards any relaxation of parking restrictions.

In closing: if the Planning Board chooses not to deny the parking waiver tonight, we request at a minimum that the vote be held until a future date so that we, other neighboring communities, and other interested parties can have more time to examine how safety, traffic, noise, retail balance, home valuation, and other issues will be affected by this proposed relocation.

We thank you for your consideration of our concerns.

The Float Pod: Floating Away your Worries and Aches in Larchmont

float1When I first heard about "floating," I have to admit that my first reaction wasn't to run and try it. Like most of us, I'm busy and just getting to the dentist and gym in the same day can prove challenging so I wasn't sure that fitting in one-hour float session would be good use of my time. I was so wrong. I'm a convert. I'm a "floater."

Prime Performance and Development in Larchmont is the closest place to Scarsdale for a float session. Previously available only in the city, Prime Performance co-founders Geoff Rose and Michael Petrina built a float suite and invested in a float pod as they felt it to be a good fit for their performance facility; it complements their work with orthopedic issues and concussions.

I had a chance to talk to Geoff who talked me into coming in to float in all of ten seconds. "There are many benefits of floating," he said. "The sensory deprivation helps tremendously for mental and emotional relief. It promotes total calm, helping with anxiety and depression. The brain is able to enter deeper lower frequency waves like alpha, theta and even delta waves without sleeping. This helps with mental clarity, creativity and problem solving." That was sounding like a yoga/meditation weekend packed into one hour in a float pod.

"Physically," Geoff continued, "the freedom from the force of gravity aids in pain management allowing joints to decompress and promotes healing and recovery associated with inflamed muscles, arthritis, migraines, concussions, and other injuries. There are also benefits from your body's absorption of magnesium sulfate, also known as Epsom salt, a mineral in which our bodies are often deficient. Magnesium offers immediate relief of arthritis pain and inflammation and also aids in heart health, diabetes and nerve function."

So, couldn't I just make a run to Walgreen's for some Epsom salt and run a tub for myself at home with the lights off? "Not exactly," Geoff responded, "unless you're prepared to have a truck deliver half a ton of the stuff. That's how much Epsom salt is used in the float pod water for healing, therapeutic and floating purposes."

I arrived at Prime Performance's studio at the Larchmont train station pleasantly surprised to pull into one of several reserved, convenient, meter-free parking spots. I was shown into the float suite and given helpful instructions and options for different experiences such as music and lighting. I chose darkness and silence for the ultimate sensory deprivation experience. You have complete privacy so you can wear a bathing suit or float in your birthday suit.

I stepped into the tank, pulled the pod door shut and trusted the half-ton of Epsom salt to float me. Soon I felt warm, relaxed and comforted by the therapeutic water. It didn't feel claustrophobic as I had thought it might. My hour was memorable in the sense that I was able to clear my head of to-do lists. My apres-ski-weekend body felt relaxed and stretched. When my hour was up, I felt as if I had just gotten a full body massage. You can end your session early if you choose to do so just by opening the pod door and stepping out of the tank, but an hour seemed like the perfect amount of time to me.

I knew why I'd keep coming back, but I asked Geoff whyfloat2 his clients keep coming back. "Many people describe their hour-long float session as a fantastic getaway. Some have called it 'automatic meditation' by being removed from their devices and busy lives. 90% of our clients have reported a great night of sleep the night after a float session." I can certainly attest to that point. "Many of our clients agree that the benefits only increase with each new session. As the 'newness' of the experience wears away they're no longer timid about the floating experience and they can ease into a deep state of relaxation more rapidly."

"The frequency of floating is determined by our clients' lifestyles and goals," Geoff said. "Most of our clients book a session every week or every other week; some people with more physical or mental stresses come more often."

Geoff suggests waiting until a child is 10 before considering a float session. "We have had many youth athletes (12-17 years old) using our float pod as a component of their training and recovery programs and we believe they are beneficial to these athletes."

Prime Performance and Development is located at 6 Railroad Place in Larchmont and is open during the week and on weekends for floating as well as for personal training, athletic training, and conditioning. One session will run you $85 or you can save with a 3-pack intro offer for $160. Regular 6-packs are $420 and there's no masseuse to tip.

Prime Performance and Development
6 Railroad Palce,

This is sponsored content from Prime Performance and Development.

Isn't it Rich?

hundrendollarbillScarsdale has been named #3 on the Bloomberg News list of America's Richest Places. With an average household income in 2015 of $371,194, Scarsdale is behind Atherton, CA (average household income $444,374) and Cherry Hill Village, Colorado, with an average HH of $403,532. In 2015 average household income in Scarsdale rose $5,198 from 2014 when it was $365,996. Bronxville was number 8 on the list at $317,063.

The article says that "Cities and towns with ties to Wall Street and the Silicon Valley, and a smattering of communities in between, boasted the highest U.S. household incomes in 2015," according their analysis of census data.

It notes that more than a third of the 100 richest households on the list are located within 50 miles of New York City.

See the full analysis here:

Honor Scarsdale's Extraordinary Volunteers at the Scarsdale Bowl Dinner

DSC04899To the Editor:
The Scarsdale Bowl Dinner is one of the most inspiring events in town because it honors deserving individuals devoted to the extraordinary culture of public service that makes this community so special. This year's Bowl honorees, Kathy and Bob Steves, have tirelessly served our community for almost 30 years. Since she moved to Scarsdale, Kathy has given her energy and support to many organizations: She is currently the Board President of Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Service. Previously, Kathy has taken on leadership positions such as President of the Greenacres Neighborhood Association, Scarsdale Neighborhood Association Presidents (SNAP) member for multiple terms, Student Transfer Education Plan (STEP) Board Co-Chair, Scarsdale Middle School PTA member, Friends of the Scarsdale Library's Annual Book Fair Chair, and active member of their church, Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Bob, like Kathy, has volunteered for countless civic organizations in Scarsdale. He is currently the Co-Chair of the Scarsdale Library Capital Campaign Committee and has been involved in numerous organizations in the community, including the school board and Village government, serving as both President of the Scarsdale Board of Education, and the Mayor of the Village of Scarsdale. Bob has Co-Chaired STEP, served as a member of the School Board Nominating Committee, President and Treasurer of the Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Service, and Chair of the Scarsdale Bowl Committee.

Catching up with friends and neighbors is another wonderful aspect of the Bowl Dinner. Whether you are a veteran volunteer or someone who has yet to explore the many public service opportunities the Village provides, all of us can appreciate the spirit of service celebrated by the Scarsdale Bowl. Resident volunteers head Village government, serve on Village Boards and councils, comprise the Board of Education, and serve on Parent Teacher Associations and neighborhood associations. In addition, many community members work with the Scarsdale Forum, League of Women Voters of Scarsdale, or religious organizations, or serve as volunteer firemen, coaches, scout leaders or with other local service organizations. These efforts give residents a real voice in how Scarsdale operates.

bowlinviteThe seventy-five year tradition of the Scarsdale Bowl is maintained by the Scarsdale Foundation. The focus of the Scarsdale Foundation is to fund need-based scholarships to deserving Scarsdale High School graduates and Scarsdale residents in their sophomore through senior years of college. The Scarsdale Foundation funded $118,000 in scholarships for the 2016-2017 school year. In addition, the Foundation funds specific grants for civic purposes to strengthen local non-profit organizations. The Bowl dinner is not a fund raising event so when you RSVP to the Bowl, please also make a donation to the Scarsdale Foundation.

You can RSVP to the Scarsdale Bowl by clicking here for online RSVP and make a secure payment on the Scarsdale Foundation's website. If you did not receive a paper invitation, or want another copy, please contact Robert Jeremiah, Secretary to the Scarsdale Bowl Committee, at Please make your reservations by April 16, 2017.

Join us April 26th at the Fountainhead in New Rochelle, in celebrating Kathy and Bob, and the value of volunteering to our community.

David Lee,
Chair of the Scarsdale Bowl Committee

Void the Current Tax Roll? Nottage Debunks Alternative Facts

homesalesSince Joanne Wallenstein wrote her article with my analysis, I've gotten a lot of feedback, some good suggestions/critiques and some...not so helpful. So I wanted to update and extend some of what I did.

Several people noted it might not be fair to compare the 2016 post BAR/SCAR roll to the same for 2015. One person, Jane Curley, made this case particularly forcefully in a letter to the editor of the Scarsdale Inquirer helpfully titled "Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them" about six of the 185 sales I included that she thought fell into that category:

Curley said,

"In actuality, only about six of the sales were incorrectly included. However, including them introduces bias into the analysis and that is very, very bad. That said, this happens all the time, usually innocently. However, once something like this is identified, it needs to be acknowledged. When you don't acknowledge it that is the statistical equivalent of a lie."

I'm not a fan of someone implying I'm dishonest, especially when I was fully transparent with the data and when the argument they're making is both so easily tested and so self-evidently unlikely to change any results (6 out of 185. Seriously?). So I redid the analysis with the 2016 tentative roll versus the final roll I'd used previously. You can see the results in the table below. If you're keeping score at home, nothing changed (several commenters pointed out as much to Curley, but in fairness to her, perhaps she was too busy composing her "lying liars" letter to run the numbers). And contra Mayra Kirkendall-Rodriguez's assertion that "Nottage's analysis was not validated nor peer reviewed. Several quants have already discredited his work" no such thing has happened. Statistician Michael Levine said in the last trustees meeting—at which people like Bob Harrison screamed about my "bogus analysis" and complained that my assessment went down—that mine was a valid exercise and that he found similar statistical results (I want to stress that he does not extend his conclusions to saying what roll should be used). It is surprising to me that everyone has had the data for this long and yet no one has come back with substantive quantitative rebuttals.


As an aside, I'm further amazed that people think someone's assessment going down is evidence that they're biased. I'm particularly amazed because some of the people making that argument also saw their assessments go down! It would be helpful for someone to make a cheat sheet of when a lowered assessment indicates insuperable bias versus when it indicates selfless public virtue. Asking for a friend.

In the same letter to the editor, Curley tries to explain why the stats may look as they do: "Finally, during the past year or two, the prices of Scarsdale's more modest homes seem to have gone up more significantly than the prices of higher end properties. This is a very happy coincidence that could just as easily have gone the other way."

Sooo... the 2016 roll only looks good because changes in housing market conditions have made it more representative? Well apart from that little fact Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? I'm no lawyer, but I would hope that the Article 78 plaintiffs don't intend to argue that market reality (sales) has somehow unluckily conspired to make the 2015 roll look less accurate and that looking at prices on the ground today is somehow less relevant than looking at prices in 2013 which the Tyler valuations was derived from (this latter argument has actually been explicitly made). If market forces have moved higher-end homes down and lower end homes up, how would a fair assessment roll not reflect that, you know, kind of important fact?

But I wanted to delve further. Another argument made is that while 2016 may be more accurate, it is biased to high-end homes. That argument is actually right. It is biased. But the Tyler assessments were biased toward lower-end homes. Moreover, both underassess homes between $1.0-3.0M (hence the fact that both rolls would have needed an equalization ratio).

So if we have opposite biases, can we make any conclusions? Here, the inferences get muddier, but it is helpful to run some additional assessment ratios.


In the table above, I calculate the coefficient of dispersion (COD), price-related differential (PRD), and the price-related bias (PRB). All these are calculable from the posted dataset and I've included documents that show the steps in the table footnoted. A key critique of using just the COD and PRD is that they are simplistic and biased. The PRB is the new hot thing that assessor organizations like the IAAO are pushing (NY doesn't require it but some other states do). It measures the percentage change in assessment ratios as values double; a positive number implies overassessment at higher-priced homes and a negative number implies underassessment at higher-priced homes. In the table, I've included acceptable ranges of each from NY ORPTS and IAAO as I understand them.

As with the goodness of fit data, these results surprised me. The 2016 roll "passes" all three, while the 2015 "fails" two of three. Most telling is the PRB as it is constructed to let an assessor quantify how much progressivity or regressivity there is. At least as measured here, the bias toward lower-priced homes in the 2015 roll (9%) is three times larger than the 2016 roll's bias toward higher-priced homes (-3%).

So Tyler overassessed the high-end, Ryan overassessed the low end, both underassessed the middle (most of the village), but the PRB shows Tyler's bias was larger, while the COD shows the Tyler results are less accurate, at least as measured by the last year of sales.

These ratios don't conclusively prove that one roll is more equitable (or rather less unequitable) than the other. But it is surprising how relatively well the 2016 roll comes out, with multiple tests and slices of the data. I did similar analyses for sales just in the last half of 2016 (on the suspicion that Ryan might have somehow seen listings and adjusted his data accordingly). I did the analysis by lopping off the $3M+ range, Tyler's worst. While the absolute numbers changed (as you'd expect), the directional results were remarkably robust.

Why is this the case? I'm not completely sure. I suspect Ryan partly did get lucky: the market moved his way, as it has in all of Westchester County, but that counts. I also think Tyler's comp method introduced volatility relative to the sort of pure market model Ryan used. Tyler also has many more neighborhoods than Ryan leading to more cases of similarly-located homes having wildly different values. Both revals generated hundreds of challenges so each had problems.

But whatever the case, the question before the community is not whether Ryan did a great job or fulfilled his contract. The question is whether the evidence justifies taking the extraordinary measure of voiding an existing assessment roll to go back to one that, as measured by IAAO standards, is less reflective of the current market and which will potentially be even more unfair to a different group of people. I don't think such evidence has been presented. Accordingly, I don't think the village should countenance either rolling back to 2015 or settling with the Article 78 plaintiffs. We should look toward the next revaluation to fix the shortcomings of both Tyler and Ryan.

If you'll indulge me, I'll end on a personal note. The personal and often nasty nature of many of the attacks I've experienced over the past few days in multiple venues has been eye opening. People point to my membership on the CNC as though agreeing to run in a neighborhood election two years ago—a process that hundreds of our neighbors have gone through—somehow makes me the equivalent of a political machine insider. Well I'm no insider (I'd wager none of the trustees know me from Adam), but I'm proud to have served with CNC volunteers whom I hadn't known, but who spent many hours not just selecting candidates but encouraging as broad and diverse a set of people to put themselves up as candidates. I hope that we as a village never reward those who scream the loudest, who seek to pit people against each other the most, and who resort to vicious attacks when challenged.

Brian Nottage, PhD, CFA