Thursday, Dec 14th

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Planning Board Gives the Nod to Retail Building at the Five Corners

The Scarsdale Planning Board met on December 16th to reconsider plans to build a two story retail building at the Heathcote Five Corners, in place of the current Citgo Station.  The meeting focused on the reconfiguration of Secor Road and the Balducci’s parking lot to allow access to the new retail building and underground parking from Secor  Road, which is a one-way residential street adjacent to the current Balducci’s lot.

Plans call for a 10,900 square foot building on two levels which will be built over an underground parking lot.  The owners of the property, Doug Brout and Brad Perkins went before the Board to seek permission to move ahead with the site plan. They stated that the building would have no negative impact on the environment, that they have revised the plans to meet the Board’s concerns and contended that it is difficult to be specific about what tenant(s) would occupy the building without having an approved building plan.

On the Secor Road side of the lot, developers will build access for delivery trucks to Balducci’s and a cul de sac to allow large vehicles to turn around. This was a big cause for concern among the few residents who attended the meeting. They questioned what would occur if several trucks arrived at once for deliveries - where would they wait? The also questioned the width of the access road and were assured that the road would have mountable curbs to allow trucks to ride on top of the curbing. The owner of a home on Secor Road , Joseph Menton, asserted that the parking lot setbacks to Secor Road had been reduced to only 4 feet, and that the new lot would “take away the value of his property” as his home would no longer be shielded from commercial traffic.

He also stated that the current plan was not specific enough about the siting of the new lot in comparison to the present site and asked for clarity.  He also requested that the Board require a ten foot screen between Secor Road and the parking lot. He vowed to go to the Board of Appeals if the Planning Board gave the go ahead to the developers.

Martin Kaufman of Heathcote Road said they he found the plan “disturbing” and said that the Board did not have sufficient information on the environmental and noise impact of converting Secor Road, a residential street,  into an access road for the parking lot.

Chris Corrini, also of Heathcote Road voiced his concern about the possibility of a high-volume store, such as CVS coming to the Five Corners. David Karp, the Chairman of the Planning Board assured him that two traffic studies had been done and that both showed minimal impact. He asked the community to bring evidence to the contrary to the Board.  In addition, Elizabeth Marrinan, Village Planner, told the group that large drug chains, like CVS,  require more square footage on one level than will be available at the new building.

Following the public hearing, the Board met in a closed session and approved a “negative declaration” which will allow the developers to proceed with a site plan.

Scarsdale Police Report: 12/14-12/28

Scarsdale police had a very busy holiday season marked by burglaries, unwanted guests and calls from unhappy residents. Check out what happened while you were celebrating….

Burglaries and Intruders:
On the morning of 12/17, a Post Road woman spotted a man looking into the back windows of her home.  She described him as a Hispanic male with a medium build, short black hair, age 20-30.  When the man realized he was being watched from inside the house, he ran into a waiting car and left the area.  The woman could not describe the car.  The incident was reported to the Westchester County Police Intelligence Unit.

A Catherine Road home was burglarized sometime between December 18th and 20th while the residents were out of town.  They returned home to find the rear glass door shattered and the master bedroom and dining room tossed.  Missing were jewelry from the master bedroom and a silver set from the dining room.

Around noon on Saturday December 19th, Ross Road residents returned home to find an unwanted visitor in their home.  The resident was out briefly and entered his home through the garage.  He heard someone walking in the bedroom and then found a man walking down the steps with shopping bags. He asked the man was he was doing, and the intruder said “nothing, nothing… I will be back.” He then fled outside. As there was no sign of a forced entry, the residents may have left the house unlocked. The intruder was described as a Hispanic male of medium build, six feet tall wearing a dark jacket.  The residents later realized that a Movado watch and a Louis Vuitton wallet were missing.

Car Break-ins: A series of three car break-ins took place on the night of December 21 between 8 and 11 p.m.  The first car, a 2008 Subaru was parked at St. James the Less on Rochambeau Road. The owner is from Tarrytown.  The second car, a Dodge owned by a Mamaroneck resident, was vandalized at the same location and reported minutes later.  Subsequently police received a report from a Pleasantville resident, that her 2009 GMC had been broken into while parked at Hoff Barthelson.  Car windows were broken and items were removed from the cars.  It appeared that all three cars were vandalized by the same offender.

Homeless: At 12:30 am on 12/16, Ferncliff Road residents found a homeless man asleep on their front porch. Though he was alert and conscious he did not appear to speak English. Police drove him to headquarters and called several shelters to see if they had room for the man.  As Open Arms had no room, they contacted Sharing Community in Yonkers. The Police drove the man to the shelter and he went inside…but when he saw people sleeping on the floor he ran away. Police did not pursue him.

And Penniless: A broke Mamaroneck woman requested a ride from police around 1 am on 12/23. The woman asked police to take her to the Mamaroneck Metro North station, as she had no means to get there herself. Police complied and gave her a ride.

Smokin: Just after midnight on 12/28/09 an alert River Road woman summoned police to report a minivan parked in front of her house; – she added that she had seen this same van several times before. When police checked the van, the occupants rolled down the window and a cloud of smoke emerged. Recognizing the smell of marijuana, police charged the three occupants with unlawful possession.  The three smokers were Gabriel and William Carballo and Fidel Ortiz, all from White Plains.

Pedestrian Struck: A 47 year-old Olmstead Road woman was out walking her dog on Morris Lane on the morning of 12/15. A White Plains woman was driving her Honda south on Morris Lane and claims she attempted to go around the dog-walker, but instead she heard a thump and realized she had hit the pedestrian instead. The pedestrian had been knocked down and she was taken to White Plains hospital.

Not So Happy Holidays:
A resident at a Popham Road apartment came to the police station around 7 pm on 12/16 to complain that she was bothered by a neighbor in her building. The man walked towards her in an aggressive manner and got too close in an attempt to frighten her. There have been previous incidents involving the two residents so she wanted to file a report.

Overstayed His Welcome: A Dickel Road woman asked the police for help in getting her drunk brother to leave her house on 12/23. After speaking to the police she decided that she could drive him home herself and declined any further assistance.

Locked Out: At 1 a.m. on 12/26 a Walworth Avenue woman called from her neighbor’s house to say that her husband had locked her out of her house. Police drove over and learned that the couple had a disagreement and the husband went into his room and locked the door to prevent a continuation of the fight. He had not locked her out of the house – just locked himself in a room inside.

Uninvited: A Popham Road resident complained of unwanted calls and an unexpected visit from an ex-girlfriend on 12/26. The man asked for police to be on the scene to make sure she cooperated when he took her to a local hotel.

Mischief: A burned bicycle was found in the parking lot of Scarsdale Synagogue on December 14th. The temple administrator had no idea about why it was placed there and did not believe that the bike was targeted for the temple.

Stolen Gifts:
A package was stolen from the door of an Ogden Road woman’s house on 12/14. She realized it was gone when the person who called to give her the gift called to ask if she liked it.

Hoax at the High School:
Police received a call to report that a crowd had gathered at SHS to witness a possible UFL sighting on December 15th around 7 P.M. The call came from News12. However, when police arrived there was no crowd and no UFO.

Graffiti at Quaker Ridge School: an Old Lyme Road resident came upon two kids, spray painting a door at the Quaker Ridge School with the letters “ABI” on the afternoon of 12/27. The kids were between the ages of 11 and 13 and one was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and the other was wearing a black coat with a fur collar. When he approached them, one of the kids handed over the can of spray paint and both ran off.

Death: A Gatehouse Road woman called police on Saturday December 19th to report the passing of her mother-in-law at home.

EHS Senior Cody Fisher Prompts CPR Training

Last summer, while he was a counselor at a sleep away camp Nock-a-Mixon, Edgemont High School Senior, Cody Fisher, nearly died of a sudden cardiac arrest. It was the camp staff’s quick response with CPR and the use of an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) that helped save his life.  He was diagnosed with, and treated surgically for, Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. Since that harrowing experience,Cody has become affiliated with the American Heart Association and recently shared his story at the Edgemont Board of Education meeting, urging all faculty, not just those associated with sports, to be trained in both CPR and use of the AED device.

“You really never know when something could happen, and it’s not always around a physical activity.” Cody said.

District Superintendent, Nancy Taddiken, and Edgemont faculty received his request with enthusiasm and took action. At the Superintendent’s Conference on Wednesday November 11th, 24 members of the Edgemont faculty completed a three-hour workshop to become certified in CPR and use of an AED, and 14 others were recertified. By law, medical and sports staffs are trained in both.
“I was so proud of Cody and his compelling plea. He turned what had happened to him into something that could benefit others.” Taddiken said.

His experience peeked the interest of more than just the local community. On November 16th Fox 5 will air a feature segment about Cody’s story. He was recently interviewed, in his home, by Fox anchor, Ernie Anastos. FOX cameramen also filmed his follow up surgery, which confirmed that he was free from the life-threatening condition.

Cody, like many high school seniors, has just completed his college applications and is  anxiously awaiting responses. Thanks to the trained staff at camp, Cody not only has college to look forward to, but also has made a life-long commitment to encouraging others to be fully certified in use of these life-saving protocols.

Watch the video of Cody’s story on Fox 5 now:

Betsy Cadel is the mother of a Seely Place 4th grader, freelance writer and frequent contributor to

Scarsdale Welcomes a New Library Director

Welcome Elizabeth Bermel, the new Director of the Scarsdale Public Library. Elizabeth joins us from the nearby Ossining Public Library and here are her comments on the new post:

Please tell our readers about your background: I am originally from the Buffalo, NY area. I went to Hamilton College, and while there, spent a semester abroad in Ecuador.  After college, I received my master's degree in Library Science from the University of Texas at Austin. I had my first professional librarian job at the Jackson Heights Branch of the Queens Borough Public Library. Then, the San Antonio Public Library was recruiting librarians to work in their new Central Library. I started there as an entry-level librarian in the Reference Department and worked my way up through the library system. I became an assistant manager at a small branch library, then the manager, then moved to a larger branch, and eventually became the Central Library Administrator. After 12 years in San Antonio, I started investigating other possibilities. A friend of mine sent me the job description for the Ossining Public Library Director position in late 2006 and one thing led to another, and I took that job in May 2007 and moved to Westchester.

Why did you decide to make the move to the Scarsdale Library?
I am always looking for ways to vary my experience. I have never served a community like Scarsdale and when the opportunity arose, I took it.

What is working well at the library now?
I would say most things are working well, and a lot of that has to do with the staff. Their sense of teamwork is uncanny. I am very fortunate to have inherited employees who work so cooperatively. They are responsive to the community, appreciate the public and are professionals. They really know library services.

What could be improved? What changes would you like to make? I am talking one-on-one with the staff to get an idea of the changes they would like to see. Many of them have been here a long time and know our patrons very well.  I see a need for some technological advancement and they are very open to that. I would like to update our website and try some of the latest trends in public libraries. I also see a need for more programs for adults, so we will work on that too.  One change that is in the planning stages that I need to see through is the remodeling of the Teen Space.  I want to make sure that we are giving Scarsdale teens what they want from the library and that we create a space just for them, in which they want to spend time.

What  challenges do you face in your new role?
Learning a new community and new processes are the most immediate challenges. I am also getting ready to create next year's budget, so there is a lot to learn in a short time. Of course, this isn't the best time budget-wise. I would also like to get the community involved in a strategic plan, so we can continue to meet the needs of the residents of Scarsdale.

Is library usage up in Westchester County due to the recession?
Yes, library usage is up countywide as well as nationwide. You've probably seen a lot in the press lately about people turning to libraries for job searching and computer use, plus people are being thriftier about buying books and DVDs. They are also turning to the library for free programs for all ages.

How will the advent of digital publishing affect library operations?
I think libraries cannot ignore the importance of digital publishing. Right now, our options are limited due to licensing, but I think that will change. In Westchester, we are fortunate that the IT department of the Westchester Library System (a consortium to which the Scarsdale Library belongs) is keeping track of these trends. In addition, I am the chair of a Technology Committee made up of several Westchester Library directors. We discuss ways the libraries can improve technologically and what trends we think we should follow.

Are there any upcoming speakers or programs you would like to note?
The next big event in the Friends of the Library Author series is Andrew Sorkin, who will talk about his book, Too Big to Fail. I would encourage the community to check the library's online calendar for book discussions (all ages), programs for young people and adult programs.

What is happening with the Library Express book machine at the Scarsdale Train station?
We hope that all the technological issues we were having have been solved. We are testing the equipment now, and hope to add the inventory to the online catalog and to the machine very soon. It is our hope to have it functioning by December 1st. Stay tuned--we will add information to our website soon. That will include a list of what's available in Library Express and some Frequently Asked Questions. Many people have asked us if it is a book drop. It is not--just materials that have been checked out from Library Express can be returned there. We will give people the opportunity to provide feedback on what kind of books they'd like to have available to them at the train station.

Anything else you would like to add?
I would like the Scarsdale community to know that I am very excited to be working here. I think the Scarsdale Library has the good fortune to have supportive patrons who really appreciate their library. The staff and I look forward to working closely with our patrons to make sure we are giving them what they want and need from us.

Edgemont High School Senior Suffers and Survives Cardiac Arrest

There’s nothing unusual about a 17-year-old spending the summer as a counselor at a sleep away camp. What is unusual is a 17-year-old counselor suffering a sudden cardiac arrest one night while hanging out with his friends. Cody Fisher, a senior at Edgemont High School, suffered a cardiac arrest on Monday, June 29th while waiting in the counselor’s lounge for his friends at Camp Nock-a-Mixon in Kintnersville, Pennsylvania. Fortunately, his friends responded quickly and got the camp nurse who immediately performed CPR. The camp doctor restarted his heart with an automated external defibrillator, while paramedics rushed to the scene. Cody was brought to Doylestown Hospital where he was put into a medically-induced hypothermia coma to rest his heart and preserve brain function.

His mother and stepfather, Alisa and Sam Herschaft, were out of the country when the incident occurred and spent the next 24 hours trying to get to Cody. When they finally arrived at his bedside Tuesday night, a team of specialists was trying to determine the cause of Cody’s trauma.

“That helplessness while you're waiting to see whether your child is going to be able to even function, it’s crazy,” Alisa said.

The culprit? A condition known as Wolff-Parkinson White Syndrome (or WPW) which, simply put, is an extra electric current that interferes with the main circuitry of the heart function. WPW is a condition that often shows no symptoms so it generally goes unnoticed and undetected. In the majority of cases WPW can result in a racing heart rate, dizziness or chest palpitations, but, in very rare cases like Cody’s, it can also result in a cardiac arrest.

By Thursday he was lifted from the coma and, although extremely scared and groggy, he managed to gesture a weak “thumbs up” when his grandfather announced that his beloved Mets had won their most recent game. “As soon as he opened his eyes I knew he was ok. I just knew,” Alisa Herschaft recalled.

Herschaft credits the camp and hospital’s quick response and treatment, because of which Cody suffered no brain damage “They totally saved his life,” she said, “they did everything right.”

On Tuesday, July 7, doctors performed a cardiac catheterization to examine the physiology of Fisher's heart and arteries, and found no abnormalities or significant weakness in heart function. The next day, Fisher received a catheter ablation—a procedure in which the abnormal electrical pathway is destroyed using radio-frequency energy through a flexible catheter—that should prevent a re-occurrence of the syndrome.

There is one other noteworthy part to Cody’s story. While awaiting his first surgery he received a surprise phone call from legendary quarterback, Joe Montana, a call that put an enormous smile on Cody’s face. But that wasn’t all, the next day, Bucky Dent, a famous New York Yankee who had also undergone ablation surgery, phoned and left a message. “I was in shock. It was pretty awesome”, Cody said, “he told me to be strong.”

Fisher will be wearing an external portable defibrillator for the next six weeks, as a precautionary measure, but is expecting to be given a clean bill of health after his next check up. Fisher said he plans on applying to colleges in the fall, and hopes to work eventually in sports management.

He retuned home this past Friday, July 10th and has been surrounded by family and friends who were elated at Cody’s recovery. When asked what it’s like to be home having survived such a major health scare he said, “It’s a little weird, but I’m happy to be home. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s an amazing feeling to know I came out of all this healthy.”