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Scarsdale Goes Green For Arbor Day and Y.E.S. Office

yes office sale

The Scarsdale Youth Employment Service (YES) Office celebrated Mother's Day with their annual plant sale fundraiser. The YES Office is located at Scarsdale High School and staffed by parent volunteers. The office matches students with local residents and businesses to find suitable part time employment.

Scarsdale Named Tree City

Arbor day photo

Scarsdale was named a 2015 Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation in honor of its commitment to effective forest management.

The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation, in partnership with the Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters.

The Arbor Day Foundation is a million member nonprofit conservation and education organization with the mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. For more information about The Arbor Day Foundation click here.

Scarsdale achieved Tree City USA recognition by meeting the program's four requirements:

  • a tree board or department
  • a tree-care ordinance
  • an annual community forestry budget of at least 2 dollars per capita
  • an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

"Tree City USA communities see the impact an urban forest has in a community first hand" said Dan Lambe, President of the Arbor Day Foundation. " Additionally, recognition brings residents together and creates a sense of community pride, whether it's through volunteer engagement or public education".

Trees provide multiple benefits to a community when properly planted and maintained. They help to improve the visual appeal of a neighborhood, increase property values, reduce home coding costs, remove air pollutants, and provide wildlife habitat, among other benefits.

Click here for more information about the program


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New Paver Initiative to Fund SHS Construction, PTA Calls for Donations to Scholarship Fund

pavergardenStephen Seward, Executive Director of the Scarsdale Schools Foundation has announced a community-wide effort to raise funds for the capital campaign to build a Design Lab and Fitness Center at Scarsdale High School. They are inviting all Scarsdale residents to participate by purchasing pavers to support the effort.

To date, the Schools Foundation has raised over $1.6 million in capital funds toward their goal of $2.6 million. But they need the support of everyone in the community to reach the finish line.

Pavers are designed to be personalized -- honoring graduates, teachers, families, teams or others -- and are available for $250 and $1,000. The pavers will be displayed in a "paver garden" in a redesigned courtyard at the high school, adjacent to the new Design Lab. Called the Bander patch garden, the pavers will be incoroporated into a large chessboard design in a garden with benches and trees.

Mark Bezos, the Education Foundation's board president, noted, "We are very pleased to invite everyone in the community to help us with this vital project. We know that a Design Lab and new Fitness Center at the high school will improve the educational experience of our children and have a very positive impact on the entire school community."

A similar initiative took place more than a decade ago to raise money to install the high school's first turf field. Contributors purchased pavers inscribed with their names which are now at the entrance to the high school track.

Residents will receive a mailing about the "Pave the Way" initiative this week. Watch for it and consider doing your part to fund the Health and Fitness Center and Design Lab at Scarsdale High School. Click here to buy your paver today.

PTA Scholarship Fund Calls for Donations:

As the school year winds down, the SHS PTA Scholarship Fund for College finds that they have many applicants but are below their annual goal for donations received. This will directly impact the number of grants they are able to make, as well as the amount they can give to each student.

Please help them make sure that the door to higher education is open to all students. The Fund provides one-year grants to graduating SHS seniors who need financial assistance in order to attend college. They rely on donations from Scarsdale residents, as well as local businesses and organizations.

This year there are 19 retiring teachers/staff in the district, including:
Edgewood: Ellen Anders, Wilda Savarese
Greenacres: Nancy Closter, Maggie Hoffee
Heathcote: Dassi Citron
SMS: Margaret Fox, Dorothy Golden, Andrea Tripodi, Sharon Waskow, Sarah Whittington
SHS: Roger Capucci, Sandra Cisco, Tom Conrad, Ann Liptak, Sue Peppers, Beth Schoenbrun, Paul Sheehey, Ihor Szkolar, Laurence Brown

What better way to thank them for their long-standing contributions to our schools than to make a donation in their honor!

If you have already given this year, the committee thanks you for your generosity and for your commitment to the young people in our community. Donations can be made to SHS PTA Scholarship Fund, PO Box 147H, Scarsdale, NY 10583 or online here

CNC Leaders Offer Thoughts on the Non-Partisan System

newlyelectedThe unusual events surrounding the last Scarsdale election for Village Trustee has triggered active discussions in the Scarsdale community about the non-partisan system and the selection of candidates to serve the village.This year, a standing trustee who was not nominated for a second term on the Village Board, won back her seat with write-in votes on the ballot. This caused some to question the nominating process. 

Last week, Max Grudin (MG) was appointed Chair and Daniel Finger (DF) Vice Chair of the Procedure Committee for the Scarsdale Citizen's Nominating Committee. Both are members of this year's graduating class of the Citizens' Nominating Committee who nominated candidates for Village Trustee and Village Justice.

We asked the two some questions about the system and how this year's results might affect the future:

Max and Daniel: Please tell us a bit about yourself: Where do you live – how long have you lived in Scarsdale? What is your professional background, what civic activities have you been involved in?

MG: I am originally from Ukraine. I have lived in Scarsdale (the Overhill area) for 10 years. Over the last 10+ years I have been working in the financial industry managing equity portfolios. I am the immediate past president of the Overhill Association and have been a CNC member for the last three years. Among some other commitments, I have participated in voter registration activities in Pennsylvania and have been active in supporting reforms in Ukraine.

DF: I am from Scarsdale and have been a Scarsdale resident for approximately 34 years including the last 10. I am an attorney and for the last 13+ years I have been practicing in White Plains with my parents and my brother at the law offices of Finger & Finger, A Professional Corporation. While I have been active in the village for several years, most recently I am serving on the Board of Architectural Review of the Village of Scarsdale and I have been a CNC member for the last 3 years. I am also a Coach and Grade-Coordinator (currently for the 2nd grade boys) of the Scarsdale Little League. Professionally, I am active in the New York State Bar Association and other professional associations.

Explain how the nominating process typically works (for those who are not familiar with our system).

Many years ago the village decided to adopt a non-partisan electoral process to guard against excessive negative campaigning. The process works, but it is a bit hard to explain. To simplify, it is an annual three-stage process. First, a thirty-person Citizens Nominating Committee (CNC) is elected on a rolling three-year term. The committee members equally represent each of the five elementary school districts of the village to make sure that each neighborhood's views are represented. The CNC meets to nominate a candidate for each vacant Village Office (i.e. Mayor, Trustee, and Village Justice).

As part of the nomination process, the CNC reviews the applications submitted on behalf of each candidate, listens to presentations from the candidates, and vets each candidate.

Together, the candidates constitute a "non-partisan slate" for the village elections. Most of the time the village elections are not contested, which means that there are no candidates other than the non-partisan slate.

Why was this year different?

The process this year proceeded the same in previous years and the CNC nominated the three candidates for trustee that it felt were the best candidates after reviewing all of the submissions and materials presented to it.

In order to further analyze the election and the process, we need to review the principles and procedures the CNC follows to see if anything needs to be done to improve the nominating process.

Having said that, we want to emphasize that we are dealing with volunteers. All Trustee candidates on this year's ballot had made tremendous contribution to our community. They are respectable and outstanding leaders of our community. One of our goals is to bring in more volunteers into the process. We honor the commitment of the current volunteers. This is a good way to attract new people to the process.

What are the benefits/pitfalls of the due diligence process?

Most candidates who present before the CNC have professional track record as well as a great track record of involvement in the community. Checking their references is typically rather straightforward. At that point it becomes a discussion whose candidacy is the best fit for the vacancy.

It seems that there may be a couple of slight discrepancies in the process. One is that candidates' names are not being publicized to protect their privacy and avoid any negative perception if they are not nominated. Of course, that is impossible when the candidate is a standing trustee. In that case failure to be renominated is in public view. The other issue is that a standing trustee has a public record on the issues faced by the village, while other candidates do not have that. This is one of the reasons why CNC members are asked to review each candidate's qualifications rather than their views on issues.

In the past few years it has been difficult to find people to run for the CNC. How may this have affected the process?

MG: My understanding is that in most years the CNC elections are competitive. I can speak about Fox Meadow - it is usual to have four candidates for two CNC vacancies. Of course, we encourage residents to run for the CNC to contribute their ideas and views. Has the somewhat limited pool of CNC candidates affected the process? My opinion is a firm "No". But there is no doubt that increased diversity brings a lot of benefits.

Being a CNC member is a rewarding experience. The committee meets about four times in the winter, but during that time you get to meet possible trustees and many other outstanding people in our community.

Do you think that standing trustees who are applying for a second term should be given any priority over new applicants?

MG: This question has been raised many times and the Procedure Committee will thoroughly debate it. I have heard an opinion that the CNC should review credentials and qualifications when applicants are nominated for their first term. When a standing trustee applies for the second term, should the CNC primarily consider whether that applicant had committed very significant errors? Perhaps, but this could also be a double-edged sword, as any failure to be renominated could be perceived as a great setback. All of us should recognize the effort made by trustees - it is indeed like a second job. We are very grateful to them for their service.

One other point I want to make is that up until the last two years it had been very unusual not to renominate a standing trustee. In fact, the only case when a trustee was not renominated was Edwin deLima many decades ago. I heard that perhaps the reason he was not renominated was that he had objected to converting downtown open space near Scarsdale Community Baptist Church to a parking lot. That space has since been bought with private money (I understand that the Overhill Association contributed funds) and converted into a beautiful downtown park that is now known as deLima park. This is one of the reasons why I think that consideration of position on issues has some downsides.

Does the CNC consider resident's views and the overall popularity of a standing trustee when deciding whether or not to renominate a trustee for a second term?

The CNC seeks feedback on each candidate. The representation of all neighborhoods on the CNC is supposed to act as one way to gauge residents' views on a trustee. A general measure of the overall popularity is not easy to assess though.

Is the Procedure Committee considering any changes to the resolution this year? If so, what is under discussion?

First, we believe that the system has worked very well for decades. We will proceed carefully. While we will certainly consider ways to improve the system, we want to make sure that we are not over-reacting to an isolated incident.

We want to express our gratitude to Howard Nadel and Lena Crandall for their effort in helping organize the work of the Procedure Committee. We have already started receiving written suggestions and we have had conversations with a number of people. If we choose to adopt any proposals, we will need to be careful about how to make them work within the Non-Partisan system.

Given what occurred, do you think we will see more challenges to the CNC in the form of independent candidates or write-in campaigns in the coming years?

It is important to have an option that allows a path to elections outside of the non-partisan system. That is a great check of the system. At the same time the overall track record of the present system has been very positive. Our Non-Partisan Resolution is not static. It was initially adopted in 1930. Since then it has been amended multiple times and it has served us very well over the years.

Westchester County Health Department Determines that the Death of a 7 year-old Eastchester Girl is an Isolated Event

LilyLoveWestchester County Health Commissioner Dr.Sherlita Amler issued a statement on Wednesday April 26 saying that their investigation concluded that the "tragic death on Saturday of a second grader at the Greenvale School in Eastchester was an isolated event with no public health impact on anyone else. The determination today is based on a thorough review of all available medical information and is consistent with the preliminary findings." Lily Cates Love, age 7 of Eastchester died suddenly on April 23. An email from Scarsdale Golf Club said she died "from complications due to an infection." Lily Cates Love enjoyed art, soccer, swimming and tennis. Her family belongs to Scarsdale Golf Club and attends Hitchcock Church where visitation was held on Tuesday April 26 from 4- 7 pm and her funeral took place at 9:30 am on Wednesday April 27. She is survived by her parents Chip and Donna Love and her sister Olivia.

NBC News reported on Tuesday April 26 that the Health funeralloveDepartment was investigating her death but that the school would remain open. The Eastchester Schools Superintendent assured parents that the school was safe and posed no threat to other students.

Contributions in memory of Lily can be made to the Hitchcock Church Lily Fund to be used for rebuilding the church playground. Please send checks payable to the Hitchcock Church Lily Fund to:

Hitchcock Presbyterian Assumptioin Church
6 Greenacres Avenue
Scarsdale, NY 10583

Priming Your Garden For Springtime

garden1Local landscaping professional Manny Grossman is helping many local gardeners get their properties primed for spring. In addition to designing, installing and maintaining properties, Grossman teaches at the New York Botanical Garden. Here's his advice for your perennial garden, shrubs, and more:

What do you recommend that gardeners do to prepare their gardens for the spring? Can you give some tips on dividing perennials? How can you avoid killing them?

Spring, especially March and April, is all about cleanup. This is the time to take away any excess debris from under plants. Cut back any dead perennial or grass tops. It is also the time to make decisions about what worked and what didn't work last year. If you didn't like the placement of a particular shrub or perennial, spring is the time to move them to an area that will work better. Try to get a head start on weeding. Weeds are easiest to pull in their seedling stage. Whether you use your hands or a tool is dependent on the weed and the severity of its infestation.

Another commonly overlooked task is removing any remaining fall leaves out of shrubs. Leaves left in shrubs diminish air and sun into the interior of the plant. This can easily cause holes or dead spots within a shrub. This is the most common mistake I see in gardens all over Westchester.

One garden practice that should be left in the past is excessive cultivation or turning of the soil. Soil is an ecosystem that, like all ecosystems, prefers to be left alone. Mindlessly turning over or cultivating your soil can rip feeder roots and cause unnatural air/oxygen levels in the soil. It also kills earthworms and can destroy your soil structure, which is extremely important to the overall plant health. Remember, the woods don't cultivate themselves, at least in the unnatural way we do it. They also don't go to Home Depot for the bags of petrochemicals we call fertilizers.

Dividing perennials is easy, but you must first dodividingplants some research on the plant you want to divide. Can it be divided? If so, what is the best technique? Some plants want to be left alone, and some plants love to be split apart. The key is to know what you are doing before you do it. In this, the internet is your friend and should be used to the fullest extent possible. Youtube is full of plant division videos and most of them can be safely relied on.

Do you recommend mulch? If so what kind?

Absolutely, but you should wait until your soil warms up before you apply it. This means your mulching time should not be before May 15th or so. A lot of time you will see landscaping services mulching first thing in the spring. This wrong. Mulch is an insulation blanket over the soil, and if you mulch cold soil, your plants may not perform as well early in the season. This is because plant growth is regulated by the roots' perception of higher soil temperatures.

There are many kinds of mulch for different purposes in the garden. However, I recommend for most purposes organic shredded cedar mulch. It should be natural color, i.e. not dyed. It can be bought in bags or in truckloads. It is the most ornamental of all your choices and does what we want mulch to do, which is unify the look of the garden while helping to control weeds and conserve moisture.

Any tips on which shrubs to prune now? And which to leave alone?

pruningPruning is an art and science which one should do a lot of reading about before actually doing. The general rule of thumb with pruning is to be careful you don't prune off flower buds. Thus, spring flowering shrubs like Rhodies should be pruned after flowering. Fall flowering shrubs can be pruned in the spring. In reality, you can prune anytime of the year, except maybe in the deepest winter (although a lot of pros do it then too). It's just a matter of if you care about flowering or not. If you do, then research the shrub in question and find out when the best time to do it is. I highly recommend a book called The Pruning of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers by Brown and Kirkham. This is the only book on pruning you will ever need. Clean tools and knowing good technique are very important too.

Many landscapers are recommending the use of native plants. What's your thought on these? Are some invasive?

This is a subject that often gets me into milkweedtrouble as my opinion differs from the mainstream. I don't believe in the notion of "native" plants. Plants move. They always have and always will. Plus, the artificial date set by most native gardeners as to what is native or not is 1492, which is when Columbus supposedly discovered the new world. In reality, people from all over the world have been coming to North and South America for thousands of years, and in many cases brought plants with them. For instance, one of the first plants discovered in the western U.S. by the first European settlers was the Cherokee Rose. This plant is native to China. Hmmmm?

To me, the question should really be is a plant invasive or not? I never plant invasive plants (with a few groundcover exceptions like Vinca or Pachysandra), whether native or non-native. There are many native plants that are complete garden thugs. As great as the native Milkweed is at bringing in butterflies, it is a highly invasive plant that your neighbors might not appreciate colonizing their garden. On my farm in Puerto Rico, mangoes, avocados and coconuts are all "non-native," yet I would hardly classify them as a problem for the local ecosystem.

What's your recommendation for lawn care-- do use lime treatment, crabgrass control or chemicals?

My real recommendation is rip out your lawn and plant useful trees, perennials and food. I do no lawn care in my business because I believe lawns are outdated vestiges of our colonial past. In England, the conditions are perfect for lawns. But in North America, the conditions are abysmal for having a green lawn, unless of course you use huge amounts of water, artificial fertilizers and extremely toxic chemicals. No, I'd rather work with nature than bludgeon it with chemicals, all of which are horrific for our immune systems and reproductive systems, not to mention the effect they have on our wildlife, waterways and air quality.

If you must have a lawn, then I highly recommend finding a lawn care company that makes an effort to be as non-toxic as possible. But remember, disease occurs in plants (and humans) when systems are out of balance. People get all sorts of lawn problems because they are trying to grow plants that simply does not want to exist in this eco-system, at least at the scale in which we plant it.

What are some your favorite perennials that are hearty and easy to care for and grow well in Scarsdale?

Scarsdale, unlike other Westchester communities, is lucky that in that we don't have a real deer problem, so the list of perennials that will thrive here is endless. But at the top of my list would be Catmint, Russian Sage, Anemone, Asters, Roses, any ornamental grass and Sedum.

For shrubs and trees I recommend hydrangea, viburnum, spirea, rhododendron, azalea and as many conifers as you can fit. All these plants are "set and forget" plants and require very little attention.

Tell us something about yourself, what you do, where you teach and tell people where to contact you.

I have been gardening professionally since 2008. I was trained at Wave Hill and incorporated Rogers Gardening Service in 2009. I spent several years taking care of fine gardens in Westchester, but more recently I have focused more on larger apartment complexes. I am the head gardener at Fieldston Gardens in Riverdale and at Castle Village in Washington Heights. I have been teaching classes at the NYBG School of Continuing Education since 2012. I teach horticulture and gardening classes. I am also a certified Permaculture instructor and designer and I own nine acres in Puerto Rico where I am cultivating a perennial food forest for my retirement years. My whole approach to gardening is to step back and let nature work. Of course, this often requires a little more advance planning, but the results will be much better for you and the environment.

Send your questions to Manny Grossman at He offers garden design, installation, maintenance and restoration.