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PTA Honors Retirees

retireescakeOn Wednesday May 10th, the Scarsdale PTA hosted their annual luncheon to honor the 13 retiring teachers at Scarsdale High School. The lunch began with some PTA business. The PTA budget was approved and so was the executive committee slate for next year. PTA President Amy Song announced that the PTA had been given an award for most members in a Westchester PTA unit, and had gained an impressive 1,056 new members over just the last year. The PTA will be lead next year by President Beth Zadek; President-Elect Karen Ceske; Vice President of Membership Melissa Berridge; Vice President of Volunteers and Programming, Eileen Donovan; Treasurer Nancy Brady; Corresponding Secretary Aileen Burke; and Recording Secretary Kathleen Campbell.

olivier presentsDean Oren Iosepovici and teacher George Olivier presented their findings from a recent study about homework and stress and detailed the steps the school is taking to improve wellness. The high school has implemented some changes over the past year with a focus on decreasing homework load, namely by not allowing homework to be given over breaks. They said that this particular initiative had been very successful and popular among students, some who said this was the first time in a long time they had experienced a "real" break. Statistics from the surveys showed that while homework time seems to have been reduced from last year and the school is making real progress, there is still quite a bit of change that needs to occur. In upcoming years the wellness committee is looking into differentiation of homework distribution based on class level and qualitative changes in the homework being assigned.

minglingA representative from STEP, or Student Transfer Education Plan, explained their program to the attendees. It is a two-year college preparatory initiative for promising students of color. STEP students attend SHS in their junior and senior years while staying with a Scarsdale host family, and the program gives them access to an incredible education and an incredible experience. A current STEP student then spoke about the positive influence STEP has been on her life. The initiative is currently looking for a host family for the upcoming years. You can learn more about them on their website. 

The grand finale was, of course, the farewell to the retirees. Principal Bonamo gave a heartfelt speech about the wisdom that each of the teachers had given to the school. Stories were then read about every one of the retirees, one by one. The stories were submitted to the PTA by a mixture of current and former students, as well as peers, parents, and administrators.

Each story spoke to the unique kindness displayed by their teachers and the guidance they provided to their students.Now doubt they will continue teaching in new ways, and we wish them all the best. Best wishes to the retirees:

Robert Arrigo
Hannah Beals
Steven Boyar
Louise Ciffone
Ernest Collabolletta
Ann-Marie Donohue
Michael Gibbs
Gwendolyn Johnson
Susan LaSalle
Elise Levine
Anita Occhiuto
Howard Rodstein
Rashid Silvera

Gun Control: Paulin's Bill Passes in the Assembly and a Letter to the Editor

PaulinHeadshotAssemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-88) announced that legislation she authored regarding gun control, was passed by the New York State Assembly.

The bill requires individuals to surrender any firearms, rifles, shotguns, black powder rifles, black powder shotguns, muzzle-loading firearms and antique firearms he or she owns when he or she is convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence crime.

"The law right now has a big hole," Paulin said. "When a person is convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, he or she cannot buy or possess a firearm under federal law. But if he already owns a gun and he's convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, there's nothing in the law that says he has to give up his guns. That makes no sense at all."

Current law provides that when a person is convicted of a felony or serious offense or an order of protection is issued for victims of family offenses, the court must revoke that person's firearms license and all firearms possessed by the person must be immediately surrendered. Misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence are not included.

"We need to close this loophole so we can better protect those who are most in danger of being hurt, victims of domestic violence," Paulin said. "The risk of leaving a weapon in the hands of an abuser is simply too great."

Statewide polls indicate that 78 percent of New York voters and 67 percent of gun owners in New York support the surrender of guns by those convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. Intimate partner homicide is the most frequent type of domestic homicide. Nearly one-quarter of the victims in all homicides in the state had a domestic relationship with their offenders in 2013.

Letter to the Editor:

The letter below was sent to Scarsdale10583 by Jeff Roderstrong in response to "Village Trustees Consider Laws to Regulate Gun Dealerships and Gun Storage". 

To the Editor:

As parents, the most important thing to us is our children's safety. We applaud the Scarsdale Village Trustees for considering how to make sure our community is safe from the epidemic of gun violence that kills 93 Americans a day. We've seen what happens when guns aren't kept in the hands of responsible adults: the US has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the world—and Americans are 25 times more likely to be murdered by a gun than people in other developed nations.0SfLK4PQ

Unfortunately, the Scarsdale Trustees will be powerless to set their own community safeguards if the gun lobby succeeds in pushing Congress to enact a "Concealed Carry Reciprocity" bill, as they are currently trying to do. Such a bill would force New York, with our strong gun violence prevention laws, to accept concealed carry permits from other states that have lower standards. In fact, at least 12 states don’t require any permit or background check at all to carry a loaded hidden gun in public. People would be free to carry concealed firearms into our neighborhoods with zero credentials or oversight. In addition, this bill could eliminate "gun free zones" in schools, which President Trump has repeatedly promised to do.

Scarsdale residents should urge the Trustees to determine the best ways for the Village to ensure guns stay in the hands of safe responsible adults. We also encourage them to call their representatives in Congress and speak out against the dangerous Concealed Carry Reciprocity policy--because if that passes, it won't matter what the village does.

-Jeff Raderstrong, on behalf of Moms Demand Action Westchester volunteers.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America was created to advocate for stronger laws and policies that will reduce gun violence and save lives. They are a non-partisan grassroots movement of American mothers demanding solutions to address our country's dangerous culture of gun violence, which jeopardizes the safety of our children and families.

Boys Lacrosse Team Practices Yoga to Improve Flexibility and Reduce Injuries

yogaThe Scarsdale Raiders Varsity Lacrosse team has won their last three games. What's behind their winning stretch? Yoga.

The new head coach of the Lacrosse Team, James Synowiez and his assistant coach John Felix introduced the team to yoga as a team bonding activity and a way to improve muscle recovery and overall flexibility. Recently many Division 1 Lacrosse programs have added yoga to their exercise regimen in order to help increase strength, flexibility and body awareness, reduce injury, and improve mental toughness and focus. During Spring break, Coach Synowiez brought in a yoga instructor from Yoga Haven for a post practice yoga session with the team.

According to Coach Synowiez, "The experience was very helpful and beneficial to our guys. Some players were sore and our yoga session helped bring awareness to how important stretching is and how it can help muscles recover faster. Furthermore, I believe that it was a fun experience for our team and these get togethers outside of practice continue to strengthen bonds within our team."

For many of the players it was their first time trying yoga. Freshman Oliver Krohn said, "It was a great bonding experience and relaxing to have after a difficult practice". Some of the players have decided to continue yoga to help them through the rest of the season. Yoga Haven will be offering a class to the Scarsdale High School male athletes on Sundays which will include dynamic flexibility training, core stabilization, strengthening and balance work. By focusing on these vital elements, yoga can help athletes recover faster after workouts, open up the tight areas that hinder performance and improve range of motion.

Betsy Kase, the owner of Yoga Haven and a Scarsdale High School parent believes, "the biggest and most important reason to practice yoga is to improve your mind body connection. The brain is also a muscle and also needs balancing. Yoga, a mindfulness practice develops concentration, emotional stability, impulse control and resilience." The practice of yoga by these student athletes supports the district wide Wellness Initiative which aims at reducing the stress levels of Scarsdale's teens.

Authentic Italian Food Awaits You at Emilio's

In the Heat of ServiceA large white colonial home with pillars, a front porch, and green shutters, with a large parking lot across the street, and you have arrived at the charming Emilio Ristorante. When I first started writing about restaurants many years ago, Emilio was one of the first places I visited. Its charm, welcoming atmosphere, and carefully prepared Italian food inspired me to continue my path of doing restaurant interviews.

It is always exciting to write about trendy new Westchester dining spots, but this week I chose to write about Emilio, which has been pleasing its guests since 1979. As I entered Emilio Ristorante I remembered many happy and delicious meals enjoyed through the years, from graduation celebrations to Valentine gatherings. I couldn't wait to sample both the old and new dishes on the menu.

After owning several restaurants in the city, Chef Emilio Brasesco and his wife Lidia opened Emilio Ristorante in a century old home in Harrison. Several decades later, it is still the go-to place for many diners who enjoy well-prepared and authentic Italian dishes. Emilio and Lidia are gone, but their high standards and principles of running a fine restaurant are now in the hands of their capable and charismatic son Sergio, who gleans new ideas by visiting Italy every summer and checking out the New York City restaurant scene. As he reflects on his visits, he keeps Emilio fresh and current. "I don't believe in change just for the sake of change. My parents are my mentors. They taught me that quality ingredients, care in preparation, consistency, and respect for the seasons will lead to success. You have to love what you do and be totally committed to it. We are a restaurant that makes you feel like you are at home. My goal is to keep doing this until I can't anymore. I am always here." This enthusiasm and energy permeates Emilio Ristorante, where Sergio takes great pleasure in using the finest ingredients to put his special touch on regional classics. Sergio is in the process of refurbishing many of the details at the restaurant, such as new flatware and new chairs. The antique elements give the dining rooms character. In addition to the main dining room, there are several smaller rooms suitable for parties of varying sizes.

"The success of our restaurant depends largely on the people who work here. Many are long time employees. There are so many Italian restaurants and I believe ours is special because we have developed relationships through the years. You can dine here often and always have different dishes because in addition to the menu that changes twice a year, we offer many daily specials." Antipasto Table1The first thing that catches your eye as you enter the main dining room is the antipasto table. Baskets filled with rosy tomatoes, multicolored peppers, and fresh flowers are most inviting and indicate the freshness of the ingredients that you can anticipate in your dining experience.

Upon being seated at the white linen clad table, country bread, a platter of fresh ricotta, olives, a chickpea dip, and a ceramic cruet of olive oil kept us happy as we checked out the menu. A fine way to start your meal, as we did is with a selection of small plates .These Italian tapas or cichetti, the Venetian name for small plates, were inspired by Sergio's frequent visits to Italy. Our dishes selected by Sergio were excellent. Zucchini Ripieni arrived with the fresh squash stuffed with lump claw crabmeat. It was lightly breaded and baked for a superb result. Layered eggplant dishes are common on many menus. Here the eggplant slices are layered with bufala mozzarella, smoked prosciutto and red peppers and drizzled with a balsamic glaze- very good indeed. Polpetti di merluzzo were fritters of New England codfish roasted with shallots, olive oil and herbs. A touch of Romanesco sauce added a pleasant taste to these crisp croquettes. Antipasti selections can be ordered by themselves or in multiples. Next a special of the day appeared. Zucchini flowers have become popular recently and those prepared at Emilio were amazing. A myriad of zucchini preparations shared the plate. There were rounds and matchsticks of fried zucchini, but the highlight was the lightly battered zucchini flowers they rested on a bed of radicchio. I'm not sure what made them so delicious but I think it was the addition of a bit of club soda to the batter that gave them a light crisp texture. The dish appealed to all the senses. For those who wish to start with a salad there are many choices. Insalata di burrata with pearl tomatoes, basil, olive oil and parma prosciutto or insalata del Veneto with chopped radicchio, poached pear, candied walnuts, cranberries and gorgonzola with an apple balsamic vinaigrette, to name but a few options.

It was with great anticipation of long ago meals at Emilio that I decided on selections from the Nostra Pasta portion of the menu. You can sense the presence of Lidia Brasesco, Sergio's mom, as you savor the homemade pasta, made from a family recipe. As I lifted my fork to the panzerotti salsa di noci, I discovered that same goodness in these small puffs of Swiss chard and fresh ricotta encased in homemade pasta in a rich walnut cream sauce that I remembered from many meals through the years. Pasta CarciofiIt is no surprise that this is a signature dish at Emilio and it is still excellent. Of course I needed to sample other pasta offerings and Sergio was kind enough to prepare small portions of ravioli del Macelaio or the butcher's ravioli filled with sausage, veal, and ricotta, with a tangy, spicy, marinara sauce as well as homemade angel hair pasta with Bolognese sauce.

Entrees of fish, poultry and meat are top quality, as well. We loved the Faroe Island Salmon stuffed with crabmeat and a classic lamb with fava beans and artichokes. Future visits may include pollo scarpariello or branzino al forno. Halibut Blood OrangesDesserts change weekly and include classic marscarpone cheesecake, poached pear, apple crisp, or inventive versions of ring dings and s'mores. We found blackberry cabernet sorbet and hazelnut chocolate gelato most refreshing.

Lunch or dinner at Emilio Ristorante continues to be a wonderful experience offering the true taste of Italian regional cuisine in a warm and friendly setting as Sergio Brasesco carries on his family tradition.

Emilio Ristorante
1 Colonial Place
914 835 3100

Pesce Cagliari
Fresh Fish Sardinian Style
This recipe will work well with most fish aside from salmon due to its distinctive flavor.

8 ounces halibut filet (for each portion)
2 cups pine nuts
2 cups golden raisins or uvetta (available in Italian specialty stores)
¼ cup flat leaf parsley
¼ cup fish stock
Olive oil to coat pan
¼ cup white wine
Kosher salt, to taste (I do not use sea salt, I do not like its texture)
Finely chopped fresh thyme and oregano
Chopped parsley to garnish
Heat your sauté pan to hot, not smoking. Rub chopped herbs into the fish giving it a nice cover. Add salt to taste to the fish. Place fish in pan giving it a slightly brown color. Deglaze with white wine. Add pine nuts and then the raisins or uvetta and finally the fish stock. The raisins will give off their sugar and add thickness to the sauce and add a slightly sweet flavor. I prefer to cook my fish through, but if you like it on the rare side crack it open slightly and look for a "glistening". Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Contributor Judie Dweck has been writing about restaurants and food for many publications. She teaches creative cooking to children at Scarsdale elementary schools. Through the years, her articles have appeared in Jack and Jill Magazine, Spotlight, The Pleasure of Cooking and The Scarsdale Inquirer. She balances her restaurant tastings with daily ballet classes.

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.