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Business As Usual At Village Hall

eustaceandvoice2During a fairly routine meeting of the Scarsdale Board of Trustees on January 23, trustees provided a variety of updates and status reports for residents that ranged from volunteerism and the "Cable TV Needs Survey," to budget planning and tree code.

Trustee Carl Finger opened the meeting by reviewing recent village bills, and noting that the village bidding process is quite thorough, with staff working diligently to protect taxpayer dollars. "They look at every penny for us... By the time we see it, the hard work is done."

Mayor's Comments
Mayor Dan Hochvert's comments were brief; he began by expressing admiration for teenage volunteers he met on Martin Luther King Day at the Westchester Reform Temple. These "J Teens" come from throughout Westchester and participate in a variety of local volunteer projects. Last week, they were packing medical kits for areas impacted by major storms, such as Puerto Rico. "The enthusiasm (and) the leadership that I saw in these teenagers made me sure that the future of Westchester is going to be great," Hochvert said. He exchanged contact information with the group, "so that volunteer groups in Scarsdale could call on them, since they are looking for more opportunities."

He also announced ongoing work to revise an RFP on nut weed (nut grass) control for Harwood Park and Harcourt Woods, in an effort to eliminate it in these green spaces. And, finally, he noted that the village administration and trustees have begun their annual budget process.

Trustee Committee and Liaison Reports
Trustee Seth Ross announced that the Scarsdale Cable Television Commission still is seeking responses to its "Cable TV Needs Survey," which closes on Wednesday, January 31. He asked residents to take some time to complete the online questionnaire, which can be accessed here. "We've had quite a number of responses, but not nearly as many as we were hoping," Ross reported. "More responses will enable the village to negotiate significantly better agreements with cable providers."

Ross also reminded the public to learn more about village boards and councils, almost all of which have openings now or in coming months. He also encouraged residents to get involved in local civic matters by applying to any particular board or council: "I hope that those who have served previously and those who have not will seriously consider serving the village in these capacities." To learn more, visit the village's "Boards and Councils" webpage.

Trustee Carl Finger continued by discussing finance committee matters, specifically the first budget discussions of the year. "We're off to what I think is going to be a very productive and efficient budget for the coming fiscal year." He added, "I encourage everybody to attend, if they can, any of the upcoming public meetings... It's very informative. The staff ... and the department heads are all working very hard watching our bottom line."

Trustee Jane Veron provided an update on Scarsdale Parks and Recreation matters, specifically its interest in preventing the spread of the flu and the need to "remind those engaging in sports to be mindful of ensuring sanitary conditions." The department sent flu prevention alerts to participants in its programs, and worked with the school district in getting word out to students and parents. Veron also discussed the work of the Scarsdale Drug and Alcohol Task Force, which will host "Healthy Brain Day" on April 19-20, to promote understanding of the effect of substances on the brain.

She then changed gears and thanked the Scarsdale Arts Council, which supervised the Chase Park installation of Pearl Necklace, by Simone Kestelman. Veron said that the work was enjoyed for many months and she looks forward to future public installations. Last, Veron thanked the community for its feedback on the recently released sanitation operations study. "We've received emails, phone calls (and) in-person commentary on the (recycling) proposal that was presented by the CAC (Conservation Advisory Council)," said Veron. "We will be having an information session next Tuesday at 7:00 pm, where we will continue to discuss the study." The public is invited to attend.

Next up was Trustee Deborah Pekarek, who discussed the ongoing process to amend the village's tree code to better preserve Scarsdale's tree canopy. Earlier in the evening, the Scarsdale Law and Sustainability Committees met with village staff, and members of the Friends of Scarsdale Parks and the CAC to review proposed amendments. The discussion yielded additional ideas and revisions, and the public will be advised of future developments and meetings.

Pekarek then briefly mentioned her participation in recent meetings with the Colonial Acres Neighborhood Association and League of Women Voters, and concluded her remarks by announcing that four new officers have joined the Scarsdale Police Department. They are Jamie Crespo, Viet Dang, Terrence Doyle and Maxwell Goldberg. "We welcome our four new officers to the Scarsdale Police Department and we look forward to working with them and anticipate that they will serve the village with care, concern and professionalism," she said.

Public Comments
Lena Crandall, Fox Meadow Road, mentioned that the Scarsdale Forum will host its annual Winterfest event on Saturday, February 3, at 7:00 pm. The event is open to forum members and their guests; any residents who are not members of the organization may join here.

Mayra Kirkendall-Rodriguez, Fox Meadow Road, invited the public to attend an upcoming Scarsdale Forum event, "What is the School Bond and Should You Vote for It?" on Thursday, February 1, at 7:30 pm. She also discussed the forum's recently completed "Traffic Survey Report," in which it recommends that Scarsdale Village allocate resources to improve compliance with state and local traffic code provisions. Over 700 respondents completed the survey; a significant number cited concerns about walking, driving and cycling in the village.

Madelaine Eppenstein, Autenreith Road, followed up on Kirkendall-Rodriguez' comments, and thanked the community for its participation in the traffic survey, and the trustees and village administration for considering the forum report. She also provided news about Friends of the Scarsdale Parks, which will coordinate its fourth annual "Community Planting Day" and is working with village staff on a longer-term tree planting species list.

Michael Rubin, Crossway, added to Trustee Ross' comments on the cable TV survey. He explained that public input is important in determining future cable television needs, and survey data will help determine what the village should focus on when renegotiating contracts with Verizon and Altice cable television providers. Residents are urged to complete the online survey if they haven't already.

Bob Harrison, Fox Meadow Road, asked about the village's 2018-19 budget projections, specifically the proposed tax increase for homeowners. Village Manager Steve Pappalardo reported that the first pass of the budget represents a 2.18 percent tax levy increase, well under the 3.78 percent tax levy cap for Scarsdale. Pappalardo further explained that a number of factors will alter the first draft, so the information is very preliminary.

Harrison then mentioned the upcoming CAC meeting on sanitation services and voiced his objections to recent recommendation for curbside pickup of commingled recyclables. He also cited other residents' comments about the effect the proposal will have on senior citizens, and urged no change in pickup procedures. Harrison went on to state his concerns about the planned Wynmor Park tennis court renovations, and wondered why the trustees awarded a contract costing $110,361 when the project was budgeted at $75,000. Pappalardo explained that the village received three bids that were similar in cost, which indicated that staff didn't budget enough funds for the project. He also provided an explanation about how the bids were structured and the contractor selection process.

Laura Halligan, a new contributor to scarsdale10583.com, is a local writer, editor and marketing consultant. She is principal of Pinch Hit Prose and provides communications services to entrepreneurs, small businesses and nonprofits.

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