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Scarsdale Village Revitalization is Not a Spectator Sport

villageThis letter was sent to Scarsdale10583 by Brice Kirkendall-Rodriguez, President of the Old Scarsdale Neighborhood Association.
Many of Scarsdale's residents are former Manhattan residents and long for the convenience and variety of retail experiences that we used to enjoy as city dwellers. As a matter of practicality, many unique retail experiences require a significant population density to sustain. We are not likely to ever achieve the diversity of ethnic cuisine that is common along 2nd Avenue or the density of luxury brands that can be found on Madison Avenue. Nonetheless, Scarsdale can be your first choice for day-to-day, and even special occasion, experiences that enhance our local quality of life and even property values. The inviting and vital retail district that you imagine for the village center is achievable.

You have a significant role to play in this future! For starters, two important consumer surveys are circulating throughout the community. One was commissioned by the Village committee appointed to examine options for the grossly underutilized space commonly known as "Freightway" that hosts the majority of our commuter parking for Metro North. You can voice your ideas about the future of this site by participating in the survey.

The Scarsdale Forum is also conducting a survey of consumer preferences for the "Village Center" retail district that neighbors the train station. In the time you take to author a couple posts on Scarsdale Moms or Scarsdale Dads Facebook sites, you can provide valuable data that will be used to drive decisions for next steps in the evolution of our most significant retail district.

Even more significantly, you can participate in active experiments that are being conducted throughout the village center. Be on the lookout for pop-up stores, outdoor events and more. Stay informed about all of these activities by subscribing to the recently launched village newsletter "Scarsdale Official."

One notable experiment will be a Thursday farmers' market for six to eight weeks that began village2Thursday, September 7th (Noon – 7pm). We expect 15 vendors to participate which makes this much larger than the previous attempts to establish a farmer's market in the village. Why Thursdays, you ask? This is the time made available to us by the participants and given the choice of no farmers' market at all or Thursday, the Village wisely decided to try the experiment. Our last attempt was on Saturday mornings, and it was poorly attended. For a while I lived in California, and I observed one of the most successful farmers' market in the state, the San Luis Obispo farmers' market which operates every Thursday evening. Maybe our attempt is not such a crazy idea. A lot of Scarsdale residents head out of town on the weekends during the summer, so perhaps Thursday would be a better option for us. Let's find out!

Your feedback and your participation will bring vitality back to our village center. Try some lifestyle experiments of your own and see what it is like to live a little more local. Maybe I'll see you on Thursdays at the Scarsdale farmers' market.

Brice Kirkendall-Rodríguez
President of the Old Scarsdale Neighborhood Association

Unitex Partners with Grad Bag to Supply Linens to College Students in Need

gradbag1For the past several years, Unitex, who provides laundry services to the healthcare industry, has used its Northeast based facilities for a good cause. The company is continuing to partner with Grad Bag, an organization that collects and redistributes lightly-used dorm room items to incoming college freshmen from low-income households.

According to the team at Grad Bag, every year and everywhere, dumpsters and landfills are filled with used, but usable items including desk lamps, bedding, rugs, laundry bags and much more. Grad Bag collects, cleans, packages, stores and then re-distributes these dorm room items to soon-to-be college students who might not have the means to buy these things brand new or on their own. Grad Bag started as a small grassroots effort among the team's friends and neighbors. Today, companies like Unitex are part of this amazing cause.

Unitex employees pick up various linens and bedding from Grad Bag locations to process at its facilities across the Northeast. The team cleans, folds, hangs, and then returns the clean material back to Grad Bag so it can be distributed to new students at events in New York, Boston, CT and Maine. This year, Unitex picked up and washed 19 bins and over 4,000 pounds of linens in New York alone.

"We are enormously thankful for partners like Unitex," said Liz Gruber, Grad Bag Co-Founder. "With their generosity and help, we are able to outfit students with dorm room supplies and relieve them of one of the financial burdens of college. We are so thrilled and fortunate to work with companies such as Unitex that share our vision and make it a priority to help others."

"We are happy to partner with Grad Bag and look forward to helping this incredible organization in years to come," said David Potack, President of Unitex. "We continually work with schools across the Northeast and this is just another layer of helping students where we can."

Missing Part of the Renovate/Rebuild Discussion

letter-to-the-editorBelow find a letter from Greenacres resident Jeanette Warner:
Whether we spend up to $60 million on either to rebuild or renovate Greenacres School, the school board must determine whether it is possible to close Huntington Avenue between Montrose Road/Sage Terrace and Putnam Road.

Whether one is in favor of renovation or rebuilding, both plans would benefit by increasing the build-able space by closing the road separating the school and the park.

While there has been an occasional reference to the possibility of closing the road during the renovate vs rebuild discussion, the school board has not released to the public a thorough legal analysis of the possibility and benefits of closing the road.

In 2008, the school district did receive a legal opinion from Keane & Beane which concluded that there is no legal reason why the road cannot be closed, assuming certain criteria are met including a resolution of the Village Board of Trustees. Yes, there are legal hoops to jump through, but they are not insurmountable. The opinion letter outlines the legal steps which must be taken prior to closing the road. Basically, the Village Board of Trustees would have to determine that the road serves no useful purpose and pass a resolution requesting the Legislature to pass a Home Rule Letter.

What are the benefits of closing Huntington Avenue between Montrose Road and Putnam Road?

Primarily, increasing the buildable space for either renovation or rebuilding. The current footprint of the renovation plan as displayed by the architects at the June 22nd meeting has the renovated Greenacres School squeezed into the existing lot with brick walls soaring up within 8 or 10 feet of the street. The architectural features of the historic building are covered on three sides by the additions effectively hiding the charm of Greenacres School. And even with a 30$ million renovation budget, some features cannot be included due to lack of space. Likewise, by closing Huntington Avenue, the architects would have a larger footprint to rebuild the school. The new school could be designed without eliminating some the adjacent playing fields. In addition, the rebuilt school would be linked seamlessly to the playgrounds. The school would be incorporated into the park space symbolically joining the two functions and ideally healing the rifts that the rebuild/renovate discussion has caused.

Of equal if not of more importance is the benefit provided for the safety of the students. Each day, the students must cross Huntington Avenue to reach the blacktop and playground equipment for recess and physical education. Pick off and drop off are white knuckled times for the drivers when children dart in and out of cars. The architects' renovation proposal suggests relocating existing parking to the blacktop requiring the student to not only cross Huntington, but to weave their way through the parking lot to reach the field beyond, thus increasing the danger to the students and providing a smaller blacktop area for recess. By closing Huntington Avenue, the renovation could incorporate an attractive and safe area for pick off and drop off without eliminating any of the playing fields. Further, the layout for a new Greenacres school as presented at the June 22nd meeting does nothing to address the above safety issues. While the architect agreed to examine safety issues in its next revisions, any provision for a dedicated pick off and drop off space in the rebuilt Greenacres school would eliminate some of the playing fields thus decreasing the space for the students and the community to use the playing fields. Both the renovation and rebuilding options would benefit from the additional space to incorporate a safe and attractive location for drop off and pick up.

Both the Village Manager and the Village Attorney suggest that the threshold issue as to whether the road can be closed would be a safety/traffic study. Only with a traffic/safety study can the Village Trustees determine whether this portion of Huntington Avenue truly serves a useful purpose in light of the safety benefits achieved by closing. I've spoken to FP Clark in Rye, a planning consultant which has provided for the Village and School District traffic and safety studies in the past. From my conversation, a traffic and safety study would need to be done while school is in session. They suggest beginning no earlier than the third week of school when school traffic is normalized. With the intervention of the Jewish holidays, the study would be completed mid-October. Estimated cost of such a study would be around $8000.

Before the Village spends either $30 million on renovation or $60 million on a new building, the Village would benefit from learning whether Huntington Avenue can be closed. We need to take the final decision on the Greenacres rebuild/ renovate off the table while we determine whether it's possible to increase the buildable space and increase the safety of our students by closing the street. The delay is only a few months and the cost is very minor while the potential benefits, most importantly, the increase in safety of the children during pick up and drop off and recess is overwhelming.


Jeannette Warner
6 Farley Road

In the Swim: Scarsdale Swimmers Dominate Westchester County Championship and SHS Swimmers Swim Across America

1stplacehighpointwinnersScarsdale swimmers on the Wykagyl swim team competed this past week at the Westchester County Championship at the Playland Pool and made it to finals, some winning the high point trophies.

Details of the race results are below:

Kieran Lee - (9 - 10 boys)
Placed 1st in 50 Breast
Placed 7th in 50 free
Placed 6th in 50 back
- Placed 5th over all for the age group

Aidan Lee - (10 - 11 boys)
Placed 4th 50 back
Placed 5th 50 fly
Placed 4th 50 breast
Placed 6th 50 freee
- Placed 4th over all for the age group

Brendan Lee - (17 u boys, age 15)
Placed 4th 200 IM
Placed 2nd 100 Breast
Placed 3rd 100 back
- Placed 4th over all for the age group

Megan Lee - (13 - 14 girls, age 13)
Placed 2nd 100 free
Placed 1st 200 IM
Placed 1st 100 Breast
Placed 2nd 100 fly
- 1st Place High Point winner for the age group

Ryan Lee - (17 u boys, age 17)
Placed 1st 200 IM
Placed 2nd 100 Fly
Placed 1st 100 Breast
- 2nd Place High Point winner for the age group

Justin DiSanto - (13 - 14 boys, age 14)
Placed 2nd 100 free
Placed 2nd 100 back
Placed 5th 100 fly
Placed 5th 100 breast
- Tied for 1st Place High Point Winner for the age group

These swimmers will all be competing in the Westchester Swim Conference next week.



SHS Swimmers Raise Funds For "Swim Across America"

SwimAcrossAmericaSwimmersOn July 29, a group of Scarsdale High School swim team swimmers participated in the Swim Across America, in the Long Island Sound, to raise funds to fight cancer. The 3 Scarsdale swimmers were part of a group of 9 swimmers who raised $6356 for the organization, surpassing their original goal of $5000. Unfortunately the coast guard canceled the open water swim due to dangerous conditions, but the boys were happy to raise awareness and funds. They participated as "Team Wolverines," led by team captain Ryan Lee who will also be one of the swim team captains this coming year on the Scarsdale High School Varsity Swim Team. Ryan brought the team together, combining swimmers from his club team, the Westchester Aquatic Club Wolverines; his summer team, the Wykagyl Country Club; and his school team, Scarsdale High School.

From the Library: Used NYSSMA Books Wanted Plus Help for the Book Sale

violinistScarsdale resident Lee Fischman had an idea and with the efforts of the Scarsdale Public Library and Scarsdale Middle School Music Department young musicians can obtain used copies of lesson books from the library for use at NYSSMA Adjudication Festivals or everyday playing.

The New York State Student Music Association requires students in the festival to have two copies of their lessons – one to play from and one to give to judges. "These are basically new books that can be used by others," Fischman said.

"For now, students or adults can bring their used, unmarked lesson books to the library," said Scarsdale Library Director Beth Bermel. "As we accumulate a significant number we will be able to catalogue them so they can be searched for under their title.

"This fits in with our mission of serving the community," Bermel said. "Additionally, working with the Westchester Library System this would benefit communities which do not have the resources of Scarsdale."

Fischman said he thought of the idea when attending the festivals and his sons, Miles and Henry, had to buy copies of their books for the examiner's use. He contacted Bermel and Middle School music teachers Rachel Hahn and Jessica Elkhatib who developed the plan.

A notice was sent to parents of Middle Schoolers who could bring books to the school before the end of the school year. "I want to emphasize that though the school year is over, we are accepting books at the library," Bermel said. "Just bring them to the Circulation Desk."

Help Wanted:

A paid part-time position. (10-15 hours/a week) is available this summer for someone who wants to help to organize books for the Scarsdale Library Book Sale. The applicant must be strong and able to move heavy boxes of books. The position begins on July 5th.  If you are interested, please contact Kathy Steves at