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DenimDayThe Scarsdale Coalition on Family Violence and Healthy Relationships is again encouraging community members, elected officials, businesses and students to make a social statement with their fashion by wearing denim on April 25th. Denim Day is a as a visible means of raising awareness about the prevalence of sexual assault and protesting the misconceptions that surround sexual violence. Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Service has already signed on to the campaign and encourages others to do the same.

Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault and stems from an infamous ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim in the case was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. The organization Peace Over Violence developed the Denim Day campaign in response to this case. SFCS has purchased stickers for distribution that read, “Why Denim? Ask me About Denim Day.”

Nearly one in five women and one in 71 men are victims of sexual assault (Black et al., 2011). Everyone has a role in preventing sexual violence in our community. Changing beliefs which contribute to sexual assault begins first with believing survivors of sexual violence when they share their stories, but also by challenging cultural misconceptions and stereotypes. Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault.

The Scarsdale Coalition will continue its efforts to raise awareness by hosting a morning program the following day on April 26th entitled “Title IX and Sexual Assault. What Parent Needs to Know.” The program will be facilitated by Cynthia Dunne, Esq and will be held at 9:00 am in Room 170-172 of the Scarsdale Board of Education. The meeting is open to the public.

Remember, our actions, big and small, have a ripple effect on those we teach, guide, and influence. Please consider “wearing jeans with a purpose” on April 25th and encourage others to do the same.

To learn more about Denim Day or other initiatives, contact Lauren Pomerantz, Coordinator of the Scarsdale Coalition on Family Violence and Healthy Relationships at 914-721-2468 or lpomerantz@sfcsinc.org.

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26CooperPathScarsdale Trustee Carl Finger announced two proposed changes to the Scarsdale Historic Preservation code at Tuesday’s board of trustees meeting, and invited feedback from the public at the meeting and in writing.

The amendments are 1) to allow a non-resident to sit on the Scarsdale Committee for Historic Preservation, provided he or she is an architect with an interest in historical preservation; and, 2) to make a change in language regarding preservation standards, specifically, revising one requirement by separating it into two different requirements: “That the building is the work of a master and embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period or method of construction that possess high artistic values” will be changed to read “That the building is the work of a master” or “Embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period or method of construction that possess high artistic values”.

Finger further explained that reason behind inviting nonresidents to apply for the committee was to expand the pool of qualified individuals who could serve Scarsdale in this capacity.

Brice Kirkendall-Rodriguez (Fox Meadow Road) stated that, after recent resignation of committee members, he looked at historic preservation activities in neighboring towns. He found that “there is lot more rigor… They actually set forth a provision for identifying properties, in advance, that are worthy of preservation, rather than identifying properties on an ad hoc basis when the property is considered for destruction. The advantage of that, of course, is planning… both in the case of the homeowner and (the community).” He went on, “Given the current village standards for how (preservation is) determined, it’s very difficult for someone without a great degree a knowledge to make a decision about whether a property is worth preserving. I would urge you, rather than looking at the wording… but they way the whole statute is constructed.”

Finger responded that this approach was very much under consideration and that until a significant change is made, it is hoped that the proposed changes would clarify the existing code in the shorter term. The village will be accepting public comment on the amendments through Public comments will be accepted until Tuesday, April 24.

Mayor’s Comments
The mayor and board addressed a number of other issues worth mentioning, beginning with the Mayor’s commentary at the start of the session. Mayor Dan Hochvert mentioned that a red light has been installed at the corner of Popham and Chase Road. This is in response to resident complaints about drivers ignoring the “No Turn on Red” sign on Chase as they make their way onto Chase. “This should be a big improvement in moving traffic along safely and more effectively, and warn drivers that a right turn on red at that location is not permissible,” he said.

Hochvert also announced that the Scarsdale Citizen Police Academy for middle school students would be held at the village’s public safety building on Tuesdays, from April 10 through May 8. Class time is 4:00 to 5:00 pm; for more information or to register, visit thecenter862.com.

The mayor also addressed residents’ concerns about proposed increases in water rates. “(First), try to save water. There were a lot of suggestions in a notice from water department… Just by being aware that water is flowing when you don’t know it can save you money,” he said. “Because we have to pay NYC for all water running through our system, including whatever leaks, by correcting these issues , it has helped keep our base rate one of the lowest in the county, after the recently proposed increase.” Addressing recent questions about why the excess water rate was decreased from 3.5 percent to 3 percent, Hochvert explained, “The excess water users have to pay the increased base rate before they get to the excess rate, and they also have to pay three times the increased rate. We are charged by New York City at 2.94 times the base rate for excess usage… (these) form the rationale that we’ve provided. We have some control on how much we use. Those who use a lot still pay three times the base rate.”

Village Manager
Village Manager Steve Pappalardo announced completion of the village’s sanitary sewer evaluation study, which assessed the integrity of the sewer system and examined water inflows through video and smoke testing. The results identified 12 private sources of sewer inflows, such as driveway drains and roof leaders. Another 40 residential properties were identified as having plumbing defects or improper connections to the sanitary sewer system. Pappalardo advised that letters will be sent to affected homeowners shortly, explaining that the connections are are violations of village and county code. Village engineering staff will follow up on the letters to schedule secondary inspections and verify findings; the village also will provide access to professional assistance in determining best methods of remediation.

Trustee Reports
Trustee Jane Veron reminded the public about the upcoming Healthy Teen Brain Day, scheduled for April 19, from 2:45 to 6:00pm, at Scarsdale Middle School. The event will be presented by the Scarsdale Drug and Alcohol Task Force, and students from grades five through 12 are invited to participate, along with parents. Veron also mentioned that she will participate in a meeting with Scarsdale business owners next week to discuss creation of a new merchant group to further revitalization efforts in downtown Scarsdale.

Trustee Finger announced that the New York State Attorney General’s Office, the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office and the Westchester County Executive’s office are sponsoring a gun buy-back program on Friday, April 13, from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, at Mt. Hope Zion Church in White Plains.

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PekarekMarch 27 marked the last Village Board meeting for Deb Pekarek and Marc Samwick who both completed two terms of service for Scarsdale Village Trustee. In the March 20 election, two new trustees, Justin Arest and Lena Crandall were elected to take their places at the dais and Jane Veron was re-elected for a second term.

After a celebratory dinner the trustees assembled for their final meeting. Pekarek and Samwick made remarks about their years on the board and thanked many who they worked with. In turn, the Mayor and remaining Board members lauded the two departing trustees. Samwick was thanked for his diligence in the area of finance and budgeting while Pekarek was noted for her commitment to sustainability and her ability to listen and compromise. Here are excerpts from their remarks; you can listen to them in their entirety here:

Scarsdale’s newest sitting Trustee, Seth Ross, spoke first and said he originally met Samwick when Samwick was coaching and “got to know (him) as an involved parent and a little league coach who was there not only for his own child but also for the others who were there to have fun and to learn and grow. Turning to now, he said, “Your strong background in finance, land use, and a number of other substantive areas has been a great resource for the village, but what most impresses me is the same natural tendency you showed when I first met you to devote yourself and your time and energy and expertise to the common good. You have been a shining example for me as a new village trustee.”

About Deb Pekarek he said, “I’m not sure that anyone else has upheld the values and standards of conduct of this community, and modeled the qualities that make Scarsdale special, the way that you have. Your grace under pressure, your unflappable nature, and your readiness to take on sometimes contentious issues and situations and to foster dialog rather than confrontation not only make you who you are but play a really significant role in making Scarsdale what it is.”

To both departing trustees Ross said, “You will both be missed on this board, but the good you have done will benefit us all well into the future and, of course, in hope to see you both continue as active and involved members of the community. “

Jane Veron said, “Deputy Mayor Samwick, it is hard to imagine a Village Board without you. Your service has been a priceless gift to our Village. For four years, you have shared with us your quick mind, your keen insight and your strong leadership. Your ability to synthesize vast amounts of information, consider competing interests, and get to the heart of an issue, in mere nano seconds, was truly awe inspiring. …You made your mark in so many different ways, but perhaps most significantly was the way you shepherded the Village budget. No one knew the numbers better than you. You examined the intricacies of each line item, department by department, and extrapolated forward, feeling the enormous responsibility of setting taxes for the residents.”

She continued, “ You showcased your extraordinary capabilities as Finance Chair although I saw them at work in every area you touched. As Land Use Chair, you set in motion a project that will have a lasting positive impact. With you and former Mayor Jon Mark at the helm, the community listening effort to imagine the future for the Freightway site produced exciting possibilities. Your role in engaging diversity of perspective and extensive outreach cannot be overstated. You showed a deep sensitivity to all views, and our town will be better off for it. Similarly, you listened and responded to the challenges faced by Land Use boards and kicked off the discussions to articulate priorities for fixing. You care deeply about our heritage, preservation and character.”Steve and Marc1

Turning to Deb Pekarek, Veron said, “Trustee Pekarek, you have brought to our board a very special combination of energy, passion, intelligence, and commitment. Nothing is ever too much for you, and from your first day until your last, you have served with unwavering dedication and drive. You care deeply about our Village, and it shows in everything you do. No matter the issue, you research, consider, question, and integrate vastly divergent community input. Always prepared, you provide meaningful, insightful perspective that benefits all of us. “

…”Deb, I have been so impressed by your leadership as Chair of Sustainability, liaison to the CAC, advocate for our parks and trees, and general supporter of healthy living. In such short order, you have helped Scarsdale make huge leaps forward. What began as aspirational is now going to be common practice in our town, be it food scrap recycling, knotweed control, or biking path linkages. You have educated us on invasive species, raised our awareness on grass and leaf mulching, and supported LED lights. “

Telling the board that he left his written remarks at dinner, Carl Finger spoke without notes and thanked Pekarek for keeping him in check during his first two years as trustee. He called her “dedicated, prepared and thoughtful,” and noted her advocacy for sustainability, willingness to compromise and ability to get things done.

To Samwick Finger said, “You go through everything with a fine toothed comb. Your comments are always well taken and you are not afraid to ask the difficult questions.”

Finger continued, “Between the two of you, you always have our goals as a board and a community in mind. You allow us to work together as a team. You resolve positions and allow us to reach consensus. I hope we can continue in this vein. I appreciate your service, everything you have taught me and your involvement in the future.”

Mayor Dan Hochvert said he has “known Deb for ten years and met her when she led the Greenacres Neighborhood Association.” He said she was “organized and had an agenda. The results were improved.” He said, “I worked with you on the Harwood Project where you dug up the big knotweed. It has blossomed because of the work you have done. I hope you will continue to call me to talk about things that are going on in Scarsdale.”

He complimented Samwick on noticing the details about Village Finance and “money well spent.” He said, “You did more than your share.” He called him an active participant on the Freightway Steering Committee.”

He asked both Pekarek and Samwick to remain active in Village affairs.

In her farewell remarks, Deb Pekarek said it was a bittersweet goodbye and thanked everyone she has worked with saying, “It has been a real treat to get to know you all better and to work with an impressive group of community and staff folks.” She thanked her husband Jon who “generously supported and applauded me these past four years. And faithfully turned in to cable every Tuesday evening!”

She thanked Seth Ross for “lending your deep, thoughtful, deliberative style and provided the Board wise council….Your contemplative style will continue to assist the board and I look forward to your thoughtful voice.”

She called Matt Callaghan “the consummate gentleman, always jovial, and kind. You look dapper in your uniform.”

She said Jane Veron was “awesome” and handled tasks with “verve, intelligence, a can do spirit and a generosity and enthusiasm that is to be emulated. …The Farmers Market, a personal favorite, has been a wonderful addition to our community. And the Communications Committee has provided great suggestions on more effective platforms to use to inform our community of current initiatives and to provide more timely information that answers questions with accurate information.”

Pekarek thanked Carl Finger for his work on the Tree Code, saying “Your guidance and thoughtful consideration of this code, modifications, debating the pros and cons, has been helpful, serious and wise… as Chair of Finance you have navigated the budget process with skill, depth and focus on short term and long-term expenses, revenues, capitol improvements, and operating budgets”

Turning to Mayor Dan Hochvert she said, “You are a made in America original! Down to earth, practical and a boots on the ground guy. You are the heart and soul of all who live here and you believe that all of us have things to share and can make a contribution to the community. And because you are ever-present, generous with your time no matter what the event - a dinner, a walk in the neighborhood, or digging up weeds and irrigating an 11-acre newly planted wetland plot – you are a visible presence in our community and a splendid” mayor."

She complimented fellow trustee Marc Samwick on his “deep knowledge of financial statements, budgeting processes, and facility with numbers, (that allow him) to challenge the underlying nuanced details of the Villages operating and capitol budgets, bonding philosophy, fund balance application during budget season and the glee you derive when talking about BANS with The Village Treasurer is almost infectious! It's a different language but one you speak fluently! She thanked him for his work on Freightway Development and employee compensation saying, “I look forward to your future involvement and leadership in Scarsdale.”

She called her service “A postgraduate degree in municipal government,” and commenting on Scarsdale she said, “It seems to me that we are by and large a community who gives back, Non Sibi, all the time, in so many ways. I have been only one volunteer, in a huge sea of volunteers, committed members of this community who are determined to make this place, this neighborhood, just that, a neighborhood. And many, many of us add to the fabric of our Village in a Park…. I am happy to call Scarsdale home, happy to call you neighbors and happy to have served this truly grand and dynamic place called Scarsdale. “

Pekarek finished with a quote from the Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield…“ The beginning is never where you think it is. Impossible to understand one part without having a sense of the whole. Our lives are the continuation of someone else’s story.”

In his final remarks, Marc Samwick said, “The past four years have been very rewarding on many levels…. we are very fortunate to have such a wealth of volunteers and professionals working tirelessly on behalf of our village.” He thanked the professional staff, the police and fire department, SVAC and Village Manager Steve Pappalardo.

He highlighted the work of the volunteers to raise funds and plan the library renovation, the Communications Committee to increase notifications and create “Scarsdale Official,” and the Freightway Steering Committee to make plans for the development of the Freightway site.

Samwick said, “On a personal level, I have learned and benefited greatly from my time serving as your representative. I have grown – even through difficult times and issues – and met so many people that I now call friends. … I would also like to acknowledge the support of my family. I could not have undertaken being a Trustee without the full-fledged support of my wife, Cynthia. Thank you Cynthia for being endlessly patient with countless meetings, phones calls and village events.”

He made comments for his fellow Trustees:

About Seth Ross he said, “You have consistently handled yourself with poise and your thoughtful, active listening skills are an example that future Trustees and village residents can learn from – I know I have. Our community has also benefitted from your legal and logical intellect.”

About Jane Veron he said, “You have established yourself as a tireless advocate for our Village – from encouraging more open communication using a wide array of tools to communicate with residents, to seemingly single-handedly breathing new life into our Village Center, to filling every vacancy on every board and council, to walking door to door to meet with every merchant in the village center to discuss parking to so much more. … I would also like to personally thank you for your instrumental work in getting the farmer’s market off the ground. Cynthia and I thoroughly enjoy the eggs we get from Marty at Kiernan Farms and the sourdough bread we get from Orwashers each week. I admire and appreciate all that you do for our village and it has been a privilege to work with you.”

About Trustee Callaghan he said, “You bring passion and independent thought to all that you do as a Trustee. The dedication you bring to the Fire Department is above and beyond…You bring the same passion to all that you do - from Parks and Recreation to SCAV to the Advisory Council on Senior Citizens.”

Turning to Carl Finger he said, “You are passionate about Scarsdale, the town you grew up in and have lived in for most of your life. …Your legal background and logical thought process has benefitted the village. Though understated, particularly during your 1st term, you have quite a sense of humor – which is always present and probably not fully appreciated by those who are not sitting next to you.”

He told Mayor Dan Hochvert that he “dove right into being Mayor,” and said, “You are incredibly hardworking and diligent. I can’t recall the last time I was in village hall when I didn’t bump into you…. our community is a better place for your effort, inclusive spirit and consensus-building approach.”

And to Deb Pekarek he said, “You are a genuine and caring person who deeply considers what’s best for others and the community. You also showed real grace and dignity during your reelection process. You spent part of your career as a teacher and you have certainly taught me many things – from handling difficult situations to balancing the needs of different segments of our community to being humane when managing the issues we faced as a Board.”

Also giving thanks to the Trustees were Diane Greenwald on behalf of the Library Board of Trustees, personal appreciation from Michelle Lichtenberg, Andrew Sereysky, who presented certificates of thanks on behalf of President of the Greenacres Neighborhood Association, Janice Starr on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale, newly elected trustee Justin Arest and Matt Miller

Both departing trustees were presented with engraved silver plates and posed for photos.

Summing up, Diane Greenwald said, “Volunteers get paid in appreciation so the pay is low– but today I hope you feel well paid.”

Photo Credit: Village of Scarsdale
Pictured at top: Village Manager Steve Pappalardo and Deb Pekarek
Pictured right: Village Manager Steve Pappalardo and Marc Samwick

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LIWVSBudgetMeetingProbably the easiest way to wrap your mind around the Village of Scarsdale’s $56.5 million annual budget, is to attend the annual meeting hosted by the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale with Village officials. This year the League invited the Village Manager, the Village Treasurer and the Mayor to meet with League members to review the annual budget and answer probing questions about how the Village is spending it’s money and why on Monday March 26.

The Village portion of your real estate tax bill is approximately 18% of your local tax payment, with the balance going to the county and the schools. If you wonder where your Village tax dollars are going attending this meeting gives you an easy to understand view of how tax dollars are spent.

First the facts about this year’s budget:

-The tentative 2018/19 budget of $56,574,413 is just 1.92% higher than last year’s budget. The $754,921 increase is due to a decline in non-property tax revenues from items like building permits, rec department fees, parking tickets and fees.

-The average village homeowner, whose home is assessed at $1,499,000, would pay roughly $6,773 in Village taxes in FY18/19 representing a year-to-year increase of $128 per household. Village taxes represent 18.19% of a Scarsdale homeowner's total property tax bill. The School District taxes comprise the majority of the tax bill at 62.85% with the County of Westchester accounting for 18.97%.

-The Village has a Aaa bond rating from Moody’s.

-Village Manager Steve Pappalardo explained that salary and benefits for Village employees represent 72% of the budget and this will not change in the near future. Most of the Village’s 237.5 employees are unionized and salaries and benefits are negotiated through collective bargaining. The budget includes over $8 million in healthcare costs, representing 17% of the budget.

Water Rates:

This year, Scarsdale residents are going to see an increase in their water rates to fund water infrastructure repairs and replacements. Including the rehabilitation of the Ardsley Road and Boniface water storage tanks, relining of 97 miles of water mains and water valve replacements.

The base rate is increasing from $2.85 to $3.20 per unit, while the excess rate is decreasing from 3.5 times the base rate to 3 times the base rate. One unit of water is approximately 749 gallons. Pappalardo explained that the average user in Scarsdale consumes 200 units of water a year. For the average user, 175 units will be billed at the base rate of $3.20/unit and the 25 units above the base will be billed at 3 times the base rate ($9.60). He estimates that the average homeowner will see an increase of $55 per year on their water bill. Read more here

The excess water rate is meant to serve as a deterrent to those who overwater their lawns or use excess water. The village recommends conservation measures such as smart irrigation system controls, rain gages to prevent automatic sprinkler systems from watering when it’s not necessary, planting native plants that require less water, mulch mowing and leak detection.

Roads:

This time of year brings many complaints about potholes. The village has 78 miles of roadways, and typically repaves 7-8 miles per year at a cost of $250,000 to $300,000 per mile.

How much will the Village spend on road repair? The 2018-19 calls for $850,000 for road repair with another $500,000 budget transfer at year-end if funds allow. That would be a total of $1,350,000 on roads.

In 2017-18 $1.575 mm was spent on road repair, but some of this was funded by Con Edison who is now required to repair and repave any roads they damage when they do gas and electric repairs. The Village requires Con Edison to repave these roads from curb to curb and Con Edison uses the Village’s contractors to do the work.

Thanks to Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and State Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins, New York State will spend $2.1 million repaving Scarsdale’s main arterial road, the White Plains Post Road from Eastchester to White Plains this summer when schools are closed. Westchester County will repave Weaver Street from Daisy Farms Road in New Rochelle to Cornell Street in Quaker Ridge, both in addition to the roads that will be repaved by Scarsdale Village.

A public hearing on the Village Budget will be held at Village Hall on Tuesday April 10 at 8 pm.

(Pictured at top: LWVS President Janice Starr, Village Trustee Deb Pekarek, Village Manager Steve Pappalardo, Village Treasurer, Mary Lou McClure and Mayor Dan Hochvert.)

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talesfromthedalePlans are in the works for the Second Annual Tales from the ‘Dale and Beyond: An Evening of Live Storytelling, on Thursday, April 12th at 7:30pm at Heathcote Auditorium. Tickets can be purchased via the following link (students 18 and under are free): 

The evening will be hosted by Sandi Marx, a former talent agent and Scarsdale resident; sought-after storyteller/host. Here is the line-up:
• Justin Heifer, international peace activist featured in the upcoming book and movie The Fox Hunt
• Rev. Pete Jones, pastor at Hitchcock Church in Scarsdale
• Howard Rodstein, retired SHS teacher and former dean of the A-School.
• Justine Gelfman, playwright living in Brooklyn; SHS grad
• Mary Wasacz, nurse and family therapist; Scarsdale resident
• Denise DelBalzo, SMS English teacher
• Joe Vaughan, SHS Physics teacher/ Speech and Debate coach
• Lori Weitzner, internationally renowned textile designer and author; SHS grad
• Howie Nadel, unofficial Mayor of the Scarsdale Pool/ Scarsdale resident
• Julia Brody, storyteller; Edgemont High School grad
• Rebecca Gabin‚ Fox Meadow mom of three
• Nabiha Qadir, a junior at SHS

Save the date and purchase tickets here:

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