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MarcSamwickNewly elected Mayor Marc Samwick presided over his first Village Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday April 9. Here are his opening comments when he discussed a change in the committee system, development at Freightway and instructions for communicating with the Village Board. See below:

Good evening. I am very happy to be here and to welcome and congratulate Trustees Lewis and Waldman on their election and Trustee Ross on his reelection to the Village Board. I am also very happy to join Trustees Arest and Crandall and to rejoin Trustee Veron and to welcome and congratulate her on her new job as Deputy Mayor.

I would like to discuss three items in my comments this evening: (i), the new Village Board organizational structure, (ii) the potential redevelopment of the Freightway parking garage site, and (iii) communications.

Village Board Organizational Structure:
Let me begin with the new organizational structure. One of the valuable lessons I learned in business school was to unify the structure of an organization with the way in which the organization functions. For quite some time, we have not had an alignment of the structure of our elected government and the work that is done by those officials. The committee structure that we have become accustomed to was designed to permit Trustees to focus their attention on their specifically assigned committees. For well over 20 years, Trustees have consistently been involved in all village matters and have attended all committee meetings. While we applaud the dedication of over a generation of Trustees, we recognize that it is time to match our structure with our operations by eliminating Village Board standing committees. This change will align our structure with how the Board actually functions. It is expected to improve efficiency, enhance communication, and, most importantly, enable all Trustees to have an equal voice and vote. In making this change, we have looked at surrounding communities and how their governing bodies operate. The overwhelming majority of communities surveyed have a framework similar to the one we plan to implement.

We will schedule work sessions on a monthly basis, though there will be months that have more than one work session and, possibly, though rarely, months that do not have work sessions. There will still be meetings called for in-depth discussions of specific topics – some of the topics I would expect to see covered under separate meetings might include the potential redevelopment of the Freightway parking site, potential changes to the land use code, or items that require more time sensitivity or deeper discussion. We will issue agendas, which will likely cover a number of varying subjects, and start times of our work sessions, but you can generally expect to see sessions begin at 6:00pm or 6:30 pm on the 2nd or 4th Tuesday of the month. Similar to the committee meetings we are accustomed to, work sessions will be open to the public although there still will be certain topics that will be held in executive session. Summary meeting notes will also be provided so the community can stay informed.

Potential Redevelopment of the Freightway Parking Garage Site:
Second, I would like to provide a summary of the potential redevelopment of the Freightway parking site and let you know what to expect from here. The Freightway parking garage was built in 1972 and is currently in need of nearly $2.5 million of repair and upgrade work. After looking at the very successful development of Christie Place, which was nearly built as a stand-alone parking garage at taxpayer’s expense and is now a vibrant residential and retail hub with below-grade parking for village residents, the Village Board decided to pursue a survey of resident interest in the potential redevelopment of the Freightway garage site. The Freightway Steering Committee was formed about two years ago, worked with the village’s consultant, BFJ Planning, and completed a visioning study for the Freightway site. The input of over 750 residents and other stakeholders was taken into account in doing the visioning study and I encourage all residents to review the report on the village’s website, www.scarsdale.com. The visioning study was the basis for a Request for Expressions of Interest that was designed to gauge interest from private developers who might partner with the Village to create a new hub that would bring vitality to our village center and, importantly, provide connectivity between both sides of our village center. We were very pleased to receive seven responses from developers in pursuing a public-private partnership to redevelop the Freightway site. The next steps in the process will include issuance of a Request for Proposals, selection of a Preferred Developer, negotiation of a mutually acceptable development agreement with the Preferred Developer and the standard land use process which will include the Planning Board, Board of Architectural Review and the Village Board.

A few personal comments about this process. First, we are in the very early stages of the process. I estimate that we are in the top of the 2nd inning with the 9th inning representing commencement of construction. Second, the Village Board started with extensive resident input through the visioning study and will continue to seek resident input throughout the process. Third, the Village Board is focused on issues that matter to residents, namely the potential impact on parking and schools – both of which are critical to Scarsdale residents. There will be ample time to address these matters, and other potential concerns, as we better understand what plans are developed for the Freightway site. We believe that we are embarking on a project that can materially enhance our village center and we look forward to creating a shared vision with the community.

Communications:
Lastly, I would like to discuss communications. Listening to the community is one of the most important duties of Village Board members. With that as a guiding principle, there are three areas I would like to highlight this evening. First, this Board will generally try not to vote on a matter that is the subject of a public hearing until at least the following Board meeting. It is important to provide the community with ample time to comment on matters and to provide the Board with time to digest community comments. There will be exceptions to this guideline in the event of pro forma matters, such as the annual renewal of taxi licenses in the village, and matters that carry a high degree of time sensitivity.

Second, you will notice that the public comment section of the Board agenda is now prior to Board liaison reports. Again, this change is being made to emphasize that listening to our constituents is critical.

Lastly, we wish to make it easier for people to comment to the Board. We recognize that stepping to the microphone at Rutherford Hall can be intimidating and not very welcoming. We also recognize the value of hearing from village residents and other stakeholders. In an effort to provide alternative means of communicating with your elected officials, I hosted a “Coffee with the Mayor” on Saturday at Metro Deli. I was very happy to sit down with residents and discuss issues and concerns and to just say hi. We plan to encourage communication in less formal settings and are open to trying new approaches to reach people, so if you have any suggestions or wish to share your views on a particular matter, please email me at mayor@scarsdale.com. Speaking of email addresses, you will also note that the Trustees now have village email addresses that use a uniform standard that makes it easier to reach your elected officials. You can reach any of the Trustees at their “first initial” and “last name” @scarsdale.com, for example, you may reach Trustee Ross at SRoss@scarsdale.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

With that, I am happy to hand it over to Village Manager Pappalardo for Village Manager’s comments.

FogelBarbara Rothschild Fogel of Scarsdale died Wednesday, April 10 after a short illness. She was 95 years old. She was the wife of the late Edward A. Fogel, to whom she was happily married for 50 years. She was a proud graduate of Smith College in 1944 and worked as a writer, editor and prolific artist throughout her life. She was active in the Scarsdale School System, serving on the School Board for six years, including serving as its president in the last year of her term. She is survived by her son James and daughter-in-law Meg Allyn Krilov, and by her daughter Janet and son-in-law Robert Schlegel. She is survived as well by her grandchildren, Jeffrey, Anna and Miriam Fogel and Dana and Sarah Schlegel. She also leaves three great-grandchildren, Ezra and Will Fogel and Caleb Nelson. We are grateful that she was able to say goodbye to all her children and grandchildren in the week before her death. She lived her life quietly and calmly, with a deep appreciation of all her blessings.

The funeral will be at 10:00 am Sunday, April 14 at the Riverdale Temple, 4545 Independence Ave. Shiva will be at 86 Carthage Rd. Scarsdale, NY, her home for 63 years, from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Sunday, April 14, and from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm on Monday, April 15. Shiva will also be held at the home of her son and daughter-in-law at 2600 Netherland Ave, Apt 2806, Riverdale, NY on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 16 and 17 from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

1 Hickory Ln3 of 19.jpg3 Hickory LaneOn Tuesday March 19, the Scarsdale Committee for Historic Preservation (CHP) denied applications to raze two significant Tudor homes, located at 3 Hickory Lane and 75 Morris Lane.

Previously, the owners of 3 Hickory Lane received permission to subdivide the property and plan to build a new home on the empty lot at the intersection of Hickory Lane and Olmstead Road. According to architect, Bana Choura, who is a former member of the Committee for Historic Preservation, the owner had hoped to renovate or sell the existing house at 3 Hickory. However, right before the owners closed on the property in 2017, the home’s water heater malfunctioned, and pipes and radiators burst throughout the structure, causing significant water damage. Faced with the added work and cost of cleanup and repair, the owners now are seeking to demolish the house. Currently, it sits vacant and is listed for sale by Houlihan Lawrence for $2.350 million, which is $50,000 more than the price the developer paid for the home and the additional lot. The house and remaining .84 acres of land are currently assessed at only $1.359 million, so the asking price is $1 million more than the assessed value.

Choura, a former member of both the CHP and the Scarsdale Board of Architectural Review, reported that the home requires a gut renovation and said, “I know this committee’s responsibility is to assess and evaluate the exterior aspects of the house, and its historic relevance, not the interior conditions. I do respectfully request that you consider the hardship due to the cost of repair, not only to replace the full heating system but to the damage to all the structural elements, both visible and invisible… After obtaining preliminary estimates for the repairs and to bring the house up to date… it was very clear the excessive cost is not justified, nor does it make economic sense.”

Masterful or Not?
Choura then argued that the structure did not meet any of the village’s five criteria to determine historic value. “I examined closely 3 Hickory Lane and applied all the criteria contained in village code… to this home… It is my professional opinion that none of the criteria set forth… is satisfied, and that the CHP, hopefully, will issue a certificate of appropriateness...”

As published previously, the home was designed by noted architect Charles Lewis Bowman, a onetime McKim, Mead & White draftsman, and built in 1929. Much of the Tuesday’s discussion focused on whether Bowman could be considered a “master” (even though the CHP and trustees considered him as such in 2017), and whether the structure truly embodied “distinctive characteristics of a type, period or method of construction.”

Choura began her presentation by stating that, “This home, like thousands of other homes, was built in the village during the most prolific building period in village history, and hundreds of those homes have far more intricate design, detailing and craftsmanship than this home.”

Bowman, a resident of Bronxville, was a highly regarded architect in his time, and designed 53 homes in Bronxville, 52 of which still stand. Known for his “Stockbroker Tudors” and “Cotswold Cottages,” he designed houses in accordance with his clients’ wishes. However, Choura argued that Bowman was not considered an expert who produced work of “high artistic value.”

One of the CHP members countered by reporting that Professor Andrew Dolkhart, the architectural historian, had described Bowman as “an important talent and leading figure in the design of historically informed suburban residences that were popular in the New York Metropolitan Area in the 1920s,” and that Bowman’s “designs received recognition during his lifetime, and were published in most of the common and professional popular architecture and design magazines.”

Another committee member who visited the property stated, “Going and seeing it, it’s truly the work of a master. The detailing, the construction techniques… the exterior is… largely intact. While there might be some interior damage that requires a gut rehab, the exterior does not present itself that way. With (Dolkhart’s) report stating that, not only was the architect recognized during his lifetime… it goes on to list all the elements of the building, and says the entire design holds together in a highly successful manner… I think it is representative of a work of a master.”

While Choura agreed with Dolkhart’s general observations, she maintained that the professor did not use the term “master” in his description of Bowman, and did not refer to the home as “historic.” Further, she asserted that the building did not represent the best of Bowman’s work, nor did it rise above the level of other Tudor homes of the same period.

Going Public
Before beginning the public comment session, the CHP clarified Choura’s assertion that the owners would not have made the application had there been no water damage. Then, the current real estate listing for the property, which states “…Water damage limited to a few secondary rooms…” was entered into the record.

Then, nine residents urged the CHP members to reject the application and save the building. Among those who spoke was Lisa Kleinow, who lives next door to the property. She pointed out that in a previous real estate listing, the home was promoted as “… designed by noted architect Louis Bowman, who is credited with having created the Tudor style in Bronxville and Scarsdale.” She continued, “They used the Bowman name as a noted architect and the reason that this house is what it is. For it to be torn down now… is just a travesty.”

Emily Kronenberg, an architect who lives in Scarsdale, said, “I went to see this house three times, in it’s damaged state. Luckily, the water damage was only in some back, servants’ rooms and some hallways, and none of the exquisite architectural details of the living room, entryway, powder room… the dining room… It’s a very minimal area that’s damaged... This house is exquisite…. In my humble opinion, it is architecturally significant and masterful.”

Lee Miller, who is an architectural woodworker, stated, “I find (the house) breathtaking…” Referencing his firm’s recent renovation work at the Cartier mansion he said, “I can attest to the fact that the woodworking, the joinery, the quality of the wood... (are) superior. It’s not something I see every day and, on some level, it eclipses the woodwork that I saw at the Cartier mansion. Bowman did 53 homes in Bronxville… 52 of those 53 homes are still standing. It speaks volumes about him and what he’s done.”

Soon after public comment and discussion among themselves, the six CHP members who were present voted unanimously to reject the application, and were met with applause.

An “Ordinary” Tudor…75MorrisLane
Next, the CHP heard from John Cotungno, the architect representing the owners of 75 Morris Lane, which was designed by architect Franklin P. Hammond. In justifying the application to demolish the home, also listed for sale by Houlihan Lawrence, Cotungno was brief and to the point: “This is a decent house, but I don’t agree with the report I received yesterday from the professor…. In looking at (the house), it’s an ordinary Tudor. It looks no different from any other Tudor I’ve been doing additions to… I do agree that they use four materials – brick, stucco, stone and timbers – and it does have a slate roof, but that’s true of just about every Tudor.”

He went on to say that he has worked on many Hammond houses in Scarsdale, and he didn’t believe the architect was particularly noteworthy or famous. “He’s a good architect; I even compared him to myself… He definitely wasn’t as famous as Bowman.” When discussing 75 Morris Lane, he asserted that the home possessed details “here and there that are OK, but not out-of-this-world, not totally unique.”

When asked about Professor Dolkhart’s statement: “The juxtaposition of large and small stones in different colors and textures, and red bricks on the main façade is highly unusual, and appears to be unique in the village.” Cotungno said that he couldn’t say if the façade was planned or if it was the result of Hammond simply using materials that were available at the time. He added that he didn’t believe the design was noteworthy, despite the fact that Dolkhart asserted that it was extraordinary and wrote,“75 Morris Lane is a significant house in Scarsdale.”

The CHP members then reviewed the history of the home and its various owners, including its first owner, entertainment lawyer Arthur F. Driscoll, who also served as mayor of Scarsdale for a year. While discussing that the home may not rise to the level as 3 Hickory, one of the committee members noted that it probably was more of a prototypical example of Tudor architecture, rather than exemplary. However, at 6,267 square feet, the house is quite large for the time period, and, since no significant alterations have been made to the building, it is in its original state. This, along with Dolkart’s statement, seemed to sway the committee toward preserving the home prior to public comment.

Residents Weigh In
Sara Hawkins provided additional information on the home’s history, including details on Driscoll’s legal career. One board member then responded by saying, “When we talk about a high-level executive… certainly it’s interesting… and should be considered.“ Another added, “Does that mean the house has historical significance? I don’t know. “

Eric Lichtenstein pointed out that 75 Morris was proposed as a Scarsdale landmark in the village’s 2012 Cultural Resources Survey, conducted by architects Li/Salzman and Dolkhart, yet 3 Hickory was not. Therefore, if the application to demolish the Hickory home was denied, certainly, Morris should be preserved as well.

Jack Miller, a former, longtime member of BAR then said, “Contrary to what John says, there is corbelling and usage of materials in this house… I’m an architect and I don’t know how this house was constructed. I don’t know how some of the brickwork was done, how some of the timbering was placed, or how some of the stonework was incorporated. It is marvelous… It has such incredible detail and work. As far as its siting and floor plan goes, it’s a meandering wonder on the lot; it’s really interesting to see.” Miller then went on to question why the owners are refuting the architectural value of the house when their real estate listing states, “One of Scarsdale's premier properties with fabulous curb appeal… Built in 1929, this majestic estate offers exquisite architectural details and remarkable craftsmanship.”

In response, one of the CHP members stated that, while informative, real estate listings do not determine a home’s significance, and that factual information and expert opinion, such as Professor Dolkhart’s, is more important in assessing each property. Further, each property is judged on its own merits, not compared to other structures. However, another member noted that a real estate listing can be considered a statement from the owner, and conflicting statements should be noted in the review process.

After a brief discussion, the committee voted to deny the application to demolish 75 Morris, with five members agreeing, and one abstaining.

Will the Other Shoe Drop?
As they consider their next steps, the owners of each home have a right to appeal the CHP decision and may file a petition of hardship. So, either or both of the homes are still in danger of being lost. Given the Scarsdale Board of Trustee’s track record of granting past hardship claims, and recent protests of CHP members, what happens next is anyone’s guess. However, recent changes to village preservation code and efforts to draft new, landmark preservation legislation may make a real difference in retaining the village’s architectural history in the future. Stay tuned.

New TeamMayor Marc Samwic and Village Trustees Rochelle Waldman, Seth Ross and Jonathan Lewis were sworn in at Village Hall on Monday April 1.Three newly elected trustees and Scarsdale’s new Mayor gathered at Scarsdale Village Hall on Monday April 1 at noon to be sworn into office. They were joined by family, former Village mayors, Village staff and friends to celebrate the big day.

SamwickSworninHere are pictures of Scarsdale Mayor Marc Samwick and Village trustees Jonathan Lewis, Seth Ross and Rochelle Waldman taking their oaths of office from Village Clerk Donna Conkling.
Congratulations to all!

Photo credit: Josh RingelrosssworninLewisSwornInWaldmanSwornIn

trusteesThe Non-Partisan Party Slate: Seth Ross, Rochelle Waldman, Marc Samwick and Jonathan LewisThis letter was sent to Scarsdale10583 by Jonathan Lewis, Candidate for Village Trustee:

I am running for Village Trustee on Tuesday, March 19 on the non-partisan slate. I am a great believer in our non-partisan system of government — it’s how Scarsdale became Scarsdale. But I also firmly believe that Scarsdale is at its best when it innovates, and when it focuses on what it does uniquely better than any other community in New York. My career has taught me to do more with less, while being innovative, impactful, and taking the long view. These are the lessons I’d bring to the Board of Trustees.

First, a little about my background. In 2004, I co-founded Samson Capital Advisors. We were seven working partners with no clients or revenues. By 2015, when we sold our company, we managed about $7 billion in assets under management and had over 30 employees. Our reputation for being careful was earned during the financial crisis.

I am now Chief Investment Officer and a member of the management committee at Fiera Capital US, which now has over 120 employees and manages more than $20 billion across a range of asset classes. As a Chief Investment Officer with expertise in finance, municipal bonds, and risk management, I would bring this knowledge to the position of Village Trustee.

I have been a member of Business Executives for National Security, a nonpartisan organization where senior executives provide pro bono consulting services to the federal government, bringing best business practices to national security issues. I chaired reform initiatives on intelligence and served on pro bono assignments related to the structure, staffing, and compensation of the intelligence community. I served on a multi-year task force on how to improve domestic security. I have worked with executive branch actors from the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and the CIA, and members of Congress to ensure federal, state, and local governments collaborate properly to keep everyone safe. I would bring this perspective to policy discussions about public safety. JonathanLewisJonathan Lewis

I have been very active within the Scarsdale volunteer community, as a past president of the Scarsdale Forum, and as an elected member of the Scarsdale Board of Education.

My term as president of the Scarsdale Forum from 2008-2009 occurred during the financial crisis, when I instituted major changes to enhance the vibrancy of the organization during some difficult times. I appointed an investment committee to establish guidelines and define the asset allocation strategy for the organization.

In terms of policy, I brought experts from SUNY Albany to meet with our board to lead a planning discussion about digital government initiatives. In reaction to community concern about the number of tear-downs that were occurring, I created a new committee on Neighborhood Character. In the years that followed, the Forum weighed in on the discussion of neighborhood character and preservation. During my term, with an investment plan in place, and membership up, the financial stability of the organization was also strengthened.

During my time on the School Board, we had to contend with the then-new state law establishing the property tax cap. We had to balance the need to provide a great education for the 21st century, while being mindful of the economic challenges our stakeholders faced in the aftermath of the financial crisis. One of the most impactful new ideas we funded was called the Scarsdale Center for Innovation. It was a low-cost initiative that had the power to unleash the creative energies of our teachers and administrators for the purpose of reengineering our curriculum.

Scarsdale’s leadership in education and our reputation as innovators in that field are what set our community apart, and I believe we need to innovate in our local government to succeed in this challenging era. I believe that if we approach the challenges of our time with fresh perspectives, we are more likely to innovate our way to deliver on the value proposition of living in Scarsdale. If we succeed, Scarsdale will remain the most attractive choice for home-buyers seeking to build a happy and successful future for themselves and their families.

I am confident that, if elected, with my my colleagues on the Village Board I can help Scarsdale succeed, and I ask for your vote on March 19.

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