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You are here: Home Section Table Village Voices Village Board Discusses New Cell Phone Antennas and Approves Charitable Gift Fund to Allow Deductions for Local Taxes
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Village Board Discusses New Cell Phone Antennas and Approves Charitable Gift Fund to Allow Deductions for Local Taxes

mapnodeThe proposed installation sites are indicated by the diamonds.In its shortest meeting since February, the Scarsdale Board of Trustees reviewed a variety of issues of public interest, and addressed a number of finance, legal, personnel and municipal services matters. Although the session was relatively routine in nature, it yielded some notable highlights.

Antenna Installation

Dropped calls may be a thing of the past in Scarsdale if the Village opts to permit the installation of ten new antenna nodes around town. Prior to the Village Board meeting on May 8, the law and land use committee reviewed a proposal from Crown Castle. They are an independent contractor that builds the structure as a neutral provider so cell phone carriers can transmit their service over fiber optic lines. As they are neutral, no single carrier gets priority over another. In order to build these antennas, however, Crown Castle will need to get a franchise agreement with the village.

The installation of a node consists of two parts: the antenna and the corresponding box. The antenna comes in two designs: a poll top which is 48” high and 8” in diameter, and a commercial zone design, which is 24” high and 14” in diameter. The box, which will be attached to the poll containing the antenna, will be 42” high, 24” long, and 12” deep. The box will be made of fiberglass with rounded corners. The height of antenna is necessary to maximize coverage.

20180509144511820 0001A rendering of what the antenna would look like at one of the proposed sites on 81 Brookby Road.Currently, Crown Castle is proposing to build the antennas on ten new sites in the village that were identified through a thorough gap analysis to maximize coverage. The areas identified in the map were found to have had the weakest cell service. Additionally, each node is designed for collocation, meaning multiple carriers will be able to transmit service on a single node. Current infrastructure allows for the support of two carriers, but support for three or four carriers could be made possible in the future but would require more equipment to cover more ranges to support the antenna. The two carriers who would currently collocate on the new nodes would be Verizon and T-Mobile.

Prior to installation, Crown Castle tests each site by installing temporary antennas to ensure the node would cover a wide service area. Once the site is cleared, it only takes two days to build a node, but the carrier (i.e Verizon) would need to get the fiber optic lines to support the structure. Luckily, 99% of Scarsdale’s fiber optic lines are above ground, so installation shouldn’t be prolonged.

Besides improving existing service, the installation of these new nodes could be necessary for the future. Although not existent yet, 5G technology is coming soon, and these new nodes will make the eventual transition easier for Scarsdale residents. When invented, 5G will use the same frequencies that are currently occupied by 4G, so unless new frequencies are made, getting 4G reception may become even more difficult for Scarsdale residents who will not have 5G phones. Installing these nodes can help ensure the 4G residents receive adequate coverage.

communityplantingApril 28 was the 4th annual Community Planting Day sponsored by the Village with native trees and shrubs provided by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s Trees for Tribs program, through a grant obtained for the Village by the Friends of the Scarsdale Parks.                                                                                                       

Mayor Comments
Mayor Dan Hochvert opened the session by discussing quite a few local events that he attended since the last BOT meeting. These included a City 2.0 student presentation on planning on conservation, the Scarsdale Bowl Dinner, the annual Arbor Day ceremony and community planting, a countywide meeting to discuss watershed issues, the recent school safety forum and the “Blue and Gold Award” Boy Scouts ceremony. He also mentioned a discussion with Central Taxi management to explore off-peak pricing and other incentives for village residents.

Hochvert then provided an update on local municipalities’ work on making ConEd accountable for its dismal post-storm performance this past winter. The New York State Public Service Commission thanked Scarsdale for input on commitments made by the utility after Superstorm Sandy that have not yet been satisfied. “While ConEd had delivered on some commitments, it failed to do so regarding staffing during recent storms… I think that the public service commission is probably going to come down hard on ConEd,” he said.

Turning to a more positive issue, Hochvert announced that the Westchester Municipal Planning Federation has named the Freightway Site Redevelopment Study (completed this past February) as an outstanding Planning Achievement Award winner for this year. Past award winning projects include the Boyce Thompson Center in Yonkers, Tarrytown Connected, and the Aqua Tots Development/Adaptive Reuse Legislation in Mamaroneck.

In summarizing his comments, the mayor reminded the public that no leaf blowers may be used in the village between June 1 and September 1; first violations will be subject to fine, while second (and subsequent) violations will require court appearances.

Charitable Gift Fund Approved
Village Manager Steve Pappalardo began his comments with a discussion of the pending resolution to establish a charitable gift reserve fund to offset the $10,000 cap on state and local property tax (SALT) deductions. New York has enacted a charitable contribution program under which property owners may contribute to locally established funds and receive a tax credit against their New York State income taxes or property taxes. The credit may total up to 95 percent of the contribution. Pappalardo said, that while staff is still working through the details, “It is the village’s intent to (allow) property owners to take advantage of the charitable gift reserve funds in time for the village tax, which will be billed by June 30.” He also reminded residents that this tax workaround is still up for review by federal officials. “The IRS has not ruled on the establishment (of such funds) and the credits are not guaranteed at this point. The village, however, does believe that moving forward with the fund to potentially assist our residents is certainly worth our effort.”

Later in the meeting, the trustees unanimously approved the resolution to authorize creation of the fund.

Pappalardo then provided an update on road resurfacing efforts, which have begun sooner this year than in the past, when most work was done during the summer months. This week, a number of residential roads will be prepped for paving, which will take place over seven to eight business days. Depot Place, Freightway and Garth Road also will be resurfaced, beginning on or around May 14, weather permitting. Work in these commercial areas will be completed between 7:00 pm and 5:00 am to minimize disruption to merchants, residents and visitors.

Last, the village manager noted that a number of state grant applications were submitted in April to assist with pending infrastructure projects, including work on the Heathcote Bridge, culverts under Catherine Road, improvement to the village fluoridation system and installation of two electrical vehicle chargers at the Freighway. In some cases, a grant will cover all costs related to the project. New York State Assemblymember Amy Paulin and New York State Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins have pledged to assist in moving the applications forward.

ArborDayScarsdale Village received their 35th Tree City USA designation. In honor of Arbor Day, a replacement tree was planted in Davis Park.

Public Comments on Clarity
After brief reports by a number of trustees, Mayra Kirkendall-Rodriguez (Fox Meadow Road) opened the public comment portion of the meeting. Citing the school district’s focus on “math and empathy,” she said, “I am concerned that there may be a deficit of math and empathy at village hall.”

Reiterating her objections to the Ryan revaluation, recent amendments to the tree code and water rate changes, Kirkendall-Rodriguez believes these matters illustrate a lack of empathy toward Scarsdale property owners. She then emphasized the importance of considering the public’s opinion and financial planning in driving policy. “Over a year into your administration, you still have no numbers showing what residents’ priorities are. And, this is dangerous because Scarsdale really needs a long- term financial model and plan… Unfortunately, a lack of long-term financial planning leaves Scarsdale vulnerable to being more reactive than proactive.”

She finished her remarks by referencing her continued support for Jane Curley, who was not reappointed to the Scarsdale Board of Assessment Review. “Lastly, where is the importance of math and empathy when it comes to you not reappointing a talented volunteer for the board of assessment review… I urge you to… tell us the truth… The more opaque you are, the bigger flashlight I’m going to have to get.”

Bob Berg (Tisdale Road) continued the discussion by expressing his view on “the opacity in how our village government is run.” He explained, “This is, perhaps, best exemplified by the board’s unexplained refusal to reappoint… Jane Curley to the board of assessment review. And, your sequel to that is your refusal to explain to the public how residents are selected for various important… boards, councils and committees.” Stating that the board’s refusal to discuss such appointments may erode residents’ confidence, Berg then asked if the process might be tainted by politics or patronage.

He went on, “That brings me to another point. Important decisions are frequently made at these village board meetings without substantial public discussion… The business of government (must) be conducted in front of the public… For instance, tonight the village board will consider and vote on a resolution regarding wage increases for department heads and nonunion personnel. If the process transpires as I expect… did the trustees discuss the resolution amongst themselves before tonight’s meeting?” Berg then brought up slow real estate sales in Scarsdale and the rising financial burden for village property owners. “I feel the government is not reacting to this new reality... tonight’s resolution is more of the ‘same old, same old...’ This seems to me to be a gratuitous 2 percent increase… Show the public evidence that the staff is underpaid, that there’s a reason to give the increase… We’re entitled to a more detailed explanation… in this new environment.”

Shortly after the public comment portion of the meeting, the trustees unanimously approved the salary increase that Berg questioned. In explaining his support, Trustee Carl Finger said that cost of living increases have been traditionally approved for personnel not covered by collective bargaining agreements. “This resolution is similar to what we’ve done in the past several years and, given the performance of staff in a number of situations, and I include the December 24 tax situation among them, as well as what we’ve seen in terms of storms and other things… the department heads lead the staff. I’m very satisfied in what I’ve seen in my three years (as trustee), and I am very happy and satisfied to vote in favor of this resolution.”

 

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