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foodscrap2Village and County employees and officials gathered at the early hour of 7 am on Monday June 4 to celebrate the launch of Scarsdale Food Scrap Recycling Weekly Curbside Pickup. Instead of a ribbon cutting, food scrap bags were tossed into the truck to mark the occasion.

There were speeches from Michelle Sterling, Ron Schulhof, Mayor Dan Hochvert, Village Trustee Jane Veron, Superintendent of Public Works Benedict Salanitro and County Legislator Ben Boykin. County Executive George Latimer, Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins and Peter McCartt from the County were also all on hand to witness the event.

Proponents hope that this historic program will bring about a sea change in waste reduction - not just for Scarsdale but for the entire county if it takes root. Scarsdale is the first town in Westchester County to run this type of program.

Anyone who would like to sign up for curbside pick-up of food scraps can do so online at http://www.scarsdale.com/495/Food-Scrap-Recycling or by emailing composting@scarsdale.com The new wheeled locking bins (you must use a Village-approved bin for the program) can be purchased at the Recycling Center office Monday through Saturday from 8 am to 3 pm and are $15 (check only).

Below are remarks made at the ceremony by Michelle Sterling, who with Ron Schulhof, was the driving force behind the initiative.

My name is Michelle Sterling, I’m on the Scarsdale Conservation Advisory Council and am the co-founder of the Scarsdale Food Scrap Recycling Program along with Ron and our fantastic Department of Public Works.foodscraptoss

I would like to share a few closing remarks about this momentous occasion and where we can go from here.

One of the many reasons I’m proud to be part of the Scarsdale and Westchester community is that we don’t just care about what is happening, we care enough to do something about it. Then from there we work together to get things done.

We all know it makes sense to recycle food scraps. We have seen Scarsdale and the Westchester community embrace this change. All 7 of the schools here in Scarsdale are recycling their food scraps as well as 40 other schools around Westchester. Many houses of worship have zero waste initiatives. And now municipalities throughout the County are launching food scrap recycling programs. We are closing the loop – taking food scraps, which contain valuable nutrients and energy – and turning them back into soil! It makes sense environmentally, and if we all do it right, it will also make sense fiscally.

We see every day that people want to do the right thing, and that they WILL do the right thing if we give them a way to do it. Before this municipal food scrap recycling program, composting your food scraps wasn’t feasible for most people. But there are so many that want to do something to reduce their environmental impact. Now residents are not only participating but they’re saying “Thank you for bringing us this program!!” They share with us their appreciation for being able to do something to help the environment through this program, and to be able to model best practices for their children and grandchildren.

As we look forward, I see a Westchester where food scrap recycling is as commonplace as recycling paper, glass, plastic and metal. A Westchester where someone holding a banana peel looks around for the food scrap recycling bin instead of the trash. A Westchester where visitors come and see what we’re doing and bring these initiatives back to their own community. I see a Westchester where food scraps are turned into compost right here in the County and residents can go pick up that compost for their own gardens. I see a Westchester leading the way. That will be a great day. And that day is coming.

Today is a step in getting there. All of us here have the courage, the foresight, and the vision to make this happen. And we can be proud that we didn’t wait for someone else, but we acted. I’m so excited/proud to be here with everyone at the start of this new initiative and to move forward on it with all of you. Thank you.

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40 PaddingtonExposed Wires at 40 Paddington RdWe received some complaints about broken and temporary utility poles in Scarsdale dating back to the damaging Nor’easters that occurred in March, 2018. Turns out these poles are the responsibility of Verizon and Con Edison, not Scarsdale Village, and the utility companies need to repair, replace and remove them.

In response to your inquiries on the state of the utility poles, we asked the Village Manager’s office what was being done. They reported that Scarsdale was pummeled by multiple Nor’easters last March, resulting in a significant amount of damage to Con Edison and Verizon utility poles and wires. While much of the damage has been repaired, a few leaning and broken poles remain. The Village has reported the locations of the damaged poles multiple times to Con Ed and Verizon, but to date they have not been repaired.

In early April, Scarsdale’s Department of Public Works (DPW) contacted Verizon to schedule the repair of tilting poles on Saxon Woods Road and Boulder Brook Road. After a month of no action, Verizon claimed that they sent out a job in April, and will work on expediting the repair. At this time, Village DPW also alerted Verizon of another pole located near 56 Crossway, and was assured by Verizon that this work would also be expedited. This exchange occurred at the beginning of May, and despite numerous emails since then, Verizon has not responded nor completed the repair work. Around this time, the Village Manager’s office also contacted Con Ed to see if there’s a plan in place to inspect and fix the remaining damaged poles.

RodneyHamiltonHanging Transformer Box on Rodney RoadThree weeks later on May 17, Con Ed responded with a schedule of repairs they would do along with a list of jobs sent to Verizon to be scheduled. Work is scheduled to repair utility poles at the following locations:

33 Walworth Avenue
18 Sheldrake Road
2 Horseguard Lane
20 Olmstead Road

 

Con Edison notified to Verizon to repair the following poles:

Saxon Woods and Boulder Brook Roads
23 Park Road
48 Walworth Avenue
40 Paddington Road
Paddington and Olmstead Roads
Richbell and Larkin Roads
Rodney and Jefferson Roads
Rodney and Hamilton Roads

Con Ed also noted that 89% of Scarsdale pole inspections have been complete, and the remaining 11% won’t be completed until the end of 2019.

But fixing these damaged utility poles is just the beginning of Con Edison’s issues.SaxonBoulderUDowned Pole on Saxon Woods Rd

On May 11, the utility company issued a 94 page report on their response to the two Nor’easters that struck in March. They stated “Con Edison faced many challenges during Winter Storms Riley and Quinn. While the Company was able to work through these operational and restoration challenges, Con Edison recognizes, and has acknowledged, that the accuracy of the outage and restoration information provided to many customers did not meet our, nor our customers’ expectations. While Con Edison restored many customers consistent with our initial estimate, other customers received incorrect information.” In the report, they recognized that an error in their notification system lead to 49,000 customers being given false information. However, they did not fully acknowledge their own role in the lack of response, and instead noted that “obtaining mutual assistance support sooner would have enhanced our ability to execute on work packages and restore customers faster.” They also touted that 90% of electricity was restored within the initial estimate of four days, but many Scarsdale residents in particular had to suffer much longer wait times.

On May 21, United Westchester, a committee of 70 elected Westchester officials including Scarsdale Mayor Dan Hochvert, published a 41 page report outlining the performance of Con Ed and NYSEG during March’s Nor’easters. The report specifically highlighted eleven early recommendations the utility companies can implement to better respond to future storms.

These recommendations include:
Giving the local governments more accurate information regarding crew placement and damage assessment.
Reevaluating the heavy reliance on the mutual aid system (the practice where utility companies from out of state come in to help repair the power lines).
Abandoning the practice of communicating to customers via robocall due to lack of accuracy. 

These recommendations, if implemented, could lead to more transparency between Con Ed and local governments/customers while improving reliability and response.

33 WalworthWires Left on the Sidewalk Near 33 Walworth AveOn May 29, the State Assembly's Committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions, chaired by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, held a public hearing on storm response by utility companies. The committee asked the utility companies questions regarding their role in response and preparation for storms. Then, the committee heard from the Public Service Commission, which documented the utility companies’ response over the past two months and also took input from local lawmakers.

After the hearing Assemblywoman Paulin said “These storms were extremely challenging in terms of their damage and close proximity in timing. We are all invested in Con Ed and NYSEG’s success in circumstances like these. However, I am alarmed that so many of the issues raised today were also raised six years ago after Superstorm Sandy. The problems we heard about today included a mutual aid system for staffing that has consistently failed to deliver for storms of this magnitude covering large portions of the northeast; a cycle of confusion between the utilities and municipalities on the allocation of damage assessment, cut and clear, and linemen crews on any given day; and poor communication with the general public, including error-prone outage maps, frequent head-scratching robocalls where the utility seemed unaware if the customer they were calling had power or not, and misinformation shared by staff on the ground that exacerbated customer frustration during a very trying time. The legislature, the Public Service Commission, and the utilities need to learn the lessons of what went wrong in March and apply them moving forward so we’re not repeating this pattern for future major storms.”

Hopefully, these hearings will put enough pressure on Con Ed to make changes so there won’t be utility poles left in disrepair months after future storms.

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gunviolence1The Scarsdale Board of Trustees with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in AmericaTuesday's meeting of the Scarsdale Board of Trustees was a lengthy one, dominated by a multitude of issues ranging from gun violence to the charitable gift reserves. See more below:

Gun Violence

Friday June 1st will be National Gun Violence Awareness Day in the Village of Scarsdale. Mayor Dan Hochvert, dressed in orange, read a proclamation for Scarsdale’s fourth annual gun violence awareness day which stated that on average 13,000 people die in gun homicides each year. He asked village residents to reflect on gun violence and to support local organizations to fight gun violence.

The meeting was attended by members of the Westchester Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, led by Patricia Collela. They distributed orange t-shirts and ribbons to the Village trustees and staff. She read the following:

“I would like to thank Mayor Hochvert for officially proclaiming Friday, June 1, 2018, to be National Gun gunviolence2Village staff wore orange ribbons in support of gun violence awareness.Violence Awareness Day in the Village of Scarsdale. On that day, and at events nationwide throughout that weekend, thousands of Americans will honor the victims and survivors of gun violence by wearing orange.

Orange is the color that Hadiya Pendleton’s friends wore in her honor after she was shot and killed in Chicago at the age of 15 — just one week after performing at President Obama’s 2nd inaugural parade in 2013. After her death, her friends asked us to stand up, speak out, and wear orange to raise awareness about gun violence.

The color orange has a long and proud history in the gun violence prevention movement. Whether it’s worn by hunters in the woods of Pennsylvania, activists here in New York, or Hadiya’s loved ones in Chicago, orange honors the more than 90 lives cut short and the hundreds more wounded by gun violence every day — and demands action. Orange expresses our collective hope as a nation — a hope for a future free from gun violence.

I am here as a member of the Westchester Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which was founded in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In the 5 years since that tragic day, Moms Demand has expanded to include a chapter in every state, with more than 4 million volunteers dedicated to ending the epidemic of gun violence in our nation.

Across the country, Moms Demand Action works with students, survivors, mayors, law enforcement officers, faith leaders, teachers, doctors, and all kinds of Americans who know there is more we can do to prevent gun violence. Together we advocate for stronger laws and policies that will save lives, and we are proud to be a driving force behind many Wear Orange gunviolence3Pat Colella and Mayor Dan Hochvert display the proclamation.events.”

Stormwater Management

Village Manager Steve Pappalardo invited the village engineer to present the annual report on compliance with storm water control laws. He explained that the village is required to report on implementation of pollution prevention plans, public education, participation and involvement, detection, and elimination of storm water runoff. The village is also required to control runoff from construction sites and take precautionary measures to prevent polluted water from infiltrating open watercourses and ultimately the Long Island Sound.

The engineer gave a lengthy report on the measures the Village has undertaken this year to safeguard our local waterways and to prevent illicit discharges into the watercourse.

Public Comments

A continuing issue for the Village Board are uncivil and lengthy public comments. Of late, some residents have been using this time to repeat comments made in previous weeks and have also called out specific board members, rather than addressing the board as a whole. Many are speaking longer than the five minute limit.

Mayor Dan Hochvert raised the issue, saying the board is hearing many repetitive comments at village meetings. He said some commenters challenge the ethics of Board members and one charged a member with being “nepotistic.” Hochvert said, “How many would say to their spouse you cannot serve because I am serving.” He also noted that the board received comments on the budget from people who did not attend any budget forums. Hochvert said the village staff has been receiving inquiries on issues that have already been covered. These repetitive requests increase the workload of the staff whom have been working extra hours to respond, slowing progress on matters that are important to other residents.

Village Trustee Lena Crandall broached this issue saying, “Public comments are an important opportunity to share information…one of my hopes is to foster a stronger sense of community.” Crandall said that when she moved to Scarsdale she got to know many residents through volunteer work and encouraged others to use the podium at Village Hall to tell people about the good work of their organizations and invite more volunteers to help out. She asked residents to keep comments constructive and to draft their statements before coming to the podium.

Andrew Sereysky of Walworth Avenue called attention to the Scarsdale Forum report on an off leash dog park. He said, “They recommend the dogparkvillage consider the feasibility of a dog park and form a committee to study these issues. I think this a great move.” He mused on the lengthy process for establishing the park, saying, “As the Grateful Dead said, what a long strange trip it’s been”. He asked anyone who wanted to get involved to email scarsdaledogpark@gmail.com.

Sereysky also invited Greenacres residents to the 2nd annual outdoor movie night on Greenacres Field on Saturday June 2 at 8 pm.

John Gruen of Brewster Road complained about the poor condition of Scarsdale’s roads. He said, “How are our roads in such poor condition? We have to avoid distracted drivers and dangerous potholes… Potholes cause serious damage and injuries… I urge you to recognize this issue. Act now – this isn’t a political issue it’s a safety issue.”

Mayor Hochvert responded, saying “Last year we paved 6 miles of roads. This year Post Road and Weaver Street will be repaved. We agree with many of your statements and are working hard to find the money.”

Philip Mehler of Birchall Drive also wanted to comment on the roads. He said, “The young man took my thunder away about the roads. The roads are not getting better they are getting worse. What you do is piecemeal. You need to take a dynamic approach. My three year old Lexus sedan started to rattle so much that I traded it in for a new Lexus.”

Former Village Trustee Bob Harrison who frequently speaks at meetings came to the mic. Before he began, Mayor Hochvert reminded Harrison of the five minute time limit for comments. Harrison quickly responded, “Mayor, that's not fair, we sat out there and listened to all you speak for quite a long time.” Harrison then continued to comment on the charitable gift reserve and village tax due dates, topics that Hochvert noted could be privately discussed with the Village Treasurer during the week. Harrison then asked about the status of a comfort station at the Middle School tennis courts. When Hochvert reminded Harrison that he had exceeded his five minutes, Harrison said “I don’t know what happened to you Mayor, you used to be so great… it was always a nice interaction.” He called the speaking time limits, “very disturbing.”

Resolutions

2-4 Weaver Street
Trustee Carl Finger introduced a resolution to amend the Village of Scarsdale’s agreement with Frederick Fish and Stephen Oder, the developers of 2-4 Weaver Street. The original agreement called for 11 multi-family units including one fair and affordable housing unit. However, In September 2014 the owners requested the development of three additional multi-family units in the tavern building, increasing the total number of units to 14, which was approved by the planning board. The Village Board agreed to permit 14 units, including one affordable unit at 2-4 Weaver Street.

Sidewalk Sale
Trustee Veron introduced a resolution to hold the annual Sidewalk Sale on Thursday July 26 through Saturday July 28 from 10am to 6pm each day in Scarsdale Village. Sidewalk Sale participants must be insured and have the proper permits for tents, assembly, amusement devices, or sale of food. The $125 tent permit fee will be waived as long as merchants file an application with the Fire Department and obtain approval from the Fire Inspector. She noted that the village is working cooperatively with businesses and that waiving the tent fee enables more businesses to participate in the sidewalk sale for residents.

Charitable Gift Reserves
The Board agreed to hold a hearing on June 12 for a resolution to create a charitable gifts reserve fund to allow residents to deduct state and local taxes. Responding to The Federal Tax Cuts and Job Act imposed by President Trump in December, Governor Cuomo signed a bill into law allowing local governments and school districts to establish a charitable gifts reserve fund that could be used to offset the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions imposed by President Trump. The charitable gift reserve fund will allow property owners to make an unrestricted charitable money contribution to the fund and receive a real property tax credit of up to 95% of the value of the contribution. Residents who contribute to the charitable fund must complete a credit claim acknowledgment form issued by the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance. The Village of Scarsdale passed a resolution that would allow residents to take advantage of the charitable gift fund to receive up to a 95% credit towards their village tax bill. To apply to village property owners this year, the charitable gifts reserve fund must be adopted prior to the issuance of village tax bills on July 1, 2018.

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Memorial day Parade 1On a cloudy Memorial Day, Monday, May 28th, war veterans from the American Legion hosted the annual parade in Scarsdale Village. Residents and representatives from the Scarsdale Police and Fire Departments, volunteer firefighters, Scarsdale Village Ambulance Corps, cub scouts, boy scouts, Daisies, Brownies and Girl Scouts, and war veterans gathered in Boniface Circle to honor the brave men and women who had fallen in defense of our nation. The day commenced at the memorial for fallen soldiers where a wreath was laid in a ceremony lead by former Scarsdale Mayor Miriam Flisser. Scarsdale Veterans stood at the memorial and lead the town in the singing of the national anthem, serenaded by the SHS marching band. The ceremony closed with taps, and the annual parade began.

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Victoria Gearity and Liz Fried working with studentsVictoria Gearity and Councilwoman Liz Fried spoke with the students.On April 19, 43 high school girls from across Westchester County met with 16 female elected officials to learn about running for political office. The seventh annual Running and Winning workshop was funded by the Westchester Community Foundation and sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Westchester, the American Association of University Women, and the YWCA of White Plains & Central Westchester.


The junior and senior girls listened closely to the female elected officials who included members of the State Senate and Assembly, and officials at the county, city, town and village levels. State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins reflected on high school students’ growing political activism, “You are already speaking truth to power. Your biggest decision is how far you want to go, and how high you want to run.”

Ossining Town Supervisor Dana Levenberg continued the encouragement, “Young women think they need to know everything before doing anything. But there is a lot of support for you out there.”

There was no sugarcoating of the challenges. “I’m labeled as divisive when I’m outspoken,” said Mount Vernon Councilwoman Farquharson. She offered practical advice: do not make decisions based on wanting to be re-elected. “I freed myself from that limitation. I will make decisions based on what is good for the community.” Briarcliff Manor High School Senior Jane Tilles commented, “I loved when she [Farquharson] quoted Shirley Chisholm, ‘If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.’” Cynthia Constantinou, Briarcliff Manor Senior, agreed. “We need to have more active and assertive women making space for themselves. The role models here today cemented a new awareness of women in politics.”Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins addressing studentsSenator Andrea Stewart Cousins also addressed the girls.

The officials shared their personal stories and motivation for running. They encouraged girls to follow their passions. Virginia Perez, County Board of Legislators, told them that “women run for office because something happened in their lives.” After her brother was murdered by gang members, she ran to enact policies that could “save two people: the person who won’t make the mistake in the first place, and the person who would have been their victim.” Perez told the students that while she was proud of her work in politics, “I’ll be a lot more proud when I vote for you.”

Liz Fried, New Rochelle City Council, addressed one of the biggest challenges identified by the officials – raising campaign funds – while echoing Perez’s encouragement. “When you ask for money to run, remember that they are not giving to you as an individual, but as a pathway to community.”

Janes Tilles and Cynthia ConstantinouJanes Tilles and Cynthia ConstantinouConstantinou acknowledged that her generation faces challenges in addition to fund-raising, “Sometimes there is a stigma that teens can be lazy or have short attention spans. Underestimate us all you want, but we are changing things. Our generation will have an impact on politics.” Fried invited that impact, “Don’t feel guilty. Don’t be shy. Put on your sneakers and run.”

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