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1040formFollowing a public hearing this past Tuesday, the Scarsdale Board of Trustees approved the establishment of a charitable gift reserve fund tax credit to allow residents the option of offsetting the $10,000 cap on state and local property tax (SALT) deductions.

Any Scarsdale property owner who makes an unrestricted monetary contribution to the fund will be permitted to claim a credit against their village property tax equal to 95 percent of the donation. Residents are not permitted to claim a credit that exceeds their current year village tax.

One significant caveat, however, is that the IRS has yet to officially rule on whether such contributions are tax deductible. However, village staff are proceeding quickly to provide Scarsdale residents access to such a program in time for the 2018-19 tax year, should it be deemed acceptable.

The BOT established the fund last month; creating the tax credit was the second step in making the program possible. The public had an opportunity to discuss the issue and pose questions at the hearing, which was held during the BOT’s regularly scheduled board meeting.

Trustee Seth Ross opened the discussion by stating…”Because the 2018-19 village tax bill comes due in July, a decision… must be rendered in June in order for the benefit to be available to property owners. As a result of the short timeline, staff have already begun planning, pending the board decision… “ He continued, “The IRS may rule that the contributions are not permissible deductions for income tax purposes and recent reports in the media suggest that the IRS may be considering moving in that direction. In that regard, it is recommended… that taxpayers seek the advice of tax professionals before making any decision relating to how they will handle their tax payments, including the possibility of paying into a charitable gift fund.”

He then solicited comments from his fellow trustees, staff and SWC Country FairMembers of the Scarsdale Woman's Club turned out in force to help with the Country Fair June 10, the club's centennial gift to the community. Photo credit Lisa Van Gundymembers of the public. Trustee Justin Arest began by stating, “Firstly, we are not tax experts… we are not telling anyone how to file their taxes nor how to pay them. Governor Cuomo signed legislation creating the idea of charitable funds as a way to potentially restore deductibility for certain local taxes. Our action today does not necessarily endorse that policy, nor does it provide any assurances that it will be successful. We are merely working hard to ensure that… any resident that believes this scheme might be advantageous…and is aware of, and willing to accept… risks involved, may opt in. For anyone who chooses the charitable gift fund is not for them… may continue to pay taxes in the same manner as they always have.”

Arest went on, “Secondly, this is not a sure thing for residents… Opinions range from this being a foolish attempt that will not succeed, mainly because it was created… to avoid taxes; to ‘it has to work,’ because disallowing this program would jeopardize similar programs that…. are allowed in 22 states set up in response to the Tax Reform act of 1986… The bottom line is that would be doing this to benefit those residents who want to use it and hope to benefit from it. “

Arest then assured residents about the board’s intentions in adopting the program. “…fiscal prudence… and setting up this option for our residents are not competing interests. Because I have read some critique of the state in regard to the possibility that passing this law is … a substitute for tightening its belt, I feel the need to mention it. We all take our fiduciary duty very seriously and are sensitive to the economic pressures that our decisions can have… Please do not misunderstand our desire to help our residents tonight with an idea that we have less to worry about when it comes to optimizing our budget.”

He concluded by stating, “Lastly, speak to a tax expert… please. Speak to an advisor… someone who understands your specific situation and can discuss the potential risks and benefits with you.”

Bob Harrison (Fox Meadow Road) began the public comment portion of the hearing by stating, “I’ve been in touch with several accountants… the IRS has issued… a bulletin (stating) that they won’t honor a tax credit for this type of charitable gift reserve fund…comments that each person should be in touch with their own tax advisor are certainly appropriate. I guess it’s worthwhile approving it; each resident will have to make (his or her) own decision. “ He also asked for clarification on whether a resident would have to pay $105.26 for every $100 in tax due, or a 5 percent premium as opposed to simply paying the tax due. Village Treasurer Mary Lou McClure responded by saying, “It’s just a matter of arithmetic. If only 95 percent of the contribution would be eligible for…the credit claim, you have to work backwards from the tax amount due… You take your tax amount due, you divide by .95, and it’s more than just 105 percent.” Trustee Arest added, “She’s giving the illustration that, if you have a $100 tax bill, you have to pay $105.26 because only 95 percent can be credited toward your taxes.”

Bob Berg (Tisdale Road) followed, saying, “I would just urge residents to be very, very cautious in taking advantage of this law. It’s going to be challenged by the IRS; it’s not going to pass… It’s a tax scam; it’s a political ploy by the governor and it’s really a dangerous thing.” He then went on to say, “I understand why you’re going to pass this, I probably would agree with you in passing it in the very, very slight chance it will be upheld.”

With no additional comments, Ross closed the hearing, and members of the BOT and mayor voted unanimously to adopt the measure.

Aside from the public hearing on the charitable gift fund tax credit, the Scarsdale Board of Trustees meeting was rather routine, but lengthy due to review of a large number of finance, land use, legal and municipal services resolutions. The board also endorsed several police commendations for meritorious service and approved appointees to a variety of village boards and councils.

The general public comment session, perhaps generating more interest than usual after the last BOT meeting, covered a variety of topics, ranging from recycling and library renovation updates, to distributed antenna systems, preservation issues and the pending retirement of Scarsdale Village Attorney Wayne Esannason.

Public Comments

Progress and Kudos
Ron Schulhof (Springdale Road), chair of the Conservation Advisory Council, began microphoneby announcing that curbside pick up of food scraps began on June 4. “We’re in the second week of pickup, which happens on Mondays and Tuesdays. It’s always the first day of your trash (pickup); if you’re Monday-Thursday, you get a pick up on Monday; if you’re Tuesday-Friday, you get a pick up Tuesday.” He continued, “It’s been going fantastic for the residents; it’s been going fantastic for the village. In the first two weeks, we’ve picked up almost eight tons of food scraps. Those eight tons are out of the trash, which would normally be burned… (and) will be turned into soil in about three months.” He then encouraged residents to register for the program. Schulfhof also announced that a Furniture Sharehouse donation bin has been placed at the Scarsdale Recycling Center for resident donations “if you have any small furniture or household items… that would fit in an apartment, that’s where most (of those) who are receiving this furniture (live).” He concluded his comments by thanking the village government and staff, and residents for participating in these conservation programs and “being willing to lead.”

Diane Greenwald (Oak Lane), representing the Scarsdale Public Library Board of Trustees, provided a timeline for the library’s transition into its temporary home at Scarsdale Supply Field. “The children’s room will close for packing starting on Monday, June 18 and, then, the entire Olmstead Road building will close to patrons on Sunday, June 24.” She went on, “Library Loft, which is at supply field, 244 Heathcote Road, will open on Thursday, July 5… (It) will have the following services: a children’s room; a reference section; wifi; three public computers, a scanner and a copy machine; a new book section; audio books and DVDs; and magazines and newspapers. Seating will be limited; hours are reduced to accommodate shared parking with field users. Some popular programs will be held at other sites so stay tuned and check frequently for upcoming notifications… on our website.” She also reminded the public that cardholders are able to use other libraries in the Westchester Library System and urged residents to visit scarsdalelibrary.org for more information.

Greenwald concluded her remarks by saying, “This move and closure is necessary while the current library undergoes a major transformation, made possible by funding from the Village of Scarsdale and generous donations from so many Scarsdale residents. We are proud of our public-private partnership resulting in robust support across our community, and cannot thank our campaign committee and donors enough for their generosity of time and resources… We have reached nearly $8 million in donations, which is extraordinary.”

countryfair1Girls line up to get their arms and faces painted by Liliana Benitez at the Scarsdale Woman's Club Country Fair June 10. Photo Credit Lisa Van GundyDAS Questions
Wendy Lee (Boulevard) followed up on her email correspondence with Mayor Dan Hochvert, stating her concerns about the installation of distributed antenna system (DAS) technology throughout the village. She thanked the mayor and village attorney for their responses, and then voiced her point of view. “Based on the articles I’ve read, it seems that the safety of DAS nodes is still a very controversial issue. I don’t believe that, because the RF (radio frequency) emissions are within FCC statutory limits, we should give automatic approval for installation of DAS nodes throughout… Scarsdale. A lot of these laws were enacted many, many years ago and did not contemplate the proliferation of 5G technology or installation of DAS nodes, especially in front of our homes.” Lee continued, “In addition, these DAS nodes have not been tested for long-term safety. I don’t think we can just say that (they are) harmless and go ahead… we should, perhaps, consider alternative technology. She then asked for clarification regarding the placement of nodes throughout the village, and is concerned about how close they can be positioned to homes. She asked the board and administration to consider a minimum distance requirement and also encouraged additional review of the matter, which would include public input.

Zoe Berg (Tisdale Road) echoed Lee’s sentiments by saying, “Wireless technologies are proliferating rapidly, in every aspect of our lives. And, while they may be convenient, emerging research suggests that they are also impacting our health, even at levels far below FCC standards.” She went on, “Small, but powerful, transmitters used to facilitate two-way communication, such as DAS, increase our exposure to wireless radiation… Long considered to be harmless, peer-reviewed research has demonstrated a myriad of adverse biological effects…(In) 2011, it was classified as a Group 2B carcinogen by the World Health Organization… The installation of DAS around our town would substantially increase our chronic low-level exposure to wireless radiation.” Berg then urged the board to consider health and safety issues if and when the technology is installed. “DAS antennas must be placed very far from residences and schools. Let’s operate via the precautionary principle… be smart about this and protect the health of our community,“ she concluded.

Now the Critics’ Turn
Jonathan Gruen (Brewster Road) followed by voicing his opinion about the exchange between Bob Harrison and Hochvert that took place at the last BOT meeting. “While most speakers were treated with dignity and respect, Bob Harrison was not…Throughout Bob’s speech, Mayor Hochvert routinely interrupted him… During this interaction, Mayor Hochvert’s tone and word choice clearly demonstrated that the board had no interest in what Bob had to say.” He went on, “…I would have never expected (that) one of our most outstanding residents would be treated with such little respect. Many residents believe, given what happened in (the last) board meeting, Mr. Harrison should receive a public apology… I expect that all Scarsdale residents should have their voices heard and respected. Mayor Hochvert, your job is to lead this town while respecting its laws and citizenry. Despite your personal grievances with any member of the public, you must treat them with respect and dignity… As mayor… you must do everything in your ability to inquire about their opinions and priorities… one way you can accomplish this is creating a survey of all residents… asking (them) for their opinions on important issues… (and to) rank their priorities, so that you’re spending your time and our tax dollars most efficiently.“

Bob Berg (Tisdale Road) then discussed the upcoming retirement of Village Attorney Esannason, effective June 30, and the search for his replacement. “Congratulations, Wayne, on your retirement. I wish you well in your new endeavors.” he began. “As has become abundantly clear over the past several years, the village’s legal issues are increasingly complex and controversial… I have, personally, completely disagreed with Village Attorney Esannason’s legal analysis on key issues over the last several years… Because the village has relied on the village attorney’s legal advice, the result has been extremely costly, disruptive and disturbing to many residents… A permanent replacement…should not be selected by the village manager and/or the village board alone. This position is too critical to be filled without the informed input of village residents…I respectfully insist that you solicit and then select seek a group of qualified residents, particularly…practicing attorneys to advise you in choosing the next Scarsdale Village Attorney.”

Berg also criticized the public comment period at the last BOT meeting. “I was very upset by how the public comment period was handled. It was pushed back way back past 9:00 pm…(it) is the most important part of the meeting (and) should be held right after the village manager presents, as it has been done for many, many years… (Further) most members of the public do not come here lightly. Most are intimidated to speak publicly, on television, and what they have to say is important…and should be important to you… Before Bob Harrison even spoke, the mayor was chiding him to stick strictly to a five-minute deadline; throughout his presentation, the mayor continuously interrupted him, distracted him… I was even more appalled by the rest of you, the trustees, (who) just sat there and said nothing… I hope I never see a resident… treated that way again.”

Tennis Anyone?
Bob Harrison (Fox Meadow Road) came next, representing the Scarsdale Summer Youth Tennis League, and took the opportunity to promote youth tennis in the village. He thanked the mayor for the village’s work with the school district to move along construction of a new comfort station at Scarsdale Middle School. He also discussed the 34th season of the summer youth tennis league, which begins on July 10. “This is the best bargain in Scarsdale youth sports… It’s for… boys and girls, ages 6 to 18; we play… four weekday evenings, Monday through Thursday, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. The players can come every night or pick nights… The great value of this program is that the youth player can get 32 hours of play over four weeks for the grand sum of $50.” He invited the public to contact him for more information at proscars@aol.com. Applications can be obtained via the Scarsdale Parks and Recreation Department or at tennis courts throughout the village.

Plea for Preservation
Lika Levi (Lockwood Road) concluded the public comment session by raising questions about a variety of issues, including conservation and historic preservation. Specifically, she touched upon the large number of trees that are cut down each year in Scarsdale and pleaded with the board to do more to preserve Scarsdale’s older homes. She said, “We were all here last Tuesday to observe the hearing about 6 Fenimore Road… I hope we can circumvent loopholes (in historic preservation guidelines), and make our preservation laws much stronger.” She recently described the house as “a perfect example of what makes Scarsdale, Scarsdale.” Levi also stated that she hoped some portion of the newly established charitable gift fund would be allocated for parks and historic preservation purposes, and supported the idea of a resident survey to determine residents’ ideas and preferences in shaping public policy.

Mayor’s Responses
With regard to the village’s position on the public comment portion of public meetings, Hochvert had already referenced the issue in his opening remarks at the start of the board meeting, and provided some insight into his previous exchange with Harrison. “I think two of the primary things the public comment mic is used for are statements that somebody wants to share with the public (and) questions that a person believes should be of interest to the public. If you have prepared questions or statements, as most people do, usually that will fit into our time limit.” He further explained, “What’s not a part of the normal use of that microphone is conversation with the board. However, as Mr. Harrison will attest, if he calls me on the phone, there is no time limit.”

Hochvert then mentioned that he did some research on the issue and cited the Citizen Advocacy Center’s best practices for public commentary. “They suggest that the time limit should be three minutes at the microphone… (and) the total time period should be limited to 30 minutes. Of course, we have five minutes, not three minutes, and we have no limit on the time that the entire audience might want to take. I think it’s important that we go back to the long-established practice… of five minutes. At the end of all (comments), if there are answers (we can offer), or… ask the staff the answer, we’ll do that. If we have to look for the answer, we will make sure whoever asked the question gets the information.” He concluded by saying “I believe our practice is a good one; it has benefits for the trustees and the audience… Certainly, if there’s a difficulty, like there was with reval, I understand that the board is more lenient with the timing of the speaker at the microphone. But, I’d like people to, please, fit your comments into the five-minute interval.”

In response to Lee and Zoe Berg’s concerns about DAS technology, Hochvert stated that DAS technology is currently in place just on state roads. “We do not have the authority to regulate based on the RF energy that is transmitted. But we have questioned whether the pole locations could be placed a certain distance from the nearest house and the answer is yes. We are still working with folks on DAS, so there has not been any decision yet.” He also followed up on Bob Berg’s question about the process to hire a new village attorney by stating that no decision has been made as of yet.

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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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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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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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