Tuesday, Feb 19th

Last updateTue, 19 Feb 2019 2pm

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raizenDavid Raizen, Ellen Gross, Jim Maher and Drew HahnScarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps celebrated a year of volunteerism on December 13, 2018. They honored some of the many volunteers who helped to provide advanced life support to the community with SVAC which is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. They respond to approximately 1,500 emergency calls each year and employ paid paramedics who work alongside volunteer EMT’s and support crew.

In their new headquarters building they provide classes in CPR and also train EMT’s. SVAC relies on financial support from the community to provide this essential service.

To learn more and donate, click here: http://www.scarsdalevac.com/donate.php

On December 13, the following SVAC members were honored:

Ellen Gross: EMT of the Year
Jim Maher: Paramedic of the Year
Guy Peifer: Educational Excellence Award for Paramedic Instruction
Stephanie Foley Wheelock: Became an RN this year

Congratulations to the honorees.

Photos by Jn Thaler - see more here:

foleyDavid Raizen, Stephanie Foley Wheelock, Guy Peifer, Richard Robinson and Drew Hahn

small 8487219770 300x300What can we do in Scarsdale to diminish the presence of guns and safeguard kids against the dangers of e-cigarettes, also known as juuling or vaping? As we read troubling accounts of shootings throughout the country and reports of kids vaping in school, directly under the noses of their teachers, our local government has proposed some changes to our Village code to restrict the sale of guns and e-cigarettes in Scarsdale. Though the risks are ever present, at least these two proposed code changes will make it more difficult to secure guns and juul pens in town.

There are no outlets currently selling guns in Scarsdale, but vape pens are currently sold at 7-Eleven, at Five Corners Stationary on Palmer Avenue and at the gas station at the corner of Post and Crane Roads.

Village Trustees met on Monday night December 10 to review the propose code and came to consensus on the following proposal. Under proposed revisions to Village code, shops selling guns would be limited to the retail area around Garth Road (VCR 1.0 District) and could not be closer than 250 feet to places where children are present such as schools, nursery schools, day care centers, playgrounds or houses of worship. This law will regulate the sale, delivery or transfer of firearms and ammunitions as follows:

The provision will also regulate the manner in which guns and ammunition are sold and stored, requiring the following:

-All ammunition shall be kept in a locked case or behind the counter in an area not accessible to the public

-No firearms shall be stored, exhibited or displayed in windows

-All firearms shall be located in a locked display case, counter or storage area with no access from the public. The keys or codes to such areas shall not leave the control of authorized personnel.

When the store is closed:

-All firearms shall be stored in a locked fireproof safe or vault located at the business.

-All firearms must be secured by a hardened rod or cable of at least ¼” in diameter and shall be secured with a hardened steel lock that has a shackle. The lock and shackle shall be protected or shielded from the use of a lock cutter and the rod or cable shall be anchored in a manner that prevents the ready removal of the firearm from the premises.

-The store must have an alarm system and surveillance cameras that are operational when the store is open and closed. Surveillance footage shall be retained for six months.

Under the new law, the sale of E-cigarettes and components would also be regulated to put some distance between sale locations and sites where children are present.

The code would prohibit the sale, transfer or delivery of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) or ENDS supplies such as e-liquids, atomizers, cartridges, and flavoring within 1,000 feet of:

-Any public or private school
-Nursery school
-Day care center
-House of worship
-Youth center, playground

It also specifies that any locations selling ENDS or supplies cannot display them in the store window and cannot be accessible inside the store without assistance.

Village Staff is finalizing the proposed code and a public hearing will be scheduled at an upcoming meeting of the Village Board to invite feedback from the public.

ThanksThe following was sent to Scarsdale10583 from Madelaine Eppenstein who chaired the Procedure Committee who ran the CNC election on 11-13.

Thank you to Scarsdale voters! On Tuesday November 13, several hundred Scarsdale citizens turned out throughout the day and evening, from 7-10 AM in the rain and from 2-9 PM, to vote for their neighbors seeking seats on the non-partisan Citizens Nominating Committee. According to Procedure Committee Chair Madelaine Eppenstein, the following volunteers who ran as representatives from their elementary school district were elected for a three-year term (unless otherwise noted to fill additional vacant seats of one to two-year terms):

Edgewood: Sergi Flaster; Linda Killian; and Stephen Baer (1-year term)
Fox Meadow: Richard Pinto; Jill Spielberg
Greenacres: Jon Krisbergh; Alan Lewis
Heathcote: David Bunzel; Adam Rilander; Bob Wolloch (2-year term); and Anne Zink (1-year term)
Quaker Ridge: Lee Fischman; Larry Dobosh

Beginning this month, these new CNC representatives will join current CNC members in their due diligence review of non-partisan hopefuls for the village offices of Mayor and three Trustees. The 30 elected members of the CNC will then nominate candidates by the end of January 2019 to represent the non-partisan party’s slate in the village-wide election on March 19, 2019.*

Procedure Committee Vice-Chair Eric Cheng added that last week “the voters ratified all twelve amendments the Procedure Committee proposed to the Non-Partisan Resolution, the governing document of the non-partisan electoral system. A copy of the newly amended Resolution is available on the Procedure Committee’s website here.

Ms. Eppenstein and Mr. Cheng extend their sincere thanks to Scarsdale voters, and to the members of the Procedure Committee and election day volunteers for their support of the non-partisan system that is “free from partisan controversies and from electioneering for party advantage.” Above all, they are grateful to the candidates for their civic commitment and public-minded spirit by standing for election to serve as volunteers on the CNC and to serve in Village office.

The members of the 2018-2019 Procedure Committee, whose term extends through January 31, 2019, are: Charles Baltman; Sarah Bell; David Dembitzer; Eric Cheng; Madelaine Eppenstein; Timothy Foley; Jeff Goodwin; Mayra Kirkendall-Rodríguez; Eli Mattioli; David Peck; Pam Rubin; Gregory Soldatenko; Nancy Steinberg; Michelle Sterling; and Bruce Wells.
Public and Media Contact: Madelaine Eppenstein, Chair, By Email: meppenstein@eppenstein.com

*Under New York State Election Law, candidates outside the non-partisan election system may also run for village office by obtaining the prescribed number of signatures on a nominating petition.

Toll BrothersToll BrothersDevelopers unveiled innovative plans for the development of the Freightway site at a meeting on Tuesday evening 11-27 of the Scarsdale Land Use Committee. Seven firms presented their responses to a “Request for Expression of Interest” (RFEI) for the Freightway redevelopment project. The RFEI yielded promising proposals that met the village’s objectives in improving the site and appeared physically feasible to complete.

According to Scarsdale Village Trustee Jane Veron, “First, we are delighted to learn that there was strong interest among highly credentialed firms in taking on this development project. Second, we were incredibly pleased that many, if not all, principles of the (Freightway) visioning study seem feasible on the Freightway lot. Finally, we have seen a consistency among attributes from the development community that will enable the (development) of a successful request for proposal, or RFP.”Avalon BayAvalon Bay Communities

She then emphasized that the purpose of the meeting was to share information about specific concepts that were proposed, and not to debate the plans. The firms that responded to the RFEI, which included Avalon Bay Communities, BRP Development, East End Capital, Gateway Development Group, LCOR, LMC/Lennar, and Toll Brothers, offered the village a variety of ideas, ranging from rebuilding just the garage structure to creating an elaborate mixed use development.

Before turning the meeting over to Assistant Village Manager Ingrid Richards, Veron cautioned that, while these preliminary designs were exciting, it is very early in the process, and the village is reviewing the firms’ ideas without detailed understanding of costs, economic impacts, logistical issues and related matters. “There will most certainly be a time to articulate views and we will provide ample opportunity for that exchange,” she said.

BRPBRP DevelopmentRichards then presented highlights of each proposal. She began by noting that Freightway would be a “transit-oriented development,” reflecting the current trend of creating vibrant, pedestrian-oriented areas centered near transit hubs and benefitting surrounding communities. Richards reminded attendees of the project’s overall vision, stating, “Any future development… should be a signature project that positively contributes to the vibrancy of the village center while maintaining its current function as a commuter parking lot.”

She then referenced the Freightway visioning study, which was completed earlier this year, and East EndEast End Capitalreviewed the seven principles guiding the project, which are to: 1) improve parking and circulation; 2) ensure public benefits are achieved; 3) ensure contextual development (consistency with look/feel of the village center); 4) encourage mixed-use development in support of the village center; 5) connect and integrate the site with the village center; 6) include environmentally friendly/sustainable attributes; and 7) plan for future needs/uses over the long-term.

Richards said that the study was shared with all developers that responded to the RFEI to ensure that they would incorporate the principles and residents’ ideas in their proposals. “Many of the (developers’) concepts were in line with the visioning study. We feel we can achieve what we’d like to achieve at the site,” she said.

Generally speaking, the developers proposed creating a significant number of residential units at Freightway and improving parking capacity; and all but one provided for retail, commercial and/or office space.

GatewayGateway DevelopmentHighlights of the proposals were as follows:

The Toll Brothers plan features:
• A three-story podium parking structure with retail space, and a seven-story garage on the north side of the site;
• A two-story parking podium and five-story residential building on the south side/at center of the site;
• An urban plaza with retail space along the Popham Road bridge to connect the site from east to west;
• An improved alleyway/passage along the east side of the site to provide pedestrians with better access to the train and village center; and
• An offer to investigate construction of a wide esplanade over the Metro-North tracks, connecting Freightway to the rest of the village center.

The East End proposal includes:
• A design that reflects the Tudor architectural style to ensure consistency with existing village center buildings;
• Two publicly accessible plazas east and west of the Metro-North tracks, and a 30-foot-wide “highline” adjacent to the train tracks;
• Commercial/retail spaces, and an open plaza along Scarsdale Avenue, connecting Scarsdale Avenue to Garth Road;
• A service drive that improves traffic flow by separating service vehicles from commuter traffic, pedestrians and public parking; and
• A community theater and music school.

The Gateway submission contains:LCORLCOR
• A five- to six-story residential structure with three levels of parking;
• A “Popham Road Promenade” with ample public and retail space;
• A pedestrian promenade, pocket park and rain garden on Scarsdale Avenue, connecting it to Garth Road; and
• A vehicular or pedestrian bridge over the Metro-North tracks, that arrives at the upper level of the new garage.

The Avalon Bay plan includes:
• One six-level parking garage for commuters and visitors;
• A five-story residential building located above a second, residential;
• A 3,500-square-foot retail/live/work space along the Popham Road bridge; and
• A village plaza at the corner of Popham Road and Scarsdale Avenue.

LMC proposes:
• A design featuring Tudor architectural features with contemporary elements;
• An integrated platform for community concerts, seasonal space for community events and activities, such as holiday pop-up shops and the farmer’s market, as well as a dog run;
• A pedestrian plaza located on Popham Road, along the east side of the development; and
• 40,000 square feet of retail/commercial space (largest amount proposed, but less than the 10 percent of gross floor area required by Scarsdale).

LMCLCOR’s plan suggests:
• A design that incorporates elements of the Tudor architectural style;
• A corner tower and pedestrian walkway similar to the Harwood building;
• Townhomes located on Scarsdale Avenue that are integrated with the development site;
• A 60-foot-wide green space (“The Mews”) connecting Scarsdale Avenue to Garth Road and the Bronx River Greenway, and a public promenade adjacent to the train tracks;
• Changes to surrounding streets, including a curb cut on Popham Road and reconfigured turning lanes on Garth Road, to effectively manage traffic circulation.

And, finally, BRP’s proposal includes:
• A seven-story parking structure, with eight stories of residential space above;
• A pedestrian access bridge connecting the site to Scarsdale Avenue;
• A public open space located adjacent to Popham Road, including a community park, commuter plaza and kiosk;
• A tree-lined, open park to be used for community events and as a local gathering space.

Next Steps

As village officials and staff begin to review the proposals, they also recognize the need for specialized legal services during the redevelopment process. At its general meeting following the RFEI presentation, the board of trustees approved a resolution to hire James Staudt, of McCullough, Goldberger, and Staudt, LLP, to advise and represent Scarsdale on legal matters related to the project. Staudt was chosen for his expertise in municipal economic development projects, and his previous positive experience with the village while working on the Christie Place development.

While the seven designs certainly will generate a good deal of enthusiasm, there’s a long, complex road ahead. The next major goal for the village is to use information submitted by the developers to create a suitable RFP, which may be completed in early 2019. Considering the months required for developers to respond, and the additional time to review the submissions, Freightway’s transformation is still a ways away. But, slow and steady consideration of each option will be critical to a project that will shape Scarsdale’s future.

According to Veron, “We are in the beginning stages of a process that will guide one of the most important and impactful developments in Scarsdale’s recent history.” (To review the complete RFEI presentation, visit the Planning Department page of scarsdale.com.)

Speaking of Redevelopment…

library constructionRepresentatives of the Scarsdale Public Library presented an update on the library renovation/reconstruction project at Tuesday’s board of trustees meeting. Scarsdale Public Library Board President Diane Greenwald reviewed progress to date and provided a short-term outlook on construction. Work began in August, and demolition and asbestos abatement are continuing. Pylons have been completed and sewage lines have been identified to avoid any problems in excavation work.

“We are really moving along and we have a good sense of what (happens) in each phase, and, hopefully, we’ll be on time.”

In addition to collaborating with the construction team, the library’s building committee currently is reviewing bids for external and internal design work. When dealing with the building’s exterior, the committee is looking at materials that complement the local site, such as stone, terra cotta and wood, to ensure that the building blends seamlessly with the landscape. The committee also is working to design an interior space that offers “something for everyone,” and now is considering furnishings that can be used in a variety of ways, and are both comfortable and durable.library construction2

Beth Bermel, Director of the library, also provided an overview of current operations at the Scarsdale Library Loft. She announced the loft’s new winter hours – 8:00 am to 8:00 pm (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday); 8:00 am to 6:00 pm (Thursday, Friday); and 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (Saturday) – and acknowledged local organizations that are supporting the library during construction by hosting programs and assisting with circulation.

Bermel also announced that the Friends of the Scarsdale Library will host a second “Casino Night” in March, following the success of the first event, which drew 400 guests.

Laura Halligan is a local writer, editor and marketing consultant. She is principal of Pinch Hit Prose and provides communications services to entrepreneurs, small businesses and nonprofits.

yardsignsIn recognition of its efforts to assist the village in improving communications with residents over the past two years, the Scarsdale Board of Trustees voted to advance the ad hoc communications committee as a permanent village council. The new Scarsdale Advisory Council on Communications will continue to work with village staff in supporting public communications and promoting community engagement in public affairs.

According to Trustee Jane Veron, the move is “a tribute to the high quality and positive impact of this hard-working committee… I’ve never seen a group that has worked so hard, truly.” She continued, “The MVP is… Deputy Village Manager Rob Cole – and the voice of Scarsdale Official – enabling us to become more transparent and as open as we possibly can be.”

Mayor Dan Hochvert summarized the village’s interest in improved communications by reading the resolution: ”There is substantial civic value in the effective and efficient exchange of information between village government and the public, using methods and practices that recognize the range of individual communication preferences and needs under both routine and non-routine circumstances.” He continued, “The Scarsdale Ad Hoc Committee on Communications… has demonstrated the value of resident volunteers working in an advisory capacity to shape communication strategies and promote community participation in local governance.”

Dara Gruenberg (Hampton Road), representing the committee, summarized the group’s recommendations to create a foundation for future communications activities: 1) establish a formal communications policy; 2) appoint a public information officer; 3) consider use of social media and develop related policy; 4) develop staff-generated content/communications materials; 5) continue to develop committee/council-generated content; 6) standardize a visual identity for Scarsdale/create branding policy; 7) better utilize Scarsdale Public TV in general communications; and 8) engage in proactive media relations and outreach.

Gruenberg then discussed suggested responsibilities for the group as it moves forward. First, it urges continued active village input in communications planning, “Robert Cole has been invaluable… the committee urges Mr. Cole’s continued participation,” she said. Gruenberg continued by stating that, unlike other boards and councils, communications committee members also participate in other village committees, and this practice should continue to provide a cross-section of ideas and variety of perspectives to Scarsdale messaging efforts. “Committee composition should be partially refreshed annually to promote resident participation,” she offered.

The committee also believes that the village should outline clear, actionable goals and specific assignments each year to continue progress and provide opportunity for measurable results. In addition, the group asks the village to use its 2017 communications proposal as guide in planning for longer-term projects. “The 2017 report continues to accurately illustrate the current state of communications and should be used as a guide for future projects and be updated as needed,” Gruenberg said. She then concluded her comments by relaying that, if the board established a permanent committee, the body should be advisory in nature, assisting a public information officer or designated staff person in completing tasks.

As the resolution states, the village hopes that the new council will help village officials to “foster public trust and confidence in local government” and to develop “communications that successfully reach diverse audiences…(and) cultivate an informed and engaged community, nurture enhanced public involvement in official decision-making, and constitute a hallmark of local government excellence.”

Sign Amendment Approved; Discussion Continues
The board of trustees also passed an amendment to the village code on “Streets, Sidewalks and Public Places” during the meeting. The change, which had been discussed publicly in past weeks, is administrative in nature, and outlines the maximum time period for the village engineer to approve or deny an application to place signage in the village right of way. Specifically, it states, “The village engineer’s decision to grant or deny a permit application shall be made within three business days after a completed permit application has been received by the village.“

Prior to voting, the trustees held a public hearing on the matter, which yielded interesting commentary.

Trustee Carl Finger stated that, ”We believe this issue merits a broader conversation… whether it’s more permissive, less permissive. For the moment, it was mentioned to us that there should be some time period for the village engineer to (respond to applications).”

Mark Lewis (Brewster Road) first pointed out some ambiguity in the proposed change. “I understand the only thing you want to change (now) is to (specify) a three-day waiting period. I feel the problem with the proposed law, as the Democratic chair, (is that it doesn’t address whether) I need to get permission for every individual sign… It doesn’t say where, when, how many… I can’t see how you can pass this… without being more specific… We need clarification on whether we need one form for each location, one form for each candidate…”

Mayor Hochvert responded that, “We are going to go into many of those issues you raised; right now, we have the one item that we need to take care of.”

Later, Bob Berg (Tisdale Road) said, “I strongly oppose this proposed amendment to the village code… as a violation of residents’ constitutional rights… This board has never explained to the public the purpose of the amendment, why it’s needed and what’s driving it… Don’t you think you owe the village residents an explanation of why you’re changing the village code? And, why are you doing it piecemeal? Why are you so vague? … You should be analyzing the whole issue at once… Be open about why you’re doing it.” He continued, “Why does this code govern political signs at all? That’s unconstitutional, that’s un-American. Don’t you think there’s a problem here, with what you are doing? No one’s talking about commercial signs… This is what we do in America… You are trying to impede that.”

Michael Levine (Walworth Avenue) then asked, “What happens if the village engineer doesn’t respond in three days, is the sign approved or not? I think it should be made clear.” He then offered that the engineer may be out of the office or on vacation when applications are pending. Finger responded that while the amendment does not specifically address what happens if there is no response, the village has “a succession of staff, so that the absence of the village engineer should not preclude a response.”

Lewis followed up by asking if there was an appeal process to overrule the engineer’s decision, should he deny a request, and Finger replied, “No, there are legal remedies, but none in the village.”

After the conclusion of public comments, Trustee Justin Arest offered his opinion on the issue. “Just because someone may think or state something is unconstitutional, it doesn’t mean that it necessarily is, respectfully… The public right of way is not private property; the public right of way is public property. We are not doing anything that actually touches property owners’ rights… In fact, because public property is the public right of way, this (deals with) everyone’s property… not just what’s in front of your own house.” He went on, “In response to the idea of political signs, to discuss anything other than being content-neutral would be unconstitutional. As a government, we can regulate size, materials… We have an obstruction provision… having to deal with public safety… There was an unlimited amount of time for the engineer to respond. So, what we’re doing… is saying let’s fix this defect now.” Continuing on his view of public right of way, Arest said, “My belief is that Clarence Thomas was pretty clear; public rights of way are very different from private property… We can regulate based on aesthetics and public safety…. Content is irrelevant; it has to be looked at as if it was just a sign.”

Trustee Seth Ross agreed, stating, “This is a measure that is necessary to correct what we believe is a defect in the ordinance… Unless I’m mistaken, I’ve heard no actual reason not to adopt this amendment.”

In addition to establishing the new communications council, passing the administrative amendment to the village code governing signage in the public right of way, and providing updates on various committee projects, the trustees heard residents raise a number of issues during public comments.

Ron Schulhof (Springdale Road) reminded residents that the LED streetlight pilot will soon end and the public is asked to provide feedback on lights in 11 locations throughout residential areas in the village (two in each neighborhood). To provide your opinion, email led@scarsdale.com by November 19.

In addition to his comments on the pending sign amendment, Mark Lewis mentioned an opportunity to assist local police. “County police have offered to do free dispatching for all communities from 12:00 to 8:00. The only community that has taken them up on this is Tuckahoe. Why hasn’t Scarsdale taken them up on this offer? It can free a police officer or civilian from doing that and, since there’s no charge from the county, it’s a win-win situation.”

Gregg Schwinn (Barry Road), representing the Drake-Edgewood Neighborhood Association, began his comments by expressing appreciation to village staff, particularly Josh Ringel, for improving safety at the crosswalk near the intersection of Post and Edgewood Roads. “It’s a dangerous crossing across a four-lane road... Equipment is being installed this week, in a short time span.” He then went on to discuss the concerns of retirees in his neighborhood regarding rising taxes. and what village can do to entice people to stay in Scarsdale once their children move.

Carol Silverman (Spier Road), a member of the Scarsdale Senior Council, responded by explaining activities for local seniors. “Through the recreation department, we do have all kinds of programs… we also have some lectures and some trips. We can keep you busy and its only $15.00 per year… It’s a good organization to join… Go online at scarsdale.com… I hope your senior citizen neighbor will go along with that.” Schwinn expressed thanks for the advice and added that most seniors were concerned about high taxes.

Schwinn also touched upon the problem of leaves in streets throughout Scarsdale and asked if the village could make it easier for contractors to bring leaves to the recycling center. He finished by discussing a more persistent problem in his neighborhood - flooding and sewer overflows. “I’d like to hear, at every meeting, what is being done to solve the decades-long problem of sewer back up and flooding… It’s the public sewer system; we expect it to work… I know the village is working on things… but it has been suggested by village officials that residents need to fund their own sewer backflow prevention devices and that, for me, is a nonstarter… to have to protect ourselves from the public sewer system… neighbors are already paying for the public sewer system.”

Dog Park Follow Up
Taking note of negative comments about the proposed dog park during a meeting earlier in the evening, two trustees clarified the village’s position on the matter. Trustee Lena Crandall said, “Several sites are possible… It’s a complicated issue… If you have any ideas about an appropriate site, please email the mayor or (contact) me. Finding the location is only one of the issues to consider.” She then noted that, while many people spoke in opposition siting the dog park at Weinberg and other sites, a few mentioned that the facility would be an asset to the community. “We have to be practical and listen to one another politely,” she advised.

Trustee Carl Finger followed, “This is, for us, the initial stages of what we anticipate to be a broader discussion… We got information, we’re digesting it, we’ve got comments and we’ll continue to discuss it. It’s clearly a very complicated issue, and may or may not be feasible. I want to reassure people that we’re looking for more input.” He later added, “We had two reports from respected civic organizations that raised this issue (and stated) that this is something that could benefit the community… There was a (Scarsdale) Forum report and a SNAP report… just so people understand, that’s where the dog park is coming from.”

Several residents who spoke at the earlier meeting also commented and reiterated their views in opposition and support of a dog park in Scarsdale. For more information, read “Not in My Backyard: Residents Growl About Proposed Dog Park.”

Laura Halligan is a local writer, editor and marketing consultant. She is a principal of Pinch Hit Prose and provides communications services to entrepreneurs, small businesses and nonprofits.

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