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From Village Hall: Parking, Firehouse, Time Limits. the Memorial Day Parade and more

memday2Village Parking, lights at Butler Field, time limits for public comments and the Memorial Day Parade were all discussed at the May 14 meeting of the Scarsdale Board of Trustees.  See what happened and read the Mayor's comments below:


Fire Station #1 on Post Road will finally be back in service. After a multi-year $4.7 million renovation, the station, adjacent to Village Hall, can now accommodate large fire trucks. The Mayor explained that the project was over budget by $700,000, or 18%. Samwick blamed it on the Wicks Law that requires separate contracts for all the trades rather than a single “design build” contract which guarantees that the job gets done at a set price. Samwick said he met with state officials to voice concerns about the law.

PANGO Parking App

Good news on parking: Assistant Village Manager Ingrid Richards announced that parking app PANGO will soon be available for use PANGOat Village parking meters. Drivers can download the PANGO app and use it to pay by phone at Village meters. Credit cards and Venmo will also be accepted. It is the hope that this new system will make parking easier and more convenient. Goodbye quarters!

Bronx River Parkway Bike Trail Extension

Exciting development for bikers and walkers: The county is finally beginning work on an extension of the path along the Bronx River to cover the gap between Crane Road and Greenacres Avenue in Scarsdale. To accommodate neighbor’s concerns, this extension will be built on the west side of the parkway, rather than extending through Fox Meadow. Village Manager Steve Pappalardo explained that the work will involve the clearing of trees and shrubs, new drainage and retaining walls. If all goes well, the new path will be completed for the fall of 2020. If you have questions, Pappalardi said the contact at the County is David DeLucia at the Westchester County Parks Department.

Public Comments

During the public comments portion of the meeting, Bob Berg continued to press the Village Board to eliminate the five minute time limit on public comment. He said that the school board has removed their three minute limit and “no one has abused the privilege.” He told the story of a man in Bradenton Florida who was arrested for not respecting the 3 minute rule at Village Hall though he was telling officials that his family was being targeted and watched. Bob said that “the only time a resident can address the full board, the audience and be on television” is during public comments.

Mayor Samwick responded, saying, “There should be a clear sense of fairness, equitability and non –partiality. We must balance the needs of the audience vs. the speaker. It would be bad if we were arbitrary or showed favoritism. You bring valuable comments to the board.” He then invited Berg to speak with himself and the Village Manager at the Girl Scout House on Wednesday May 22 when they will hear resident’s concerns.

Lights at Butler Field

FieldLightsTwo Fox Meadow residents expressed concerns about the potential installation of lights at Butler Field.

Janet Korins of Ogden Road said, “Maroon and White is making a generous gift of $800,000. … I want a strict and enforceable usage policy for neighbors. How can we protect residents’ rights? We already hear the noise. Regular evening and nighttime use during the week is burdensome… The Village is peaceful and quiet. This is the character of the neighborhood. These concerns are being trivialized. They want maximum usage – such as concerts. What are our shared community values? What are the village noise ordinances? This is an issue of concern to all residents. What will prevent them from expanding usage in the future? What noise laws apply to the schools?”

Julie Zhu said she agreed with Janet and spoke of “being good neighbors.” She said, “Neighbors have tolerated noise and garbage on our lawns – we understood we are near the school and kids want to have fun. What is the school doing for the neighbors? It is a two way street.”

Sustainable Landscaping

Three spoke to urge the Village to adopt a sustainable landscape policy using only organics on Village properties. In practice, the Village is already doing this, however a report from the Scarsdale Forum’s Sustainability Committee recommends that the Village formally adopt this policy so that it won’t be changed if different personnel supervise Village properties.

Darlene Le Francois Haber said, “We can’t leave this to future whims ….We don’t want to gamble with this …. We need an enduring solution … We want a committee of the whole meeting to talk about this. We can be leaders regarding the safety of our environment.”

Madelaine Eppenstein concurred, saying, “Practices alone do not safeguard us. We need to ensure institutional continuity. The practice should become official.”

Michelle Sterling also asked that all “village properties be treated organically.” She said, “We are already doing this. We don’t need to change – and it’s going really well.
Specifically we have asked for this to be policy so that whenever there is a change in staff a new person can’t decide to do things differently. This will set us out as leaders. We are a tiny town but we make a big mark when we do things right.”

Memorial Day Parade

The Memorial Day Parade, sponsored by the Scarsdale Chapter of the American Legion, will be held on Monday May 27. It will begin with a flag raising at Boniface Circle at 9:30 am. The community is encouraged to attend and honor our heroes.

Donation of Arborvitae

The Greenwalds of Oak Way sought permission to donate $7,600 to plant six arborvitae on village property to screen their home from the Brite Avenue Tennis Courts. Due to construction of a new home the screening is gone. The resolution was approved.

Below please find comments from Mayor Marc Samwick made at the opening of the meeting.

There are four items I would like to discuss this evening.

I would like to start by thanking two important Village volunteer organizations for their long-standing valuable contributions to our community. The League of Women Voters of Scarsdale and the Scarsdale Forum have been serving our community for over 90 years and about 115 years, respectively. Thank you to all of your dedicated volunteers and the hard work you invest year-in and year-out for the betterment of our community.

First, the League recently commented, in its annual budget review, about Trustees’ Conflicts of Interests. It first commended the Board for its “practice of discretionary recusal in the face of potential, real, or perceived conflicts of interest stemming from activities of Board members’ spouses and immediate family members who engage in local advocacy and have volunteer roles in local organizations, boards, and councils.” The League then encouraged, “Trustees to consider whether their own current activities present a potential, real, or perceived conflict that should trigger recusal from particular issues that come before the Board.” We agree with the League’s statement and this Board will continue to exercise diligence in the recusal of Trustees and the Mayor in the event of family or personal volunteer activities that present potential, real, or perceived conflicts with items that come before the Board. A relevant and timely example is the recusal of Trustee Crandall and me from the Scarsdale Historical Society’s economic hardship appeal that is currently before this Board. As members of the Historical Society, the applicant in this case, Trustee Crandall and I recused ourselves from this matter. We expect that similar matters will be handled in the same manner in the future.

Second, I would like to discuss a specific item addressed by the Forum’s annual budget report – an item that is on this evening’s agenda – Salary Increases for Non-Union Employees. The Board is expected to vote this evening on a resolution that proposes a 2% increase in salaries for employees that are not represented by a union. The Board performed specific diligence that is consistent with the recommendation of the Forum, namely, “salary increases that are comparable to non-union salary increases approved in comparable communities and that are necessary to retain these employees.” The Board met in executive session to review increases in salaries of non-union employees. We discussed, among other things, increases in non-union salaries in comparable communities and that data is attached to the resolution addressing this matter this evening. There are 16 comparable communities that are reflected in the survey and all but one community has approved salary increases for non-union employees within the range of 2-3%. One community has a slightly lower percentage adjustment, at 1.5%, but also includes other potential adjustments that make a direct comparison difficult. The other point I would like to highlight is that the Forum correctly notes that this salary increase is important for employee retention – a primary objective of the salary increase policy.

The Forum also noted the exclusion of the non-union salary increases “from the otherwise open and transparent” budget process. I have spoken with the Village Manager about enacting the Forum’s recommendation that non-union salary increases be included in the standard budget process and am pleased to report that, going forward, non-union salary increases will be included in the budget process.

Third, the Popham Road Fire House, also known as Fire Station #1, is expected to reopen within the month after an extensive $4.7 million renovation that retrofitted the fire station to house today’s larger fire apparatus, shored up structural deficiencies and generally brought the fire station to modern physical standards. The bad news is that the cost of the project was about $700,000, or 18%, over budget. Budget overruns are a difficult reality of completing needed municipal projects in New York State. Much of the blame for recurring budget overruns is an antiquated law, known as the Wicks Law.

The Wicks Law requires separate contracts be let for general construction, electrical, plumbing and mechanical work, for any construction project estimated to cost in excess of $1.5 million. The Wicks Law thereby requires four prime contractors for each job, all required to provide separate costly bonds and insurances and complicating the construction work by necessitating the Village coordinate the progression of the work among all contractors as opposed to the Village contracting with a separate General Contractor who would utilize electrical, plumbing and mechanical sub-contractors under its control and contractual fee.

The State law also prohibits villages and towns from utilizing design-build construction contracts, which encourage efficient design and construction. The law allows for the use of design-build for all NY State agencies, Counties and larger cities. Under the design-build format the Village would accept all-inclusive project proposals from construction teams, including architectural, engineering, construction and construction management services, for a total project fee. This project team works in tandem on the project from design to construction completion with a common goal of completing the work on-time and within budget. The inability of the Village to legally utilize this construction project methodology has cost the Village substantial funds, as evidenced by the Popham Road Fire Station project.

The Village Manager and I met with the Governor’s regional representative last week and we highlighted the difficulty imposed on villages and towns by the Wicks Law and other State-imposed limitations. While we do not expect any meaningful changes in New York State construction requirements, we will continue to fight for the right to employ more efficient construction mechanisms. In spite of these challenges, which have been in place for decades, we must continue to invest in Scarsdale’s critical infrastructure, though continued capital projects, such as our water distribution network, sanitary sewer system, and public service buildings, to ensure a successful future for our community.

The last item I would like to discuss this evening is the implementation of a license plate reader, or LPR, and parking app in the Village Center in the coming weeks. The new LPR will assist in parking enforcement and I would like to be sure that residents, merchants and others that visit our Village Center are aware that the LPR will be in use and will be used to enforce meter feeding violations. We will also be rolling out a new parking app within the coming weeks to enable residents, merchants and others to extend their permitted time with ease and flexibility. Please note that overall time limitations remain intact, so please plan accordingly. These new technologies are expected to somewhat ease our constrained parking capacity in the Village Center and we are eager to commence their implementation. The Village Manager will have further information on the new parking app during Manager’s comments. For more information on parking in the Village Center, please see the Village website –

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