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treeremovalIn addition to a visit by Westchester County Executive George Latimer, Tuesday's well-attended board of trustees meeting focused on conservation issues, with a public forum about proposed amendments to the village's tree code, and a resolution to establish enhanced sanitation services with regard to recycling (See accompanying article.)

Trustee Deborah Pekarek opened the public hearing about changes to the village tree code that was last amended in 2009. She invited residents to express their views and provide the board with constructive feedback. "Our guiding principal throughout this process has been to listen, collaborate, deliberate, modify and refine this code."

Community groups and the board have been discussing trees for five now. Many community members have expressed concern about maintaining Scarsdale's "Village in a Park" in a way that would ensure public safety while safeguarding property rights. The proposed amendments to the tree code have been developed and modified by a working group of members of Friends of Scarsdale Parks and Conservation Advisory Council, Scarsdale Village staff and trustees. Four public meetings resulted in additional changes based on residents' comments. Key code changes include:

1) Two trees may be removed in a 24-month period without a fee or permit;

2) Removal of one or more trees with diameter of more than six inches at breast height that are dead, dying, hazardous or diseased, as determined by a tree expert, can be removed with permit, but without a tree replacement requirement;

3) Any tree that must be removed in an emergency situation may be removed immediately without a permit; and,

4) Any 24-inch diameter tree removed must be replaced. Replacement tree may be smaller and planted in a different location.

Trustee Marc Samwick followed Pekarek's comments by stating, "This is an example of a deliberate municipal process. ... (We're) trying to balance property rights with maintaining the character and integrity of our community. " But, as members of the public approached the podium, it became clear that they had a variety of reservations and questions regarding the proposed amendments.

Michael Levine (Walworth Avenue) began public comment by saying, that the language used in the amendments was unclear and did not reflect key changes as described by Pekarek. Samwick responded that there was language in the draft that needed to be clarified. Levine continued, "... two trees per 12 months still makes sense. And, why set any diameter? If a member of the public thinks a tree is too close to power lines or too close to a house... I don't understand reducing the diameter. I don't agree with the diameter limit and I think you should go back to 12 months." Levine also took issue with the "permit" requirement. "It's not consistent with the commitment (made) in January," he said. "The commitment... was that you provide notice, but there was no need for an application, no review by the engineer or anything like that." Samwick responded, "We had a similar comment... whether we call it a notice or permit may be different, we may prefer permit, but an as-of-right, no fee permit. We had the same comment...it will be addressed."

Ellen Zweig (Old Orchard Lane) commented, "I think it's important to take into account your property size. Taking down two trees from a third of an acre lot has a much greater environmental impact than taking down two trees from, for example, a five acre lot."
Linda Killian (Forest Lane) said, "Data was presented, and did show that development and remodels drove the majority of (tree) removals... Why are we hitting residents over the head for simply trying to protect their homes and their families? If you put this is in the land use section of the village code, you can directly address development, expansion of homes, tear-downs... But it's not, it's in the tree section of the code, so basically, you're killing residents who want to remove a couple of trees for safety... for the sins of developers." She continued, "And, why would the ordinance as written, seriously curtail tree removal? ...You're not going to be able to do that unless you have heavy fines and restrictions, and heavy fees on tree replacement. Otherwise, a $50 permit isn't going to deter any developer in Scarsdale."

Joelle Campbell (Wayside Lane) stated, "I found that this proposal is extremely restrictive for homeowners... It takes a lot of the rights and considerations away from homeowners. If you're trying to address developers, that's a whole different thing. I think homeowners are, generally, very thoughtful." She also expressed confusion about how the changes were written with regard to diameter restrictions.

Novisi Nirschl (Colvin Road) said, "Based on the text that's been written and the fact that you would require a permit, I think it will slow the removal of trees for homeowners... due to confusion or some type of permit process... If you think that homeowners are very aggressive, that's one thing. It sounds like you think the developers are aggressive. Anything you do to that will slow down pruning, caretaking and prudence, I think you should consider very carefully."

Matthew Miller (Roosevelt Place) commented, "I am a developer, I have taken down many trees in Scarsdale and... it an awful shame when someone has a lot of beautiful trees near their house... Actually, when the engineer spoke about tree replacement, I thought it was a good idea to replace trees if you're taking a lot of trees down... (But) the trees are people's property, not the town's property. Where do the (tree removal) fees go?" Village Manager Steve Pappalardo explained that they are added to a tree preservation fund that is dedicated for tree replacements. Miller continued, "I have a problem with fees for taking down trees... I don't think it's fair for you to charge us to remove our own trees. They are our property. Why do I have to get a permit to cut down my own trees?"

Zoe Berg (Tisdale Road) said, "I'm the last person who wants to remove a healthy tree, but when storm systems barrel through our village and knock out power... it is essential to consider public safety... I would expect that the safety of our residents to be the priority of this administration and... do not believe that residents should be penalized for removing healthy trees on their private property if the residents believe that the tree or trees present a danger to their wellbeing... I encourage the town to consider plant more trees in our plethora of public parks."

Robert Berg (Tisdale Road) stated, "I've been asked to read comments from Tanya Singer, Montrose Road: '...While it appears (in the code) that the Village Engineer is meant to consider the potential hazard presented by a given tree, this language is far too subjective. The hazard presented by a tree is a function of not just its health, but also its size, species, deviation from vertical and proximity to homes. The evaluation of risk is not an exact science... The village must not impose its own, potentially greater, appetite for risk on a homeowner seeking to protect his home from a risk he has deemed unacceptably large.'" Berg then said, "I've been arguing against this law for months now... I pointed out, that in 1926, there was virtually no tree canopy in Scarsdale, as Scarsdale was vacant farmland... You guys are trying to preserve a post- suburbanized tree canopy...these trees are now nearing the end of their natural lives... these trees were planted very close to houses and power lines... and they're dangerous. Homeowners, who have a reasonable fear that their healthy trees are going to come down, should have the right without filing for permits, without paying fees or without having to pay for replacement trees, to take those trees down."

Ellen Zweig returned to the podium to add, "With regard to experts, experts can be wrong... I don't want a town expert coming by to tell me if I can or cannot cut down my tree... We had a tree that was struck by lighting... a tree expert said the tree would be fine. We had a windstorm and the tree came down... We shouldn't be relying on decisions by some expert(s).

Ira Silfin (Continental Road) added, "I haven't encountered anyone who is in favor of this law. When there is one-sided opposition to the law, and no support for the law other than a few conservation (and) tree people, there's a reason there's a feeling that this law is being rammed down our throats. For this to be continuing after months of opposition... it baffles me that this is going on... They're not your trees, they're our trees."

Greg Schwend (Barry Road) concluded the hearing by saying, "When this was introduced, the words 'safety,' 'safeguarding property rights," 'not burdening us with bureaucracy' were brought up, but it appears that the law is in opposition to those principals... What data do we have to support the changes? Is resident behavior driving the need for further restriction? Additionally, the safety concern is one that residents have to take into account on our own... I oppose the law."

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handshakePrior to the Board of Education meeting on Monday March 5, Scarsdale Board of Education (BOE) members met with Scarsdale Village trustees to discuss improved communications and collaboration, as well as issues of common interest.

School Board President Bill Natbony began by congratulating the village administration on its "herculean" efforts in remediating storm damage. Scarsdale Schools Superintendent Thomas Hagerman then addressed the importance of the meeting by saying, "We try to do this at least once or twice a year, to address common interests and concerns... to talk about things that are working and things that we can constructively improve moving forward." He continued, "We (promote) our own identities – who's in charge of what – but it takes all of us working together in order to support our community, our schools and our families."

The first item for discussion, Butler Field renovations, is an example of one of those common concerns. The district plans to spend $1.2 million to replace the field's artificial turf and resurface its running track. However, the property is leased from the village through just 2021, and the district does not want to commit such a large amount of funds without assurance that the lease will be extended at least through the useful life of the improvements (15 years). Scarsdale Village Manager Steve Pappalardo assured the BOE that the lease could be extended to 2032, subject to Board of Trustees' approval. "The district has used Butler Field and the surrounding property for decades... it's another example of cooperation between the district and village. "

The next point of discussion was the parking situation near the schools. Hagerman pointed out that the lack of parking and related traffic problems resulted from a number of factors, including physical space limitations, increased size of cars, lack of sidewalks and basic human behavior. After a lengthy discussion about these challenges and the need for input among a variety of community stakeholders, it was decided that the district would first outline specific parking issues and reach out to other districts to learn best practices. The village and district then will explore next steps, including how to work together to find solutions and determine who should be involved in the process.

The group then focused on collaboration, communications and messaging. To illustrate a need for improvements in this area, Natbony referenced the confusion about prepayment of taxes in December. "I look back at the... issue, which was an issue of great emotion and great concern... Even though there were communications eventually... I wish it was earlier; I wish it was consistent." Both groups then made a commitment to look at opportunities to compare points of view and information, as they work to be on the same page in communicating with the public. "If we're going to be dealing with something that impacts the other, we want to be sure we reach out," stated Natbony. Pappalardo agreed and said, "We need to be cognizant of our roles in communications and develop relationships (with each other) on an administrative level. We have all the best intentions and I think it is an issue of understanding each other a little better." Hagerman continued, "We always want to support the village's efforts... As much as we understand that we have different goals and priorities, the community looks at us as one in the same. We are looking to work together on behalf of our families."

The last item on the agenda was possible construction of a comfort station at Scarsdale Middle School. Scarsdale Mayor Dan Hochvert explained that that the facility would be beneficial to many community members and a worthwhile project. He also offered the village's resources for construction, which would result in significant cost savings. "In light of what we've been talking about, and recognizing that there are things that are probably higher priority, I really think we should find a way to do this."

Steve Pappalardo estimated that the project would cost about $60,000, if completed by village staff, and proposed that the village and school district split the expense evenly. However, Assistant Superintendent of Business and Facilities Stuart Mattey pointed out that the state department of education would need to get involved, likely increasing the cost of the project. "It would have to meet codes, it's on school property, students would be using it... I guess that the costs would be escalated." Mattey and Hagerman agreed to research the issue further. "We're certainly willing to be partners in this work and find out how to make it happen." Pappalardo responded, "We have to do it together and I believe there's mutual benefit, but I understand the complications."

The meeting concluded with a renewed spirit of cooperation between the two groups and a hope to provide real benefits to the community in the future. As Hochvert said, "Another way of thinking about us could be that we are two divisions of a company, with the stockholders being the taxpayers in this town. All we're doing is managing the pieces that are assigned to us by those stockholders."

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commentsI'll be the first one to admit that moderating the anonymous comments on Scarsdale10583.com has been a challenge. It's difficult to make clean and fast rules about what is permissible or appropriate vs. what statements cross the line and are damaging, insulting or worse. Over and over again I have asked readers to use their real names, but to no avail. I asked people to limit their comments to words they would feel comfortable using in person, but that fell on deaf ears as well. As I always include my name with my opinions, I have been puzzled about why others were not willing to do the same.

The most amusing are the commenters who use anonymous names, like "Double Standard," and then name me in their comments and throw in a few insults to boot:

Here's just one of hundreds that I received in the past few months:

AmCurious ( IP: 70.214.115.3 ) — 2018-01-08 08:18
I am curious, too. How much time and money you wasted with your loud cries about wanting a new Greenacres School? And your attacks of Mayra are laughable. You cannot hold a candle next to her. You are a selfish and self-centered, hypocritical hack. She stood up to the incompetence and cronyism at Village Hall. What have you achieved ever? Did you even ever have a career. Profitting (sp) off other people's woes does not count.

Or the person who calls themselves, "Beating up Bob Berg" and then writes, "Ah yes, you are back (to) your favorite past time of beating up Bob Berg. You are SUCH a coward. Make this person state his/her name. Or did you write it?"

You get the idea – the same people who refrain from using their names, feel very comfortable throwing every name in the book at me.

And it's not just me they go after – these same posters are comfortable hurling insults at the mayor, the Village trustees, a judge, the Village attorney candidates for office and some of our most committed village volunteers.

Here's one of many that were sent after a judge issued a decision on the Article 78 contesting the revaluation:

# A Real Lawyer ( IP: 100.2.238.64 ) — 2018-01-05 23:04
Ah, the great New York State Court System -- where patronage and mediocrity, if not outright incompetence, cronyism, and ineptitude reign supreme.

Or this anonymous comment to the chair of the School Board Nominating Committee:

Dear Ms. Guggenheimer, Please make sure that your group vets candidates well. Please do not let the SBNC become the badly run, cesspool filled with backstabbers that the CNC has become. The CNC is filled with quite a number of Forum members who were just appointed in the summer. They have contributed nothing to the Forum nor to the CNC. All they want to do is get their unqualified candidates in. Sad.

Believe me, if you've done anything that mattered in Scarsdale, you're fair game. I will not reprint more of these comments here, for the same reasons I didn't post them when they came in.

Over the years I've developed a thick skin. I sometimes even laugh at their characterizations of me – especially when they call me lazy, heartless, a bored housewife and a hack. The site is putrid, garbage and a cesspool. Here a just a few recent comments:

"Unfortunately, Joanne is the nastiest person in Scarsdale. Thanks to her, people outside of Scarsdale hear about all the problems here."

"How sad that this middle aged mediocre woman has nothing better to do than write crappy articles."

But these past few months have been rougher than usual. I found that in addition to the anonymous posters on my site, a few angry residents started insulting me on other websites and making false claims about me. What to do? I waited and hoped that their words would move down the page and out of view.

It didn't let up. Faced with an onslaught of comments from anonymous posters with accusations against me and everyone in town, it became too difficult to moderate their publication. Though anonymous posters complain about "internet trolls" they themselves appeared to be the internet trolls.

So last week I asked again for people to use their names and street addresses, and have not published any more anonymous comments, no matter how innocuous. Since then, the number of comments has dropped to almost nil. A few people, who know that their comments will not be published, continue to send in nasty missives, but I guess they are intended for my eyes only.

About the new policy, one reader complained, "For professional reasons I will never include my name and address regardless of the topic or my comment. Not allowing me and people like me to have a voice is unfortunate."

Unfortunate it is, but for now there will be no more anonymous comments on Scarsdale10583.com. It appears that a few very angry offenders have forced this decision on the community. For me, it simply means less work. I no longer have to sift through comments and decide what is permissible. Without a verifiable name, I simply won't post the comment. The haters have made their bed and now I can lie down in mine. Hey, maybe I will get to be the bored, lazy housewife they call me, after all.

Have a comment ... please use your real name. Or better yet, send us a letter to the editor at scarsdalecomments@gmail.com.

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buy-nothingmagnetsHere's a novel way to build community, pay it forward and experience the joy of giving – and perhaps receiving. The Buy Nothing Project, a Facebook-based organization that was started less than five years ago on Bainbridge Island, Washington are hyper-local gift economies that seek to "share abundance" in one way or another within the community, both on the giving and receiving ends. Their mission (or "social movement" as they call it) goes like this:

"Post anything you'd like to give away, lend, or share amongst neighbors. Ask for anything you'd like to receive for free or borrow. Keep it legal. Keep it civil. No buying or selling, no trades or bartering, we're strictly a gift economy."

The purpose is different for different people, but the idea of a gift economy remains the same. Some people love to get things for free. Others are doing a spring cleaning and just need to clear stuff out. Some people deliver their gifts and make a new acquaintance at the same time; while others just want to get rid of something quickly and leave it on their front stoop. Some people don't have goods to give away but may have time on their hands to help someone else out, like babysitting so a new mom can go food shopping. After a trip to Italy, another woman wanted to share her love of cooking and invited four people over to her house for a two-hour Italian cooking class, complete with wine and a meal to take home.

Unfortunately I haven't yet been the chosen recipient, but one woman from an Indian background makes an Indian meal for a family of 4-5 each month "to encourage kids to try something new." One woman sent her son out with a shopping list and he came back from Costco with hundreds of tomatoes. Rather than letting the tomatoes go to waste, she found someone to take her extra produce and they all had a good laugh.

You can also use the site to wish for something you need. My son's ski jacket zipper broke the day before we were leaving for a ski trip. I had no time to get it fixed and posted "Wish: Boy's ski jacket, size 8 or so. My son's zipper just jammed on his ski jacket and we leave in just hours for skiing. Happy to borrow and return." Someone not only responded within 15 minutes of my post, but dropped the jacket off at my house and asked me to re-gift the jacket when my son outgrows it. Others have a simple wish like a non-stick cookie pan, something big like a laptop computer, or a wish for an almost forgotten school project: "I need a shoe box ASAP! Anyone?"buynothingphoto

A group from a nearby town, similar in socio-economic make up to Scarsdale, has had tremendous success with the Buy Nothing (BN) model. A local mom volunteered to become the site administrator it grew from zero to 1,700 members (all in-town) in seven months. The community has gotten very creative with the site. For example, when someone wants to give something away that will have a lot of interest, people have started thinking of innovative ways to pick a winner. One giver asked site users to vie for the gift by guessing the giver's favorite cocktail, another asked for his son's lucky number, or to name your favorite vacation spot. If that was the giver's favorite vacation spot, then the brand-new Coach bag went to that user.
The site administrators encourage givers not just to choose the first person who responds as you would do at a tag sale site, but to consider everyone who is interested and make about who will be gifted.

Stories about these gifts create goodwill in the community. For example, a BN site administrator recently gave away a bunch of cookie cutters. Shortly afterwards, she was home recovering from a surgical procedure when she received a beautiful box at her front door with a note from the receiver of the cookie cutters saying that she heard that the giver was under the weather. The box was filled with homemade frosted cookies crafted with the cookie cutters. When someone posts a photo of the item they received in use, it's dubbed "an appreciation post." People regularly post pictures of their kids in gifted snow boots or a catered dinner for 20 that was gifted when a party had to be canceled due to a sick family member.

I had a chance to speak with a BN site administrator. She is certain that the Buy Nothing model would work in Scarsdale.

What's the best part of the BN project?
To me, the best part is that when we receive, it also sparks the desire to give. This may not come naturally to a lot of people, but this forum makes people feel gratitude, connect with their neighbors and at the same time find things/ services they need and reciprocate in the same manner.

An example of a unique "give" on the site?
One thing which stands out for me is someone who gave away (unopened, needless to say) women's menstrual hygiene products. That was one of its kind. We also have some very generous people who give designer bags and wallets, clothes etc. Someone recently gave away Emilio Pucci snow boots.

What are some creative ways people choose a gift receiver?
Recently, someone came up with the idea of guessing the Superbowl score for a full meal for a family of five. It's a ton of fun. It's almost like winning the lottery!

What made you decide to volunteer to help run the site?
I'm a stay-at-home mom with a 2-year-old. I was beyond thrilled to see that the BN project was in our area. I am so glad I was picked! I've met so many people through giving and receiving on this site; people whom I otherwise would never have met. I've discovered streets and cul-de-sacs I never knew existed. I think it helps the community overall in becoming closer. To me, the site is not just about giving and receiving materially but also in spirit. And this is what this forum is doing.

The past couple weeks have been fun on one of the Buy Nothing pages. The site administrators started "alphabet giving and receiving." For example, Sunday was A. People posted things like "A is for apple pie. Give: three apple pies that have been frozen since Thanksgiving thanks to a preschool pie fundraiser and the recent knowledge that my whole family hates apple pie." Monday was B and the creativity continued. "B is for baby. Before you buy, post what you need for your baby here!" The response to this was amazing. So many people responded with items to give away and so many new moms or moms-to-be received useful items for their babies.

Some people have voiced concern that the BN project would affect retailers or charitable giving, but these concerns have proven unfounded. People who work for charitable organizations regularly post wishes for needed items and the response is overwhelming. Retailers should not be affected as there has yet to be a BN project that has put a damper on local shopping. Online shopping is the biggest threat to buying local.

If you can picture this happening in Scarsdale, make it happen! The project is well organized and will work with you to start a forum. Learn how here.

And lastly, anyone have a designer purse they no longer use? (wink)

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Bball Moms BoysThe Raiders Boys Varsity basketball team went on a 3 game winning streak under Coach Justin Washington. On February 6th, the boys played White Plains in their Senior game. Before the game, Seniors were joined by their parents on the court and presented their mothers with roses. The Raiders came from behind to beat White Plains 65-60. Fans packed the stands on Tuesday evening to show their support for the mostly Senior Varsity squad. On Thursday, February 8th the boys played Mt. Vernon on the road and managed an epic upset over the number one ranked team. It was Scarsdale's first win over Mt. Vernon in 21 years. Co-Captain Nash Goldman had 34 points. To cap off their week the boys then beat Tappan Zee 47-44 in a nail-biter during the championship game of the Kari Pizzitola tournament. BBall Moms girls

The Raiders Girls Varsity Basketball team played their Senior game on February 10th against Fox Lane during the consolation game of the Kari Pizzitola tournament at SHS. The Senior Ceremony took place before the start of the game where parents joined the girls on the court and Coach Mike Blanco spoke about each of his Seniors. After being down at the half, Tappan Zee managed to close the gap and take the lead. After a 

Senior bball girls 2018couple of key 3 point baskets by Kayla Maroney the Raiders were able to pull off the win, increasing their winning streak to 4. 

The Boys Varsity Hockey Team celebrated Senior Night versus New Rochelle. Seniors joined their parents on the ice immediately before the game and underclass teammates read words written by the Seniors about their Scarsdale hockey experience. Raiders went into the 3rd period with a 2-1 lead over New Rochelle but the Huguenots were able to tie it up and send the game into overtime. Freshman Josh Bock scored the winning goal in OT to give the Raiders a 3-2 victoryhockey moms over New Rochelle.

In other Raiders news, more Seniors commit to continuing to play at the college level in football and basketball. Varsity Football Captains Max Bunzel and Noah Glantz announced their intention to play football at the college level this Fall. Bunzel committed to play at Bucknell University next year as a Linebacker. Bucknell has a Division I program that competes in the Patriot League.

Glantz will be playing at Trinity College in the Fall as a Defensive End. Trinity is a Division III football program that unnamed-1competes in the NESCAC conference.

Senior Audrey Shaev will be playing at Connecticut College after graduation. The Girls' Varsity Basketball Co-Captain said "I'm extremely excited to play at Conn and in college because I've been working towards it for as long as I can remember and to see it actually in the near future and in reality is just amazing and crazy." Connecticut College also competes in the NESCAC Conference.

Boys' Varsity Co-Captain and Senior Nash Goldman has committed to play for Middlebury College next year. Goldman will join former SHS teammate Max Bosco in Middlebury's Division 3 basketball program.Audrey Shaev 1

 

 


MAx Bunzel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nash GOldman

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