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JillBowlJill Spieler, a committed community volunteer who never sought the limelight found herself in the spotlight on April 10 where she was showered with love and praise as the winner of the 2019 Scarsdale Bowl at Mulino’s at Lake Isle.

Spieler, who is trained in fine art and works in graphic design did not bring the traditional skills to the many leadership positions she held, but used her ability to coalesce groups and form teams to produce an impressive list of accomplishments to benefit the Scarsdale community. In the words of colleague and former Bowl winner Jackie Irwin, Spieler “did what she was asked, and asked what she could do” with energy, grace and enthusiasm. Her modest demeanor belies the huge impact she had on the community.

Jill’s first major volunteer work in Scarsdale was in the 1980’s when she joined what was then the Child Care Association of Scarsdale that provided after school care for the children of working women. Seeing that the community needed more than an ad hoc after school program, she worked with her team and eventually created Kids’ B.A.S.E. and the Little School, a full time nursery school and after school program that is now housed in it’s own building. Spieler served on its board for many years and helped to raise the $1.8 million to construct the facility that now serves hundreds of families.

In 1997 she joined and eventually lead the Village Parks and Recreation Council where she strengthened the programs, and brought Scarsdale Little League to town. She was Vice President and President of the Town and Village Club – now the Scarsdale Forum – and revitalized the organization with a highly successful 100th anniversary celebration that raised over $100,000.

She served on too many Village advisory boards, nominating committees to list, but perhaps did her most notable work during her six years as a member of the Scarsdale Board Education, two as its president.SpielerFamilyThe Spieler Family

Suzanne Seiden, who served on the School Board with Spieler said this about Jill’s tenure on the Board:

“Jill was also an effective leader who took on critical challenges and controversial issues and worked relentlessly to find well-supported solutions. As President, Jill appointed the Education Foundation Steering Committee that after study and research resulted in the Board’s approval of the creation of the Scarsdale Education Foundation. She worked tirelessly to build consensus on a range of policy and budgetary matters. During Jill’s tenure, the District implemented several forward thinking curriculum enhancements such as the launch of the Center for Innovation, the Global Learning Alliance, and The Google application for educators. She also shepherded the district through the implementation of a new state-mandated teacher evaluation system as well as the search for a new high school principal that brought us the wonderful Ken Bonamo.

ScarsdaleFoundationThe Scarsdale FoundationJill was also instrumental in the launch of the new curriculum that began as Scarsdale Education for the Future – now known as Scarsdale Education for Tomorrow - with its emphasis on critical thinking and preparing our students to succeed in a global economy. Jill was also an important part of the District’s efforts to better evaluate student work including the grade 5 capstone and the ninth grade world history projects. These culminating projects gave the students the opportunities to demonstrate age-appropriate reading, research, technology and writing skills; these assessments provided an opportunity to evaluate critical and creative thinking while fostering a love of learning.

Jill led the Board to adopt a budget in the face of a newly imposed state mandated tax cap. She did not allow this new budgetary reality to move Scarsdale off of our mission to enhance the education for all Scarsdale students.”

Using a sports metaphor that she often employed as president of the school board herself, Seiden summed up by saying, “But tonight is about recognizing, saluting, and saying thank you to our favorite team member who helped lead and served on incredibly successful teams.”BowlWinnersFormer winners of the Scarsdale Bowl

Spieler’s children Russ and Dani were also given the opportunity to toast their mother and offered some amusing insights into Jill’s ability to juggle a full time job, and an overtime volunteer career without giving anyone short shrift.

Russ, who now has three young children of his own marveled at how well his mother was able to manage. He said, she was “there for us,” but at the same time, busy hosting events in the living room, creating forums for discussion and being respectful of other people’s desires and needs. From his mother he learned the value of hard work, not settling for mediocrity and listening and encouraging others, lessons he hopes to pass down to his own children.

Her daughter Dani, who is now a professional actress said, “All this happened before I left the house – all when I was living under the same roof? Who knew? Not me!”
She said, “Her volunteering did not impact our lives – we came first. As far as I was concerned I was my mom’s top priority. But there were subtle hints … the dining room full of papers, the people in the living discussing boring topics…”

PekarekJillJill Spieler with Scarsdale Bowl Chair Deb PekarekShe credited her dad’s ability to work from home with helping to “make both of their goals a reality,” and thanked him for driving her to dance classes and all her extracurricular activities which made it possible for her mother to have a career and volunteer responsibilities.

Dani said, “Until I got engaged -I didn’t understand what an asset it could be to have Jill Spieler on your team! I have come to realize that her volunteering affected my entire life” and thanked her mother for teaching her to manage her time, be organized and detail oriented.

Deb Pekarek, who chaired the 2019 Bowl Committee thanked Spieler and all the people in the audience who “help make Scarsdale the exceptional community that it is.” She recognized the 15 past Bowl winner in attendance and noted the passing of five former Bowl winners this past year:

Bev Sved
Eric Rothschild
Jane Bedichek
Eric Rothschild
Eleanor November

She thanked the Bowl Committee for planning the dinner, sending out invitations, and choreographing the night, with a special shout out to Abby Sroko who served as the committees secretary and treasurer.Proclamations

She recognized many local leaders in attendance at the dinner including:

State Assemblywoman Amy Pulin
County Legislator Ben Boykin
Judge Arlene Katz
Scarsdale Mayor Marc Samwick
Scarsdale Village Manager Steve Pappalardo
Scarsdale School Superintendent Thomas Hagerman
Village Justice Jack Alemany
Acting Village Justice Cindy Dunne
Scarsdale Library Director Beth Bermel
State Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins

along with a full table of proclamations from Scarsdale, Albany and Washington DC.

RandyGuggenheimerScarsdale Foundation President Randy GuggenheimerRandy Gugggenheimer, President of the Scarsdale Foundation who is the custodian of the Scarsdale Bowl explained the work of the Foundation, which provides grants to community organizations in need and need-based scholarships for Scarsdale college sophomores, juniors and seniors. He said, “last year we awarded $130,000 and we’d like to do more.”

Spieler thanked the entire Bowl Committee, and said how surprised she was when she learned she was the 2019 recipient of the Bowl. She said, “I must admit I was quite taken aback by the small crowd at my front door one Sunday night in early January. Gary answered the door, recognizing many of the faces. He figured for sure I was going to be asked to engage in more “volunteering.” When I came to the door, I was thoroughly surprised. It took a few moments for the news to sink in and scan all the faces. I started to recall all the wonderful experiences I had shared with so many of you.”

She continued with a quote, “Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections (once a year), but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.”

Spieler spoke of her love of community, saying, “Although I enjoyed my career in graphic design and marketing, I loved my work in the community. I had a great passion for the ideals we were trying to achieve, which gave me tremendous gratification and fulfillment. I learned so many skills from the people I was working with, which helped me to grow as a person.”

She thanked her husband Gary, “who never made me feel guilty when I sometimes, many times, chose my volunteer commitments over my paid job,” and said that the people in her office gave her a little sign that read “Stress is what happens when your gut says, no… and your mouth says… ‘Sure, I’d love to!’”

She continued, “As parents and role models we should naturally want to model this in our own lives. And so many of us do. That is why we are all here tonight. To honor the act of volunteering. And I applaud all of you for all that we do together, collectively as a cooperative community; that is when Scarsdale is at its best.

AmyandDiane
AndrewandEvelyn
BowlDani
BowlSamwick
Dara
JaneandCorky
JillandGary
JillandJerry
MichelleandEmily
Patti
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I want to especially thank my husband, because without you I would have never been able to sustain the pace. You were my cheerleader, advocate, and the man behind the curtain who was always there for Russ and Danielle, when I wasn’t. My kids for not making me feel guilty running out the door at night. My friends, co-workers and volunteers I have worked with over the years. You worked alongside me and bridged the gaps when needed.

Thank you all for coming tonight to help me celebrate this memorable occasion.”

coffeewiththemayorThis letter was sent to Scarsdale10583 by newly-elected Mayor of Scarsdale, Marc Samwick:

Dear Scarsdale Community,

On behalf of Jonathan Lewis, Seth Ross and Rochelle Waldman, I want to express our deep gratitude for supporting our slate and the non-partisan system that has served our village so well for over a century. We would like to especially thank the campaign committee for their tireless hard work and dedication. Scarsdale is very fortunate to have so many volunteers that contribute so much to the vibrancy and vitality of our community.

One of the most important things your Trustees and Mayor can do is to listen you. To that end, I would like to kick off new and less formal communication channels to hear from you. I will be at Metro Deli at five corners in Heathcote having coffee on Saturday, April 6th from 4:00-5:30pm. I welcome you to join me to say hi, let me know what’s on your mind or to ask questions about the village. If you are not able to stop by on Saturday, please feel free to email me at any time at mayor@scarsdale.com.

Thank you again for your support and I look forward to seeing you on Saturday.

Marc Samwick

letter to the editorTo the Editor: It is genuinely appalling that a board who prides themselves on architectural proficiency is willing to omit certain aesthetic criteria from their jurisdiction while impeding on issues beyond their expertise. The absurd decision to exclude solar panels from BAR review will haunt Scarsdale for generations to come. Notwithstanding the benefits of solar panels, their hideous presence deteriorates the nature of a traditional home, a distinct and defining feature of Scarsdale. Ironically, the esoteric implications of allowing more solar panels will directly impact the number of trees needed to be removed for adequate sun exposure for the panels to properly function. This is a matter that should be greatly considered before the character of the village is changed beyond repair.
Thank you

Regards,
Bobby Ben-Simon, President.
KOSL BUILDING GROUP LLC.
875 Mamaroneck Ave., Suite 400
Mamaroneck, NY 10543

Yonkers Police arrestSloane2ed Sloane Finn, age 44, of Bronxville for allegedly shooting her 46 year-old husband Eric Finn in the stomach at 5:03 am on Wednesday March 20. According to the report, police received a 911 call from 14 Bronxville Glen Drive from a woman who said she had just shot her husband. When police and emergency personnel arrived they found Eric Finn on the living room floor with a gunshot wound in his abdomen. He was given medical aid and taken to a trauma center where he is now listed in serious but stable condition.

Four handguns were found in the apartment and police are currently investigating the incident. According to Yonkers Police, the “Investigation has yielded that the wife allegedly shot her husband; her motivations are being examined at this time. There were no other persons present inside the apartment at the time of the incident, and no other injuries were reported.”

Sloane Finn was placed under arrest and charged with Assault 1’, a Class B Violent Felony in the New York State Penal Law; and was expected to be arraigned on March 21. The case is being prosecuted by the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office.

Sloane Finn is well known in Scarsdale and in Westchester where she plays competitive platform tennis and tennis. Her profile on Linked In shows that she is currently a Senior Claims Manager at United Rentals and has a law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston and an undergraduate degree from Bucknell University.

Update: Finn was arraigned on Thursday March 21 in Yonkers City Court and posted $100,000 bail. A temporary order of protection was issued for Finn's husband and their child.

MarcSamwickMarc Samwick, a former two-term Village Trustee, has received the nomination from the Scarsdale Citizens' Non-Partisan Party as their candidate for Mayor of Scarsdale. We asked Samwick to comment on the issues of the day, and below are his responses. Remember to vote in the Village election on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 at Village Hall, 1001 Post Road, from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm.

For those of us who don’t already know you, tell us about your background, your family and your professional career.

My wife, Cynthia, and I moved our family to Scarsdale in 1997. Our sons, Jason, Oliver and George, have grown up in Scarsdale and have all graduated Scarsdale High School. Like many, we moved to Scarsdale for the schools. But we had another strong draw -- Cynthia’s older sister, Andrea Seiden, and her family lived here, and we wanted our families to be close, especially our five boys. We expected to spend our days surrounded by a close family. What we didn’t expect was to also be immersed in the strength, generosity and support of the Scarsdale community. Cynthia and I and our boys have built very full lives with great friends, neighbors, and family. We love Scarsdale, and it means so much to us to give back to this wonderful community that has given us so much.

I grew up in Westport, CT and graduated with honors from Union College. I also received an MBA with honors from Columbia University Graduate School of Business.

Professionally, I am a real estate investor and developer, focusing on properties in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. As a developer, I work with many different communities, and I understand the roles, responsibilities and interests of residents, elected officials and staff. My experience working with various cities, towns, and villages provides me with a broad perspective and knowledge of different approaches to managing municipal matters. Over my two terms on the Board of Trustees, this experience assisted me in my role representing Scarsdale residents.

What were/are some of your volunteer activities in Scarsdale?

I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the Board of Scarsdale Little League. One of the highlights of my time on the SLL Board was a program I originated with Dave Feuerstein, a former professional baseball player, to “Coach the Coaches.” This program was designed to give coaches a solid base of fundamental baseballs skills to provide the children with a higher level of baseball instruction throughout the entire baseball season. Altogether, I have coached over 20 baseball teams in Scarsdale. I particularly enjoyed helping players develop over the course of a season. I remember working with one player that struggled all season at the plate. The greatest moment of that season was when that player hit a double in the final game of the season – and our entire team erupted in supportive cheers.

I currently serve on the Building Committee of the Scarsdale Library. I have been working to enhance the form and content of the communication between the construction consultant and the Library Board. I also served as an Alternate on the Village Planning Board and on the Finance Committee of Westchester Reform Temple.

What were some of your contributions during your 4 years as Village Trustee?

As a Trustee, I am very proud of the work I did on the project to renovate and expand the library. I worked closely with the Library Board and its Campaign Committee to determine the right balance between a “build once” opportunity based on record-breaking resident generosity and fiscal prudence that fit into the village’s long term financial plan. The process of striking the right balance was not easy – but it was the type of collaborative process that Scarsdale is known for. We listened to each other to determine how to manage the trade-offs needed to achieve our budgetary constraints while maintaining the core mission of creating a vibrant community hub that will benefit generations of Scarsdale residents. I believe my contributions as a Trustee helped the Library Board to balance the benefits and costs of the library project. Once comfortable that the right balance had been struck, I gave my full effort to marshal support for this exciting, transformative project. I am very proud of the work we accomplished and am very excited about the planned opening of our new library in 2020.

I am also very pleased to have been involved in the initiation of the Freightway redevelopment process about two years ago. Since $2.3 million would have to be spent to maintain and improve the aging, unattractive parking structure within the next few years regardless, the time was right to reexamine and rethink the site. From the start, we recognized the importance of extensive community input. We formed a steering committee comprised of key village stakeholders, including members of land use boards, realtors, a village merchant, the Scarsdale Neighborhood Association President, the President of the Overhill Neighborhood Association, an architect, and a member of the School Board. Former Mayor, Jon Mark, chaired the steering committee. I was very proud to have participated in the steering committee as well. We then retained BFJ Planning, an expert planning firm that has worked extensively in Scarsdale and the region, to actively engage the community. The resulting redevelopment study was based on numerous public workshops, focus group meetings, an online survey as well as commuter and merchant intercept surveys, two walking tours and even participation from the acclaimed SHS City 2.0 class. In total, there was input from well over 750 village stakeholders during the eight-month scoping process. The village subsequently issued a request for expressions of interest from the development community. It was very encouraging to see extensive interest from developers with seven responses submitted.

I am excited to continue to work closely with the community on the next steps of this lengthy and deliberate process over the coming years. Regardless of what is done at the Freightway site, I intend to remain vigilant about protecting village resources to ensure that we maintain sufficient commuter parking and protect the integrity of our schools, among other things.

What are some of the challenges that face the Village?

There are challenges every year in balancing Village finances with the high tax burdens we face as residents. It is important to keep in mind that village taxes represent about 18% of our real estate taxes (school and county taxes make up the remainder). It is also notable that about 75-80% of the village budget is related to personnel costs, and that the vast majority of Village employees are represented by unions, and subject to binding, collectively bargained contracts over multiple years. Lastly, we should be aware of reduced state aid in the face of added unfunded state mandates, and the possibility of further cuts out of Albany as they seek to balance the state budget.

As a result of this confluence of challenges, the realistic focus of managing the village budget is about working to control costs in the few areas where we have discretion while still providing the essential services that our residents demand and expect. We are very fortunate to have strong professional Village management, led by our Village Manager, Steve Pappalardo, who has created a culture of cost consciousness, teamwork and efficiency that permeates throughout Village staff. For example, Fire Chief Seymour developed a plan to reduce the total number of fire apparatus by adding more flexible equipment to our portfolio. This creative approach is actively encouraged by the Board of Trustees and Village management in all our departments as we actively work to find budget efficiencies. I hope to further encourage this type of creative thinking to bring about more long-term budgetary savings.

Please share your views on our current building code, lot coverage code and historic preservation.

As Land Use Chair, I was proud to be part of the group that convened a meeting of the Planning Board, Board of Architectural Review and the Zoning Board of Appeals to evaluate what is being done well and what could be improved upon with respect to land use in Scarsdale. We received thoughtful and constructive comments that addressed administrative and legislative matters. There have been subsequent meetings and discussions over the past year, and I look forward to picking up on the work that has been done and continuing to move this process forward.

How would have voted on the resolution to join the lawsuit against the IRS re: SALT rules and regulations?

First, we have to be clear that the new limitation on SALT deductions was created at the federal level and it can only fully be addressed by an act of Congress.

Second, the communities of Westchester County will feel it far more than most, Scarsdale included, through a combination of state income taxes and local property taxes. It is up to us to attempt to mitigate the harshest impacts to our residents while we advocate our Congressional representatives for relief. It should be noted that our Representative, Eliot Engel, is already the co-sponsor on a bill to restore the full SALT deduction.

Third, at the Village level, we have to do whatever we can to protect our residents. We started that process when we allowed for the prepayment of 2018 property taxes in the final days of 2017, prior to the SALT deduction limitations that commenced in 2018. I support measures that protect our residents while keeping the village and its residents from exposure, including Scarsdale joining with 18 other municipalities, plus counties and school districts, in an effort to push back on proposed IRS regulations that would have further limited options for our residents. Most recently, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin has done phenomenal groundwork and found top-notch attorneys to press a future federal lawsuit in defense of our taxpayers on a pro bono basis. Assemblywoman Amy Paulin has also established a separate social welfare non-profit to cover any expenses. Therefore, the Village’s finances are sufficiently protected, and the only potential risk that has been identified is to Scarsdale’s reputation. I believe that the balance of the potential risks and rewards of this lawsuit tips firmly in favor of fighting for our residents.

Finally, to date we have only been able to speculate what the impact will be on our residents. At the close of the current tax filing season, we’ll have data on who in our community is truly affected and how badly. I anticipate there will be more ideas to come, and more circumstances to respond to on behalf of our residents. So long as our finances and our liability is sufficiently protected, we owe it to our residents to do everything we reasonably can to help them with this ongoing issue.

When you speak to residents about their concerns, what are some of the complaints or issues you hear most often?

The most frequent comments I have heard recently relate to two things: (i) taxes and the village budget, including SALT deduction limitations, and (ii) Freightway. Both of these items I discussed previously.

What do you hope to accomplish as Mayor of Scarsdale?

I am genuinely excited by the potential to continue to serve Scarsdale. I am particularly eager to work closely with the community on issues such as Freightway and land use matters.

I firmly believe that one of the most important things we can do as Mayor and Trustees is to listen. To that end, I plan to roll out a less formal way for the community to communicate with our elected officials. I will hold casual meetings open to all residents in less formal settings than our semi-monthly meetings at Village Hall. The intent is to provide more open and accessible communication so our elected officials can do a better job representing our residents to improve our outstanding community.

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