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MLandJon3Outgoing Forum President ML Perlman shares a laugh with incoming President Jon Mark.The Scarsdale Forum celebrated their former leaders and greeted their new slate of officers at their meeting on Thursday May 17. Taking the reins as President is former Scarsdale Mayor Jon Mark, a 40-year resident of Scarsdale. During his last year as Forum Vice President with Forum President ML Perlman, Mark chaired the Freightway Steering Committee to examine options for downtown development and also ran the campaign for the Citizen’s Non-Partisan Party election in March, 2018.

Mark’s VP will be Tim Foley who is currently a member of the Scarsdale Village Planning Board and previously served on the Scarsdale Advisory Council on Human Relations, in addition to serving on the Scarsdale Forum Board of Directors and Executive Committee. He has an extensive background in public policy and politics, having served on the steering committees for a number of community-labor coalitions, issue advocacy campaigns, and grassroots organizations across eight states and the District of Columbia. In 2014, he served on the Public Health Committee for the Transition Team for Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, and was also a member of the Paid Sick Days Advisory Committee for the Department of Consumer Affairs for the City of New York. He currently works for Scarsdale’s own Assemblymember Amy Paulin.

Forum members also elected Randy Guggenheimer as treasurer, Richard Pinto as secretary and Eric Cheng, Alexander Harrison and Karen Smith as directors-at-large.

Foley said, “When I first moved to Scarsdale, the first and best piece of advice I received was, arestandfoleyTrustee Justin Arest with newly appointed Forum VP Tim Foley. that if I wanted to be involved deeply in civic life, I had to join the Scarsdale Forum. Jon and I have a shared vision of how we feel Scarsdale Forum can contribute to the community, and I will be looking for every opportunity as vice president to share the advice I was given and encourage residents – whether long-term or recent arrivals -- who seek to be more involved to find their home, as I have, in the forum." He continued, "Residents should know that the Scarsdale Forum is open to all in the community who wish to have thoughtful discussions about, and express their views on village matters.”

According to Mark, “This is very exciting for the Scarsdale Forum and its members. Further, I consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to work with Tim, Randy, Richard and our new directors-at-large. I know that our organization will be all the better for Tim’s leadership and the involvement of the newly elected officers and directors.”

Dog Park

Also at the meeting, Madelaine Eppenstein who chairs the Forum’s Municipal Service Committee reviewed the results of the committee’s study on the development of a dog park in Scarsdale. The committee did an extensive study of dog parks in other areas and produced a list of factors to consider when creating a park in Scarsdale.

The 13 page report outlines many points to be considered including the costs of building and maintaining a park, the size of the park, the surface, shade, parking, rules for conduct, waste removal and use by non-residents.

Eppenstein acknowledged that the report does not recommend a particular site in Scarsdale for the location of the park. That decision was intentionally left to the Village staff and Board to determine. However, the report quotes Marilyn Glasser, a former parks superintendent who has been retained by several Westchester municipalities to consult on dog parks. Glasser recommends that the dog park be about one acre, have a relatively flat grass surface and be enclosed with a chain-vinyl fence with a minimum height of five to six feet. A water fountain should also be installed. Other requirements are handicapped accessible parking nearby and that the site not be too close to homes.

They estimate that it will cost $50,000 to build the park and ongoing costs to maintain it and clean it. One local municipality spent $14,015 on annual costs.

dogparkThe report finds that dog parks are not only good for dogs, they have “significant positive social outcomes for dog owners.” In Meridan, Idaho they found, “Because dogs are natural ice breakers, they can help to spark a conversation that might otherwise not happen. Discussing the breed of their dogs, temperaments and funny quirks are all topics you might overhear during a visit to a local park, not unlike parents discussing their children playing on the playground.”

The report recommends that the Village Board and staff convene a working group to consider the feasibility of constructing a dog park, the siting of the park and the funding, perhaps seeking private contributions for the construction.

Commenting on the possibility of a dog park in Scarsdale, one dog owner hoped it would it be built. She said, “I am tired of paying the $100/year non-resident fee to use Ward Acres Dog Park in New Rochelle. It would be good to have our own right here.”

Read the entire report here

(Photo credit: Lisa VanGundy)

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BRCA test kitAccording the American Cancer Society, about 266,000 people are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer each year. There have been huge advances in diagnosis and treatment of the disease. There have also been advances in screening for risk of developing breast cancer along with ways to decrease risk of breast cancer development in people at high risk such as lifestyle changes, mastectomy and hormonal treatment, among others. For 41,000 people a year, breast cancer is fatal.

Everyone has BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes that work to prevent cancer. Inherited variants, or genetic mutations, in one or both of these can put a person at higher risk for certain cancers including breast cancer. The National Cancer Institute states that BRCA1/2 mutations together account for about 20-25% of hereditary breast cancers and about 5-10% of all breast cancers. The average lifetime risk of breast cancer for women is about 12%; with the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 mutation, it is between 3 to 7 times greater than that of a woman who does not have the mutation. 

Doctors have been able to order a genetic risk test for women deemed at high risk for breast and/or ovarian cancer to determine if they have mutations in one of these genes. In March of this year, the FDA approved the first at-home genetic risk tests for BRCA1 and BRCA2. For $100-150 and a donation of saliva, consumers can determine if they have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation in just a few weeks via mail order.

What is the genetic risk (BRCA1/2) test?
Genetic risk tests help determine if one’s breast cancer or family history of breast cancer is due to an inherited gene mutation. Most women who are diagnosed with breast/ovarian cancer do not have this inherited gene mutation although being positive for the gene variant puts one at higher risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer in women and breast or prostate cancer in men.

Should all women undergo BRCA1/2 genetic testing for cancer since the test is readily available?
BRCA1/2 testing is available if you are considered high risk for the mutation, such as being of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. It is important to understand that BRCA1/2 gene mutation leads to an increased risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer (and prostate cancer in men), but not all with the variant will develop cancer. There can be physical, emotional and financial impacts of knowing your genetic status. The CDC and Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation both recommend that you speak with a genetic counselor and/or a physician to provide you with accurate information and counseling both before and after the test. 

What are the benefits of having at-home genetic risk tests approved by the FDA and available for home use?
Juli Murphy Bollinger is a Senior Research Analyst at the Johns Hopkins University Berman Institute of Bioethics. As a genetic counselor, she doesn’t have a strong opinion in favor of or against direct-to-consumer at-home BRCA1/2 testing but she does see the pros and cons of its availability. “The good is that it has become more affordable and can provide more access to more information for a larger population in the comfort of their own home. Companies such as 23andme do have a lot of reliable information on their website,” she said. “The test is quite accurate so there are not concerns around that.”

What are the potential downsides of at-home genetic risk testing?
According to Murphy-Bollinger, the biggest concern is false reassurance. Only a small fraction of breast cancer is hereditary, so the test is not providing patients with the full story or full answers. The FDA has released a statement saying that “…no doctor or patient should use the test as a basis for deciding treatment, ‘including anti-hormone therapies and prophylactic removal of the breasts or ovaries’.” Murphy-Bollinger added, “…there are other gene mutations that cause breast cancer and not all are hereditary; other risk factors include lifestyle, environment and more. If the at-home test comes back negative,” she said, “there is a concern that patients will think they are not at risk for breast cancer and may skip other important screening measures like mammograms and ultrasounds, or manually feeling for lumps.” She added that, “…if the test comes back negative, a patient may still possess other risk factors that put them at high risk for breast cancer, so again, we are concerned about false reassurance. Furthermore, we are concerned for patients if the test comes back positive.” A positive test does not necessarily mean a patient needs an immediate full mastectomy, hysterectomy or aggressive hormonal treatment. “It is important to have a team of people such as a physician and genetic counselor available to provide accurate information in the case of a positive or even negative result,” she voiced.

Are there any other ethical issues to consider with testing for BRCA 1 and 2 gene mutations?
Murphy-Bollinger says there may be. “If your test comes back positive for BRCA1/2 mutation, it can be very stressful and confusing for patients regarding whom they should inform. Are you going to feel burdened by the responsibility to share this information with your family? Does extended family need to be made aware of your genetic status? A team of professionals can help patients determine what the results of the test means for themselves and relatives and put them at greater ease. You can read more about the position of the National Society of Genetic Counselors here via a statement released after the March 2018 approval of’s test. 

Additionally, information access and privacy may be issues with all at-home genetic testing. Consumers need to remember that when they are sending their DNA samples in for testing, this information may be used for other purposes such as market research or marketing purposes. It is too early to tell what these companies will do with this type of information, but others have used patient data for potential financial gain. Doctors and hospitals are bound by privacy acts such as HIPAA. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) released a statement shortly after the FDA-approval of the at-home kit; read it here.

The bottom line is this: The presence of a BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutation does seriously increase a person’s risk of breast, ovarian and/or prostate cancer. Certain patients who are pre-determined to be at higher risk for these types of cancers may be advised to undergo testing, but experts across the field suggest considering this under the supervision of professionals in the field. A team of experts can help a patient develop strategies for cancer prevention and early detection in the case of a positive result for a genetic mutation; if the result is negative, this team can still help patients understand that they may still be at risk for various cancers and encourage a similar course of action of prevention and early detection.

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baseball 1A slow start ended in an exciting win for the Scarsdale High School Varsity baseball team in a game against New Rochelle on Tuesday, May 1st. For the first five innings, there was no score, however, things heated up during the sixth inning. New Rochelle scored one run during the top of the sixth which only motivated Scarsdale. The team brought in three runs: with bases loaded, Michael Green (’18) hit a single to tie the game, and Kiran Ramachandran (’18) brought the two other home which put Scarsdale ahead by two. Senior Jack Callahan pitched up until the top of the seventh and Junior Trevor Lambert closed off the game. Ramachandran caught a fly ball and Lambert struck out New Rochelle batter to end the game.

baseball 6Kiran Ramachandran ('18)The current record for the team is 7 and 6. “We started off the season hot with a 5-1 record and we were feeling real good about ourselves. I think we got a little complacent and took our hot start for granted and we went on a 4 game losing streak” Says senior and captain Evan Maroney. “Coach Weigel always reiterates to us that the only way we can win is if we stay together, support each other, and work hard in practice.”

“This team is great because of how much we care about each other, the game, and winning.” Says Senior and Captain Joe Weintraub. “Being a captain is great because of the other guys around me. We know how great a team we could be and everyday everyone on our team goes out there and gives it their best. Its great having so many seniors on the team because I have been playing with these guys for forever. We have always been friends on and off the field. Kiran and I have been playing baseball together for twelve years now and I love playing next to him in the outfield.”

baseball 2Kiran Ramachandran and Captain Evan Maroney Heads are held high for the end of the seasons and upcoming playoffs. “It’s great that we have a lot of seniors on the team because that means we are a veteran team with a whole lot of experience. When the playoffs roll around, the veteran teams usually go far due to the experience from the seniors. This group of seniors is a very close group of guys and it really helps our team chemistry.” Comments Maroney. He adds “Being a captain has been a great experience because I get to be a leader on the field and try to teach the younger kids and get them acclimated to the varsity level. It’s an honor to be the captain of such a great group of guys.”

See them next on Thursday, May 3rd at 4:30pm at New Rochelle High School, Saturday, May 5th at 3:00pm and Tuesday, May 8th at 4:30pm at Scarsdale High School.

Photos courtesy of Joshua Weintraub

baseball 4Captain Joe Weintraub ('18)baseball 3Captain Michael Green ('18)baseball 5Captain Pitcher Jack Callahan ('18)

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senior day 4Scarsdale Raiders Seniors and their parents holding team photosSaturday, May 5, the Raiders faced off against the Stepinac Crusaders on senior day. Preceding the game, a ceremony was held to honor the ten seniors on the team: Jack Callahan, James Conlan, Matt Daniel, Michael Green, Daniel Karp, Evan Maroney, Zach McMurray, Kiran Ramachandran, George Samwick, and Joe Weintraub. Assistant Coach Boyer announced each senior, their parents, their respective college, and a witty comment for each player. The players, after being announced, made their way to home plate to greet their parents and take a picture before getting a team photo. To conclude the ceremony, a plaque was hung on the dugout fence and read, “Standing on the shoulders of those who came before us” followed by the name and number of each 2018 senior. After the ceremony, the Raiders quickly got to work.

senior day 2Trevor Lambert (‘19) pitching in reliefWith Junior Ben Lehrburger as the starting pitcher, the Raider defense held Stepinac to a scoreless top of the first inning. The Scarsdale offense wasted no time as Senior captain Evan Maroney hit a double and was driven home by senior captain Joe Weintraub, making the score 1-0 at the end of the first inning. In the top of the second inning, the Crusaders answered back with two runs of their own. After Stepinac scored again, Junior Trevor Lambert relieved Ben Lehrburger on the mound in the fourth inning.

Senior day 1Kiran Ramachandran (‘18) showing the umpire the ball after a spectacular catchTrevor Lambert had a dominating performance on the mound, throwing 3.2 scoreless innings. Scarsdale was able to tack on another run in the bottom of the fifth inning to make the score 3-2, Stepinac. Both relief pitchers threw well as the rest of the game went scoreless. The game, filled with spectacular defensive efforts, was highlighted by a catch by Senior Kiran Ramachandran in Left Field. Crashing against the wall and juggling the ball, Ramachandran was able to make the play and save the Raiders a run. In the end, the Raiders fell to the Crusaders 3-2. 

Update: The team played White Plains on Tuesday, May 8 and Wednesday, May 9 and lost both games 5-1 and 6-0 respectively.

Photos courtesy of Jon Thaler, for more click here.

Senior day 3The new plaque hanging in the dugout

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Scarsdale Historical Society Examines the History of Slavery in Scarsdale, Westchester County and New York City.  The Scarsdale Historical Society has published an article on its website about the history of slavery in Scarsdale, Westchester County and New York City from the 1600s to 1865.

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