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Police estimate that over 2,000 people came out for the Westchester County March for our Lives on Saturday March 24, just one of more than 800 events that were organized around the country to protest gun violence.

A portion of the White Plains Post Road was closed to allow the protestors to march from the Post Road elementary school to the plaza between the White Plains Library and the courthouse.

Residents from Scarsdale appeared in force along with a cross section of the young and the old, students, people of all races and local officials, united in their belief that more can be done to control guns and safeguard people. They carried colorful and clever signs, calling for change to protect people against guns.

We spotted local photographer Steven Schnur taking photos and he agreed to share his work with you. Look out for Amy Paulin, Nita Lowey, Andrea Stewart Cousins and Tom Roach in the mix.

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Photos by Steven Schnur

cake2For the second year in a row, the Scarsdale Non-Partisan Party slate came out on top in a contested election for three positions on the Scarsdale Village Board of Trustees. The election pitted three candidates chosen by the Citizen’s Nominating Committee against an independent candidate, and spurred a lively campaign.

Polls closed at the Scarsdale Library at 9 pm and after the votes were counted, former Mayor Jon Mark came to the Scarsdale Woman’s Club to announce the results:

Here are the counts:

Jane Veron who will return for a second two- year term as Village Trustee, received 1,361 votes. Justin Arest got 1,243 and Lena Crandall, 1,234. Both will serve their first terms. These were the three candidates on the Scarsdale Non-Partisan Party slate.

Bob Berg, ran independently on the Voter’s Choice ticket and receive 519 votes.

There were 69 absentee ballots and a total of 1,659 votes including the absentee ballots.

Last year, Berg and three candidates ran against the SCNP slate and drove 2,854 residents to the polls. Though they lost 2:1, the turnout was unprecedented. This year about half the number voted but the count still exceeded the normal participation in an uncontested election.

In the weeks before the vote, the campaign was visible all over town.  Robert Berg won the right to place political signs in the Village right-of way and posted them throughout the town.  Candidates and volunteers from both sides handed out materials at both the Scarsdale and Hartsdale train stations, engaging commuters in conversations about the election. Candidates appeared at public events such as the Chinese New Year festival, village board meetings, a meet and greet and the League of Women Voters' Forum. Berg was even spotted campaigning at the recycling center. Though Scarsdale is known for its non-partisan system, the community-wide debate became markedly partisan.

Commenting on the results, Campaign Co-Chair Jon Mark said that this was not the first time the 100 year-old Non-Partisan system had been called into question. He said there had been similar challenges in the 1980’s and 1990’s. He concluded, “Just because something is 100 years-old, it doesn’t mean it can’t work. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Let’s help new residents understand how the Non-Partisan system can work and foster a sense of community."

Mayor Dan Hochvert said, “We should give the people in this town credit for the results. They believed in the candidates vetted by the CNC and the Non-Partisan system."

ML Perlman said “I am proud of Scarsdale today. It’s inspiring to see the historic and overwhelming support for our Non-Partisan system."

ArestandMark2Justin Arest and Jon Mark

MLandRonSRon Schulhof and ML Perlman

 sternDeb Pekarek, Bill Stern and Dan Hochvert

BKBK Munguia and Eli Mattioli - Photo by Harvey Flisser

Hochvert Flisser SamwickDan Hochvert, Miriam Flisser and Marc Samwick -- Photo by Harvey Flisser

 trusteepartyPhoto by Harvey Flisser

RublinArt Rublin, Tim Foley, Eli Mattioli and Madelaine Eppenstein - Photo Credit Harvey Flisser

 

DianeandDaraDiane Greenwald and Dara Gruenberg

TedXTeamTEDxScarsdale launched its inaugural event in the Scarsdale High School Auditorium on March 11, 2018. The student-run club, led by co-founders Ishwar Mukherjee, Ben Lehrburger, and Connor McCarthy, curated speakers and organized the event under the guidance of faculty advisor Wesley Phillipson and with the help of Assistant Principal Andrea O'Gorman and Principal Kenneth Bonamo.

Speakers included two Scarsdale alumni, journalist Alan Schwarz and human rights activist Suzanne Nossel, as well as entrepreneur Divya Narendra, artist Viktor Koen, and comedian Frank King. TED Talks from Scarsdale residents Sheryl WuDunn and Mark Bezos were also played. TEDxScarsdale's goal was to bring together local bright minds under the theme of "Living a More Meaningful Life" and foster deeper interactions between the schools and the community. Pictured Club Officers: Nico Cavalluzzi, Noam Cherki, Daniel Korobeynyk, Jacob Gliedman, Ishwar Mukherjee, Connor McCarthy, Benjamin Lehrburger, and Michael DiSanto.

Girl Scouts Learn to Cope with Bullies

First Grade Girl Scouts at Greenacres learned how to deal with bullying in a program presented by Scarsdale Family Counseling Service on Friday March 9.

Youth Outreach Worker Jenna Horowitz started by reading a book about a playground bully, Mean Jean "The Recess Queen" and then engaged the girls in a conversation about recognizing bullies and using strategies to deal with them. What to do? Kids suggested telling an older child or a parent; ignoring the bully and walking away; telling the bully to "stop, you're being mean," or standing up to them ... all good suggestions!

After the discussion, kids drew pictures of "Mean Jean," and came up with words to use in these situations.
scouts

LenaCrandallCNCLena Crandall is running for Village TrusteeLena Crandall is one of three candidates running for Village Trustee on the slate of the Scarsdale Citizens' Non-Partisan Party. We asked her about her experience and views and here is what she shared:

Why are you interested in serving as Village Trustee
?

After close to twenty years as an active member of this community, I now have a broad perspective and understanding of the issues, opportunities and constraints in civic matters. Furthermore, my professional background as an attorney will be invaluable in analyzing, researching and discussing whatever topics may arise.

You have worn many hats as a volunteer in Scarsdale. Tell us about some of the things you have done, what has been most meaningful to you and why?

Just about every situation presented challenges. One of the most meaningful, however, was when my initiative with the Conservation Advisory Council and the Friends of Scarsdale Parks improved the stormwater work between Scout Field and Harcourt Road. Thanks to our collaborative efforts to bring updated environmentally sound engineering practices into the mix, the project incorporated the existing old-growth forest to naturally absorb and filter rainwater in a low-cost, aesthetically pleasing way. Without us, the woodland would have been replaced with an unsightly, old school stormwater basin. County Executive Latimer has recently come out in favor of more "green infrastructure" approaches like this to address stormwater management.

Many of us know you from your involvement with the Friends of the Scarsdale Parks: How did you become interested in plants, trees and landscape? What are some of the initiatives you spearheaded here? What other projects would you hope to see developed here in Scarsdale?

I grew up in a rural area in Upstate New York. The outdoors was always my playground. So, I couldn't understand why parents wouldn't let their children play in a wooded area next to the Fox Meadow ball fields. My curiosity led to the eventual discovery that this abandoned lot used to be an outdoor classroom. As I studied other outdoor classrooms, I also learned about stormwater management, arboriculture, and many land use-related topics.

The Friends of Scarsdale Parks heard about my efforts and invited me to join their board. I was quickly promoted to president. We changed the direction of FOSP from garden-tour organizers to stewards of our remaining public open spaces. We created a partnership with the Village to improve deLima Park with help from the little-known Parkland Reserve Fund and FOSP donations. Thankfully, the current FOSP Board has built upon this foundation to improve other areas in our Village.

In general, joint projects between our local non-profits, government, private businesses and volunteers yield better results with lower overall costs to taxpayers. One recent example is the Scarsdale Library renovation project. The Library volunteers have literally raised millions of dollars to renovate and expand this significant public facility. I am interested in seeing more collaborative efforts between local businesses, the Village and volunteers.

What are your thoughts about the proposed changes to the tree code?

The proposed legislation was studied by the Conservation Advisory Council, the Friends of Scarsdale Parks, an appointed working group of volunteers and staff, and subsequently modified in a series of public Board of Trustee Sustainability and Law Committee meetings. I listened closely to the remarks at the recent Public Hearing in Village Hall. There are reasonable concerns about safety in light of stronger, more frequent storm systems. The Village Board said that the law would be clarified to make it easy for homeowners to remove dangerous trees as of right, without a fee or replacement requirement. This makes sense: safety has to be the number one priority.

The new notice-of-any-tree removal requirement, whether it’s due to a hazardous condition or as-of-right, will provide useful data for future analysis. More importantly, the record of tree removals will also assist the Land Use Boards in their review of properties under development. The Village has already started gathering input from the Board of Architectural Review, the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals on this and other topics. Taking a further look at how other communities have approached this issue might also be instructive. There’s always work to be done in finding the right balance between the rights of homeowners and community considerations.

I hope residents will answer the Village Board’s request for more input by sending an email to clerk@scarsdale.com.

As you know, the entire Committee for Historic Preservation resigned in November. What are the issues with the current code and what would you like to see changed during your tenure? I attended the Village Trustee Land Use Committee meeting with former members of the CHP. They provided recommendations, which will be reviewed by the next Board of Trustees. I intend to contribute information from The National Trust for Historic Preservation with respect to rehabilitating homes to make them "useful and functional for contemporary living while preserving important historic and architectural features." However, the path to a solution to the issue of preservation is not yet clear and I look forward to participating in future discussions.

The need for sustainability and conservation is becoming increasingly important. What are some initiatives in these areas that are on your agenda for the Village?

Sustainability has different definitions. My view is that we must always strive to deliver essential municipal services in ways that are cost-effective, efficient and environmentally responsible. Scarsdale is already taking a leadership role with the weekly pickup of food waste, but there is more we can learn from other communities with respect to tree management (discussed above), healthy landscapes, pedestrian-friendly streets and other planning approaches to lowering our carbon footprint. The Freightway Project is a unique opportunity to bring the best of sustainable development to town. The key is to stay informed and in close communication with the community we serve.

Some say that residents are steering away from volunteering due to a decline in civil discourse. Do you think that’s a valid point? And if so, what can be done?

I've actually noticed an increase in attendance at Village Board meetings. But I am concerned that our residents who prefer civil discourse may be less inclined to speak up on issues that are important to them. My hope is to make Village Hall more accessible to all residents, whether they've lived here for a lifetime or a few weeks. The hallmark of the Scarsdale Citizens' Non-Partisan Party is that candidates are selected for their ability to not only work on the issues, but also with one another and the community on difficult topics. I have spent my years working in Scarsdale brining new voices to the table. As Village Trustee I will have more opportunities to encourage all residents, regardless of citizenship, to become involved in our democratic process. I hope to make it easy, meaningful and fun to live in our Global Village.

The Village election will be held on Tuesday March 20th. Voting is from 6 am to 9 am and noon to 9 pm at Scarsdale Library.

potholeLetter to the Editor : Fixing Scarsdale Roads Should be a Key Priority
This letter was sent to Scarsdale10583 by Robert Berg

An important part of the Scarsdale Voters Choice Platform (VCP) is making infrastructure investments a key priority. The state of the Village-owned roads in Scarsdale is atrocious, and an important part of the VCP platform calls for an accelerated program to strategically repair Scarsdale's roads. Please Vote Row A Robert Berg on March 20th if fixing our roads is important to you!

In a Scarsdale Forum's Municipal Services Committee traffic survey report released on January 18, 2018, the data of 706 respondents from all over Scarsdale show the challenges that Scarsdale residents have while walking, driving, and biking in Scarsdale.

Potholes in our roads was a significant theme in the comments by survey respondents. These are just a few of the comments from the report's Appendix V cited verbatim:

walking

• Lighting is very poor on Fox Meadow Road. There are cracked sidewalks and potholes from Crane to Wayside Lane. Then there are no sidewalks.
• Lots of potholes on Post Road following road works, especially on the outer lanes nearer to the curb
• Crossing with my children is very, very stressful. Potholes are awful and the lack of sidewalks especially near the schools is ridiculous.
• Potholes are especially hazardous at night for walkers.
• The condition of the roads is atrocious. Many are unsafe for bicycles, pedestrians, dogs.
Any and all users of the roads are at risk because of the multitude of potholes,
cracked pavement and eroding streets.
The sidewalks are awful. Heathcote road sidewalk in particular is dangerous, and at times
covered and obstructed by leaves and other yard waste.
• Crossing Popham at Chase is terrible and often dangerous. The traffic lights are not located to insure proper stopping prior to cross walks. The village seems to ignore repeated requests to remedy.
• There are an enormous amount of potholes on the streets, it is very hard to drive anywhere without hitting them.
• I have tripped NUMEROUS times and sprained my ankles because of potholes.
• Between the potholes and poorly paved streets in our area of Scarsdale (Secor Farms) and the lack of streetlights, walking a dog any time after dark (or before, for that matter) is treacherous.
• The roads are so bad I had to get rid of my car, which had sport tires. I "popped" the tires three times on potholes.
• My wife, while waking in the road{no sidewalks} broke six bones in her foot falling into a pothole.
• The roadways themselves are in terrible disrepair throughout Scarsdale. I have lived here since 1960 and don't recall the roads being so riddled with potholes as now. As a frequent bicyclist I avoid Scarsdale roads as much as possible and bicycle up-county where repaving occurs more frequently.
• Biking is a HUGe problem in Scarsdale because the road conditions are atrocious (potholes abound everywhere)

Scarsdale police blotters also often have examples of the poor condition of our roads. For example, the February 20th police blotter showed that four people blew their tires on a Heathcote Road pothole and that there was another pothole on Secor and Mamaroneck Road. The poor condition of our roads cost us time and money, and could lead to injury and far worse!

Repairing our roads would cost about $28 million. Scarsdale Village says it repaves each road on a 30-year cycle. That means the Village repaves only about 2.6 miles of the 79 miles of Village-owned roads each year. Our roads in Scarsdale are in a perpetual death circle. We just keep falling further and further behind, and our roads get worse year after year. This past year the Village actually repaved a couple of more miles of road than usual — how? It used the proceeds from the tax foreclosure sale of a house in Edgewood to pay for the expanded repairs. This was a one-off deal — not too many property owners in Scarsdale simply walk away from $1 million properties. Much rarer than a blue moon!

Whenever I bring up the sorry state of our roads when I speak before the Village Board, I tell the Board it needs to issue municipal bonds to fund a strategic road repair campaign. I get cheers from the audience. Yet, the Village Board refuses to do so on the misbegotten belief that fiscally responsible road repair must come from the operational budget and not be bonded.

So how do the Scarsdale Mayor and Trustees respond to this sorry state of affairs? Well, for starters, they deny that we have a major road condition problem at all. At a February 28, 2017 Village Board meeting, the former Scarsdale Mayor said that complaints about our roads are overblown; only "some" are in bad shape, and he rattled off a list of roads that were repaired last year. What he failed to tell us is some of the newly-repaired roads, like Autenreith, were in horrendous shape for years -- really a dangerous embarrassment in a location right in the Village center. The current Scarsdale Mayor and Trustees have not focused on fixing our roads at all.

And shockingly, no one in the Village has any real idea of the state of our roads? Why is that? Because the last time the Village conducted a thorough survey of the state of Scarsdale Village roads was TEN years ago. How do we know that? At that the February 28, 2017 Board meeting, I asked our Village Manager for a copy of the latest road condition survey report. The next day he emailed it to me, and it is dated 2008!

According to our officials, we've just got to put up with it, because we don't have the money to do more from our operational budget.

The solution to our very real road problem lies in the issuance of municipal bonds to fund an accelerated road repair program. We don't need to go crazy on this program. We don't need to repair all our roads in one year which is how some Scarsdale Citizens Non-Partisan Party supporters are misrepresenting the VCP position. But we should start with a $4 million bond which would allow us to repair approximately 11.5 miles of road in one season. Interest rates are historically low still, and the underwriting costs of a $4 million 10-year AAA-rated municipal bond are trivial. Total cost of the debt service at current yields of 2.4% would be $454,677 per year. That's less than one third of what the Village spent this past year on Village road repair. (Former Mayor Mark stated at an February 28, 2017 Board meeting that the Village had spent $1,465,000 in fiscal 2016/2017 to repair 4.15 miles of road and curbing). Although we'd have to pay $546,766 in interest over the 10-year repayment period, we'd be paying that interest with inflated dollars. Since inflation is expected to average around 2.5% per year over the next decade, the real rate of interest taxpayers would be paying on such a bond is essentially zero. To the Voters Choice Party, bonding our road repairs in this manner is the best way out of this mess.

Robert Berg is a Voters Choice Party Candidate for Scarsdale Trustee in the March 20, 2018 election.

This letter was sent to Scarsdale10583 from Michele Braun:

Thoughts on Good Government for Scarsdale Village

I've been thinking about the upcoming Scarsdale Village elections and what I can do to support good, efficient, effective government in our community. I bring personal and professional considerations to this question: We have lived in Heathcote for 15 years and put our child through the school system. I served as analyst and officer of the Federal Reserve and currently teach risk management to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations. Culture, good governance, and good analysis are keys to success.

Committees work best when they include individuals with a range of skills, views, and experiences. This is true for corporate boards of directors—which run the risk of getting too cozy with their CEOs—as well as for volunteer nonprofit boards and for local government trustees. Shared goals, such as sustaining an efficient and good-to-live-in Scarsdale, guide this work. To do the best work, committees need good discussion, airing of issues, divergent and potentially conflicting proposals, and good questions. Most of all, committee members need to ask good questions that challenge assumptions. The lack of good questions or fear of challenging the status quo can lead to the "groupthink" phenomenon that brought down the Challenger space shuttle.

For the Scarsdale Board of Trustees, we should select individuals committed to our community who read deeply on the issues, who ask penetrating questions, and who support the rights of all of us to ask questions and to expect good answers. Scarsdale is fortunate to have individuals eager to serve on the Village Board. We are also fortunate to have individuals willing to routinely attend Village Board meetings and ask questions. Sometimes they get substantive answers, sometimes they do not. Let's not engage in divisive personal attacks of the sort made a few weeks ago at a Trustees meeting. Let's not abrogate our expectations of good government by sweeping aside issues to consultants. Rather, let's implement the principles we endorse in our professional lives: Good analysis, responsive government, careful thought, and open, democratic (small d) discussion.

In the upcoming election we have the opportunity to increase the diversity of thought on the Board of Trustees by electing someone willing to study the Village code, work with Village officials, support open discussion, and, also, to ask incisive questions in support of good government and a strong community. Accordingly, in the interest of how I can support good government and good governance, I have decided to cast my vote for Bob Berg for Village Trustee.

Respectfully submitted by
Michele Braun
Wakefield Road
Scarsdale, NY 1053
March 7, 2018

 

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