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trianonHow much research is done before permission is given to raze an old house in Scarsdale? Having sat through quite a number of meetings of the Committee for Historic Preservation, who grants permissions for demolitions, I would say, that often only a cursory job is done.

Here's a good example. The Scarsdale Board of Trustees recently approved an appeal to demolish a home built in 1915 on Claremont Road in Greenacres. In their decision, dated January 29, they had this to say about the style of the house:

"The record indicates that the Building has been classified by four different architectural styles, including Beaux Arts, Mediterranean, Colonial and Neo-Classical, which suggest that the Building consist of a "mish-mosh" or "hodgepodge" of architectural styles rendering it uncharacteristic of a particular style or period. Accordingly, the Village Board finds that the Building does not embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction that possess high artistic values."3Claremont

Nowhere in the record is the fact that the home is a replica of "Le Petit Trianon" Palace in France – and quite a good one at that. If that's not unique, what is?

Even if that fact had come to light, under Scarsdale's current code, it would not be enough to save the house. The current laws make it is practically impossible to prevent the demolition of any home, even an historic replica of a palace in France.

After we published the Board's decision, we received several letters about the home from former occupants. Marc Zwillinger's family owned the house from 1969 to 1983, and the property included a tennis court and a pool. This property was sold when Zwillinger's family moved to Murray Hill in 1969. His mother had a prominent career on Wall Street, and here is what he wrote:

"Although I was disappointed to read that my mother's career – while commendable -- was not of historical significance, other parts of the article are less subjective and likely wrong. For example, not that anyone cares, but the house was intended to be a model of Le Petit Trianon in France. The architect can likely be identified by plans that might be stored at Marx Realty, in New York City, because Eugene Mindler, the owner from 1945-1969 was a builder at that company, and did some of the renovation. Oh well."

Zwillinger contacted Katherine Mindlin, whose family owned the home from 1944 to 1969 and built the swimming pool. Here is a note from Mindlin to Zwillinger:

Hello, Mark,
Thank you so much for sending this to me. I have a photo of the Petit Trianon in France after which the 3 Claremont house was designed. It is actually quite a faithful copy, at least of the facade. That was built for Marie Antoinette and her "shepherdesses."

My Dad was a builder and civil engineer. When we put in the swimming pool, he had to pierce the foundation wall to put in piping for the filtration system. It was 18 inches of steel reinforced concrete. My guess is that taking the house apart will be quite the job!

Dad, by the way, was one of the mathematicians who was sent to England to help decipher the German mathematical codes in WWII. His brother Ray Mindlin won the highest civilian medal the USA gives, the Medal of Freedom, for his work on the proximity fuse which still guides all of our surface to air and air to air missiles. His brother, Rowland Mindlin designed and made a reality of all the Mother and Child Clinics in the New York City Health Department and headed that program for a decade, in addition to being a medical officer in the European theater in WWII.

All of them lived in Westchester County. Maybe the Wall Street Lady is more important (Zwillinger's mother) in the present climate, but my family helped, each in their own way, to keep our country safe in the most dangerous time in American history. Meetings in that 3 Claremont Rd house on Sunday mornings were a very interesting part of my childhood and always concerned public affairs.

I suspect all the people who lived there were important in some way or another. And so was the house, which was quite unlike any other in the north part of Scarsdale. If you ever want old pictures of it, I will be happy to send you some.

Best wishes,
Katherine Mindlin Reinleitner, PhD
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

PrescriptionbottlesThe Scarsdale Synagogue Brotherhood will host a breakfast focusing the opioid crisis on Sunday March 11 at 10 am.

Scarsdale Synagogue's Marc Friedberg has invited two expert speakers, Betsy Spratt, Director of Toxicology at the Westchester County Department of Laboratories and Research, and Lieutenant James Greer, of the Westchester County Police to present, and take questions, on this urgent topic, including:

Education on the signs and symptoms of addiction
How to communicate with family members in a positive way, and
National and local policy issues and solutions.

The public is invited.

The Opioid Crisis: A Breakfast Discussion with Expert Speakers
Sunday March 11, 10:00 A.M.
Open to the community. $10 per person
Click here to RSVP

Scarsdale Synagogue is a reform congregation located at 2 Ogden Road, Scarsdale, NY 10583. 914-725-5175.

letter-to-the-editorDear Neighbors and Friends:
As many seem to know, my name has recently been used in an email outreach that went to many in town. I was oddly quoted out of context in order to assign me a position I have never publicly expressed. This email also disparages exceptional civic organizations like the League of Women Voters and sincere advocacy groups, like the Greenacres Taskforce, uses nasty language about the hard-working Joanne
Wallenstein while simultaneously informing about Bob Berg's support of the school bond and as a candidate for Village Trustee. This email was sent by an anonymous author to many in the community without their explicit opt-in. (If you got this email without opt-in, you can contact Constant Contact to complain.)

Whomever that author or authors were -- that person/s is informed about and supportive of Bob Berg running outside the non-partisan system, as a 'Voters Choice Party' candidate for Village Trustee. The email seems to promote Bob Berg and make his support for this school bond into a campaign issue.

This is not the first time that emails have been received in our community from made-up email addresses with a somewhat familiar sound to other legitimate groups, with inflammatory language and even confidential knowledge in support of Bob Berg and/or the Voters Choice Party. In this case, the assumptions made by this author/s are staggering and their tone is unwelcome.

Several in town have reached out to me to assure me their group did not distribute this email - and I believe and appreciate it. If you know who did this, please speak up. This level of discourse has to change; we have to do this better.

Today is School Bond vote day. I am not going to recommend how you vote today -- just that you do vote and that you are informed and wary of hyperbole in any direction.

I have the upmost respect for those in the community -- the PTA, The League, the Vote Yes Groups, the Vote No Groups, -- who carefully study, engage, listen, learn and make a statement. Take a stand. Advocacy is a welcome right and privilege of democracy. But in a civil society, let's do it without denigrating the other side. Because tomorrow we all have to get along.

Here is my thinking:
If this bond passes, everyone should be happy for school investment and everyone should stay involved, for there is still work to be done. The District remains accountable for their use of this money and all should stay vigilant. Be hopeful; investment can yield positive outcomes.

To District Leadership I say: there are many disenfranchised who should be included and there is community building to do. Please acknowledge missteps and even mistakes. Please be open to fix many of the bumps and concerns in the community. Make time for that.

If the bond fails everyone should try again. There is no indication in Scarsdale that this is the end; it would be a serious moment that will require careful listening and a new approach.

To District Leadership I say: Take a step back, take a good look around and change something about the approach to get to a different result. There are many in the community who are committed to school investment and will welcome new outcomes to capture their buy in. We can all consider this an opportunity -- yes a new draft can be exhausting but it can also represent improvement.

Bob Berg is certainly persistent and while I wish him luck on his campaign, if the aforementioned email is any indication of his and his supporters' approach to the community dialogue, it is unwelcome.

In any case, I am not convinced that the non-partisan system, which could likely use improvement, is so broken as to be discarded. I believe the vetting system and the civil intent of the non-partisan process remains worth trusting. Looking at the exceptional and varied candidates selected this year for Village Trustee: Jane Veron, Lena Crandall and Justin Arest, I will stick with them. I will put my name on it.

Respectfully submitted,
Diane Greenwald

chilepepperArticle has become too hot to handle. If you want to post a comment, include your real name and street address.

Freightway SiteAfter a year of workshops, forums, surveys, walking tours and research, the Freightway Steering Committee has released their report with recommendations for the development of the Freightway site in Scarsdale. The village owned parking garage and open lots comprise 2.5 acres on the west side of the train tracks just south of the Scarsdale Train station. There is the garage itself with about 700 spaces, the open lot to the north and the smaller Beatty lot to the south. The study also considers possible development over the Metro North train tracks.

The committee was led by former Scarsdale Mayor Jonathan Mark and included residents, realtors, the Village Planner, a member of the Scarsdale School Board, a Village Trustee and an assistant Village Manager. They worked with BFJ Planning to identify the goals for the project, to make assumptions about future usage and analyze potential impact on factors like parking, traffic and school enrollment.

The report includes four potential development scenarios that can be considered by developers interested in making a formal proposal on developing the site. The intent of this work was to create a study with information and data that could be given to companies who wish to bid on the project. NeighborhoodCharacter

Mark emphasized that all stakeholders had been consulted and included in the discussions which yielded the identification of the seven principles to guide any future redevelopment of the site.

The extensive study, which is available online here fully examines the site, the challenges, the history of Freightway, zoning, demographics, the character of Scarsdale Village and even considers the future, when autonomous cars and ride sharing might become the norm.

One impetus for development now is that the Freightway Garage is currently in need of repairs. The estimated cost is $1.8 million for general and structural improvements, $250,000 for LED lights and another $250,000 for repairs to the façade, for a total of $2.3 million. This expense would merely repair the structure that is currently in use.

Freightway was built in 1972 and since that time it has been the subject of many planning studies all of which recommended that the site be developed into a mixed use project with parking, residential and retail. A 2010 Village Center plan recommended that at the very least the lot should be landscaped but also called for exploration of mixed-use development on the site.

HarwoodThis latest study analyzes the demographics of Scarsdale, finding that the population has been relatively flat, grown only 2.6% since from 2010-2015. The number of households fell from 5,662 in the year 2000 to 5,487 in 2015. It also found that 45 percent of Scarsdale workers commute using public transportation, which is more than double the average for the county as a whole.

The study examines local zoning code, building materials, design and maximum building heights as a basis for guidelines for development of Freightway. It also considers the current parking needs of the community and projects how these needs could be met during construction and by the completed project.

Furthermore it examines pedestrian and vehicular traffic around the area, access to the site and considers how the development could minimize congestion at peak hours.

Included in the report are two case studies of similar projects that were built in Bronxville, TuckahoeScarsdale (Christie Place) and Tuckahoe. In Tuckahoe a 108-unit four story, two building apartment complex with retail space was built near the train station. The $50 million project generates $100,000 a year in property tax revenue and includes a fitness center, club room, terrace with gardens, a fire pit and onsite parking and retail.

The outcome of all this research and outreach were the identification of seven principles to guide the development of the site:

They are as follows:

Improve Parking and Circulation

Ensure that public benefits are achieved by any development

Ensure contextual development (scale, bulk, height)

Encourage mixed-use development supportive of the Village Center

Connect and integrate the Freightway Site with the Village Center

Include environmentally sustainable development

Plan for the long-term future, within a reasonably practicable time horizon

scenario4The report proposes four development scenarios that incorporate fiscal and physical constraints and reflect the vision of the study. The three portions of the site and the area over the train tracks could all be incorporated in varying configurations. The study examines potential costs, impact on the schools and on Scarsdale's services and infrastructure. The development could add anywhere from 134 to 320 residents to Scarsdale and bring a maximum of 20 students to the district, as the development is targeted toward millenials and empty nesters.

It concludes with a recommendation that Village seeks Request for Qualifications (RFQ) or Requests for Proposals (RFP) to take possible development to the next step.

The process, the data and the resulting report provide goals and guidelines and a well-defined road map for future development of the site. Take a look at this impressive study here

Letter-To-The-Editor(This letter was sent to Scarsdale10583 by Kathy Stahler)
Dear Editor: Over the last few weeks, I have been asked many times, why exactly I support the bond. I find this a hard question to answer because the reasons are just so clear to me and the other side just so unclear. So here it goes...

1) TAX NEUTRAL: To start, this costs us all nothing! Do you hear, NOTHING... It is TAX NEUTRAL. All of the schools in the community will get the improvements they require at no additional cost to us! And why don't we want this? If this bond is not passed, the determined needs for the community will fall on all of the taxpayers. This means that either our taxes go up or the needed improvements/repairs will be postponed. For those who don't think the focus should be on staying tax neutral, I am thrilled that you can afford tax increases, but not all of us fall in that same bucket and an increase, to our already high taxes, would mean life changes.

2) SCHOOL DISTRICT NEEDS: This list was carefully put together by experts. We are not all experts. I, personally, never expected to be part of this process and believe that the right people were brought in to determine this. The teachers, principals and key community member on committees were involved and added the needed intel. It is beyond understanding that anyone in our community would question whether the proposed renovations to our schools are necessary. Boilers, roofs, burners, ventilation systems, and electrical panels that are far older than their expected life expectancy need to be replaced before the need to replace occurs on an emergency - and far more expensive - basis. Just as with our own homes, we need to take care of the buildings we send our children to for 180+ days a year for 13 years of their lives. This should not be a question. They will need to happen with or without the bond and will fall on all of us should the bond not pass.

a. GREENACRES IS OVERDUE: Other neighborhoods questioning why Greenacres deserves this funding or state that it is too much to spend, take a look and see this school has been passed up and is severely overdue. The existing classrooms that will be preserved need to be updated and they will under this bond. Bathrooms will become ADA compliant and all teaching will be removed from the basement areas. Safety will be addressed and health concerns due to dampness will be mitigated. All the other schools have received funding for improvements and renovations and it is now Greenacres turn. Yes, it is a lot of money, but that is because it has been passed up multiple times and the cost has built over time.

b. RENO AND EXPANSION TO OLD SCHOOL v. NEW SCHOOL: To set the background, I too was in the new school camp when this whole process began. I too thought a state of the art facility in the middle of the Greenacres Field was a dream, but I am not an expert on what is right for the community and with enlightenment to the true details of the project, I now believe the plan we have in place is exactly what is needed for our children. I live in an old house and when I needed new kitchen, I didn't tear down my house or move out, I tore the kitchen to studs and updated it to the gorgeous state of the art design it now has. Old is not necessarily dangerous or not as good, it can sometimes be stronger and higher quality. The district has provided a clear cost analysis that is available on the bond website. Anyone who says this doesn't exist, hasn't clicked yet or gone to the many events and meetings where this information has been distributed.

c. SAFETY: Edgewood is currently being renovated with the kids attending school, the middle school did this too and the high school does this on a normal basis. Why should Greenacres be different and why is this dangerous to these children and not to the others in the district? Safety is the highest priority in everyone's mind and the district has answered all the required questions and made adjustments to accommodate concerns. It is time to let this work happen and trust the experts. Once again, we are NOT experts.
d. PARKING: They have said over and over that they are still working on this. Why would we not sign off on a bond because of parking? Walk to school if it is so painful or park a little further up on Sage Terrace or park on Brewster and walk the two blocks. There is plenty of space for the 45 mins each day of pick up and drop off -- not even, when traffic is an issue. Also, please feel free to contact the Village about traffic issues as they are currently working through a plan.

e. TIMING OF WORK: There will always kids that have to live through the work if it is a new building or an improvement on the old. So pushing this off only means the next set of kids will have to live through it. There are too many people ok with this mentality of pushing off to the next generation. The work has to happen, sorry your kids will have to live through it, mine will too and no matter what, someone's will. It seems bizarrely selfish to vote against this bond to pass it off to the next set of kids. I am surprised people can live with this. I can't.

4) GROUPS, BLOGS, FORUMS AND LEAGUES WITHIN THE COMMUNITY: In the past, I have truly respected the opinion of all of these groups and acknowledge the time and energy that these volunteers put in to benefit the community, but recently and in my opinion, it seems many of these reports/editorials are painful skewed to the views of a select group. They are meant to provide educated responses, truthful information and to allow the community to come to the conclusions they chose to come to. Unfortunately, instead of this, scare tactics have been used, threats have been thrown and false information has been circulated. For example, the League of Woman's Voters Report mainly states the community has not been involved in the process and that there is a lack of the needed information. This couldn't be less true. Business works this way, experts work to generate the best possible plan and when they have it, they open the forum to the rest of the people involved to take the work to the next level and to check progress. There is no way anything would have been able to move forward if the involvement of the community had been expected at every step of the process. There have been many different platforms that have allowed questions and where the board and district has been very open to answering the question of the attendees and have asked for involvement. Changes have been made due to input from these meetings and committees There have also been committees instituted to encourage involvement.

This report also states a lack of pertinent information. If you don't have the information you need, go on the website and take a look. It's there. Maybe you should have attended more of these meetings or watched them as many were video cast or even recorded for you? Maybe you should have sent in your questions? I admit some of the information took too long to be shared, but it is all there now and the meetings are still happening where you can ask questions- Attend them, sit down and read the information. Lack of information or the process shouldn't be reasons to vote no at this point unless you don't like where we got to and that is your conclusion after you educate yourself. The vote is still ahead of us –Educate yourself, don't just listen to one source. Hear the sides, read the documents and make a decision you can feel good about.

5) VOTING NO TO EXPRESS YOUR DISLIKE OF THE PTA, BOA or DISTRICT EMPLOYEES or THE PROCESS: This is just one of the many reasons I have heard. Please take a step back and see that we got to a good place even if you don't like how we got here. Experts were used to get us here from outside our community, they are not any the people you dislike. If we vote no, I fear we will head back in to the tailspin and we will be back where we are if and when the next vote happens. The experts got us to where they are for a reason and don't just vote against the bond to vote against these people. It only hurts our kids.

I am sure there are issues I have missed and contingencies of the community -- it seems there are a million of them. I hope I can enlighten at least a few people. We are a community that has always come together to support education for all the children in the district, not just ours. It is why our school district has consistently been rated as one of the top school districts in the country. Let's do it again. I urge everyone to SUPPORT THIS BOND AND VOTE YES on February 8th.

Thanks for your time,
Kathy Stahler

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