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safetyandsecuritypanelIf you were looking for a debate on guns, metal detectors or other security issues, you may have been disappointed after last week’s safety and security forum. What attendees did get, however, was reassurance that Scarsdale officials are thinking about school safety and a case for preventing violence instead of reacting to it.

A joint presentation by the Scarsdale government and school district, the forum featured a number of representatives from Scarsdale schools and Scarsdale-Edgemont Family Counseling Service (SFCS), as well as the chief of police and a few clergy members.

Scarsdale Mayor Dan Hochvert got things started by stating, “The panel will cover just about all the major aspects of Scarsdale that we are concerned about, and we hope… you will be resting more easily about safety and security.” He then stated that the panelists would not provide details on security measures, but invited attendees to write down any questions they wanted answered that evening. This put limits on time and content, but did offer residents some opportunity to be heard.

Scarsdale Schools Superintendent Thomas Hagerman followed and said, “We really want to demonstrate to the Scarsdale community that all of us… are really standing shoulder-to-shoulder around safety, security and emergency management practices… ” He then echoed Hochvert’s comments about the nature of the discussion, “You don’t always have multi agencies coming together around a common topic… so, the kinds of questions we’re looking for are questions that can be answered by anyone on the panel.”

First Line of Defense: Promoting Mental Health
Despite the fact that schools remain as one of the safest places for children, the epidemic in school violence certainly weighs on all our minds. And, although Scarsdale is a relatively safe community, many residents are concerned about protecting our children in worst-case scenarios. But, as residents heard last week, security is part of the issue. To assure safety, experts contend we must address the underlying causes of antisocial and potentially dangerous behavior.

GenovaJay Genova, Executive Director of SFCS, explained that his organization provides critical prevention and intervention services to individuals and families, both in and out of Scarsdale schools. Probably best known via the Scarsdale Community Youth Services Project, SFCS works directly with the district via its team of mental health professionals in the middle and high school. These counselors provide “on the ground” crisis intervention, outreach services, and supportive counseling to individuals and their families.

Genova said, “Not everybody who feels isolated or disenfranchised is going to be a perpetrator of violence. However, many who do perpetrate violence often feel disconnected or disenfranchised… (We) give them an outlet… to express what they might be feeling and to regain some sense of hope… What’s important to us is to make sure that people feel acknowledged, they feel validated, that they feel heard.” He continued, “We want to give people the opportunity to be heard before they have to rely on their behaviors or on any type of extreme situation…”

Lauren Pomerantz, one of SFCS’ youth outreach workers and coordinator of The Safe Coalition, expanded on Genova’s points and discussed the root causes and risk factors of many types of violent behavior – cultural norms that support aggression; harmful norms about masculinity and femininity; social isolation and lack of social support; a history of violent victimization or witnessing violence; and poor parent-child relationships and conflict.

“We feel like these are really relevant and important to talk about, and, if we’re talking about them as root causes or risk factors, we can also turn it around and talk about all of the protective factors that exist. One… is, obviously, the collaboration and coordination of resources like we see tonight; access to mental health (services); family connections and connection to the community.”

The audience then heard from Assistant Superintendent for Business and Facilities Stuart Mattey , who began StuartMatteyby reiterating the school district’s commitment to safety and security. “This commitment takes many forms and has evolved over the years as security-related norms have changed. However, the focus of the district’s efforts is generally concentrated not only on plant upgrades and security-related practices, (but) most importantly, the social and emotional well-being of our students.“

He then mentioned the ability of staff members, along with assistance from community partners such as SFCS and the police department, to support students through a wide range of social/emotional issues, such as peer conflicts, difficult family situations, stress, and challenges in decision-making.

Mattey also discussed current proposals to augment existing security measures and the district’s work with an independent security consultant. “Alteris (Emergency Management Group) has assisted the district in gaining congruence in all buildings in three critical areas: 1) preparedness and prevention; 2) emergency response; and 3) post-incident recovery procedures… To have a ‘go-to’ security professional onsite, the district hired… Mike Spedaliere as its Chief of Safety, Security and Emergency Management this past summer.” He added that, in concert with the Scarsdale Police Department, teachers and students receive ongoing emergency training through various drills that are continually assessed for improvement.

AndyMatturroNext to speak was Scarsdale Chief of Police Andrew Matturro, who described his department’s “continued response and efforts to address the active shooter threat in society today.” Scarsdale police officers have, for years, received training in the latest rapid response techniques; and, for almost two decades, the department has utilized a formal rapid deployment and response program to ensure every member of the force is able immediately respond to any emergency in schools (and other locations throughout the village).

In discussing the Police Department’s work with the district, Matturro explained, “Personnel serve on our department’s school safety tactical response committee… (And,) over six years ago, in cooperation with the district, our department instituted a random school walkthrough program, where officers are assigned to randomly visit and conduct walkthroughs of our (public) senior high school, middle school and elementary schools. This has been expanded to include other schools within our village and houses of worship that wish to participate. Members of our department (also) participate in meetings of the district-wide safety team, and regularly participate in school exercises and drills.”

The Reverend Dr. Kelley Hough Rogers, senior minister at Scarsdale Congregational Church, was the last panel member to speak, and expressed support for various community organizations’ efforts to assure safety. In discussing specific measures at each house of worship, she added, “We invite dialogue… We are going to be more aware of our spot in the community and how we can be better prepared for any type of emergency that may befall us. I think we’re all in agreement that we really feel it is critical to protect people in their most sacred hours and we’re committed to doing so.”

Q’s and A’s in Brief
PT Council President Amber Yusef then read a variety of questions posed by audience members, ranging from the timing of the installation of security vestibules, to addressing students’ special needs during emergencies, to the district’s choice of Altaris as its security consultant. But the questions discussed in greatest detail were whether there should be an armed presence in our schools and how to address the root causes of violence.

To Arm or Not to Arm?
First, the panel was asked if armed security officers were a viable option for improving school security, if there is data showing armed guards make schools safer, and whether armed guards would make a difference if police response was delayed.

Hagerman began by explaining that armed police officers or SROs were present at many of the schools, including Marjory Stoneman Douglas, where recent shootings have taken place. “In some cases, it helped to mitigate or shorten the length of time of those tragedies, but we also know there were victims.”

He went on, “You can look back at a number of school shootings and look at the efficacy of… having armed guards. For us, it’s more of a philosophical question… We’ve heard from some… in our community who feel very comfortable having armed guards or armed personnel at our schools, and there is another group, who feel just as strongly… do not want to have their children in environments with armed guards.”

Mattey stated that SROs were among a long list of possible security measures, but were not likely to be put into place over the short-term. “It’s a long discussion for the community and the schools, and that conversation will continue over the next year.”

Director of Special Education and Student Services Eric Rauschenbach then discussed the difference between armed security guards and SROs. “The main purpose of (an SRO) is not to be a security monitor… It is an actual teaching and interaction-with-student position that allows for close connections between the police department and community. “

He added that, unlike armed guards, who are civilians who may or may not have police training, SROs are specially trained police officers who are placed in schools typically in communities that need improved relationships between the public and law enforcement. This, along with the fact that Scarsdale Police already have a presence in the schools, makes SROs less of a fit for Scarsdale.

In addressing police response time in a potential school emergency, Matturro volunteered that his department’s average response time was 4m, 40s on all calls and 4m, 5s on priority calls, with response time on emergencies “much quicker.” He also noted that, at times, an officer in a squad car is be able to respond more quickly than an armed guard on foot. Matturro also reiterated the importance of focusing on preventing violence in the first place by coordinating local services.

The panel then was asked how the community could weigh in on the question of armed guards in the schools. Mattey replied, “The BOE is always receptive to information provided… certainly at board of education meetings – we have a public comment period – and, of course, emails are very powerful (in making) your concerns known. Evenings such as this are other great opportunities...” He went on, “For some of these bigger issues that might need a longer conversation, that might change… how we might think about our buildings, maybe another forum might be appropriate.“

Inclusiveness vs. Isolation
The next question was about the best ways to address the root causes of violence and work with at-risk children and young adults.

Genova responded, “No matter how many counselors you can hire, you are always going to look to the community to be a part of this. Root causes have a lot to do with the cultural and existing conditions that lead people toward violence.”

He continued, “For instance, we want to protect our children. We may see children who our children are associated with, and we may not like their behaviors. We will, more than likely, tell our children, ‘Let’s stay away from that child.’ How does that impact community safety? …Are we making that child more isolated? Are we depriving that child of some valuable, positive connections that they can learn from? If we’re not reaching out to that child – and, I’m not saying this is easy – we are creating some of the circumstances that lead people toward violent behavior.”

Genova then said creating a safe community means creating a better-connected community that includes individuals who “don’t look like us, sound like us, believe in our beliefs, or behave in ways we approve of.”

Rauschenbach concurred with Genova and added, “When we look at students with mental health challenges in the schools, we have… a community that is cognizant of each other, and unafraid to come to school (officials) and report something that they find difficult or disturbing… At the same time, (we) understand that, whenever a child or group of children are making decisions that we find disturbing, the worst thing that can happen is to increase their isolation… When you feel something’s not right… if children are hearing something or seeing something... give us a call, give the police a call…”

He went on to say that voicing concerns to officials allows for a quick response to any problem and prevents the negative social impact related to people just speaking among themselves. Within the schools, students are encouraged to speak up about issues or fellow students they are worried about. And, the district administration now is looking to make the process easier via anonymous tip lines, allowing students to report issues for possible intervention.

To view a recording of the event in its entirety, click here.

bmw2A Fountain Lane driver accidentally drove forward rather than back when he was parked next to Boniface Circle on Saturday January 12 just after noon. The 61 year-old man said that when he shifted his 2011 BMW out of “Park” it accelerated forward and drove directly into Boniface Circle where it hit a memorial bench and a garbage can before stopping in the park. The metal memorial plate was dislodged from the bench. There were no injuries.

bmw1

DAlessioThe arrest of a developer Michael D’Alessio for defrauding investors has impacted several properties in Scarsdale. In August 2018, Michael D’Alessio, 53, was arrested for misappropriating investors funds intended for development projects in New York, Westchester and the Hamptons. Neighbors in Scarsdale would not be familiar with his name, as the projects here were all owned by LLC’s and did not reveal the names of the investors.

However, it turns out that D’Alessio was the owner of 15 and 17 Circle Road, a 1.3 acre property where there is now a partially finished home and an empty lot, both that hung in the balance for years. The developer demolished the 1920’s home at 17 Circle Road in October 2013 and built a 4,375 square foot home that remains unfinished today. He intended to build another large house at 15 Circle Road but never broke ground there.

D’Alessio declared bankruptcy in 2018 and as a result both properties were auctioned by Maltz Auctions in November, 2018. The empty lot at 15 Circle Road sold for $845,000 while the sale of 17 Circle Road has not yet closed and the price has not been made public.

This week we learned that D’Alessio was also the investor who contracted to purchase the Scarsdale Historical Society property at 937 Post Road. According to Society President Randy Guggenheimer, the deal was made two years ago, before D’Alessio’s troubles emerged. Guggenheimer says “We signed our deal 2 years ago and had to get all of our approvals. While we were waiting this whole deal unfolded.”17CircleRoad15 and 17 Circle Roads were auctioned in November, 2018.

D’Alessio, who was just one of the investors in 937 Post Road LLC, who intended to purchase the property for $1.06 million and subdivide the .7 acre property into 3 lots. The sale called for preservation of the façade of the Cudner Hyatt House. However, when the Attorney General learned of D’Alessio’s misdeeds, they withdrew consent for the contract and the property is now back on the market for $975,000.

In November 2018 D’Alessio pled guilty to wire fraud. According U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, "In typical Ponzi-like fashion, D'Alessio co-mingled over $58 million of investor funds and used them to cash out early investors, cover debts, and pay his own personal gambling debts," Berman said in a statement. "When D'Alessio eventually went into bankruptcy, he perpetrated yet another fraud by trying to conceal assets." He will be sentenced in March.

JFK TheLastSpeech AmazonOn Sunday February 10th at 3pm the Scarsdale Forum, the League of Women Voters Scarsdale and the Scarsdale Library will be screening the film JFK: The Last Speech at the Scarsdale Women's Club. The film explores the dramatic relationship between two seminal Americans—President John F. Kennedy and the poet Robert Frost—which reached its tragic climax in a surprising encounter with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the height of the Cold War. Born out of these events is Kennedy’s remarkable speech about poetry and power, which alters the life course of a group of Amherst college classmates who witness this compelling address and continue to exemplify in their contemporary lives a portrait of challenges facing America.

See the website here:

Neil Bicknell, a former Scarsdale resident and Amherst College graduate said about the film, "When my classmates and I initiated this project during our 50th Amherst College reunion, we were motivated by the conviction that President Kennedy’s words are more important today than when he spoke them to us on October 26, 1963. We felt it important to take JFK’s words, message and spirit to the American public.”

Mr. Bicknell and a fellow classmate, Mark Sandler, both of whom were in attendance for President Kennedy's speech, will introduce the film and answer questions after the screening.

One other piece of Scarsdale trivia...In 1956, just after the opening of the library on Olmsted Road, Robert Frost visited Scarsdale and addressed the community.

Please join us for this exciting event at the Scarsdale Women's Club on Sunday, February 10th at 3pm.

Sometimes it’s hard to know if a paper or cardboard item is ok for recycling. Junk mail? Glossy magazines? Facial tissues? Milk cartons? Gift wrap? What if it has glitter all over it?

Fortunately, the vast majority of the paper and cardboard that we use on a daily basis can be recycled. Generally, as long as it’s not lined with a plastic film, coated with wax, or covered in embellishments like glitter, velvet or foil, it’s accepted. Labels, plastic windows, staples and a little tape are ok to include.

Here’s an overview of what is (and isn’t) accepted, followed by explanations:

Accepted Paper

Paper

Non-Accepted Items And How To Dispose Of Them:

Hardcover books, paperbacks: Donate; recycle only ripped out pages; or trash
Paper towels/napkins/tissues: Food scrap recycling or trash
Wax or parchment paper: Food scrap recycling or trash
Coffee/drink cups: Trash
Coated, leak-proof paper plates: Trash
Giftwrap laminated with plastic film or embellished with metallics, glitter, velvet, etc: Trash [Note: regular, plain paper-only gift wrap is fine to recycle.]
Photograph paper: Trash

Accepted Cardboard

Cardboard Pictures
All cardboard (any color). Some tape is ok, but please remove excessive tape.

Non-Accepted Items And How To Dispose Of Them:

Soiled pizza boxes: Place soiled part with food scraps or trash, recycle clean part
Coated paper take-out containers (e.g., take-out boxes with metal handles for rice): Trash
Refrigerated milk and juice cartons: Place with commingled recycling
Styrofoam packaging: Remove from recyclable boxes and put in trash
Plastic/Bubble Wrap: Remove from recyclable boxes & bring to store recycling bin or trash

Why Staples, Plastic Windows, And Some Tape Are Ok:

Paper mills turn recycled paper and cardboard into new paper and cardboard products, so generally, they want just paper and cardboard and nothing else. However, they have equipment to filter out some foreign items including staples, paper clips, tape, labels, and plastic windows in mail. It’s always better to remove these and other contaminants, if possible.

Why The Following Items Are Not Accepted:

The following contain too much unwanted non-paper components like plastic or glue, or are “end of life” papers which have already been recycled the maximum number of times:

Coffee/Drink Cups: These cups are lined with a thin plastic film to make them leak-proof and 30% of these “paper” cups is actually plastic. Unfortunately, the paper cannot be separated easily from the plastic lining so these lined cups (and coated paper plates) must go in the trash.

Beverage Cartons: These items go in commingled recycling with plastics, glass and metals, even though they look like paper. Milk/juice cartons, juice boxes and ice cream tubs are lined with a plastic film to make them leak-proof. However, unlike coffee/drink cups, paper mills can remove plastic linings from beverage cartons so these cartons can go in commingled recycling.

Books: Paperback and hardcover books can’t be recycled because of the glue used in the binding. Books should be donated or the pages may be ripped out and put into paper recycling. The binding and cover go in the trash. Phone Books are an exception and go in paper recycling.

Glossy Gift Bags: Gift bags and greeting cards that are very glossy, or are covered with embellishments, are laminated with a plastic film which cannot be separated from the paper.

Food-Soiled Pizza Boxes: A little oil is ok, but paper is highly porous. Heavy oil or food residue is hard to remove from paper, so the soiled part (and wax paper liner) must be placed in food scrap recycling or the trash.

Paper Towels, Napkins, Tissues: These items are typically made with recycled paper that has already been recycled the maximum number of times and cannot be further recycled into new paper. They can be placed in food scrap recycling as long as there are no cleaning fluids or other chemicals on them, or in the trash.

Wax/Parchment Paper: These are coated with wax and silicone, respectively, which cannot be separated from the paper. Recycle with food scraps or place in the trash.

Additional Recycling Resources:

Scarsdale Recycling Guide:
Scarsdale Sanitation: publicworks@scarsdale.com or 914.722.1294 (Mon-Sat, 8am-3pm)
Westchester County Recycling Helpline: 914.813.5425 (Mon-Sun, 9am-7pm)
Email the CAC here 

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