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november 13 2018Turning a concept into something tangible, and useful, isn’t always easily or quickly achieved. This year’s Procedure Committee, the administrator of Scarsdale’s non-partisan village election system, has accomplished just that: turning discussion items years in the making into proposed amendments for approval by Scarsdale voters. The amendments will appear on the ballot of the Citizens Nominating Committee annual election at Village Hall on Tuesday, November 13, when voters also elect their neighborhood representatives to serve on the CNC. The polls are open from 7-10 AM and 2-9 PM.

The fundamental purpose of the main amendments proposed by the PC is to give to the elected members of the CNC primary authority for the selection of CNC and PC leadership. For example, Amendment #1 authorizes the 30 CNC voting members, who represent each of the five Village neighborhoods (according to elementary school), to choose CNC leadership for the following year from among the outgoing class of voting members. The amendment eliminates the responsibility of the Town and Village Civic Club and Scarsdale Neighborhood Association Presidents to fill the non-voting leadership positions on the CNC.

According to the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale: “The selection of chairs by the CNC from among those who have just completed their service on the CNC, comparable to the process set forth in the School Board Nominating Committee Resolution for selecting the leadership of the SBNC, promotes greater continuity and smoother transfer of procedural and historical knowledge, ensures that the CNC leadership possesses recent CNC experience, preserves the appearance of impartiality, integrity, and neutrality in the process, and makes certain that the incoming leadership will bear the indicia of approval of their CNC peers.”

Amendment #7 confirms that the Non-Partisan Resolution, the system’s governing document, is administered by the PC, not by the venerable Town and Village Civic Club, which is, after all, a completely separate organization. Similarly, Amendment #5 pertaining to the PC mirrors the changes in CNC leadership. The role of the TVCC and SNAP in automatically providing appointees to the PC is discontinued in favor of a more active role of the PC chair and vice chair and ratification of leadership by PC members. Providing the opportunity to recruit PC appointees from a broader pool of neighborhood and volunteer community organizations is another big step towards PC self-governance and has the potential to involve more of the community in the non-partisan process and civic life in the Village in general.

Aside from amendments, 13 of the 16 residents who appear on the non-partisan ballot are seeking your vote to join the 17 current members of the CNC. Together they will conduct a due diligence process to nominate candidates for the offices of mayor and three village trustees who will appear on the Non-Partisan slate in the annual March (2019) spring election. All candidates standing for election in this non-partisan process, and hoping to serve on the CNC and in village offices, are to be congratulated for their civic commitment and public-minded spirit.

The CNC Election Brochure is now available on the PC’s website. The brochure contains biographies of all CNC candidates running for seats on the CNC, a summary of all proposed amendments, and information on the Non-Partisan system. The election brochure will also be mailed to all households in Scarsdale, so look for it in your mailbox next week after the midterm election on November 6 and before CNC election day on November 13. Please vote in both elections – your vote counts!

The CNC Mail-In Ballot is also available on the PC’s website, which will permit voters to cast their ballot by mail for their neighborhood CNC candidates and for the proposed amendments. Mail in ballots must be received at the Scarsdale village center Post Office by or before 5 PM on November 13. The entire ballot will be available for review at Village Hall on November 13 if you vote in person, when the lobby polling place is open from 7-10 AM and 2-9 PM. Again, please exercise your vote on both November 6th in the midterm election and on November 13th in the CNC election.

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votecheckIn every election cycle, rain or shine, voting in Scarsdale is important and potentially impactful for our community. This year, participation in the midterm election on November 6 is already on our radar, as it should be. It’s also by tradition that the administrative Procedure Committee is encouraging Scarsdale voters to make sure to participate in the Non-Partisan system’s village election on the second Tuesday in November at Village Hall – it falls this year on Tuesday, November 13. That’s when the residents who appear on the ballot for each elementary school district are seeking your vote to join the 17 current members of the Citizen’s Nominating Committee. Together they will conduct a due diligence process to nominate candidates for the offices of mayor and three village trustees, who will then appear on the Non-Partisan slate in the annual March (2019) spring election.*

The Procedure Committee congratulates all candidates for their civic commitment and public-minded spirit by standing for election in Scarsdale’s Non-Partisan process, and by their willingness to serve as volunteers on the CNC and in village office.

Please consult the CNC election brochure, which is now available (in a preliminary digital mockup) on the Procedure Committee website here, for more information about the November 13 election. The brochure contains biographies of all CNC candidates running for 13 seats on the CNC, an explanation of the proposed amendments to the Non-Partisan Resolution which will also appear on the ballot (the system’s governing document), and information on the Non-Partisan system. The final print version of the election brochure will be mailed to all households in Scarsdale, so look for it in your mailbox the week before CNC election day on November 13.

According to Procedure Committee Chair Madelaine Eppenstein: “The mail-in ballot will soon be available on the website, which will permit voters to cast their ballot by mail for their neighborhood CNC candidates and for the proposed amendments. Mail in ballots must be received at the Scarsdale village center Post Office by or before 5 pm on November 13. The entire ballot will be available at Village Hall on November 13 if you vote in person, when the lobby polling place will be open from 7-10 AM and 2-9 PM. In the event of a tie, a run-off election will be held on Tuesday, November 20, 2018.”

Please exercise your vote, on both November 6th in the midterm election and on November 13th in the CNC election.

The members of the 2018 Procedure Committee are: Charles Baltman; Sarah Bell; David Dembitzer; Eric Cheng; Madelaine Eppenstein; Timothy Foley; Jeff Goodwin; Mayra Kirkendall-Rodríguez; Eli Mattioli; David Peck; Pam Rubin; Gregory Soldatenko; Nancy Steinberg; Michelle Sterling; and Bruce Wells.

* Under New York State Law, candidates outside the village non-partisan election system may also run for village office by obtaining the prescribed number of signatures on a nominating petition.

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policecruiserDon't be alarmed if you see lots of emergency vehicles in the area on Thursday night between 7 and 10 pm.

The Scarsdale Police and Fire Departments are partnering with the Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps (SVAC) to undertake an Emergency Preparedness Drill this evening at 1 Heathcote Road, Scarsdale Congregational Church, between 7:00 PM and 10:00 PM.

Multiple emergency vehicles, including ambulances, police cars, and fire apparatus will be visible in the area of the exercise; however, there is no cause for concern – they will be there participating in the SVAC-sponsored emergency preparedness drill.

Electronic message boards notifying members of the public of the drill have been deployed at the intersections of Heathcote and Post Roads, and Heathcote and Duck Pond Roads.

Although no detours are planned, the traveling public is encouraged to avoid Heathcote Road between Post Road and Duck Pond Road during the exercise, which will last from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM tonight, Thursday, October 18th.

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WilsonandSonsWilson and Son team jumps with excitement over a great putt. One hundred and fifty golfers came out to celebrate the 15th annual Scarsdale Police Benevolent Association Charity Golf Classic last Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Fenway Golf Club. Proceeds from the event support the Scarsdale PBA and two charities with local ties – the Paulie Strong Foundation and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund. Last year, the PBA donated approximately $50,000, combined, to the chosen charities, and this year’s event is expected to generate a similar amount of support.

According to Sergeant Ronnie Arefieg, of the Scarsdale PBA, “We are honored to have the involvement of so many people who have been loyal to the event over the years.” The first Scarsdale PBA Charity Golf Classic was held in 2003 with approximately 60 golfers. Following the game, participants went out to dinner together at a restaurant in White Plains. Fifteen years later, the event has grown into one of Westchester’s most anticipated and best-loved fundraisers. Complementing the day’s golf game was a lavish buffet of food, special-interest stations such as a cigar roller, a gala evening dinner, music, raffles and a silent auction.

GolfOuting2The event’s success is dependent on and demonstrates the close, supportive relationship between the Scarsdale PBA and the community.

“The greatest pleasure in this event is bringing so many people from different professions into one venue for the same cause, to assist the Scarsdale PBA in all its endeavors and to support two important charities. It’s a beautiful thing to see,” Arefieg said. “The Scarsdale PBA is so dearly grateful to the Scarsdale community and all of our supporters outside the community, for their loyalty, generosity and kindness.”

ArfiegandBezosJames Arefieg and Mark Bezos

See more photos here:
DAsGolfOutingWestchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino Jr., DA Investigator Ydania Rodriguez, DA Investigator , Steve Sassone and Senior District Attorney Hazem Ennabi enjoying the dinner gala at Fenway Golf Club.

golfouting
golfoutingDScarsdale Residents Robert Tucker, esq. Scott Eichel and Sgt. Ronnie Arefieg of the Scarsdale Police.

New layer...
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flood3Many Scarsdale residents still are cleaning up after severe flooding from two weeks ago – discarding ruined belongings, calling in mold-prevention services, and researching waterproofing options for their basements. During significant rain events, similar to the soaker on September 25, French drains and sump pumps often aren’t enough to keep some homeowners’ properties dry, particularly if they’re located in one of Scarsdale’s flood plains.

The September storm was, according to Scarsdale Director of Public Works Benny Salanitro, “one of the top five or 10 events” during his tenure in the village, and greatly impacted the Drake-Edgewood area. While Scarsdale Village staff and emergency personnel are quite skilled in assisting residents during storms, they simply can’t stop the rain. So, the focus is how to improve storm water flow, better divert it from roads and property, and reduce overflow where possible.

Local flooding was discussed at the October 9, 2018 Board of Trustees meeting, where residents discussed their experience in the last storm and board members offered updates on what the village has been doing to address the issue.

Scarsdale Village Manager Steve Pappalardo began by explaining that the village has performed a numerous tests to identify local sanitary sewer line breaches, and spent hundreds of hours and $200,000 repairing them. He said, “All these efforts were performed toward the goal of reducing inflow and infiltration (between the sanitary sewer system and storm sewer system). Although they have helped to mitigate (flooding), we are still experiencing system surcharges during extreme rainfalls. We believe this is… the result of some (illicit) private connections that still exist as well as river water entering the county storm sewer system.”

One way to control flooding is to ensure adequate water flow in surrounding waterways, and keeping the Hutchinson River free of debris is important for Scarsdale. The river, which spans 10 miles, begins in the Edgewood area of Scarsdale and runs through sections of Eastchester and New Rochelle.

In the recent past debris, shrubs and plants have built up along the Hutchinson River’s banks, blocking water and causing buildups. Many of the homeowners along the river are responsible for maintaining riverbanks and beds on their lots, and removing any debris that obstructs water flow. However, quite a few do not. In addition, while each municipality has conducted manual clean ups of public property bordering the river, this activity has ceased after a homeowner sued New Rochelle, claiming property damage associated with one of its cleanup efforts.

Pappalardo said, “It’s obvious, at this point, that the Hutchinson River requires a much more aggressive cleaning and improvements.” To achieve this, last year, the three municipalities agreed to participate in the Hutchinson River Flood Mitigation Project. With $3.5 million in state and county grants, they plan to de-silt and widen the riverbed, and stabilize its banks, while assisting homeowners with cleanup. Pappalardo continued, “It’s a very complicated project… we’re going to need easements, rights of access from property owners… there’s going to be legal and survey work that will be necessary… you’ve (also) got multiple municipalities trying to make this happen.” He added that the work would include installing larger culverts through public roadways to improve storm water flow, and mitigate flooding and “nuisance” water backups that occur during storms. The municipalities are close to selecting an engineering firm to begin an analysis and provide cost estimates; three firms currently are being considered.

Pappalardo went on, “This is a different… than what we were looking at with the Bronx River and South Fox Meadow project. (In that project,) we had property upstream in Scarsdale to detain storm water and then meter flow out to the Bronx River when storms subsided. The Bronx River is the problem there; it can’t hold the water anymore… the water was backing up into our sewer systems and into our private properties.” He continued, “This project is the opposite; we’re going to enlarge culverts, clean out the bed and widen it in some places, and stabilize the banks, so that we can get the water out of Scarsdale as fast as possible, out of New Rochelle and into Eastchester because they have the receiving waters that can handle that flow... It’s the most complicated project that I’ve been on in all my years.”

Scarsdale Mayor Dan Hochvert then stated, “I’ve actually walked the Hutchinson River, and the neighbors on both sides are not caring for growth (which) extends over the river and blocks flow; it raises the level of the water before a rainfall, and it floods more quickly.” He continued, “I will see if we can’t ask the folks along the Scarsdale side to make sure that we don’t have growth… I also saw tons of debris, much of which has been thrown there by landscapers... So, there is some care that … won’t eliminate flooding, but will mitigate it. “

Scarsdale Village Trustee Carl Finger noted that Scarsdale was ahead of Eastchester and New Rochelle in recognizing the need for a coordinated effort to better manage the Hutchinson River, and that it took some time to “get everybody on the same page.” He said, “We’ve been on this project since I’ve been on the board… it’s important to us to do what we can and this is a good example of the village staff getting ahead of things… I’m glad to see that it’s moving forward, and I’m disappointed to hear that (residents) had the problems that I’m hearing about. The sooner we get this thing going, the sooner we can provide, at least, some relief to some of the people negatively affected by these events.”

Residents then discussed their experiences during the September storm and other rain events.

Dimah Yanovsky (Barry Road) began by sharing video of the sewer on his road bubbling up as the rains fell. “There’s a layer of three or four inches of water above that, so for (the water) to fountain up, you can imagine the pressure.” He went on, “We lived through Sandy, we’ve had multiple floods of the sewer system, but it’s becoming (commonplace) with every big rain… we live in Scarsdale, with a AAA-rating, a fantastic tax base and great property values… but this is sewage where our kids play. It’s a dead-end street with sewage… We live in this. I’m happy to see that we’re making progress and that something is happening with the river drainage… (Is) it possible… to somehow compel residents to clean up what they’re responsible for, in terms of the riverbank… Unless most people do it, it doesn’t really help.” Yanovsky concluded, “It’s awful that we have to lie through this… It’s a huge priority for everyone in town... Something more needs to be done.”

A resident from Eastwoods Lane followed and said, “We’ve had flooding since we moved in… and we’ve had lots of sewer water come in…We put in a shut off valve… that did stop the sewage… But… this last one was, really, the worst because it came so quickly and went into the basement; we had three feet of water in the basement… we had furniture in the basement… and that all went.” She continued to discuss other measures that she had to take to protect her home: “We had a French drain put in around the base (of the house), we had sheetrock replaced with a type of plastic paneling that doesn’t get mold and mildew, and… we have three sump pumps. It’s been tough to live with.” She also noted that she, like all Scarsdale residents, pays high taxes, and that her property assessment will not be reduced because her home is in a flood zone. Her husband added, “This has been going on a long time and someone’s got to do something about it.”

Finger responded, “I appreciate the folks coming and letting us know, because, although I’m aware that there is a flooding issue, I wasn’t aware of how severe it continues to be.“ Pappalardo said, “We appreciate what you’re living with and none of us are happy about it… There’s been an awful lot of work that’s been done but, ultimately, the solution is the project we’re talking about. We may have to readjust and think about doing some work… in the interim ... that project is not going to result in a shovel in the ground in a timeframe that you folks are going to be able to live with... We’ll see if there’s anything we can do out there before the weather turns… so that you don’t see what you saw last time around.”

Laura Halligan is a local writer, editor and marketing consultant. She is principal of Pinch Hit Prose and provides communications services to entrepreneurs, small businesses and nonprofits.

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