Thursday, Sep 23rd

Last updateThu, 23 Sep 2021 2pm

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roadclosedBy now you probably know that Walworth Avenue is closed from Fenimore Road to Greenacres Avenue. Con Edison is in the midst of installing ten miles of gas pipes, some of it running directly through Scarsdale.

After they complete the first block, they will move north, with the next segment to be installed from Colvin Road to Brayton Road. While they do the work, the street is closed and it’s very challenging for those who live on the street to get their cars in an out of their driveways.

The project has caused a big disruption in local traffic as drivers who want to access the Village from Greenacres have to go to Brite Avenue or Brewster Roads. Brite Avenue was recently repaved at the same time Walworth was closed, causing lots of aggravation for anyone trying to navigate the ‘Dale.

We wondered if the new gas main would allow Con Edison to lift their moratorium on new gas service in Scarsdale and also asked how the presence of this line would benefit locals who put up with the road closures.

We questioned Allan Drury a spokesperson for Con Edison to comment and here is what we learned:

1) Who will be the end user of the gas that is passed through the line?

The project will replace 10 miles of existing 24”main and create a continuous transmission system between gas supplies in Westchester and the Bronx that will allow us to maintain service to customers in the event of the loss of either supply.

2) Where are the two endpoints?

Bronx and White Plains.

3) Who is paying for the extra police who monitor the site everyday?

Con Edison.

4) Have you considered doing the work at night so that drivers are not inconvenienced?

The area is largely residential. Doing the work at night would be inconvenient to residents.

5) Concerning our local moratorium on new gas hook-ups, when do you expect this to be lifted?

We have said that the moratorium could be lifted when a project on the Tennessee pipeline increases the capacity of that line.

6) Some of the businesses in the Village need gas lines to serve customers. Will you be providing service to commercial customers?

The moratorium covers new gas connections. A business that takes over a space that was formerly used by another business can use the existing gas connection.

7) How will Scarsdale customers benefit from this work - especially given the big inconvenience to residents?

See the answer to the first question. The project adds reliability and safety to our system.

mobilegeneratorA large mobile generator is parked on Church Lane.In other energy news, why is there a large mobile generator is parked on Church Lane? According to Drury, "We continue to work on the electric-delivery system to restore it to the condition it was in before Tropical Storm Ida hit the area. In the meantime, that generator provides redundancy and reliability for customers."

georgefieldOxford Road After Tropical Storm IdaAt the 9-14 meeting of the Scarsdale Village Board the Mayor and Village Manager praised Scarsdale’s Police and Firefighters, the Department of Public Works and Scarsdale Village Ambulance Corps for their heroic work during Tropical Storm Ida. First responders rescued drivers from deluged cars, cleared streets of trees and debris, redirected traffic and assisted residents with flooding.

The Mayor said, “We want to recognize and honor all of these individuals’ unflagging dedication, particularly during these many days of Ida’s wrath and recovery. It did not go unnoticed how our first responders were there pulling us out of harm’s way and how incredibly hard our DPW staff worked to remove debris, even on Saturday of a holiday weekend.” She said “Residents’ losses are heartbreaking. The staff will do an analysis and look for opportunities to improve and mitigate future storm impacts.”

Village Manager Rob Cole Appreciated that noted that many lost memories and photos that were housed in their basements. He said, “Ida was a 200 – 1000 year storm. But there was a storm of equal magnitude in 2007. We need to be more prepared to address these storms. Staff will convene as a group – including public works, engineering and planning to look for ways to reduce stormwater runoff and infrastructure needs to help in the future.”

About the Village’s current stormwater management infrastructure he said, “George Field Park was overrun – it flooded beyond the park – however the retention basin made a huge impact. Cooper Green is designed and intended to absorb large amounts of water in a short time. What else can we do beyond repairs? What are the best practices? We will look at our stormwater management rules to see what more can we do. We will look to build resiliency into our system. We will bring this to a public session for resident feedback.”

Scarsdale Poolpool6

The Mayor announced that Village Staff has sent out an RFP to identify and address infrastructure needs at the Scarsdale Poll which has outlived its useful life and is in need of reinvestment. The work will involve community outreach, the development of three scenarios and a baseline assessment of pool conditions.

Village Bills

Trustee Jonathan Lewis lauded Village Treasurer Anne Scaglione for modernizing the bill approval process. Formerly a police cruiser delivered the paper bills to a trustees house where they would be reviewed and approved manually. Now the bills can be approved online on an iPad. This new procedure is far more sustainable, saved tons of paper and it is much easier to access to data”

Village Board Meetings

The Mayor said that Governor Hochul granted permission for governments to operate virtually, but the Scarsdale Village Board will meet in person for as long as it is possible. Virtual public comments will also continue to be permitted. The Village Board meeting time has been moved back to 8 pm.

Collaboration with the School Board

Representatives from the Village Board will hold monthly meetings with representatives from the School Board to work on matters of shared concern such as traffic around the schools and safety.

Resolutions

-The Board approved a 2% salary increase for non-union Village employees, on the recommendation of the Village Manager and Village Treasurer. These raises are not retroactive and will have a $61,000 impact on the Village budget.

-The Board agreed to a $250,000 settlement with the contractor for the library. The contractor, Nirim, alleges that delays in the project timing due to late Village approvals cost them $554,640 as they were unable to complete their work in a timely manner. After discovery, the Village and Nirim negotiated and agreed on a settlement of $250,000.

-They awarded a contract for $32,207 for leaf vacuum machine parts to Lacal Equipment Inc. of Jackson Center, Ohio.

-They approved an agreement with the Village of Pelham for use of the Village of Scarsdale Transfer Site at the Recycling Center along with an Intermunicipal Agreement with Westchester County for hauling of organic waste.

-They approved $24,000 for aeration, seeding and fertilization of athletic fields by Alternative Earth Care.

-They accepted a gift of $1,000 from the Scarsdale Raiders Youth Football Organization for the signage to name Crossway Field for Richard “Rippy” Phillips.

Public Comments

Kevin Lilly of 79 Huntington Avenue objected to the new leaf blower policy saying it was “too restrictive.” He asked that the board extend the months when usage would be permitted and said battery operated leaf blowers are not as effective and need to be recharged. He said, “I do my own lawn. I have a long driveway and sweeping it is too much. I was hoping we could extend the hours of use for gas leaf blowers to include Saturdays for those who like to do their own lawns – and allow use beginning in March.” Furthermore he said, “I think the policy of fining the landscaping company, the worker and the homeowner is over kill…. And added, “I hope you don’t eliminate leaf vacuuming.”

Jane Kauffmann of 98 Cushman Road came to object to proposed development at 80 Garden Road but was told that the matter would be before the Planning Board on Wednesday September 22, 2021 at 7 pm.

She said, “We have the Sheldrake River on our property. During the storm if we didn’t have electricity, our basement would have been unlivable. We moved into this house 44 years ago. The water table is very high…. If we dig a hole for a plant, we find water. I just replaced all my sump pumps and got commercial ones.”

Bob Harrison of Fox Meadow Road reported that the new comfort station at Scarsdale Middle School is 75% complete, thanked the Village for building it and said he looked forward to the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Trustee Liaison Reports

Randall Whitestone commended the Village on the 9-11 ceremony at the Scarsdale Public Safety Building. He said, “We lost 3 to 7 residents on that terrible day. I think it was proper and fitting that we took time out to remember them.”

Jonathan Lewis reported that trustees met with colleagues on the school board and discussed areas for collaboration and institutionalizing these meeting protocols. Lawyers will recommend legal structures to facilitate collaboration.

recruitmentThe Procedure Committee invites Scarsdale residents to run for a position on the nonpartisan Citizens Nominating Committee (CNC). As one of 30 volunteers on the CNC you will interview, evaluate and select candidates on the nonpartisan slate running for positions on the village board of trustees in the March 15, 2022 village-wide election.

A candidate for membership on the CNC must be a qualified voter (U.S. citizen and 18 years of age or older), and a resident of Scarsdale for at least two years. The filing deadline for two simple CNC application forms is Wednesday, September 30. The CNC election will be held if in person voting is feasible at Village Hall on Tuesday, November 9, 2021 from 7 AM to 9 PM, or by mail-in ballot.

The CNC meets only 5 or 6 times on weekday evenings beginning at the end of November. CNC meeting dates for 2021-2022 are: Monday, November 29, 2021 (Organization Meeting); Wednesday December 8, Wednesday December 15, Wednesday January 5, Wednesday January 12, and if necessary Wednesday January 19. If in person meetings are not feasible, the CNC will meet virtually on the Zoom platform instead.

For more information contact the Chair of the Procedure Committee, Becky Bach, Edgewood, at beckybach@gmail.com and Vice Chair Richard Pinto, Fox Meadow, at rpinto10583@gmail.com. The other members of the 2021-2022 Procedure Committee, the nonpartisan group of Scarsdale volunteers who administer the nonpartisan election of a new group of 10 members of the CNC annually, are: David Bunzel, Heedan Chung, Larry Dobosh, Madelaine Eppenstein, Lee Fischman, Sergi Flaster, Sarit Fuchs, Sal Jain, Linda Killian, Jon Leslie, Alan Lewis, Michelle Lichtenberg, Abby Olsen, Matt Martin, Barry Meiselman, Adam Rilander, Andrew Sereysky, and Greg Soldatenko.

Library3The staff at the Scarsdale Public Library jumped into action on Thursday, opening the doors to waiting patrons at 8:30 a.m. Hurricane Ida knocked out power and internet service to many Village residents who found refuge at Scarsdale’s new state of the art facility.

The Library was fortunate to have power and internet access, and once the word got out, residents flocked to the Library, filling every chair and table available inside and out. The staff opened all the meeting and program rooms to provide additional work areas. Though the wifi had some issues later in the day, hundreds of residents were able to make phone calls, charge devices, work remotely, and work on school assignments.

library1The hours were extended to 8 p.m., and the Library was busy until closing. Library Director Beth Bermel said, "I am thrilled that the Library was able to serve as the community hub we envisioned when planning the renovation and expansion. It was gratifying to see our residents make use of our spaces and amenities--a dream come true. Many patrons had not yet made it into the Library since we opened, and while I wish it were under different circumstances, I am glad so many people are now aware of everything we have to offer."

Library2

QRGolfClubQuaker Ridge Golf ClubTwo local country clubs will receive substantial tax settlements from the Village of Scarsdale. The settlements are a result of assessment appeals which resulted in lower assessments for both clubs from the years 2014 to 2020.

As a result, Fox Meadow Tennis Club will receive $30,500 from Scarsdale Village and another $106,430 from the Scarsdale Schools for a total of $136,930.

Quaker Ridge Golf Club will receive far more. The settle is for $130,000 from the Village, and $403,979 from the Scarsdale Schools for a total of $533,979. The school refund will be made in three annual payments of $134,659 per year.

Together, the refunds will be a substantial loss to the Village and School budgets at a time when they are both struggling to minimize tax increases.

Why were the two properties overassessed? The disparity stems from their assessment as private vs. public clubs. We asked Scarsdale Village Assessor Victoria Sirota for an explanation. Below is her response outlining the Village portion of these refunds.

"The Town/Village has recently settled two separate Tax Certioraris commenced by the Quaker Ridge Golf Club and the Fox Meadow Tennis Club. These settlements represent Assessment Appeals for each of the six years at issue from 2014 through 2020.

The Quaker Ridge Golf Club market values for the years at issue ranged from $13,000,000 to $15,700,000 and the settlement market values ranged from $11,000,000 to $9,300,000, resulting in Town/Village tax refunds totaling approximately $130,000.

The Fox Meadow Tennis Club market values for the six years at issue were approximately $3,000,000 and the settlement market values ranged from $1,600,000 to $2,800,000, resulting in Town/Village refunds totaling $30,500.

For property tax purposes, there are two types of Golf/Country Clubs: public and private. Private clubs are generally high-end and more valuable than public foxmeadowFox Meadow Tennis Clubcourses. However, based on the valuation methodology accepted by the Westchester County Supreme Court a decade ago, regardless of whether a Golf/Country club is public or private, it is valued as if they were operated as a public for-profit facility. The methodology utilized in the valuation of such private facilities is based on the potential income and expenses, i.e., revenue from golf, pro shop, pool, food, tennis, etc., generated from similar public facilities in the region. Being superior in the quality of construction, design, and offering more and better amenities than public facilities, private facilities generate substantially higher income and higher valuations. As such, the value of private facilities should be higher than that of their public counterparts. However, due to the valuation methodology adopted by the Courts, consideration is not given to the Club’s actual revenue for tax purposes – rather, it is based on public facility comparisons.

The Quaker Ridge Golf Club is a not-for-profit corporation, and the subject property is operated as a private club. As noted above, the value of Quaker Ridge Golf Club would seemingly be valued as a private, profitable club, but it is not. The Westchester County Courts view this property as being similar in value to that of public courses in the County. Private swimming and tennis facilities, such as the Fox Meadow Tennis Club, are treated in the same fashion as private golf facilities in that their value is based on income and expenses obtained from swim and tennis clubs in the area, rather than the actual income of the subject property.

Please note that appeals reaching the Westchester County Supreme Court routinely take multiple years to be litigated. Because they are multi-year settlements, the dollar values are generally higher than single year settlements, of course."

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