Thursday, Mar 23rd

Veron Reflects on Her Tenure as Mayor at March 14 Meeting of the Village Board

VeronAt her penultimate Village Board meeting as Mayor of Scarsdale, Mayor Jane Veron took time to reflect on her tenure and the actions of the Village Board during the past two years.

She said, “Over these past two years, our Village has emerged stronger and better. Board and staff have made significant strides in advancing three priority goals:

1. Establish Scarsdale as a model for 21st century governance excellence
2. Focus on what matters most: quality of life, public safety, and economic vitality
3. Invest for today and for tomorrow

1. Model for 21st Century Governance Excellence

At the beginning of my term, the board and staff introduced a strategic and financial planning framework, establishing an integrated approach to managing the broad array of Village matters while increasing accountability, transparency, and knowledge transfer. We reinstituted work sessions to afford the board and public more opportunity to openly deliberate on and discuss key issues. We ignited a digital transformation, found new ways to leverage technology, reengineered our budget process, and identified outsourcing opportunities. With newly hired Village Manager Cole at the helm, we fostered a culture of innovation and process improvement. Adding to an already superb staff, we welcomed new Deputy Village Manager Marshall, Village Attorney Ward-Willis, Labor Counsel Zuckerman, Village Clerk Emanuel, Fire Chief Mytych, Water Superintendent Gonnella, Personnel Administrator Sage, and Assistant to the Village Manager Morzello. As markers of our successes, we earned GFOA recognition for Village Treasurer Scaglione’s financial statement advancements, County citation for Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps’ emergency services, and the tenth straight CALEA national accreditation, underscoring Chief Matturro’s stellar leadership and the Scarsdale Police Department’s service excellence. In short order, we laid the foundation for model governance.

2. What Matters Most: Quality of Life, Public Safety, Economic Vitality

Quality of Life
The pandemic changed the way we live our lives, and one of the outcomes is a renewed focus on quality of life. With more of us working remotely, residents have higher continuing expectations for the place they call home. They seek natural beauty and peace. We planted trees, implemented gas-powered leaf blower bans, reexamined noise ordinances, and updated land use and stormwater codes. Our community simultaneously yearns for plentiful recreation opportunities, and we have delivered with enhanced programming, a full-time naturalist at the Weinberg Nature Center and new pickleball courts set to arrive this summer.

Public Safety
To enjoy all that Scarsdale has to offer, residents must always feel safe and secure. We have the most dedicated and professional public safety officials around. And we recognize that we do not operate in a silo. Advocating for collaboration and jointness, the public safety pillar formalized our relationship with the BOE and School Administration. One positive outcome was an MOU to ensure video streaming directly to the police. Another was elevating School Safety Emergency Management to the top of every 2x2 agenda, and we will have a resolution to solidify the arrangement on our next Board agenda. Most recently, we worked together to close telecom coverage gaps around the high school, on the fields, and at Fox Meadow school. The strength of our relationship is at an all-time high. To protect all residents, we instituted a Village-wide reduction in the speed limit to 25 mph, noting via supporting data that a 5-mile decrease leads to far better accident outcomes. We will also be implementing recommendations from our consultants DHI to calm our streets.

Economic Vitality
A strong Village depends upon strong local economies, and we have been a municipal leader in revitalizing our retail hubs. During COVID, we instituted a multi-stakeholder task force, and our innovative collaboration led to codified outdoor dining, the adoption of the piloted Dine the ‘Dale tent, annual SHS student public art projects, and placemaking and mobility efforts. We have seen the return of the Scarsdale Music Festival and Light the Dale. The Village, together with the Scarsdale Business Alliance, have built a lasting legacy.

3. Invest for Today and for Tomorrow

While super proud of these quality of life, public safety, and economic vitality achievements, our Board would not rest until we rekindled investment in Scarsdale’s infrastructure - for today and for tomorrow. We heard you loud and clear and are apportioning more funds to accelerate the improvement of our roads. We also prioritized funding for the basic necessities, accelerating sewer and water upgrades and addressing important stormwater code changes. After the great success of our newly renovated and expanded library, we swiftly articulated the need to rebuild our pool complex and reinvest in a reimagined seasonal facility. We have upgraded the Girl Scout House and purchased new fleet. We have made a joint decision with the schools to advance a field study for the entirety of Scarsdale.

Investment in the future comes in many shapes and sizes. We doubled down on our partnership with Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling to provide a community mental health safety net. We created a new brand identity and logo that reflects the ethos of our beloved Scarsdale. We have strengthened our training on diversity, equity, and inclusion. We do not rest on our laurels but constantly seek to do the hard work, study issues supported by data in open conversation with our community, and pursue continuous improvement. At the end of the day, what distinguishes us is how we strive to make ourselves a welcoming and inclusive community, the place where we want to be now and forever.”

She also asked some of the members of the Village Board members to give quarterly updates on their “pillars” or areas of leadership.

Discussing infrastructure, Trustee Whitestone said, “One key priority is road maintenance. DPW Department head Jeff Coleman shared results of a new road condition survey in January which gives us a clear picture of on the ground conditions.” However he acknowledged, “We have a way to go to get our roads into the condition we would like them to be.”

On the issue of stormwater management he said, “We held numerous meetings on how to address stormwater issues. Discussing legislation in this area he said, “we passed code revisions on flood prevention, stormwater run off in buffer areas, lot area coverage and illegal deposits into the sewer system.”

About stormwater runoff, Whitestone said, “We hope to continue to develop solutions in the future and collaborate with neighboring communities.”

Trustee Brew reported on the usage of Scarsdale’s expanded library. She said, “The library held 66 programs, serving 3,300 users in the past month.” She said, “Every part of the library is fully used… the library is partnering with local organizations and providing programs that meet user needs, including Black History month, a piano concert, an art show, and a reading retreat.” She noted the viewing of a film about the history of Greenacres on March 15 as well as “Scarsdale On Ice,” an exhibit on display at the library.

Discussing, noise levels, she said, “we are focused on the fact that people are home after the pandemic.” After complaints about noise, especially from construction, the Board is examining the noise ordinance. Their next step is to schedule a demonstration of noise levels in different areas and then propose revisions to the noise ordinance.

Turning to playing fields, she said, “We had a joint Village Board and School Board meeting to discuss a joint field study. Both boards are budgeting for an RFP in their 2023-24 budgets for a field study.”

Trustee Mazer reported a meeting of the Advisory Council on Senior Citizens- on March 17 at 11 am-12:30 at the library. He said, “All seniors are welcome.”

Trustee Ahuja discussed land use and economic development. He said the Village is reviewing traffic safety measures and improvements on Sprague and Popham Roads.

About business in Scarsdale Village he said, “Work is going on to fill vacant storefronts. We are considering options to incentivize occupancy.”

Concerning the expansion of cell phone coverage he said, “Cell antennas are moving along expeditiously.

Discussing Public Safety, Trustee Lewis reported on improved coordination between public safety officials, the Village and the schools. He said meetings with Police Chief Matturro and Fire Chief Mytych have “made a positive contribution to governance.” He said, “Reducing response times for fires has been a focus.” He added, “We have engaged with State Senator Shelley Mayer and State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin to require digital maps to be a part of school safety plans and that is being implemented here now.”

The Board passed several resolutions:

In place of the Village’s Information Technology Director, who retired in 2022, they considered alternatives for meeting their organization technology needs, with a Managed Service Provider. A working group identified Winxnet LLC d/b/a Logically, to best serve the Village, for a three year contract at a cost of $274,418 per year.

The Board passed a one-time Water Bill Forgiveness Program which will give people who had up charges for water use due to a leak the opportunity to pay only the base water rate.

The Board renewed an intermunicipal agreement for enhanced 911 service with Westchester County.

They called for a public hearing on the proposed Village Budget of Fiscal Year 2023-24 at the March 28, 2023 meeting of the Village Board.

They extended an intermunicipal agreement with the Village of Pelham for the use of their transfer station for organic waste.

Public Comments

Bob Harrison pointed out that $3.7 of Village funds were in Signature Bank. He said, “I hope these funds are not in jeopardy.” He complained that the School Board made him wait until the end of the meeting to speak.

Responding to Harrison, the Village Treasurer said that she had contacted Signature Bank when she heard the news about the bank collapse. The Village has been using them for the past two years as they paid the best interest rates and provided extra services. All but $300,000 of the funds had been returned at the time of the Village Board meeting on Tuesday March 14, and she expected the rest the following day. She said, “100% of our money is safe.”

Former library employee Robin Stettnisch continued to voice her complaints via Zoom that she was wrongfully terminated from her part-time job at the library following the renovation. She called the Village Board liars, and Veron responded, “We absolutely, positively do not lie. The story is on the Scarsdale Library website.”

Watch the meeting here.

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