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Village Board focuses on COVID Response and Combatting Racism

garage2Scarsdale Improvement Corp is proposing the construction of a 130 space, 3-level parking garage with an entrance on Overlook Road.The influences of the COVID crisis and racial strife continue to be felt on the local level when both were on the agenda at the Village Board meeting on July 14.

Both the Mayor and the Village Manager conveyed information on how the virus is affecting Scarsdale and warned residents to continue to be vigilant for the safety of themselves and their neighbors. In response to concerns about inclusion, diversity and racism in Scarsdale, the Mayor formed the Ad Hoc Council to Combat Racism and Bias.

COVID

About the virus, the Mayor said that the most recent stats showed that there were six active cases in Scarsdale, up from just one case last week. He urged everyone to continue to follow CDC guidelines including maintaining social distancing, wearing a mask in public places, washing hands frequently and refraining from touching your face. He quoted CDC Director Robert Redfield who said that if everyone wears a mask the virus could be under control within four to six weeks.

Village Manager Steve Pappalardo also noted the many ways the virus has affected life in Scarsdale. He said, “It’s been four months since village hall was closed. The crisis is is still far from over. He recounted the many ways life has changed at Village Hall including masks, temperature checks, social distancing floor markers, plexiglass dividers, limits on elevator usage and hand sanitizer. He said, “We are living in the midst of a pandemic” and urged everyone to follow guidelines to safeguard the community.

Ad Hoc Council to Combat Racism and Bias

The Mayor read a resolution concerning the formation of the Ad Hoc Council which opens with:

“Martin Luther King Jr. profoundly stated, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”; and

Justice can be achieved with the assistance of many people bending the arc of the moral universe who have a genuine desire to live in a society that respects and seeks to include all inhabitants through understanding and education about our similarities and differences; and

Mayor Samwick and the Board of Trustees seek to combat racism and bias and their deleterious effects on society, including the senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others, and local incidents of racism and bias, including disparaging comments made at a public Village Board meeting in March 2020, hate symbols that were found on School District property, a number of micro-aggressions as well as other unfortunate incidents, are among many events that provide the impetus for us all to aspire for social justice in Scarsdale, this nation and around the world.”

He named the following people to serve on the Council:

Jennifer Fischman, Chair of the Advisory Council on Human Relations, Wildwood Road
Christopher Jackson
Chandra Nottage, Lockwood Road Piero Olcese, Brown Road
Kelly Shang, Sherbrooke Road
Karen Smith, Windmill Circle
Purnima Srivastava, Myrtledale Road
Lisa Tan, Webster Road
Karen Ceske, Board of Education
Edgar McIntosh, School District
Jay Genova, Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling
Robert Cole, Deputy Village Manager, Staff Member
Ingrid M. Richards, Assistant Village Manager, Staff Member
Trustee Rochelle Waldman will serve as liaison to the committee and Mayor Samwick will serve in an ex-officio capacity.

The goals of the Council are as follows:

-Provide a safe place to convene community conversations about racism and bias;

-Identify events, episodes where racism, bias and discrimination exist and are encountered in the Scarsdale community;

-Educate the community about issues related to racism and bias, thereby ensuring that the community is cognizant of behaviors that may be racist and bias. This may be achieved through inviting leaders in the industry to convey useful information to the community and inviting local public officials to discuss policies and practices that demonstrate a diverse and inclusive environment;

-Explore and assist with the coordination of multi-cultural events to better educate and connect the residents toward creating and fostering a more empathetic community;

-Develop a report that documents the events, episodes where bias, racism and discrimination exist in the community and provide an actionable strategic plan that will ameliorate conscious and unconscious bias, racism and discrimination within the Scarsdale community.

The resolution was passed unanimously.

Car Thefts

Village Manager Pappalardo discussed an alarming increase in the number of stolen cars by a number of groups from Connecticut, New Jersey and the Bronx who are targeting unlocked, high-end vehicles. He said the thieves can tell whether or not the cars are unlocked by the position of the side view mirrors. He said that year to date there have been 71 larcenies from cars and 17 cars stolen. However 13 of these cars were recovered and DNA from the cars was submitted for analysis. Scarsdale Police have joined a task force that includes other local police departments and the FBI to track down the groups that are stealing the cars.
Pappalardo strongly recommended that everyone lock their cars and refrain from leaving key fobs inside their cars.

Recreation

Pappalardo gave an update on the Village’s recreation facilities which are reopening. The pool officially opens on Saturday July 18 and everyone is encouraged to buy a pool permit. Regulations are posted on the village website. Village staff anticipates that they will be able to accommodate everyone who wants to come to the pool in a socially distanced manner. Visitors will be screened before entry and asked to wear a mask when not swimming.

Tennis is more popular than ever this year. The Village has sold a total of 1,263 tennis permits and all 26 courts are open for singles or doubles play. Courts need to be reserved in advance using the Village’s online reservation system.

All Village fields and parks are also open – but the park bathrooms are not yet available for use. The Village is offering some summer programming including a 2-day a week sports program in conjunction with Backyard Sports. Sign up on the Village website. More specialty camps will be available in August.

Comments from Village Trustees:

Trustee Seth Ross reported that the two firefighters who sustained injuries fighting a fire at a house on Church Lane last week are on the mend. One was cleared to return to work today and the other will be back to full duty next week.

Trustee Jane Veron reported on activities downtown and at the library. Here are her comments:

The Dine the ‘Dale tent in the Village Center continues to be enjoyed by residents and is actively used throughout the day. It is also available in the evening hours for patrons to enjoy family dinners. In addition to table service provided by Parkway and Yeomiji, twenty five other restaurants and food service providers will deliver to or provide take out for those who would like to dine in the tent. A listing of all participating restaurants is on signage at the tent located at Spencer Place and East Parkway.
The Village welcomed Rothman’s Faherty pop up mobile store last week in Boniface Circle.

Boniface Circle park has been spruced up. Thanks to a collaboration between the Forum’s Downtown Revitalization Committee led by Susan Douglass and Madelaine Epstein from Friends of the Scarsdale Parks, the park received its long overdue grooming, making it even more inviting for residents.

Two more bike racks have been installed in the Village Center.

As for increased parking capacity, consumers are invited to use Christie Place parking garage, access off East Parkway. Consumers can park up to 3 hours using the PANGO app 10599.

During the week of July 27 through August 2 the Village will hold the sidewalk sale and Spencer Place, Boniface Circle and Harwood Court will be shut down in the Village Center for the entire week. This year, the Sidewalk Sale will include the Golden Horseshoe.

On Friday, July 31, from 6:30-8 pm, there will be a Chalk the ‘Dale event to bring the community together to decorate the Village streets. Local restaurants will also be providing dinners and snacks, and the proceeds of the event will support the Scarsdale Business Alliance, the organization that has been working overtime on the nuts and bolts of reopening. Families can sign up at livethedale.wixsite.com

Drive-in Movie Night: The Friends of the Scarsdale Library Drive, will hold a Drive-In Movie night on Wednesday, July 22. It is already sold out. Seventy-five carloads of Scarsdale residents will park at Crossway Field to watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. To round out the event, the SBA invited local restaurants to provide boxed dinners and snacks. Within 90 minutes of opening enrollment, nearly all of the 75 car slots were taken. Given the strong demand, we’d like to try to schedule another Drive-In movie event in the near future.

Scarsdale Library: The Board is making plans for a fall soft opening, provided the Governor permits.

Contactless pick up at the Loft continues with patrons availing themselves of the full Westchester public library system offerings. Outside pick up can be made by appointment. With the increase in demand, pickup hours have been expanded to 9am-4:30 pm. Items will be checked out and left in a bag with your name on it.

The library has also expanded times for returns from Monday at 8 a.m. to Friday at 5:00 p.m. in marked bins outside the Loft. Items will be quarantined for 72 hours in the bins before they are checked in, so will remain on your card for up to one week, and fines will be forgiven during that time.

Summer Blackout Bingo is underway for children, encouraging children to read and enjoy some fun activities. Once the Bingo card is completed, child and parent can take a photo of completed board and send to scakids@wlsmail.org<;mailto:scakids@wlsmail.org>; for a gift card to Bronx River Books. The bingo card is available on the Library homepage.

Construction is moving well at 54 Olmsted with carpeting and painting and bathrooms being finished. Next month, furniture and shelving will start to be delivered. Veron toured the library and said, “I was blown away - the library has been transformed in ways that defy proper description. Truly a tribute to the countless volunteer hours spent on every detail.”

In other business, the Village allocated $498,621 received from Con Edison for road resurfacing to the general fund.

The Village accepted a gift of $2,825 from the Friends of Scarsdale Parks to spruce up the landscaping at Boniface Circle. According to Trustee Lena Crandall, the landscaping has made Boniface Circle more inviting and created “a place where people can safely visit with each other.”

The Trustees passed a resolution to hold the Village election on Tuesday September 15. Per the Governor’s executive order, the election, which was originally scheduled for March 18, 2020 was delayed. Voting will take place at the Scarsdale Congregational Church at 1 Heathcote Road. Qualified voters may serve as election inspectors for the election.

New Parking Lot: The trustees approved a fee of $7,900 for a site plan review for a proposed 130 space parking lot at 30 Popham Road where there is currently an outdoor lot. The application was filed by Scarsdale Improvement Corp. and calls for a three levels parking lot with a basement, first floor and second floor.

Last, the Village Trustees agreed to an inter municipal agreement with the Village of Mamaroneck to represent them in tax grievance proceedings filed by Anna Karpman of 27 Aspen Road and Jill Krutick of 32 Tisdale Road. Since the owners of these properties serve on the Board of Assessment Review or are related to someone who serves, the Village of Scarsdale is required to ask another municipality to represent their interests in the SCAR proceedings.

In public comments, Randy Whitestone said that the sidewalk in Heathcote has been patched and is in tough shape. He asked the trustees to think further about sidewalk repair. He said he was “Encouraged by the formation of the Ad Hoc Council to Combat Racism and Bias, saying “It’s an important time to listen and learn how we can be more inclusive and encourage diversity.” About the pool, he said, “Some have suggested adding early hours for those who work at home.” Last he said, “I applaud the scheduling of the budget session for August and understanding how the pandemic has affected the Village budget.”

Bob Harrison urged the Mayor to have the Ad Hoc Council meet in public session so that everyone can participate. About the makeup of the council he said, “There was no indication that people should apply for this committee.” However Harrison was pleased that the tax bill was sent with two coupons and residents can split payments.

Mayra Kirkendall Rodriguez thanked the Mayor for creating the Ad hoc Council but claimed, “For a council that is supposed to be inclusive, the way it was created was not inclusive.” She asked who designed the objectives, and asked why there was no press release inviting participation. She said, “Where can residents write if they want to be on the ad hoc committee? She asked, “Will they be taking minutes? How will we know what has transpired? Will the Village Board received anti-racism training? Why are the village boards not diverse? Will you look into how village and school staff can be more diverse?” She said, “You can make history by affecting badly needed change in Scarsdale.”

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