Village to Reduce Speed Limit, Curb Stormwater and Permit Videoconferencing
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
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The Scarsdale Board of Trustees moved forward on a series of resolutions to address environmental and safety issues at their meeting on October 25, 2022. They also held a public hearing on a resolution to allow participation in Village meetings via video conferencing.
For the environment, the village will ban the use of pesticides on all village property and use organics instead. In fact, the Department of Public Works has not used pesticides for the last five years. But this resolution will codify that policy. A public hearing on the code changes was set for November 7, 2022.
Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act
The Board of Trustees voted to support the Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act that will appear on voters ballots for the November 8 election. Note, to vote on this resolution, you will need to turn over your ballot as it appears on the reverse side. Voicing her support for the measure, Mayor Veron said, “We are also introducing legislation to support the Clean Water, Clean Air, Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022. It has been over two decades since the last environmental bond act was passed in New York, yet our state, county and local governments must make significantly more investments to address climate change imperatives.” Calling in during public comments, Michelle Sterling also advocated for the Bond Act, saying, “vote for the environmental bond act that will fund needed changes to preserve our air and water quality.”
Public Hearings were called for two measures for stormwater management.
The first addresses grading around the property perimeter. According to the new law, altering or modifying any grades within “any portion of land that falls within the side yard and a 25 foot rear yard zoning setback from the boundary line perimeter of a parcel as determined by a licensed land surveyor,” is restricted.
This new code should prevent grading changes during construction which change drainage patters and cause water to flood adjacent properties.
The second resolution pertains to lot area coverage and impervious surfaces. According to the Village Planner, "This is code cleanup language to clarify the existing practice where impervious surfaces (e.g. driveways) and structures (e.g. tennis courts and swimming pools) can be swapped for other impervious surfaces (e.g. well-draining gravel) provided there is no increase in the size of the non-conformity. The language is currently located in an incorrect subsection of the code and the wording is not very clear. This would create a new subsection of code and clarify what is allowed to be swapped.
Note that the proposed changes to the definition of impervious surface will also mean that when swapping occurs the applicants must demonstrate a higher level of absorption than they do now. Also note many of the types of surfaces that would be considered pervious in the zoning code may still be considered impervious surfaces in stormwater code and therefore will usually still need to be captured by stormwater systems and considered in the stormwater modeling, resulting in improved conditions (this is the purpose of the last sentence in the new subsection)."
These matters will be referred to the Planning Board and public hearings on both measures will be held on December 13, 2022.
25 MPG Speed Limit
In terms of Public Safety, trustees scheduled a public hearing for Monday November 7 on a law to reduce the speed limit in the Village of Scarsdale to 25 MPH. Explaining the rationale behind this change, Mayor Jane Veron said, “We have been advocating for this change at the state level for several years, and we were thrilled that our own Assemblymember Paulin and our Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins affected the change in Albany this year. A five mph speed limit reduction significantly reduces fatalities and severe injury. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s analysis of pedestrian-involved accidents, the risk of fatality was approximately 3.26 times higher with a 30 mph posted speed limit than a 25 mph speed limit. Similarly, the risk of debilitating injury was approximately 1.28 times higher with a 30 mph posted speed limit than a 25 mph speed limit. After extensive analysis that included an examination of crash and speed survey data, characteristics of the land environment, roadway functions, frequency and nature of side roads and driveways, and roadway geometry, our Department of Public Works recommends that the Village-wide speed limit be reduced to 25 mph. The two exceptions are Mamaroneck Road and Griffen Avenue. According to DPW, the Mamaroneck Road function and available sight distance at driveways and intersections warrant the existing speed limit be maintained. Griffen Avenue is partially under the jurisdiction of the Town of Mamaroneck and for consistency purposes, both directions should carry the same speed limit.
The 25 mph speed limit pertains to Village streets, but not the following state and county roads that run through Scarsdale.
-The Hutchinson River Parkway
-The Bronx River Parkway
-Post Road (Route 22)
A Public Hearing was held on a code revision that will permit videoconferencing for the Board of Trustees and other village committees that are subject to the NYS Open Meetings law. Under the new law, “Members of public bodies may participate in meeting via videoconference from locations not accessible to the public so long as a quorum of the public body participates from location where the public may be physically present.”
For example, “A 5-person board may conduct a public meeting where 2 members attend the meeting from Rutherford Hall and 1 member attends by videoconference from a physical location that is open to the public, and such location has been identified in the meeting notice. In that event, the 2 remaining board members could attend by videoconference from locations that are not open to the public.”
During trustee liaison reports, Trustee Jonathan Lewis reported on his meeting with the school district safety committee. He said, “On October 13, I attended the Scarsdale School District - District Safety Team Meeting. Chaired by Eric Rauschenbach, Assistant Superintendent for Special Education and Student Services, this meeting was very thorough, informative, and highlighted the good work Eric Rauschenbach and Mike Spedaliere, the district’s safety consultant from Altaris, are accomplishing in their respective roles. The agenda was thoughtful and Eric's management of the meeting demonstrated it is possible to discuss sensitive matters of public safety in a community forum and achieve important community goals without compromising security objectives.
One of the important objectives of the public safety pillar is breaking down silos and creating jointness between Police, Fire, and Ambulance services, as well as creating greater jointness and collaboration between the village and the school district on matters of public safety. While much has been accomplished by the village and school district in collaboration on safety this past year, including the joint work on a memorandum of understanding that facilitates greater collaboration, work remains. Ensuring we complete the work of putting in place a 21st century governance structure for school safety that achieves jointness between the village and the school district - two independent governments, with their own budgets, operating under different legal frameworks (municipal vs. education law), is an important next step as we seek to evolve local government beyond traditional 20th century structures and practices, to governance structures designed to meet the specific challenges and threats of the 21st century.
To that end, I will be attending a Regional School Safety Symposium in early November organized by PACS (Police Allied with Communities and Schools). There will be presentations by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Westchester DA’s office related to improving school safety, and well as presentations on how to leverage technology to improve safety. I will report back the community on this subject at a subsequent meeting in November.”
Gas Leaf Blowers
Village Manager Rob Cole reminded residents that use of gas powered leaf blowers is banned from Saturday through Monday, though electric powered leaf blowers are permitted.
Here are Mayor Jane Veron's opening comments:
"Good evening, Scarsdale. I hope you are enjoying the beautiful fall colors. Huge thanks to our recreation department for hosting our traditional autumn and Halloween festivities. These are Village highlights that create lasting memories.
We have items of note tonight in two Pillars of government: Infrastructure, Municipal Services and Sustainability as well as Public Safety.
In the Infrastructure, Municipal Services, and Sustainability pillar
Scarsdale residents have embraced a plethora of sustainability measures, and we are proud that we regularly adopt new practices to protect our environment. As an example, we have been innovators in waste management with our signature food scrap recycling program as well as the recycling of textiles, plastic, cork, books, cooking oil and now a brand new paint recycling program. We are grateful to our Conservation Advisory Council and Department of Public Works; it is their partnership that drives so many of these positive changes. Thanks, too, to the Scarsdale Forum Sustainability Committee for their advocacy.
Tonight, we are calling for a public hearing to make permanent a five year old effort to eliminate pesticide use from Village properties. Since 2017, the Village has used organic maintenance methods rather than pesticides on all Village-owned land. We are seeking to codify that change. We are also introducing legislation to support the Clean Water, Clean Air, Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022. It has been over two decades since the last environmental bond act was passed in New York, yet our state, county and local governments must make significantly more investments to address climate change imperatives. In Scarsdale, we have already begun the process, but so much more needs to be done.
In the Public Safety pillar, we have been working diligently on two items, one that we are advancing this evening and another to be introduced later this year. Tonight’s item is the beginning of the process to reduce the Village-wide speed limit from 30 to 25 mph. We have been advocating for this change at the state level for several years, and we were thrilled that our own Assemblymember Paulin and our Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins affected the change in Albany this year. A five mph speed limit reduction significantly reduces fatalities and severe injury. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s analysis of pedestrian-involved accidents, the risk of fatality was approximately 3.26 times higher with a 30 mph posted speed limit than a 25 mph speed limit. Similarly, the risk of debilitating injury was approximately 1.28 times higher with a 30 mph posted speed limit than a 25 mph speed limit. After extensive analysis that included an examination of crash and speed survey data, characteristics of the land environment, roadway functions, frequency and nature of side roads and driveways, and roadway geometry, our Department of Public Works recommends that the Village-wide speed limit be reduced to 25 mph. The two exceptions are Mamaroneck Road and Griffen Avenue. According to DPW, the Mamaroneck Road function and available sight distance at driveways and intersections warrant the existing speed limit be maintained. Griffen Avenue is partially under the jurisdiction of the Town of Mamaroneck and for consistency purposes, both directions should carry the same speed limit. In addition, Scarsdale does not have the authority to set the speed limit on state and County roads so the Post Road, Weaver Street, Palmer Avenue and the Heathcote Bypass will remain at their current speed limits. We will be holding a public hearing on this matter on November 7. Please note our Village Board meeting was moved to Monday as Village Hall is closed on November 8 for Election Day.
As I mentioned earlier, we are also working diligently to advance a second public safety matter, closing our telecom gaps. We know that many residents struggle to get cell service in many areas throughout Scarsdale, and we are addressing this public safety concern. Representatives from our Technology Advisory Council along with Trustee liaison Ahuja and Assistant to the Village Manager Thomas Morzello as well as Infrastructure, Municipal Services, and Sustainability Pillar Chair Deputy Mayor Whitestone have been doing a tremendous amount of legwork to pull together materials for a work session. This matter is of priority importance, and we expect to schedule a work session before year end.
And my last update - earlier this evening, FHI consultants provided a path forward for moving from our first phase of our Mobility and Placemaking study to our second phase. Our priorities remain the same: safety first, and then we will begin to tackle other recommendations. We plan to employ tactical urbanism, a fancy way of saying piloting changes without making them permanent, to see how our residents react to the suggested changes. The conceptual plans that FHI provided are merely just that - ideas for an end point for us. Whatever is done in Scarsdale will embody the Scarsdale aesthetic. We look forward to your active participation as we roll out tests throughout the upcoming year."
At Village Hall: Pool Planning, Traffic Study, Pickleball Courts, Noisy Parties and Trick or Treating
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
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Plans for the pool, concepts to improve mobility and safety around the Village, noisy parties, trick or treating and picklelball courts were all under discussion at the Village Board meeting on Tuesday October 11, 2022.
In her opening comments, Mayor Jane Veron thanked “the community for your enthusiastic turnout for the pool complex study presentation. We shared a lot of important information and have received great feedback from the community. I also want to thank our Mayor’s Council for providing helpful institutional knowledge and perspective. Our next step will require time spent drilling down on the financial implications of different options.”…. “One thing we know for sure - we will rebuild our beloved community asset. While we don’t yet know what type of facility can be supported by our community, there is a consistent and undeniable desire to make this important investment.”
About the traffic study she said, “On October 25, the FHI consultants will provide their final report on the Mobility and Placemaking study. The final presentation will serve as a roadmap for future possibilities. It is a draft plan, like a concept board, that will guide exploration for the future. It provides conceptual ideas for the Village to consider and test. Traffic and safety will take the lead as we begin to evaluate and test recommendations.”
Gas Powered Leaf Blowers
Village Manager Rob Cole reminded listeners that “Gas powered leaf blowers are only allowed Tuesday through Friday, October 1 – December 31, 2023. Excluding federal holidays.”
Trustees announced a new program to recycle old paint cans. On October 29 from 8 am to 3 pm a new paint recycling program will be launched at the Scarsdale Recycling Center on Secor Road. Residents can bring old paint cans to the center for disposal.
Meetings Via Zoom
Residents may soon be able to access and participate in all Village meetings via Zoom. Trustee Ahuja called for a public hearing on a local law to allow all bodies of the Village of Scarsdale to participate in meetings via videoconference. The hearing will be held on October 25, 2022 at 8 pm in Village Hall.
New pickleball courts are being planned for Crossway Field. Trustees approved a resolution to hire Site Design Consultants of Yorktown Heights to design pickleball courts at Crossway Field at a cost of $45,610. Trustee Ahuja discussed a national surge in the popularity of the sport.
David Raizen announced the annual fund drive for Scarsdale Village Ambulance Corp. He explained that the service has four ambulances, 20 professional staff and 100 volunteers. There are also 7 volunteer paramedics within the corps. He said the goal was to raise $300,000 this year. He explained that the COVID testing SVAC offered last year did not make money for the corps and he hopes the public will give generously this year to support this vital service.
Mayor Jane Veron called SVAC “capable, phenomenal and prepared” and said, “taxpayer dollars do not cover the cost of ambulance. The village covers the expense of fuels in the vehicles and heat in the building and that’s it.”
Jeffrey Singer of 9 Hazelton Drive spoke about noise coming from outdoor parties at Fenway Golf Club. He said, “In late summer 2021 we started to notice noise coming from Fenway on Saturday nights. The bass could shake the windows. The DJ’s yell to the crowd. This went on every Saturday night from 8 – 11 pm until the mid-fall. Now it seems like more parties are outside and the sound travels a great distance. We would call the police who would go there, but the music did not stop. We were not given any feedback. We left messages for Rob Cole but did not hear back. Parties resumed in the early spring of 2022 until the end of the school year. Summer was quiet and the parties resumed in the fall. More neighbors have been calling the police. Nothing is getting done and it is frustrating. Fenway seems to adhere to no regulations. The parties should return indoor where they belong. The pivot to outdoors has caused this. Our neighborhood practically vibrates and the DJ’s voice cuts into our homes. We have the right to enjoy our homes in peace. The lack of follow-up is embarrassing. The lip service needs to stop.”
John Schwartz followed up on Singer’s comments on noise from Fenway. He said “residents should not have to suffer this problem. I commented on the proposed noise resolution. Police went to the club three times on Saturday night requesting that they lower the bass. We can’t use the indoors of our house. It is disruptive and unnecessary. Indoor parties are no problem. 65 decibels is unacceptable and needs to be evaluated. Fenway talks a good game but has no interest in complying.”
The mayor responded and said the new attorney is looking into the Village noise code. Rob Cole said “Chief Matturo has reached out to Fenway. We are looking to amend the noise code to address this.”
Halloween In Fox Meadow
Catherine Souther of 82 Hampton Road said “I am here about the street closures for Halloween. They want to close 3-4 blocks north of the school. Why do we need to close the streets? It creates an artificial explosion of people in our neighborhood. It is not at all okay.
No other neighborhood has been asked to host. We have gone from dozens of trick or treaters to hundreds. It is non-stop. Why do the same 4-5 streets in Fox Meadow host the entire village? I ask you not to authorize it or to authorize it for another area. We love Halloween but we don’t want to host the big party.”
Francis Tussing agreed. She said, “I love it when kids come to the yard – but it’s time for someone else to do it. Share the wealth.”
Mayor Veron responded. She said, “About the trick or treating in Fox Meadow, it was initially a pilot program. We will look into this.”
New York Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Bond Act
Henry Neal of 23 Barry Road is the Chair of Westchester County Parks Preservation Board.
He spoke about the New York Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Bond Act which is a proposition on the reverse side of the ballot in November. He said, “If passed it will allow the state to issue $4.2 billion in bonds for climate mitigation, flood mitigation and more. The County Board of Legislators supported it by a vote of 17-0.” He proposed that the Scarsdale Board of Trustees should also vote to approve it. He said, “I think it is worth debating and it would be nice if the Village Board would take a position on this.”
Myra Saul of Lincoln Road presented her views on the pool complex. She said, “The community wants the pool to be repaired and 40% want a year-round facility and I support this. The alternative is private pools or gyms. Swimming is now a year round form of exercise, kids would have parties and it would provide a place for our teams to practice. We need a full accounting of the costs to keep an indoor pool open year-round. Making only repairs to the existing facility does not create long term viability. We need to take advantage of opportunities – and make Scarsdale a leader.”
Bob Harrison continued to ask for the existing facility to be repaired. He said, “I worked hard to get an indoor pool at the high school 20 years ago. We lost an opportunity. There was no leadership from the school board and the superintendent. If we want an indoor pool I think it should be at the middle school or the high school so that students have access to the pool and the community can use it at night or on weekends. The current site is not the place for a project of upwards of $50 million. Do our consultants know what they are doing?”
He warned that the country is heading into a recession.
Myra Saul returned to the mic to say that we should not be so concerned with today’s economic ups and down when considering a 50 year project.
Revenues and Expenses
Introducing the Village’s Statement of Revenues and Expenses Trustee Jonathan Lewis made the following statement:
Before we turn to our discussion regarding the Statement of Revenue and Expenses, I want to call the public’s attention to the important progress that is being made in the village’s governance of its financial affairs:
At the last board meeting, we learned that the “The Government Finance Officers Association presented the village with the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting presented to the Village for its Annual Comprehensive Financial Report for the Fiscal Year Ended May 31, 2021.” This was an important step forward in improve the quality of our financial reporting and our Village Treasurer deserves great credit for this. Also, we have been focused in improving the efficiency and processes used to oversee the management of public funds and in recent months the village has engaged an external investment manager to advise the village on cash flow optimization. In this way we are putting in place a process for enhancing the return on public monies while being mindful of the asset/liability management issues associated with our historic monthly variances in cashflow. While we are making progress - work remains. At the last meeting, I asked the Village Manager for an update on engaging a firm to conduct an internal audit, as well as potentially an operational review. My own preference is an internal audit.
As the public may recall, the Village Manager made a commitment to this in his April 26th comments - when he stated that the village will be “engaging a financial consulting firm to provide an operations review of our accounts payable, receivables, and payroll functions as a facet of our commitment to continuous improvement, service excellence, and demonstrating the highest level of fiscal stewardship.”
I would encourage the village manager to provide regular updates to the board and the community on the status of this audit and/or operational review. In light of recent history at both the school district and the village, it is reasonable that the public and the board should receive more frequent information about this important project. In the 5 plus months between the Village Manager’s April comments and the last board meeting, the Village received proposals from one firm, our current auditor. To the best of my knowledge since the last board meeting, the VM has reached out to 2 additional firms. It would be informative and beneficial if a firm other than our current auditor performed this work. No one has yet to be engaged.
Regarding the proposals received: in May and June the Village received proposals from PKF, our auditor, for this work. Their proposal neatly summarized at least one aspect of what could accomplished. PKF explained that the purpose of the internal audit was “part of the Board’s commitment to sound governance, fiscal responsibility and focus in improving processes,” and that “Scarsdale would like an assessment of their business processes.” PKF further explains that “Based on our discussion with the Treasurer, the Board is requesting the Firm to perform the following:
▪ Review internal procedures now used in the Accounts Payable, Payroll and Accounts Receivable cycles
▪ Verify the Village’s written policies have been updated to reflect current practices
▪ Identify bottlenecks points within the processes; and Identify opportunities to implement additional progressive practices.”
Before this evening’s meeting, I watched portions of the internal audit presentation to the Scarsdale School District by Nawrocki Smith. It was open, informative, and developmental. I would encourage the Village Manager to move forward on this issue, and for the public to pay close attention to its implementation.
Regarding the statement of Revenue and Expenses and the attached memo:
There are several key points from Treasurer Scaglione’s excellent memo worth highlighting:
a. The Treasurer’s office has remained focused on collections and there is a distinctly positive revenue impact from the office’s continued focus on interest and penalties.
b. At the same time, there remains concern about the health of the economy and a deceleration in sales tax revenue. We will need to be mindful of this as the year progresses.
c. Parking revenue remains a concerns - we know from our discussion of MTA ridership last week that commuting levels and parking at the station remain way down, though above the worst moments of the pandemic.
d. On the positive side there is a notable Improvement in interest earned (please see the pie chart on page 18).
e. A Positive pool fund balance for the first time in years - this reflects both a rebound in usage from Scarsdale residents from pandemic lows as well as the successful implementation of a non resident membership payment model.
f. Its important to note we have benefitted from strong mortgage tax receipts, which may be under pressure as interest rates go up.
g. Keeping the pros and cons in balance, we need to remain mindful of shifts in our cost structure, notably the impact of increased costs of fuel and parts at the garage.
Sign Up Now For Halloween Window Painting
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
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Fall is in the air and that means it’s almost time for Halloween Window Painting, a much loved annual event in Scarsdale. The Recreation Department invites families as well as kids from grades 3 – 10 to sign up. Painting will be done on Sunday October 16 and, in case of rain, on Monday and Tuesday October 17 and 18 from 4-7 pm and the deadline to sign up is October 10, 2022.
Here are the details:
This event/contest is open to anyone who attends Scarsdale Public or IHM Schools. It’s also open to anyone living in Scarsdale or on Garth Road.
-3rd – 8th graders may enter solo or in pairs.
-The grades are divided into five categories: 3rd, 4th, 5th & 6th, 7th & 8th, 9th & 10th.
-Only solo and pair entries in those grades will be judged for the contest.
-Entries will be judged for artistry, originality, and humor.
-There is also a family category for groups of up to 5 and those outside of the 3rd – 8th grade range. This includes adults! Family entries will not be judged as part of the contest.
-The cost is $20 for solo entries and $30 for pairs or family entries.
-The event is on Sunday the 16th from 9 – 4. We have two rain days scheduled for Monday and Tuesday the 17th and 18th from 4 – 7p.
-The registration deadline is Monday October 10th.
Click here to sign up and to see the rules.
(Pictured at top: 2021 Grand Prize Winner by Isabelle Zhu
Indoor or Outdoor? What's Next for the Scarsdale Pool?
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 2102
Scarsdale loves our pool complex! A survey conducted by Village consultants found that there’s one point on which almost everyone can agree. 95% of respondents to a statistically valid survey said the pool should be preserved, so the question is not if, but what should be built.
And unlike other proposed capital projects, doing nothing is not an option. As the Mayor explained in her opening comments at a work session on Wednesday September 28, 2022, “At over 50 years old, the pool has outlived its expected life. While to our summer patrons, the pool complex is the same idyllic gathering and recreation spot, beneath the ground it has severe problems that cannot be remedied without significant capital expenditures, an effective rebuilding of the complex…. Village staff has been sounding the alarm that our pool complex is barely hanging on, and they fear a major shutdown. With constant emergency repairs and struggles to find replacement parts, and a necessity to bring the complex in line with current health codes. staff impressed upon the board the need to take action.”
Village Manager Rob Cole concurred. He said, “There has been increasing staff concern with each passing fiscal year that the pool complex could suffer an unexpected and possibly extended closure due to some combination of failure in a major system and the complexities of potentially cascading repairs arising from replacing very old equipment and infrastructure. To quote Rich Strobel, one of the Recreation Department’s unsung heroes in keeping the facility operational, “The unseen infrastructure of the pool is falling apart.” He continued, “It takes a herculean effort by our staff to keep this pool operational. Every morning at the pool is like triage, we see what problems have occurred overnight and deal with them.””
Cole explained where the Village now stands in a well thought out plan to determine what is needed, what the community would like to see and what is financially and environmentally sustainable, including:
• Pool Complex Existing Conditions Assessment
• Market Study to Understand the Competitive Landscape
• Statistically Valid Community Survey
• Online Survey
• In-Person Engagement
A presentation from the consultants on Wednesday 9-28 was the next step in this process.
Bill Simmons from Aquatectonic provided background on the firm and their actions to date. The conditions assessment showed that the complex is beyond repair. He said, “The facility is at risk of being shut down…. The Scarsdale community supports the pool – it is a beautiful facility…
We are at a decision point – this 54 year old pool is on borrowed time. 54 years is a working maximum. We did an existing conditions survey that identifies many issues with the facility, the mechanicals, pool infrastructure as well as energy and water waste. There is an 80 page report. Pipes are corroded and the cement is falling away. The operational costs have risen to do the repairs. The facility is not code compliant and there are also accessibility issues. One repair could trigger major upgrades.”
He reviewed the survey results to see what respondents valued and found that the top aquatic amenities were a wading pool, deep and shallow water, children’s amenities and diving boards, and favored non-aquatic features were concessions, shade and sunbathing and the lawn.
What did respondents wish to see? Warmer water, via a heating system and children’s activities came out on top.
The survey also indicated that respondents were willing to pay a higher membership fee to underwrite a better complex.
-87% would pay $400-$599 in higher individual membership rates
-91% would pay $700-$999 or higher for a seasonal family membership (which is now priced at $640.)
Most surprising, the community appears to be split between a seasonal vs. a year-round facility with an indoor pool. 50% of the community supports an indoor pool and 45% says seasonal is enough.
Armed with the data the consultants provided ballpark estimates for an enhanced outdoor pool complex and a year-round facility that includes an indoor pool.
They estimated that an enhanced seasonal facility would cost somewhere between $20-$30 million, which translates to a $208 per year tax increase for the average household in Scarsdale. What does enhanced mean? Though these features have not yet been selected, at a minimum this would include new locker rooms, a new concession stand or restaurant along with a completely redone pool complex.
An outdoor/indoor pool complex is estimated at $40-$50 million, which would mean a tax increase of $302-$397 per year for the average Scarsdale household.
In order to estimate the financial viability of both scenarios, the consultants made assumptions about membership numbers which have declined from 2010 to 2021 but saw a resurgence in the summer of 2022. Will more individuals and households join the pool if it is rebuilt and enhanced? Take a look at the analysis here.
Commenting on the report, all the trustees agreed that Scarsdale values it’s pool and that it will need to be rebuilt, in one form or another.
Karen Brew said, “The pool cannot exist as is – underneath the surface it is falling apart.
The cost to repair it is way higher than anyone would have liked. We know that this will impact taxes. We need to prioritize based on what the community is willing to pay for.”
Ken Mazer said, “I will listen carefully to the community. It will be a series of compromises to meet people’s needs from a recreational and financial perspective.”
Sameer Ahuja said, “I am developing a point of view around the seasonal facility. We should not ignore the people who filled out the surveys. A lot of people have spoken. They feel that they have filled out the survey. I view Scarsdale as an aspirational place. It is a community of generations. You never own the pool; you build it for the next generation.”
Jonathan Lewis said he was informed by his service both on the Village Board and the School Board. He said, “The characteristic that makes our community have lasting value is that we tackle big issues and take the long view. We have to do something – will it have enduring and lasting value and propel our community forward, that binds generations? It’s a great moment for us to tackle this. Interest rates are low, and we have a great bond rating.”
Randall Whitestone provided a historical perspective. He said, “I am delighted in the process and the community interest. This is but one step in the road. I fully subscribe to the idea that we need to do something to preserve this asset. (Mayor) Carol Stix made the pool possible. It opened on June 1, 1969, one month before man landed on the moon.”
Jeremy Gans said he was “glad that our consultants had the opportunity to share these concepts. It’s clear that the community wants the pool. I have not met a single person who wants to close the pool. Families watched their kids grow up there, learning to swim and dive. This is step one in a long process. Once we have a feeling for what the community wants we can start the design process. I look forward to creating a pool that will serve the community for the next 50 years.”
Mayor Jane Veron said, “The pool is a treasure. The community has built long lasting memories there. It bridges generations and infuses the warmth and spirit that makes Scarsdale a special place. I was personally surprised by the cost. We have to be fiscally prudent.”
A long line of speakers, both in person and via Zoom expressed a range of views. Some of the senior residents hoped to limit the changes to repairs and maintain the pool as is, while others were eager for enhancements, an indoor pool and other amenities and thought that the price tag was reasonable.
Susan Levine of Ardmore Road said she moved here in 1969, the year that Molly Goldstein won her battle to build a pool. She questioned the survey response saying, “They should not have surveyed people who have never joined the pool. I was on Jeopardy I know a few things… An indoor pool has been considered and turned down twice. I went to the pool almost every day this summer. Everyone agreed that they loved the pool just the way it is. They had two suggestions: A better more reliable heating system and better shower and locker room facilities.” She said, “The character of the pool complex, for those who use it, should not be changed. The pool project needs to stay on budget and the character needs to be maintained.”
Marilyn Hahn at 50 Popham Road agreed with Levine, saying “We want to fix it. Don’t take away the tree.”
Another senior, Mr. Leitner said, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. We need the pipes replaced, the showers, the locker rooms. I originally read there was a cost estimate of $11 million…. We are the only ones on our street of eight houses that belongs to the pool. We want to keep our taxes down. I know someone who works for the Village who says it can be fixed for much less.”
Some used the decline in membership rates to justify minimizing expenses.
However, an enthusiastic group hoped to see more.
Judith Eforo of Sprague Road said that as the mother of four children she has spent many years at the pool. She supported separate pools for babies and toddlers and hoped that the trustees would consider the indoor option especially for the high school swim team.
A Black Birch Road resident said, “I am willing to pay 15% more taxes to keep it the way it is. If it is not, I would think of moving out of Scarsdale. I would rather have the outdoor facility then compromise to build an indoor one. We could raise money having it open late and having a decent restaurant with alcohol.”
Diane Gurden of Colvin Road said, “Friends with young children asked you to keep a children’s pool.” Suggesting revenue building ideas, she said, “We could rent lounge chairs – a revenue source. We could also rent out swim lanes to swim teams to raise money.”
Edie Moulton from Edgewood Road ran to the meeting. She urged the trustees to “Listen to the survey not to us.” She said, “This is a low cost proposal! An indoor/outdoor pool for under $50 million or a $400 tax increase for a new pool.” She said, “Everyone from Edgewood belongs to the pool.We can’t stand still. We have to improve it so that the Fox Meadow and Heathcote people come too.”
Anita Singal of Mamaroneck Road gave a passionate appeal to invest in the facility. She said, “I have lived here for ten years. My real estate agent took me there first. I have two kids on the swim team. We love the pool. We want to see it renovated. We have seen the decline in it.
We want it to be safe, up to code and an indoor pool would be great too. That would be a welcome change.”
Radhika Dewan was also a fan of improvements. She said, “I have made most of my closest friends at the pool. It is like a summer getaway. In 2 minutes I feel like I am at a resort. I think we should work hard to preserve the lawn. My kids are on the swim team and I travel far for practices. It would be amazing if we could explore an indoor facility – but I am not sure how we could do that while preserving the green aesthetic.
Carol Silverman, speaking for herself and other senior residents said, We appreciate the adult leisure lane. I would prefer an indoor pool with a community space. That’s my opinion. I would like to have an indoor pool as well.”
Rodrigo Pascualy of Rock Creek Lane explained, “I moved here from California where I had a pool at my house. But the sense of community (at the Scarsdale Pool) is nice. It is something special. I don’t see these costs as outrageous. I think it would be worth a lot for the seniors to be able to swim in the winter. You need a vision of what you want for the next 50 years. Our taxes are being invested in our children’s education. The community is a great place.”
Scott Mishara of Nelson Road said, “There are so many people like me with young kids who can’t come. I do think that the pool should be enhanced for younger kids. It is not that expensive on a per home basis. Keep the park like atmosphere.”
Rachel Einstein said she grew up here and that her two sisters and her parents were all living in Scarsdale. She said, “The pool represents a huge community asset even though I look at my tax bill with trepidation. I agree with what Trustee Lewis said to look at the long term.”
Harris Sokoloff of Heathcote Road said he moved here this year. About the pool, he said “It’s gorgeous. It reminded me of the bungalow colonies…The pool structure is broken and membership is declining. The pool can’t sustain the financial model if it is not enhanced. A splash pad would be amazing.”
Following the comments, the consultants answered several questions. About the reasons for the decline in membership, they said that data had been collected and would be released to the public in a survey report.
Others asked why the original estimate to repair the pool was $11 million, but the current estimate for an enhanced seasonal pool was $20- $30 million. Consultants replied that the $11 million estimate was not fully loaded with actual construction costs, including permits and fees. Also, as it turns out, repairing the existing facility was not feasible if the entire facility needs to be brought up to code. A new locker room building, a new concession stand are needed.
What are the next steps? Village Managers will consider the input they received from the surveys and working sessions and set up meetings with smaller community groups to explore their views on the seasonal vs. year-round option and to assess the financial viability of the plans. From there, they will move to the design phase to review scenarios for the layout of the complex.
Commenting after the meeting, Mayor Veron said, "We were gratified by the strong community turnout, demonstrated level of interest, and passionate support for the pool complex. There is no doubt that our residents love our pool, and they appreciate the need to reinvest in its future. Our consultants did an excellent job sharing the survey results and linking them to conceptual options for consideration. We now aim to move forward with our continuing community conversation, to help guide the refinement of the broad concepts we heard about last night, and align our wishes with our willingness to pay."
Want to take a deeper dive into the data? The results from the surveys are now posted here along with the presentation from September 28. 2022.
Have something to say? Village Manager Rob Cole said that new email address has been opened to receive comments from the public on the pool complex. If you have thoughts you wish to share, send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bubble Tea Shop to Open, Pool Complex Study Continues and More from the Village Board
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
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Mayor Jane Veron provided updates on a traffic study, renovations to the Scarsdale Pool, retail openings in Scarsdale Village and cell service improvements in her opening comments at the Village Board meeting on September 13, 2022. Here are excerpts from her statement along with other news from that meeting:
Traffic and Safety
Veron said, “Earlier this evening, our Mobility and Placemaking consultants took the community through traffic and safety solutions for several of our highly trafficked streets including Sprague Road, Fox Meadow Road, and Crane Road. The goal is to suggest speed reduction strategies that might also be applied more broadly on residential streets throughout the Village. While each treatment was slightly different, strategies took into consideration parking and pedestrian crossing needs. The consultants encouraged community input, and we thank you for engaging in these discussions. FHI consultants plan to incorporate your feedback, continue outreach, and begin to develop a plan to test many of these applications.”
About the Pool Complex study she said, “With eager anticipation, we will be bringing back our Pool Complex consultants on Wednesday, September 28, at 6 pm to share survey data and the associated pool concepts. Please note, the meeting will be held on a Wednesday to accommodate Tuesday holiday celebrations.
As you know, our pool has outlived its useful life, and very soon it will no longer operate. We have hobbled along with patches and emergency repairs, but as our existing conditions report has shown, this approach is not sustainable. Eventually we will have no pool unless we do something - and that is why we embarked on the pool complex study - to take the community’s pulse to see how much you value this community asset. And the answer was clear; you want your community pool.
Our consultants have synthesized your feedback and will share potential pool concepts that reflect your survey results. Board and staff have asked the consultants to provide rough cost estimates based on their extensive experience in the field so that we can have a general understanding of economics. Our conversations must be anchored in the community’s willingness to pay. The goal of the meeting is to illustrate for the community possible paths forward. A project of this magnitude will be considered in our Village budget capital program, and we will continue these conversations into budget season. We anticipate further community outreach throughout the fall.”
About a proposal by the Scarsdale Little League to install field lights at Crossway Field, Veron said, we are “evaluating the materials submitted by Little League to determine next steps for the lights discussion.”
Restaurant and Retail Openings
About the Village Center retail spaces Veron reported, “Sim Coe Beer Bar opened its doors in the former Taim space, offering beers on tap, mostly from local breweries, with canned beers to go. They are also selling snacks and some wines and alcoholic/non-alcoholic seltzers.
The One Rare steak house and the Dobbs & Bishop cheese shop are under construction, targeting openings by the end of the year. In early 2023, we will also be welcoming a bubble tea shop on Christie Place and a new French bistro in the Metro Diner space. The stars seemed to align as the owners of Metro Diner sought to concentrate all their energy on Metro Deli in the five corners, and a local businessperson was looking for a wonderful spot to bring Parisian flair.”
About gaps in cell phone service around the Village, she said, we “have been working to address the significant telecom service gap that must be closed. Throughout these past weeks, we have been conducting discussions with telecom carriers to craft a proposal to be reviewed in an upcoming public work session in October.
In anticipation of this meeting, we sought input from the Board of Education and have already received their letter of support. We are grateful to the Board of Education and Interim Superintendent Drew Patrick who have partnered with the Village on a multitude of joint efforts, and we have instituted regular quarterly meetings to review our progress, with our next one slotted for tomorrow.”
Girl Scout House to Reopen
Veron said, “We expect to reopen the Girl Scout House at the end of this month, with a ribbon cutting slated for Wednesday, September 28. Throughout the summer, we have met with the Girl Scout leadership and sorted through a plan to make the necessary repairs and scheduling protocol updates to further our partnership. We look forward to welcoming the Girl Scouts and other community groups back into this space.
New Village Attorney
Veron announced that the Village had hired a new law firm, Keane and Beane. She said, “I want to thank Village Attorney Dan Pozin for his two plus years of service to the Village. His kind demeanor put everyone at ease, and we are grateful to him and his firm for their dedication. Later this evening, we will entertain a resolution to appoint Nick Ward Willis, of Keene & Beane to the role of Village Attorney. Nick has over 25 years of municipal, land use, and environmental law experience. Nick is currently the City Attorney in Beacon in Dutchess County and has served as the Town Attorney in New Castle as well as provided services to other local municipalities such as Rye Brook, Bedford, Sleepy Hollow and others. Keane & Beane is a leading firm in the areas of municipal law and land use and brings over forty years of experience in Westchester and neighboring counties.”
After the meeting we asked Village Manager Rob Cole for an explanation of the shift in law firms and he said, “As a matter of routine, the Village evaluates vendor contracts coming up for renewal. As part of that process, which is used for many types of agreements, we entertain proposals from competing firms, conduct interviews, and render a vendor selection. In the case of legal counsel, that is what transpired and Keane & Beane was the firm selected through that process.”
During Public Comments Mayra Kirkendall Rodriguez called in to invite students in grades K-11 to attend a recruiting event for the scouts at Hitchcock Church on Sunday September 18 at 4 pm, where fun scouting activities will be showcased.
Bob Harrison came to the mic to insist that a major renovation to the pool complex was unnecessary. He said, “My wife Terry and I spent every weekend at the Scarsdale Pool this summer. I don’t know how you can say the pool has outlived its useful life. The pool has had a fabulous season. 5809 children and adults used it. Congratulations to the courteous pool staff. The weather was hot and the pool was cool. The snack bar had an excellent array of snacks and food. Why would Scarsdale want to spend $10-$20 million? The survey response was meager. The enterprise fund has been self-supporting for years. Lets manage our Village funds wisely, not on a Disneydale pool project with a lazy river. We want to see the results of the survey, we have not gotten the information. We want to see the tabulation of the responses. What were they? The pool was self-supporting since 1968. Mayor – I don’t think you have been to the pool this summer. Tell me, were you there? How can you tell what’s going on at the pool site? We are heading into a recession. There are going to be a couple of tough years.”
However, many of Harrison’s claims were refuted by the Board. In response to Harrison’s comments, Mayor Veron said, “We have an existing conditions survey that shows we are living on borrowed time.” Trustee Ahuja reviewed the responses to the survey which in fact numbered 1,373, an exceptional count. Trustee Whitestone answered Harrison’s claim that the pool was self-supporting, saying, “The Pool Enterprise Fund, which was meant to be self-sustaining has been drained.” Trustee Gans pointed out that the pool complex no longer met health and safety codes and Trustee Lewis said, “The physical plant is broken. It is not reasonable to patch it. We want to preserve and enhance the pool. There was quite a statement of interest and support from the public.”
After the trustees responded, Harrison became unhinged and started screaming from his seat in Village Hall, saying, “this was not true.”
Former part-time library employee Robin Stettnisch from Yorktown Heights continued her campaign to reclaim her job. She equated the move to renovate the pool complex with the decision to renovate and expand the library. She said, “I hear a lot of people complaining about all the money that was spent at the library. It was a small number of people, the richest of the rich. A lot of people are unhappy with it. It was a small group of people who made it happen. Is it a small group who is not representative who are making these comments on the pool?”
She called in a second time at the end of the meeting.
Village Manager Rob Cole responded to her claim that the Village is responsible for her position, saying, “Library employees are employed by the Library and it is a separate legal entity from the Village, though that distinction is not readily known by many. The Village endeavors to deliver programs and services in the most cost-effective manner to achieve the lowest possible tax burden for Scarsdale residents. Thus, the Village handles payroll and benefits for the Scarsdale Public Library, explaining the Village information on Library employee checks, for example. Such shared service arrangements benefit our residents through reduced overall tax burden.”
Scarsdale10583 asked Cole if the Village Board is obligated to listen to non-resident comments at their meetings and he said, “Open public comment includes non-residents.”
Trustees comments included a report from Trustee Jonathan Lewis who said he had done a walk-through of Chase Park with the Friends of Scarsdale Parks and discussed the challenges of maintaining Village parks.
He unearthed a 1999 report the inventories 28 “paper streets” in Scarsdale. These are undeveloped pathways between homes that are in varying states. He said, “This is a timely moment to review this report. We have seen a land grab by some neighbors. These are too precious to ignore. Hopeful we can have an open discussion about paper streets in the future.” He also reported that the police and fire department had conducted drills to prepare for an active shooter event this summer. On investments, he suggested that the Village should release quarterly financial reports to show how Village funds are invested.
Trustee Brew invited the public to the Scarsdale League of Women Voter’s membership coffee in the dining tent at 9:30 am on Monday September 19, 2022.
About the library, she reported that during July and August the library held 102 programs and in total reached 4500 attendees, including children, teens and adults.
Trustee Whitestone said that Scarsdale Family Counseling Service is looking for a replacement for Maryellen Saenger who ran programming for seniors in the “Aging in Place” program. Until someone else is hired, Saenger will continue.
He also urged pedestrians to be cautious, citing a pedestrian safety flyer produced by NYS.
He said, “if there are no sidewalks, pedestrians should walk facing traffic. That is a simple rule that I urge residents to follow. Wear light or reflective clothing at dusk or at night.”
The Board then passed a series of resolutions and heard a report from the Village Treasurer. See more here: