Thursday, Mar 23rd

MarkingsforGasLineThe installation of a high-pressure transmission gas main and local distribution gas main along Walworth Avenue from Fenimore Road to the White Plains border has reached the upper block of Walworth Avenue by Claremont Road. The project began in the summer of 2021 and involved excavation work and road closures along the route.

About the project, Con Edison said, “The purpose of these mains will be to upgrade and sustain the reliability of our gas service in both Scarsdale and Westchester County.” At the time, they expected the Walworth Avenue portion to be completed by March 31, 2022, but it appears to have taken a few months more.

The good news is that after each block of the work was completed, Con Edison smoothed and repaved the roadway and the Village installed new curbing where needed. So though it was painful for residents during the process, the result is upgraded gas service as well as repaved streets with new curbing.

The next phase of the work will be to upgrade distribution gas pipes and service lines for the full length of Greenacres Avenue, Colvin Road and Brayton Road. According to Village Engineer David Goessl, the low pressure cast iron pipes on those streets are very old and need to be replaced. Preliminary planning for this project is underway with property owners receiving advanced outreach letters from Con Edison Westchester Construction Management. Once that work is done, Greenacres Avenue, Colvin Road and Brayton Road will be resurfaced in entirety with curbing restored where needed.

The long-term plan calls for the replacement of local distribution gas pipes and service lines in a major portion of Greenacres extending from Brite Avenue to Walworth Avenue and Fenimore to Farley Roads. The work will be phased sequentially into early 2023 followed by road resurfacing, weather permitting.

Stay tuned for the timeline.

indoor pools headerThe Scarsdale Village Board approved agreements with Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Services, okayed a subdivision fee for a lot to be divided at 40 Mamaroneck Road, hired a Personnel Administrator and heard comments about plans for the pool renovation at their August 9, 2022 meeting.

Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Service

The Village Board voted unanimously to approve funding for the Aging in Place program and for the Youth Services Project.

The Aging in Place program allows many Scarsdale seniors to receive support to remain in their homes, by providing counseling, in home assessments, referrals, education, intergenerational programming and more for residents 65 years and older. The board approved $56,995 to fund the initiative.

The Youth Services Project is funded jointly by the Scarsdale School District and the Village for a total cost of $556,500, or $278,250 to come from the Village Budget. The funding goes toward youth outreach workers for middle school and high school students, parent support groups, the Scarsdale Drug and Alcohol Task Force and more.

Commenting on the program, Randall Whitestone who serves as the liaison to SFCS from the Village Board said, “At no other time has that support been more necessary… They take “a holistic approach across a spectrum of community needs” and are “dynamic and adaptable.”
“These have been trying times and I am grateful for the work Jay (Genova) and his staff is doing.”

New Personnel Administrator

The Village announced that Robyn Nowlin has been hired to be the Personnel Administrator for the Village of Scarsdale at an annual salary of $135,000. The resolution says she is a “human resources generalist with nearly 25 years of experience in labor relations, human capital development and regulatory compliance.”

Subdivision Fee

Trustees approved a subdivision fee for a two-lot subdivision at a 2.9 acre site at 40 Mamaronenck Road where developer Shlomo Freidfertig has plans to build a new house while retaining a historic house behind it. The fee is $125,000 which is 5% of the value of the lot as outlined in the 2018 Subdivision Recreation Fee Schedule.

Sale of Mack Truck

Trustees approved a resolution to sell a 2008 Mack garbage truck to the highest bidder in an online auction.

Public Comments

During public comments, Anne Hintermeister asked to see the results of the pool survey, requesting the survey data or the report created for the staff and Village Board.

Mayor Jane Veron responded and said that yes, the Board had originally planned to hold a public meeting to review the data but instead asked the consultants to use their time to develop concepts and costs for the three options favored in the survey. Since one of these options include an indoor pool, the Mayor and Village Manager said that plans and costs would be developed for three scenarios:

-An indoor or combination indoor/outdoor facility
-A renovated, updated outdoor facility
-An outdoor facility with significant enhancements.

Hintermeister persisted on her request to review the survey data, and Village Manager Rob Cole asked her to contact him after the meeting.

Robert Berg was enthusiastic about the prospect of an indoor pool and said, “It’s great news that 50% support an indoor pool especially since the survey did not address that. It will fill a hole and provide a needed amenity. I would suggest the consultants look at a few options for the indoor pool so that we don’t have a prohibitive cost. It would be a tremendous asset for the community and it could be subsidized by all taxpayers.”

Bob Harrison called in to give a report on the Scarsdale Youth Summer Tennis League. He reported that Caroline Moser – 8 years old won the girls tournament and Charles Grandifield, age 11, won the boys tournament. He added, “We served 64 pieces of pizza the night of the tournament.” About the pool he said, “How much will the pool renovations cost? We have been there this summer and it is operating beautifully. It is a gem of a pool. I think a lot of the elected officials do not belong to the pool. The only way you can know how it is operating is to be there.”

Former part-time librarian Robin Stettnisch continued her campaign to be rehired at the Scarsdale Public Library. She said, “Why I am out there is this affects my family – my three sons are going to college. This will affect them for the rest of their lives. I want the Scarsdale residents to know that I will continue to fight for my own children.” Referring to the Village Board July 9 meeting she said, “The Mayor read a statement about me that was untrue. She said the Village plays no role in hiring or terminating library employees.” Stettnisch handed out copies of her Scarsdale pay stub that says Village of Scarsdale and shows the Village seal and a copy of the employment agreement between the Village of Scarsdale and library employees.

She continued, “How can you say that I was never employed by the Village in any capacity? … The Village was involved in funding that $21.7 mm expansion. Who thought of funding the expansion on the employees backs? She concluded, “Shame on the Mayor and shame on the Board for repeatedly misleading the residents of Scarsdale.”

Watch the meeting here.

bandaWe had the pleasure of attending the “Mid Summer’s Night Dream” concert of the Westchester Band at Chase Park on Thursday July 21 and it was indeed a dream. It was a balmy night and the park was transformed into a well-lit stage for the large orchestra and the audience who surrounded them on lawn chairs and blankets. The road in front of the park was closed to traffic allowing others to spill out into the street and set up their chairs in front of the post office, for a night of primarily American works.


The sizable band, led by Musical Director Alan Hollander, is composed of professional, amateur and outstanding student musicians and puts on an impressive performance. We recognized music teachers and neighbors and were totally impressed with the sounds they produced.

On the program were a selection from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, the New World Symphony and two compositions from John Philip Sousa and lots more.

The audience swayed and clapped while children darted around the park and everyone enjoyed a totally free night of enjoyment.

Concerts continue on Thursday nights July 28, August 4 and 11 at 8 pm at Chase Park and we suggest you attend and savor these free concerts before summer ends.


Poolsurvey(Here are remarks delivered by Scarsdale Mayor Jane Veron at the August 9, 2022 meeting of the Scarsdale Village Board.)
Good evening, Scarsdale. I hope you are having a summer filled with friends and family and have had the chance to take time for yourselves to reenergize. Our Board is grateful to staff for keeping the Village running so well as we simultaneously continue to progress two important village projects. I want to share updates on both.

Pool Survey and Complex

First, a big thank you to our residents. You made Scarsdale proud with your active participation in the pool complex survey - defying standard engagement metrics. Here are the facts: We received 690 surveys from the statistically valid survey (over twice as many as required) that strongly supported the information received in the 1373 online surveys. Over 90% of the respondents were either permit holders in 2019, 2020, and/or 2021 or had previously had a pool permit. Based on the survey responses, it is incredibly clear that the community loves the pool complex and believes it to be a vital community asset.

Topline results showed that the community would be interested in exploring several options for the reimagined pool complex:

-50% of respondents would desire an indoor or combination indoor/outdoor facility
-About a third of respondents seek a renovated, updated outdoor facility
-And the balance of respondents preferred an outdoor facility with significant enhancements. This segment’s preference grew in prominence during the in-person sessions with many newer residents with young children favoring enhancements.

Respondents strongly value pool complex components that are currently featured in our existing facility: concessions, designated wading pool, shade, lawn areas, and deep and shallow water. Further enhancements most liked by Scarsdale as evidenced by the survey results and the in-person, dot voting engagement sessions include: splashpad/spray pad, water slide, zero depth and lazy river.

Ultimately, we will need to find the intersection of the community’s desires with their willingness to pay. Any development of this magnitude will require significant capital expense as well as funding for ongoing annual operations and maintenance. The next step is to get more granular so that the community can react to possibilities while simultaneously understanding the economic implications. We have directed the consultants to use the survey results to guide the creation of three options along with the associated economics that can be presented to the community in early fall. We wish to have practical and realistic conversations, engaging all stakeholders including the school district. We have the chance to make a lasting long term positive impact on Scarsdale with a renewed asset that will be enjoyed by Scarsdale for generations.Veron May 22Mayor Jane Veron

Village Center Study

In tonight’s work session, FHI Studio consultants returned for another public engagement workshop on the Village Center Mobility and Placemaking Study. The Village is all of ours, and we appreciate the participation of so many stakeholders including neighborhood associations, community groups, merchants, property owners, the Scarsdale Business Alliance, and interested residents. The material shared this evening provided further detail on a proposed vision for the Village Center, updated and refined based on the last feedback session.

FHI Studio reviewed the proposed placemaking and access concepts and shared draft concepts to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety on Popham Rd and intersections along Popham Rd. The proposed placemaking concepts seek to activate public spaces, increase the quantity and quality of gathering spaces, and improve conditions for businesses in the Village Center. The design concepts for Popham Road aim to improve safety for all users and improve vehicular traffic flow by creating a more organized driving experience, reducing potential conflict points, improving signal timing, and creating safer, more comfortable, pedestrian crossings, all while maintaining existing vehicle capacity. These concepts were developed after extensive technical analysis of available data including previous traffic studies and drone data collected earlier this year as well as a review of past reports and public input. FHI Studio has also integrated real time public and stakeholder comments and has been iterating designs accordingly.

In September, FHI Studio will be submitting the draft Sprague Road plan as well as the Mobility plan for Fox Meadow and Crane Road. FHI will again collect feedback and refine recommendations. Thank you to those who have already offered comment and written feedback. It is greatly appreciated! We continue to encourage members of the public to continue to share their feedback on the draft concepts.

We do not anticipate any more public work sessions in August unless something unexpected arises. The Village Board will be holding a limited agenda meeting on August 23.

However, before you know it, September will be here, and it will be filled with lots more opportunity for continued conversation on our key projects. We also plan to discuss the Recreation Fee schedule later in September and are targeting a fall date to queue up discussions to close our telecom gaps. Our next scheduled Village Board meeting will take place on September 13. If any of our projects are ready for a Sept 6 work session, we will provide public notice.

76BirchallDriveIn a sign of a change in attitude about preservation of homes in Scarsdale, a persuasive, prepared and eloquent group of Murray Hill residents attended the July 19 meeting of the Committee for Historic Preservation to defend the mid-century modern former home of Paul and Irma Milstien at 76 Birchall Drive. Lawyers for the family had submitted an application to tear it down, and were working with a builder with plans to subdivide the property and construct two homes in its place.

This was the second meeting that an application by the Milstein’s family lawyer to demolish the house was considered. After considerable discussion on June 28, 2022, with only four committee members present, the decision was held over until July 19. 2022.

The neighbors at the meeting were undeterred by the opinion of expert Andrew Dolkart who believed that the home did not meet the criteria for preservation. Instead, they presented evidence to demonstrate that the home did meet one, if not several of the criteria, as outlined in Village Code.

Speaking for the family, Andrew Berkman, a lawyer for the family contended that the architect who designed the home, Simon B. Zelnik was not a master, that the home was not mentioned in the 2012 Cultural Resources Survey and that alterations made to the home following a fire had undermined the integrity of the design so that its historic significance was lost.

Polled at the beginning of the meeting, the committee chair and several members of the committee agreed with Berkman. Chair Adam Lindenbaum said, “It is a tremendous house on a tremendous property but that does not mean it warrants preservation.”

Kevin Reed agreed, saying, “It’s a nice house. If I had the power of fiat I would order it preserved but we have to go by what the trustees would say – rather than our hearts.”

Mark Behr commented about the other Zelnik homes in Scarsdale. He said, “ The sad thing is that one of Zelniks house burned, we approved another to be taken down and now this – but it doesn’t elevate it to meet the code for preservation. I am leaning toward supporting the application.”

Jonathan Lerner said, “I lean the same way myself. But do we want to at least discuss the importance of the residents? In regard to criteria 1 and 2.?”

Lauren Bender said, “There are few remaining mid-century modern homes in Scarsdale. We have a handful of named architects that built in Scarsdale. I understand that there have been alterations. But the overall general aesthetic is mid-century modern architecture. We lost the Barancini house in a fire. And the other one was knocked down.”

Talaiya Safdar refuted the claim that Zelnik was not a master. She said, “He was a noted architect. What does an architect need to achieve to be considered a master?”

CoopermanDr. Emily T. Cooperman an Architectural Historian from Cherry Hill, NJ sees little worthy of preservation in Scarsdale.Dr. Emily T. Cooperman, an expert from Cherry Hill, NJ who was retained by the attorney’s said, “the alterations had changed the historic value of the home.” Cooperman has been hired several times before to testify on behalf of applicants who wish to raze historic homes. To date she has found little, if anything, worth preserving in Scarsdale. See her opinion of the property here.

Committee member Safdar replied, “It’s a slippery slope to say if the house has been altered it is no longer historic.”

However after the public was given the opportunity to speak, the tone of the conversation changed.

Gayle Helman of 62 Birchall Drive first spoke about the prominence of the homeowners, one of the criteria for preservation. She said, “I want to speak to the point that the home is associated with someone of significance. The first owner, Ruth Farkas, was the Ambassador to Luxembourg and her husband owned Alexander’s Department Stores. Paul and Irma Milstein are some of the most prominent and philanthropic families in New York who donated the Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy Collections to the NY Public Library, the Milstein Hospital at Columbia, the Whale Room at the Museum of Natural History and more. She said, “There are few if any families that have left a mark like this on New York.”

About architect Simon B. Zelnik she listed many of his buildings including the Joyce Theater a series of movie theaters and an important synagogue in Riverdale. She said, “What would make you a master if not that?”

A newcomer to Scarsdale, David Greenberger said, “We moved to Scarsdale from the city a year ago and one of the reasons why we chose Birchall Drive was the beautiful homes, including this one that is diagonally the street from us. If any house would meet the criteria for preservation it would be this one.”

Greenberger said, “Simon B. Zelnik was a master.” Greenberger shared a historic caricature from the New York Post picturing the top five architects of the day, with Zelnik next to Frank Lloyd Wright. Greenberger, who is an attorney, said, “That would be like putting me next to Chief Justice John Roberts.”

He contended that the home met another criteria, in that it “represents a type, period or technique with high artistic value,” saying “It is a beautiful home in the mid-century modern aesthetic. That is exactly what a mid-century modern home should look like. The wood and stone façade is emblematic of an era.”

About claims that the renovation made it lose its integrity, he said, “The White House was both burned and expanded.”

He then introduced a surprise visitor to the proceedings, Bryan Zelnik, an architect and grandson of Simon Zelnik.

Bryan explained that he was the son of Martin Zelnik and the grandson of Simon Zelnik and the only third generation zelnikcartoonA caricature from the NY Post depicting Zelnik alongside Frank Lloyd Wright.member of the AIA. About his grandfather he said, “Yes he was a master. Simon was a fellow of the AIA. They are recognized with highest honors for significant contributions to society. Only 3% of all AIA members have that honor.”

About the senior Zelnik, he said, “He won medals at Cooper Union, attended the Ecole des Beaux Arts in France and won many honors.” He said, “My grandfather was a true modernist for his time.”

He listed many of the buildings he designed, including the synagogue in Riverdale, the Baracini stores, Lindy’s restaurants and more. He said, he was considered one of the five top architects of the period.”

About the home on Richbell he said, “He used stone and wood to create the form. His work is in keeping with the Prairie style and it has been maintained and remains intact.” He reminded the committee, “In the city a landmark is only the façade.” He said, “My grandfather was a true American success story. He came here from Poland and as immigrant.” His emotional appeal was moving.

Neighbor and interior designer Jackie Cutler also spoke to preserve the home. She said, “There are few mid-century homes left in Scarsdale and this is a fine example of mid-century modern architecture.” She listed the large windows, the small steps between rooms, the expanse of rooms and said, “this is a mid-century jewel.”

Later at the meeting it was revealed that the fire in the house was limited to the attic and did not damage the design of the house. The additions were to the sides and rear and had no impact on the façade.

More comments were heard from Lika Levi and Ariel Stillman, all in support of saving the house.

However this was not enough for some members of the committee, who appear to lean heavily toward approving demolitions rather than preserving homes.

Chair Adam Lindenbaum was reluctant to deny the application and sought to discredit the claims that it met any of the criteria. He concluded, “I don’t think the Milsteins are significant. I think the renovations are substantial and I don’t think the home rises to rare artistic value.” He
questioned whether Zelnik’s status as a fellow of the AIA qualified him as a master and asked for further documentation. Kevin Reed agreed and suggested the decision be deferred.

Both Bender and Safar said they were ready to vote at this meeting and seemed convinced that Zelnick was indeed a master but agreed to put this off for another month.

Jonathan Lerner said, “I disagree with your point about the Milsteins – they are among the top 100 families in the US. They also made a lot of donations to Scarsdale anonymously.”

The committee agreed to give this further consideration at their next meeting.

So ultimately, even armed with enough evidence to meet the criteria as set forth in the Village Code and backed with the support of fellow residents, the committee lacked the fortitude to enforce the code and deny the application.

Perhaps some of the newer residents, who have only recently become aware of the struggle to preserve Scarsdale’s history, will ultimately volunteer to serve on the Committee for Historic Preservation and be willing to challenge insatiable developers who are determined to erase the past to line their pockets.

Stay tuned for their next meeting on September 20, 2022.

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