Sunday, Apr 14th

letter to the editorScarsdale’s Neighborhood Presidents are alerting residents to proposed legislation that would challenge Scarsdale’s zoning code and permit mass development within a half mile of the Metro North train stations in Scarsdale and Hartsdale.

Below find an email from Melanie Spivak and signed by all of Scarsdale’s Neighborhood Association Presidents, urging you to send letters to Governor Kathy Hochul and State Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins this weekend:

(From Ms. Spivak)

It is urgent that you educate yourselves on what is going on in Albany these last few weeks. Governor Hochul has included a bill in her budget called "The New Homes Target Act". This is a bill that will have a tremendous effect on every individual in Westchester, Orange, Putnam, Dutchess, Rockland and Nassau counties. It will affect every one of us in Scarsdale.

The budget is currently stalled in Albany in negotiations with the Governor and is currently scheduled for a vote this Monday April 17.

Please read the following statement, created and endorsed by SNAP (Scarsdale Neighborhood Association Presidents), which gives a very quick overview of some of the alarming requirements in the bill.

At the request of our representative in Albany Amy Paulin, she has asked everyone to reach out to Senator Andrea Stuart-Cousins and Governor Hochul directly to make your voices heard. We have included a sample letter to help talking points for a phone call, email or letter, along with the contact information for each representative.

Please take the time to read the statement and contact the Governor and Senator. But, please act fast!

I am happy to answer any questions or share the bill with you.

Thank you for your immediate attention.
Melanie Spivak

URGENT
SNAP Statement on Governor Hochul’s New Homes Target Act 4/13/23HochulGovernor Kathy Hochul

Governor Hochul has proposed a new law that would require Scarsdale to add approximately 180 new housing units to Scarsdale over the next three years. The New Homes Act has the potential to permanently change suburban New York. The Act is currently advancing through the budget process and is scheduled for a vote on April 17 - in 4 days.

Scarsdale homeowners must be aware that the Act would *require* the following:

First: A 3% increase in housing stock every three years - which amounts to approximately 180 new units in Scarsdale in the first three-year cycle and a greater number in each cycle thereafter; a percentage of these units must be low-income housing as defined in the Act.
Second: High-density housing (eg multi-family homes and apartment buildings). In its current form, the Act requires housing be located within a half-mile radius of a transportation hub. This provision is still being negotiated and could be changed to permit building anywhere within a town, village, or city; with no recourse for a municipalities’ inability to comply.
Third: A severe penalty for failure to comply. If a municipality fails to produce the required number of new housing units per year, the Governor will remove “home rule” (an individual municipality’s right to determine zoning), a right afforded to municipalities in our New York State Constitution.

What does this mean for Scarsdale and what does it mean for you?
• Infrastructure: Our 100+ year old infrastructure - which is already beyond its lifespan - would be stretched even further beyond its capacity.
• Flooding: The addition of high-density housing would further exacerbate Scarsdale’s poor drainage, causing additional flooding.
• Building Limits: The Scarsdale Board of Architectural Review and Engineering department will have to require further building limitations to account for the environmental impact of the increased housing density.
• Schools: Our schools could face an influx of students which might require redistricting of all the elementary schools.
• Loss of local control: Scarsdale has the potential to lose local control of our town.

Governor Hochul’s New Homes Act will totally overwhelm Scarsdale's century-old infrastructure and especially strain our water, sewer and school systems as well as police and fire service, road maintenance and Village center parking and amenities. As a result, the New Homes Act has the potential to lower the value of our homes and take away the unique qualities of small towns.

stewartcousinsState Senator Andrea Stewart-CousinsSNAP is urging all the residents to learn more about the potential impact Governor Hochul’s New Homes Act could have on our community. The time to speak up is now - the budget vote is April 17.

Please call, send an email or letter to Governor Hochul and Senator Andrea Stuart-Cousins (see attached) and tell them this is the wrong approach because one size does not fit all. If high density housing is needed, it must be thoughtfully planned and include objective review and recourse which takes environmental, infrastructure and capacity of local services into consideration. Forcing the same high density housing requirements onto small towns and villages is not the answer.

Here's a sample letter that you can complete and email to state leaders:

Sample Letter

The Honorable Kathy Hochul
Governor of the State of New York
New York State Capitol Building
Albany, New York 12224
Phone: (518) 474-8390
Email (fill out the form located here): www.Governor.ny.gov

Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins
28 Wells Avenue, Building #3, 5th Floor Yonkers, NY 10701
Phone: (914) 423-4031
Email: scousins@nysenate.gov

Speaker Carl Heastie

Dear (Governor Hochul) (Senator Stewart-Cousins):
My name is ____________________.

I am a New York resident and I OPPOSE the New Homes Target Act proposed in the 2023 Budget.

The Act forces high density housing onto municipalities that are not equipped to handle a sudden large influx of building and residents - with no recourse for damage to our infrastructure or environment. The requirements of the Act are short-sighted. Your proposal usurps our constitutional right of “home rule” (zoning autonomy). The building requirements promulgated by this Act are unacceptable and will have the chilling effect of eliminating the suburban landscape of our state.

High density housing should be built in areas that can handle the additional stress on local infrastructure and the environment.

Municipalities must have the ability to provide all residents with a sustainable quality of life free from unnecessary flooding, sewage and overcrowding.

One size does not fit all; high density housing is not appropriate for all communities. New York residents must be able to retain local control of their homes and communities.

This proposal should not be allowed to move forward.
Sincerely,

Your Name:
Your Address:
Your Email:

freightwayrenderingIn her proposed 2023-24 budget, Governor Kathy Hochul is proposing ambitious goals for housing development in communities like Scarsdale that are served by Metro North. Her plan calls for communities like Scarsdale to increase the number of housing units by 3% in the first three years and another 3% in the next three years.

It also mandates zoning changes which allow for multi family housing within a half mile of train stations, of more than 50 units per acre and would override local zoning code and environmental regulations.

A group of officials representing Westchester, called the Westchester Municiapl Officials Association subcommittee on housing, sent the following letter to Hochul in late February.

We asked Village Manager Rob Cole why no one from Scarsdale signed it and he said, “WMOA circulated the letter with a very short turnaround deadline; we could not sign without having had opportunity to review the content.”

Here is the letter:

February 28, 2023
The Honorable Kathy Hochul Governor of New York State NYS State Capitol Building Albany, New York 12224
Re: New York Housing Compact

Dear Governor Hochul,

The WMOA subcommittee on housing believes that new housing in this region is critically important for the health of our communities. Suburban attitudes about housing development are not the same as they once were. In fact, many Westchester communities are already exceeding your housing targets and many others are working diligently to do so.

We support your desire to make progress on this issue. Unfortunately, we cannot support the Housing Compact in its current form. Without significant changes, it simply will not work.

The suburbs are not monolithic, nor are we merely satellites for New York City. Each of our municipalities has different housing needs and different obstacles to overcome, and no plan will be successful without taking into account the relevant local context. We have shared this context with our state representatives, select members of your team, and the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal. We now share highlights of our concerns directly with you, in the hope that you will consider these changes and ensure that the path ahead will be productive.

Transit-Oriented Development (TOD)

The TOD zoning mandate included in the Housing Compact must be removed. Using conservative estimates, the mandated level of density would require us to permit development that would, in many cases, double, triple, and even quadruple the total number of housing units in some of our municipalities. This level of change would require a fundamental re- examination and overhaul of our delivery of public services (schools, traffic, transportation, fire, police, sewers, etc.). Given that the TOD requirements would be exempted from the State Environmental Quality Review process and availed to future developers “as-of-right,” we would lose our ability to properly assess potential impact and make the changes necessary to accommodate such a transformation. This would be devastating to the communities we are sworn to serve, and no elected official, in good conscience, can support such an unreasonable approach to community growth.

As an alternative, we recommend adding TOD type zoning as a Preferred Action to achieve Safe Harbor as one of several options related to the growth targets. Many communities have already zoned for TOD with the goal of increasing the opportunity for housing and mixed-use density near train stations and would be receptive to this approach.

As a preferred action, TOD should be more flexible so municipalities could opt to include areas in their “TOD” plan where there is reasonable access to transit as opposed to inside a prescribed 1⁄2 mile radius. It should also measure density on a project-by-project basis, instead of measuring overall density across large swaths of land that would likely encompass areas where lower density housing is more appropriate.

Nuanced Housing Targets

A 3% housing target may not be appropriate for all communities and targets may need to be higher or lower depending on the realities of specific communities. The growth percentage needs to be calibrated to take into account other factors such as:

• Current housing/population density
• Current number of subsidized and income restricted units
• Current cost of housing compared to County average
• Existing local ADU zoning and the number of units built
• Lack of infrastructure affecting a three-year target completion
• Available land for new construction
• NYC East of Hudson Watershed properties and the MS4 General Permit requirements.

Safe Harbor Based on Preferred Actions

Preferred Actions for Safe Harbor should reward rezoning that encourages the development of additional housing and in particular affordable housing. Municipalities should be able to choose from a broad menu to craft a plan that works for each of them. In the end, a municipality should simply be required to demonstrate the ability to increase its housing stock to the target level based on zoning changes. Municipalities should be able to select from a range of potential zoning modification options, including the following:

• Accessory Dwelling Units
• Housing Lot Splits
• Smart Growth Principles
• Adaptive Reuse (this should also be broadened and include conversion of other types of properties, including summer residences to year round affordable homes)
• Transit-Oriented Development
• Affordable Housing Set Asides of More than 10%
• Comprehensive Plans that Include Smart Growth Strategies

Retain SEQRA

SEQRA requirements should be retained but reformed to include streamlined requirements specific to housing development. When SEQRA is working well, it provides important protections and is needed to promote and accomplish the State’s agenda for addressing the climate crisis. SEQRA reviews are also used as a tool to require developers to pay “fair share” contributions for mitigating the impact of their projects on municipal infrastructure. When it’s not working well, though, it can be used to prevent new developments or slow them down, increasing cost of construction (and the rents needed to offset those costs).

While we agree that the environmental review process could benefit from reform, allowing development to happen without requiring a SEQRA review at all would negatively impact our municipalities, many of which have already been severely affected by flooding caused
by unprecedented massive storms. Abandoning SEQRA altogether for housing will also call into question why non-housing related projects need to abide by the process, while stripping municipal leaders of their ability to make good planning decisions.

For the 19 municipalities in the NYC East of Hudson Watershed it is important to note that NYS has ceded legal control to NYC giving them the ability to protect the NYC and lower Westchester County drinking water. It is doubtful this control can be altered without NYC approval. The MS4 General Permit covers a list of environmental requirements pursuant to Article 17 and Article 70 of the Environmental Conservation law which municipalities in the East of Hudson Watershed must comply with.

As-of-Right / Fast Track Approvals Challenges

Requiring that all zoning changes be “as-of-right” development is likely to lead to unfortunate unintended consequences and should be removed from the proposal. We would caution against emboldening developers to cut corners, evade important environmental and social concerns, and ignore local residents and community groups who can suggest important improvements to project proposals. We believe a fast-track approval process that circumvents local authority will create perverse incentives for developers and will deprive municipalities of valuable leverage needed in negotiations.

Timelines

The timeline for implementation is too tight. Each of us has experience with developers who choose to abandon projects due to personal, economic or market conditions unrelated to municipal constraints. In each of these cases the project must start afresh, and the time invested is lost. Municipalities should not be penalized if developers do not follow through on their plans. It is also doubtful the MS4 SPDES General Permit for Stormwater Discharges for Construction Activity GP 0-20-001 would fall under this timeline.
Incentivize the Desired Housing Stock

More incentives should be devised to create what we believe is the desired housing stock.

Affordable and senior/supportive housing units should count as 3 units and TOD units should count as 1.5 units. Added flexibility could be granted to municipalities who base their plans on a needs assessment, since some communities may already have an abundance of affordable housing but lack higher-end housing that could benefit their tax base.

We also believe that, in keeping with the goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) and Environmental Bond Act, incentives should be created for the construction of sustainably-built projects (Net Zero Energy, LEED, Energy Star Certified, etc.)

Expand Financial Support for Infrastructure

More financial support is needed. In our view, $250 million is a fraction of the amount
required to create the infrastructure this level of housing development necessitates. The current engineering estimate for some municipalities is between $70,000 and $100,000 per residential sewer hookup. If only 10% of the 800,000 residences built need new sewer infrastructure or improvements to existing sewer systems that cost is approximately $5.6B to $8B. Engineering estimates of the current cost to replace one mile of storm drain is $1 million and, in a recent bid proposal in southern Westchester, the cost of digging along a state highway to install a sewer line was $600 to $800 per foot.

Expanding water and sewer systems, adding parking structures, evaluating and modifying traffic patterns, and adding bike lanes are just a few of the very expensive projects associated with the increase in housing.

In summary, we recommend that each municipality be required to reach a specific target based on a formula that takes into account existing population density and local housing stock and any other overriding considerations (e.g. NY Watershed). The focus should be incentive-based, and municipalities should be rewarded for demonstrating that they are encouraging appropriate and needed development through a broad range of actions. The Safe Harbor provisions should be expanded to recognize these actions.

Legislation like this is best when created in an open, collaborative manner without artificial time constraints. Given the complexity of this challenge, any proposal of this magnitude should be debated and adopted separate from the budget process.

Though we want to support the Housing Compact, we will not be able to do so unless these vital changes are incorporated.

Thank you for your consideration and time.

Regards,
Westchester Municipal Officials Association – Housing Subcommittee
Nicola Armacost, Mayor, Village of Hastings-on-Hudson
Ellen Calves, Supervisor, Town of Bedford
Theresa Knickerbocker, Mayor, Village of Buchanan
Warren Lucas, Supervisor, Town of North Salem
Chance Mullen, Mayor, Village of Pelham
Gina Picinich, Mayor, Village/Town of Mount Kisco
Peter Scherer, Mayor, Village of Pleasantville
Anne Janiak, Executive Director, Westchester Municipal Officials Association

With support from the following Westchester Mayors and Supervisors:
Omayra Andino
Mayor, Village of Tuckahoe
Richard Becker
Supervisor, Town of Cortlandt
Karen Brown
Mayor, Village of Tarrytown
Tom Diana
Supervisor, Town of Yorktown
Richard Dionisio
Supervisor/Mayor, Town/Village of Harrison
Jaine Elkind Eney
Supervisor, Town of Mamaroneck
Paul Feiner
Supervisor, Town of Greenburgh
Elizabeth Feldman
Supervisor, Town of Ossining
Carl Fulgenzi
Supervisor,
Town of Mount Pleasant
Tony Goncalves
Supervisor, Town of Lewisboro
Kevin Hansan
Supervisor,
Town of Pound Ridge
Nancy Kaboolian
Mayor, Village of Ardsley
Lisa Katz
Supervisor,
Town of New Castle
Jason Klein
Mayor, Village of Rye Brook
Vivian McKenzie
Mayor, City of Peekskill
Dan McLaughlin
Supervisor, Town of Pelham
Tom Murphy
Mayor, Village of Mamaroneck
Vincent Rossillo
Mayor, Village of Dobbs Ferry
Michael Schiliro
Supervisor,
Town of North Castle
Robert Scorrano
Supervisor, Town of Somers
Brian Smith
Mayor, Village of Irvington
Steven Vescio
Mayor,
Village of Briarcliff Manor
Robert Williams
Mayor, Village of Elmsford
Ken Wray
Mayor,
Village of Sleepy Hollow
Gary Zuckerman
Supervisor, Town of Rye

Hon. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senate Majority Leader, 35th District
Hon. Carl Heastie, Speaker, NYS Assembly
Hon. Nathalia Fernandez, NYS Senate, 34th District Hon. Jamaal Bailey, NYS Senate, 36th District
Hon. Shelley Mayer, NYS Senate, 37th District
Hon. Peter Harckham, NYS Senate, 40th District Hon. Amy Paulin, NYS Assembly, District 88
Hon. Gary Pretlow, NYS Assembly, District 89
Hon. Nader Sayegh, NYS Assembly, District 90 Hon. Steve Otis, NYS Assembly, District 91
Hon. MaryJane Shimsky, NYS Assembly, District 92 Hon. Chris Burdick, NYS Assembly, District 93 Hon. Matt Slater, NYS Assembly, District 94
Hon. Dana Levenberg, NYS Assembly, District 95

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.

WestCountyPolice(Updated March 21) The Westchester County Police are reporting that five young people from Connecticut were killed in a single car accident on the Hutchinson River Parkway at 12:20 am Sunday March 19.

According to police there were six people, ranging in age from 8 to 17 years old, going north in a Nissan Rogue that was driven by a 16 year-old boy. The crashed occurred when the driver failed to turn with the roadway, hit a boulder then a tree and caught fire, just north of the Mamaroneck Road exit.

Four males and one female died at the scene. A sixth person, who was sitting in the rear hatchback or cargo section of the car, escaped out the back. The nine year-old boy was taken to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla with non-life threatening injuries. On MOnday March 20, the victims were identified as follows:

The five persons who were killed in the crash were siblings and cousin, all from Derby, Connecticut. They were returning there from a mall. They were identified as:

Malik Smith, 16

Anthony Billips Jr., 17

Zahnyiah Cross, 12

Shawnell Cross, 11

Andrew Billips, 8

The driver, Malik Smiith did not have a permit or a driver's license and the car was rented by a relative.

David Raizen from the Scarsdale Village Ambulance Corps confirmed that they responded to the scene of the tragedy and took one person to Westchester Medical Center. A statement from the Westchester County Police said, “The full circumstances of the crash remain under investigation by the Westchester County Police Accident Investigation Team and detectives from the General Investigations Unit. The deceased are from the state of Connecticut.

HeatExchange(This letter was submitted by Elaine Weir)

Dear Editor:
We must not give up hope to conquer the climate crisis, even though the most recent reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says we are not doing enough to tame carbon pollution from fossil fuels and our world could be unrecognizable by the end of the century – within the lifetime of a child born today.

I see progress in my neighborhood and the world. My husband and I switched our heating and cooling to geothermal in February 2020 and our contribution to pollution from our home was drastically reduced. Since we switched, two more houses within walking distance are also installing geothermal systems. We have found that geothermal heating and cooling is much more energy efficient than fossil fuels, and unlike our neighbors’, our energy bills have not skyrocketed.

Right next door in NYC all new construction will start phasing in all electric buildings starting in 2024. In addition, Washington state now mandates electric heat pumps for heating, cooling, and hot water in all new buildings starting July 2023 and Montreal will start phasing in starting 2024.

All-electric new buildings are less expensive to build too. For a fossil fuel building, both electricity and fossil fuel lines need to be installed. Also, since the US is becoming the world’s largest exporter of liquified natural gas, the era of cheap natural gas is over.

We must educate ourselves on new technology. For example, I attended a New York State hearing on the All-Electric Building Act. I was in shock when one Assembly member said all-electric buildings do not work in cold weather, but my daughter is quite warm in her all-electric building in the Adirondacks, one of the coldest parts of the state.

We must be wary of false narratives like “how will you heat your house if the electricity goes off.” What nonsense. When our home was heated with gas, we were cold during power outages. Are the fossil fuel companies attempting to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt about our clean energy future with scaremongering over grid capacity and reliability? The culture war over gas stoves is over the top. Many people prefer smooth top electric stoves that are easy to clean, unlike gas stoves with their many moving parts.

There is more good news. Our electric grid is stressed in the summer and not the winter so there is room on the electrical grid for heat pumps to heat our homes. Our utility companies will be able to support new construction of all-electric buildings right away and begin an orderly transition to a pollution-free buildings sector.

Talking about pollution. My daughter suffers from asthma which is why she moved to the Adirondacks. Also, her ill health prompted me to investigate geothermal in the first place. We need to clean the air not just for the climate crisis but for people’s health now. The outdoor pollution from fossil fuels in New York’s buildings is estimated to be responsible for about 2000 deaths each year, with about $22 billion in associated healthcare costs. Similarly, indoor pollution from leakage and combustion of gas is linked to numerous health risks, including asthma among children and dementia among the elderly.

It will take time and energy to clean our air, but the technology is ready and economical for us to stop digging ourselves deeper into the carbon hole. It is time for Governor Hochul and all our NYS representatives to lead the way to a bright future and do what is right for the health of the people and the planet.

Sincerely,

Elaine Weir
138 Brewster Road, Scarsdale, NY 10583
914-874-4574

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