Notable Locals Attend LWVS Annual Fundraiser
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
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The League of Women Voters of Scarsdale is a nonpartisan, political organization with a rich history spanning more than 100 years in the Scarsdale community. They encourage you to join them as they work to promote democracy and political responsibility at the local, state and national levels through voter education, issue advocacy and the active participation of citizens
To learn more about their work or to donate, please visit our website: lwvs.org.The League of Women Voters of Scarsdale held its Annual Fundraiser on Saturday, January 28th at the home of Janice and Ira Starr after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Many local politicians attended, including State Senator Shelley Mayer, State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, County Legislator Ben Boykin, and Scarsdale Mayor Jane Veron.
Farmers Market Coming to the Village, Heathcote Bridge to be Repaired and more from Village Hall
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
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At the opening of the January 24 meeting of the Village Board Mayor Jane Veron wished everyone a Happy Lunar New Year, the year of the rabbit, and said, “2023 is predicted to be a year of hope. ‘
She reported that trustees were holding meeting with Village Department heads to review their budget needs for the coming fiscal year. In addition to the budget, Trustees are focused on road conditions and will hear a report from the Department of Public Works on a road survey next week. She also warned residents to heed the new Village speed limit of 25 mph and said signage has been installed.
In other news, the Village is considering a contract from a firm in Connecticut to bring a farmer’s market to Scarsdale Village to be held on Sundays in Scarsdale Village from June to November. Trustees also scheduled a public hearing on a code amendment to allow retailers to sell goods on the sidewalks of the Village. Work continues on schematics for the pool renovation and for plans for traffic and sidewalks in the Village center.
Heathcote Bridge Repair
Village Manager Rob Cole reported that the repair project for the Heathcote Bridge will soon be put out to bid. Specifically he said, “Following a review process that involved both NYS and federal agencies, the Village has received authorization to bid the Heathcote Road Bridge Reconstruction project. We are on target for a bid opening on March 2, with an award in late March or early April. The construction timeline will be fleshed out with the successful bidder, though it should be noted that Superintendent Coleman and his team continue to place priority on project completion following the shortest possible timeline.”
Property Tax Exemption
A public hearing was held on a resolution to increase the minimum income level for property tax exemptions for seniors and the disabled. Village Assessor Victoria Sirota explained that the proposed resolution raises the income level from $29,000 up to $50,000 for a 50% exemption and on a sliding scale for those with incomes between $50,000 and $58,0000.
The school board opted to increase the exemption for school taxes for those earning up to $50,000 but did not include exemptions for medical expenses. Unreimbursed medical expenses could be considered for those earning above $58,000 The consideration would allow those to qualify for the exemption if they earn more than $50,000.
Bob Harrison spoke about tax increases and said the county would have no tax increase this year. He also said the Village had understated the amount of interest income they would receive in the proposed Village budget for next year.
Trustee Ahuja said the Personnel Committee of the Board of Trustees is looking for diverse candidates to fill vacancies on Village Boards and Councils.
Trustees agreed to hold a public hearing on February 14, 2023 on a code amendment to allow retailers and café owners to utilize sidewalks to sell goods, foods and beverages and to place tables for the pick-up or drop off of goods in these areas.
The Board approved a resolution to hold a public hearing on a new law regarding illegal connections to the sanitary sewer system. The new law would require those who do a property improvement of more than $100,000 or sell their home to obtain certification by an appropriate professional that their sewer lateral and plumbing do not contribute inflow or infiltration in the village sanitary sewer system or contain significant defects or lack maintenance.
Tax Cap Override
The Board passed a resolution to allow them to adopt a budget that requires a real property tax levy in excess of the tax cap, if needed. Trustee Lewis explained, “This does not mean that the board is going down that path – just that they can.”
Appointment to the Committee for Historic Preservation
The Board approved the appointment of Sherry Geer to the Committee for Historic Preservation for a term vacated until April 2025.
Residents Ask for a Moratorium on Development in Sensitive Drainage Areas, New Eateries Opening and More from the Village Board
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
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There was promising news from the` Village Board about eating options in the Village at their first meeting of the new year. The Mayor announced the “imminent” opening of the long awaited One Rare Steakhouse in the space formerly occupied by Zachys on East Parkway. The restaurant, from the owners of Ben and Jack’s Steakhouse on East 44th Street, will feature dry aged steaks, pasta and seafood.
The Mayor also said that the owners of Martines on East Parkway plan to open Mimis -– an artisanal gelateria, serving gelato, waffles and hot lava cakes. The new shop will be at 51 East Parkway in the space once held by Webster Bank.
With little discussion, the Board also passed two amendments to Village code regarding permeable vs. impervious surfaces for lot coverage and another regarding grading for stormwater management. However residents who live in a sensitive drainage area near Garden Road were not satisfied that these changes would do enough to safeguard their homes. See below:
In an update from Village Treasurer Ann Scaglione, she unveiled new budgeting software called ClearGov, which will be accessible to Village personnel as well as the public via a link on the Village website. The software will enhance the budgeting planning process by permitting Village staff and trustees to track iterations of the Village budget, by department as it evolves.
Village Manager Rob Cole congratulated Scaglione on the implementation and said this new software was a substantial improvement over previous practice and should be easy to navigate for trustees and the public. Trustee Ahuja suggested that the Village produce a video tutorial on how to use this new software.
Cole discussed the implementation of the new speed limit, which will be lowered to 25 mph on most streets throughout the Village. He said new signage will be posted at the end of the month and the Village will undertake education to inform the public of the new law. In the interim, he suggested that everyone get used to the lower limit by driving at a maximum speed of 25 mph.
In other business, the Board approved a resolution to allow the passage of a budget which exceeds the tax cap, if necessary. According to the Village Treasurer, the Village must stay below a 3.28% increase in order not to exceed the cap.
Security at Village Hall
Trustees approved $392,000 for access control and security improvements at Village Hall plus $27,000 for electric work for a total of $419,824.
The Board accepted two gifts – one for the police department and another for the fire department.
Gifts are as follows:
The Bowman Family Foundation gave $2,000 to the Police Department for projects selected by the Police Chief and approved by the Village.
Sang Han of Paddington Road gave a $1,000 donation to the fire department for training of career firefighters and volunteers.
The Board passed a resolution to hold the village election for Mayor and Trustees on Tuesday March 21, 2023 from 6 am to 9 pm at Scarsdale Public Library.
The Board approved a resolution to issue $1,709,472 in bonds to purchase trucks and equipment for use by the Department of Public Works.
The Board approved a resolution to amend Village code to “align the runoff curve used to determine whether a surface is permeable or impervious with the predominant soil type on a property.”
The Board approved an amendment to Village code to limit the changing of grades which will encourage the maintenance of natural topography and natural water flow to avert flooding of neighboring properties.
Some did not think that the two resolutions regarding lot coverage and stormwater did enough to safeguard their properties.
Helen Maccarino wrote to the Village Board regarding a proposed 8 home subdivision at 80 Garden Road, now referred to as “The Gardens.” Her letter says, “ The Gardens" is an enormous project covering over 6 acres, the equivalent of nearly 5 football fields. If you are unfamiliar with the plan, it calls for clear-cutting hundreds of trees, raising the terrain by approximately 4 feet, and installing a retaining wall just 6 feet from the adjacent property lines. Not only is there no APB, there is a retaining wall instead of a "tapered slope", a wall that runs the length of the entire site. The subdivision plan also ignores the findings of NYS Dept of Environmental Conservation which the Chapter 254 code cites prominently from the outset. The NYS DEC states that clear-cutting and terrain-raising risks altering drainage patterns across property lines, cause erosion and "have significant impact on the health, safety and welfare of the community."
Another letter was received from the law firm of Mintzer, Mauch PLLC who represents a group of 29 residents who would be affected by the development on Garden Road. They urged the Board to adopt a temporary moratorium on the processing of development applications within sensitive drainage areas while the Board makes substantive changes to land use code.
NYC Bans New Gas Service While Con Ed Expands Gas Infrastructure in Scarsdale
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
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It seems like a major disconnect. All around us, our roads have been torn up by Con Edison as they work to upgrade the gas lines in Scarsdale. Yet at the same time we learned that the New York City Council has banned the use of gas in new buildings, effective 2024 and that there is a bill before the NYS Senate to “mandate all-electric buildings after 2023, except in cases where local permitting authorities determine they're not feasible, which may depend on the availability of equipment and labor.”
After Con Ed spent years encouraging users to convert from oil to gas, new research has shown that “Indoor gas stove use for cooking is associated with among children and is prevalent in 35% of households in the United States (US).” In addition, fossil fuel combustion, mostly for heating, is responsible for about 13% of greenhouse gas emissions in the US, according to 2019 figures from the US Environmental Protection Agency.
However, here in Scarsdale, Con Edison has undertaken a major 5 year project to replace the gas lines. This is a tremendous undertaking and ultimately the costs will be underwritten by users.
We asked Alan Drury, a spokesperson for Con Edison about the ongoing gas line installation and the potential ban on usage and here is what he said: “There is no disconnect. We support a transition away from fossil fuels and are taking numerous steps in that direction. Needless to say, it will take the region years to complete such a large and complex transition. In the meantime, we must continue to invest to keep the gas system safe and reliable. It’s essential for natural gas customers (particularly those who rely on natural gas for heat and might be vulnerable due to age or health issues) to have reliable service, particularly on the coldest days of the year”
Asked for a comment, Village Manager Rob Cole said, “Because Con Ed is regulated by the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC), with funding mechanisms and approval for their proposed major capital projects authorized through that oversight process, your questions are best addressed to the PSC; we note, however, that the disruptive gas main project predates recent discussion of phasing out gas appliances.”
Cole continued, “Staff are unable to comment on rules and regulations passed by NYC, though we note media reports that Governor Hochul had recently expressed support for a similar statewide ban that would begin phasing out a majority of such gas appliances in 2030. If the NYS codes change, we would need to comply, of course.”
I wondered what the men who are installing the pipeline in front of my house thought and stopped one to ask. He threw up his hands and said, “They tell us to rely on electric, but the grid is inadequate to power our area. So once there’s an outage, everyone will ask, what happened to our gas service?
Wish List for 2023: Community Leaders Provide Their Thoughts
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
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With the advent of the new year, we asked local leaders for their hopes for 2023 in Scarsdale. Here are their thoughts:
Interim Scarsdale Schools Superintendent Andrew Patrick
As 2023 begins, I am looking forward to further strengthening the critical connections and partnerships between our schools and our community. Since the start of the school year, our faculty, staff, administrators, PTAs, and PTC have worked hard to restore cherished activities like field trips, reestablish opportunities for parents to visit classrooms and deliver programs, and reimagine the ways our community plays a role in student learning. These connections are critical to our mission of serving the whole child, and they illustrate the meaning of the phrase, "it takes a village!" I am also looking forward to successful project collaborations with the Village in a number of areas, and to a productive budget process. However, what I anticipate above all else in 2023 is for each and every Scarsdale student to meet or exceed their goals, to learn, and to rise to fulfill the incredible potential they possess.
Scarsdale School Board President Amber Yusuf
I hope this year that I can continue to do the things I love: give back to my community, support my friends, care for my family, and make time for myself.
I look forward to an exciting year ahead for our District. The past few years have presented a series of challenges, and once a new permanent superintendent is in place, I envision new opportunities and channels for growth for students and enhanced professional learning and collaboration for faculty and staff.
Mayor of Scarsdale Jane Veron
I enter each new year with hope and optimism. It is our strong desire that residents feel deeply connected to our community; that they can conduct their lives protected and secure; and that they have myriad opportunities for fun and fulfillment. Designing a wonderful new seasonal pool complex remains a high priority for this year as well as instituting traffic and safety measures, local economic development advances and land use improvements. We will also continue to pursue other quality of life initiatives. As we embark on 2023, we will nurture what makes Scarsdale great and adapt and evolve to ensure we remain the very best place to live.
NYS Assembly Member Amy Paulin
I’m feeling very excited and hopeful about 2023. I love my job. It gives me the opportunity to help and solve problems for the people in my community. In 2023, I hope even more constituents reach out to my office for help on the many issues that we can assist with personally and legislatively – please email me at email@example.com
I’m thrilled to have Edgemont in my district, starting just this week. I’ve already worked closely with the residents in Edgemont and filed a bill to stop illegal cannabis sales happening on Central Ave. Together we will work hard to get that passed in 2023. Please keep the bill ideas coming Scarsdale and Edgemont - you are my inspiration!
I was just appointed NYS Assembly Health Chair and will work hard make sure everyone in our area, and in New York State has access to high quality and affordable health care. I'm hopeful that we can address the issues raised by my constituents such as problematic nursing homes, inadequately funded hospitals, and access to reproductive health care - just to name just a few.
I am also hopeful that the legislature can pass meaningful legislation in 2023, and plan to be a loud voice. The legislature needs to address increased street crime, domestic violence, human trafficking and repeat offenders.
I would be remiss in talking about my hopes for 2023 if I didn’t mention my beloved Mets, which have made a great acquisition in Carlos Correa, and resigned two of my favorites - Brandon Nimmo and Edwin Díaz. Like every Mets fan, I’m eternally hopeful, dream of ’69 and ’86, and feel that this could really be our year to make it there once again.
President of the Scarsdale Forum Susan Douglass
First, we hope to have safety be a higher priority in Scarsdale -- let's work to eliminate pedestrian encounters with cars, or car crashes, in the downtown area or anywhere else in town. This will require reworking East Parkway and Spencer Place, Crane Road, Popham Road, Sprague Road and other "hot spot" areas. Traffic enforcement must be a priority.
Second, we need to stop gas-powered leaf blowers and leaf vacuuming. Let's be innovative leaders in environmental practices and save budget allocations at the same time.
Third, it's time for a dog park. Maybe 2023 will be the year when it comes to pass.
Lastly, we want to create many opportunities for Scarsdalians to share events, music, food and fun together. We have a wonderful community with people of all ages.
Scarsdale Conservation Advisory Council Michelle Sterling
2023 could be the year where everyone in Scarsdale participates in the Scarsdale Food Scrap Recycling program and gets to zero waste. All of us on the CAC are committed to not just caring about the environment but taking steps to do something about it. Fortunately we can do our part right here in Scarsdale. If you food scrap, and recycle everything that can be recycled, you will have hardly any waste. I’m hopeful that in 2023 we can all take a pause and think about the blessing of having clean air, water and soil. To us on the CAC it’s our foundation. I’m so appreciative for the thousands of residents that are out there with the CAC, taking action, and in that way making great sustainability achievements happen. I hope that everyone can get on board – please email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for food scrap recycling or with any recycling questions. We’re happy to help!”
Publisher Scarsdale10583 Joanne Wallenstein
And for me: here is what I would like to see.
I am hopeful that the Con Edison moves swiftly on the gas pipeline replacement project so that I can get out of my driveway and out of Greenacres. Ditto to work on the Heathcote Bridge.
Second: I would like the Village Board to take some meaningful steps to address home size and height restrictions, historic preservation, subdivisions and lot coverage to work toward stemming the crowding of our neighborhoods and the strain on our resources. Building two oversized houses in place of one results in more curb cuts, street crowding, diminishment of pervious surfaces and the destruction of trees, ultimately leading to flooding. The only people who benefit are the developers. It’s time for the Village Board to put the rights of current homeowners before the ambitions of our local builders.
Last, I hope that the Village can reach consensus on a plan to renovate the Scarsdale Pool Complex so that we can all continue to enjoy this community gem.
Do you have hopes for 2023? Please contribute them in the comments section below or email them to email@example.com and we’ll add them to the article.
Happy New Year everyone!