Friday, Apr 12th

Marcel SwigoniakMarcel P. SwigoniakWe are deeply saddened by the loss of Marcel P. Swigoniak of Eastchester on April 10, 2024, just six days before his 83rd birthday. Marcel was a man of optimism, courage, intellectual prowess and creativity. He was born in German occupied Poland during the height of World War II. He received a Masters of Architectural Engineering at the Politechnika Krakowska in Krakow, Poland. After several high level appointments as an architect including designing the Fiat automobile factory in Bielsko-Bliala, Poland he fell victim to the communist system and was replaced in his job by a Party member, as often was the case in pre-Solidarity Poland. Over time, he and his wife devised a clandestine plan to escape with their two small children from communist Poland in the mid 1970s. After a brief period in a refugee camp in Italy, he and his family received permission to immigrate to America in 1977. Marcel established his own architecture firm in the US and worked as a sole practitioner, including assisting in the design of his daughter’s and son-in-law’s house in Scarsdale, until a life-altering stroke ended his professional career. He is a member of American Institute of Architects (A.I.A.) and National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NARB).

He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Krystyna, his children, Alexandra Swigon and Agnieszka (Aggy) Shawn, son-in-law Peter Shawn and his grandchildren, Elizabeth, Emily and Jonathan.

Arrangements include Funeral Mass at Annunciation Church (470 Westchester Ave., Crestwood) on Saturday, April 13, at 10am with the Burial following at 11:15am at Gate of Heaven Cemetery (10 W. Stevens Avenue, Hawthorne).

LincolnRoadMARCH2024Is it the charter of the Scarsdale Planning Board to protect neighbors in flood-prone areas when developers propose new projects that risk exacerbating area flooding? Or does the developer simply need to demonstrate that the proposed work will not cause more runoff from the property than is currently experienced, even if the area is already in trouble?

That was the question at a meeting of the Planning Board on March 27, 2024 which became more of a referendum on the role of the board than a ruling on a controversial application for a subdivision.

At issue was an application to subdivide a lot at 101 Carthage Road and 46 Lincoln Road from two lots into three, to permit a third new home to be built on the property. This was the fourth hearing for the applicant, who came before the Planning Board on November 29. 2023, January 31, 2024, February 28, 2024 and March 26, 2024.

At each of the subsequent meetings, questions about drainage caused the board to hold over a decision.

The proposed site is wet and a pipe that runs through it currently ferries water from upstream to downstream areas of Mamaroneck Road. A neighbor showed a video of a rushing river on Lincoln Road from the property during the March 25 storm and feared that additional tree removals would endanger his home. His wife reported flooding and sewage in their basement from a brook that extends from 46 Lincoln past their home.

At this meeting the Village retained a consultant to review the hydraulics study produced by the applicant’s engineer. He proposes to move the drainage pipe into the street and make it the responsibility of the Village to maintain. He claims the stormwater improvement plan for the property will result in a 23% reduction in the amount of run off.

John Ruschke from the engineering firm Mott McDonald was not able to confirm the calculations provided by the applicant. He said, “They could be more conservative with their calculations and allow for the ponding” and “the drainage area that flows through this property is very large.”

About the size of the proposed drainage pipe he said, “If the bypass pipe is too large and increases the flow you are going to increase the flooding downstream. If there’s a smaller pipe, you are going to retain water and affect the upstream neighbors.”

When questioned about the possible risks to the neighborhood, Ruschke said, “A more sophisticated and regional study is needed if you want to improve the situation. They(the developer) are proposing to keep things status quo … you need a sophisticated model of the watershed – and everything upstream and downstream. It’s a more complex analysis.”

He suggested that two studies were needed: one of the proposed development site and another of the entire neighborhood and watercourse. Asked where his views and the proposed site design are consistent, Ruschke responded, “We are not on the same page. There is still a lot of validation that I need to do.”

Further questions were raised about the removal of 46 mature trees. Planning Board members asked whether or not the applicant could testify as to the difference in the water absorption of the existing mature trees vs. the 76 replacement trees. The landscape expert said that figure was “impossible to quantify.”

As it seems that more intensive rainstorms are occurring more frequently, Planning Board members asked if the calculations accounted for increased rainfall due to climate change?

Before allowing for public comments, Chairman Clapp asked the applicant to do further work with the consultants to “come up with a new plan.”

Neighbors, some who were now attending their fourth meeting, saw it another way. Some did not understand why the Planning Board did not vote to turn the applicant down for failing to demonstrate that the project would not cause further flooding.

Jessica Bandel of 99 Carthage Road said, “I am concerned about the Planning Board. You have all heard from us about the flooding. The flooding is an egregious problem.

David Goldschidt said, “If anybody walked the street on Saturday the amount and velocity of water coming down Carthage Road was significant. There needs to be attention to the drainage in this area. It needs to be underscored. Make sure the proposal does not harm the neighbors.” He also asked the Planning Board to consider the setbacks of the new homes to be sure they conform with the neighborhood.

Lynn Soares of 49 Lincoln Road said, “I brought a video. We have a brook rising on our property. We have had our furniture floating in 3 feet of sewage. It is irresponsible to say he is considering 50 Lincoln and not Carthage across the road. Think about the financial damage this could cause.” Nelson Soares said, “This is disappointing and frustrating. When you have independent engineers come in … we are talking about around our neighborhood. That should be taken into consideration. If you have lived with the problems in our basement …. we just got 2 inches this weekend and it was a disaster and there was only 1/12” to 2” causing a problem.” About the proposed third house on the property he said, “How can more building cause less water?”

Sanae Tenembaum of 52 Lincoln Road said, “I am not hearing with any certainty that things will not be worse. It is a delicate situation. You have heard from 20 neighbors. And that’s not even discussing the character of the neighbor. This is irresponsible. Let’s see the drainage improve after the construction of 2 new houses.

Cynthia Roberts said, “Grass absorbs more water than trees? Trees absorb exponentially more water than grass. How much water will these small trees absorb? There is iTree software that will allow you to calculate how much water a tree can absorb. Mature trees can absorb from 10 to 150 gallons a day. You have to assess the current situation and also take climate change into account. How have the calculations allowed for the uptake of the current trees?”

Jack Miller said, “This affects everyone on Carthage from Lincoln down to Mamaroneck Road. The best design would be a pond. If this fails it will take out neighbors and the fire house. This does not fit into our neighborhood. There is an eight-foot difference in elevation and a retaining wall between two different houses.

A resident from 139 Carthage Road said, “I am confused – last meeting we heard they are going to put in a bigger pipe – this time – a smaller pipe will control the water. What is the impact to our homes? We are in a precarious position. We have a lot of water. Adding another house is just going to make it worse. I don’t know where adding a house would make the water go away. There is no rush to add the third property. I am averse to having an impact all the way down the street.”

Helen Maccarino of 83 Cushman Road reported, “I never had floods in my basement and now we do. We lived there for 25 years. This Saturday, the hydrostatic pressure was pushing the water up through the floor. You identified some high-risk areas. When there is more development before the infrastructure is repaired it sends shivers through me. Consider holding off any multi-home subdivisions before you fix the problems.”

Elaine Weir said, “We have to plan for a future with more water – not match existing conditions.”

Joan Weissman said, “The fact that the proposed subdivision is flanked by two designated wetlands, one regulated by the Village of Scarsdale and the other regulated by the NYS DEC, magnifies the fragility of the area with respect to both stormwater runoff and ecological resources. Highlighting this issue is the 100-foot watercourse buffer that surrounds part of the proposed subdivision. Chapter 171 of the Village Code, which is entitled Freshwater Wetlands, states in part that "it is the intent of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Scarsdale that activities in and around freshwater wetlands... do not threaten public safety or the natural environment.” Redirecting a watercourse, building three houses that take up most of the surrounding green space, and clear-cutting scores of mature trees--that will take decades to be replaced in kind--certainly threaten both public safety and the natural environment by causing increased flooding and the destruction of the ecosystems that currently exist at the site. In the relevant Village Code chapters, the Board of Trustees clearly states its policy and intent to "protect its citizens and those of downstream communities, including future generations.” I urge the Planning Board to carry out the Trustees mandate and to deny the subdivision application.”

LucasMeyerLucas Jason Meyer, 64, of Scarsdale, New York, died of complications due to Alzheimer's Disease in White Plains on March 12, 2024.

He was born in New York in 1959 to Miriam Weiss Meyer, and had a fascination with cars at an early age. Lucas attended Sleepy Hollow High School before studying history at Colgate University. An avid lover of American and international history, he spent his semester abroad in London wherein he further fell in love with the country.

Lucas was also fluent in Spanish, which he attributed to his favorite Spanish teacher in high school. Upon graduation, he went to work for Republic National Bank for the next twenty plus years. In 1986, he was transferred to Buenos Aires, Argentina to run a division where he met his wife. In 1990, the two moved back to the States to New York where they subsequently spent the next thirty-four years and raised three children.

Upon leaving Republic, Lucas and two business partners decided to strike out on their own and form Fifth Street Advisors. Lucas acted as a fiduciary and served clients all across the tristate area, all of whom spoke to his warmth and candor as an advisor.

Lucas was also a deeply charitable person who was dedicated to preserving the history of the town he lived in. In 2003, he MeyerBBob Berg, Lucas Meyer and Esther Sloan at the 2014 Spelling Beepartnered with two then-high school sophomores to launch Scarsdale's Concours d'Elegance, a car show that both displayed rare and unusual cars while raising significant funds for local charities. He also served for a time as Scarsdale's Village Historian, and acted in leadership roles in groups such as the Old Scarsdale Neighborhood Association (OSNA), the Committee for Historical Preservation, the Scarsdale Citizens Nominating Committee, and many more.

Lucas was preceded in death by his mother Miriam Weiss Meyer and his sister Katherine Meyer, and is survived by his wife Margarita Meyer; his children Alexandra Meyer, Adam Meyer, and Caroline Meyer; and his daughter-in-law Alleana Brody.

A funeral will be held on March 14 at noon at Ballard-Durand Funeral Home in White Plains, and the burial is the same day at Sharon Gardens. Donations to the Alzheimer's Association would be greatly appreciated.

fospsloanLucas Meyer and Esther Sloan dedicated a bench in honor of Irving Sloan at Library Pond in 2011.

leafblowerLandscaping spring clean-up has begun, and Scarsdale's gas-powered leaf blower ban continues to be in full effect.  From January 1st through September 30th the use of gas-powered leaf blowers is prohibited. Electric blowers--corded and battery--are allowed throughout the year. 

Scarsdale's gas-powered leaf blower ban was enacted after many years of residents advocating in favor of its passage.  In mitigating both noise and air pollution, the law greatly benefits both residents and the landscapers who perform the work on a daily basis.

Residents who employ landscapers should remind them to use electric leaf blowers. The use of gas leaf blowers is subject to a fine.

The best way to report violations is to email the Building Department at building@scarsdale.com and include photos of the landscaper’s truck with their information.  That way the landscaper can be informed of the law. Residents may also call the Building Department Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm at 914-722-1140 and are encouraged to follow up with an email. At all other times residents may call the Police Department at its non-emergency number, 914-722-1200.  

With the law's enactment, the quality of life in the village has greatly improved, and it is important to keep this momentum going strong.

Malai3You never know what you’ll learn at Scarsdale Library. On a dreary Saturday last week I found myself following Bollywood dance moves with some very enthusiastic parents and young children, lead by Indian Drag Queen Malai, who’s name translates from Hindi to “cream.” And she was as rich and smooth as cream. Dressed in a wig, a sparkling gown, bangles and a crown she had everyone in the Scott Room rapt with her charms.

Malai, who lives in Jackson Heights, where she is known as Queen Malia, was invited to the library as part of a story hour for Scarsdale kids. Before the dancing began, Author Jyoti Rajan Gopal read from her beautifully illustrated book, Desert Queen, a true story about Queen Harish, drag performer from Rajasthan, India. Jyoti explained that she had travelled to Rajasthan with her family where she saw Drag Queen Harish dance and was totally taken with the performance. When she later learned that he had passed away in a car accident, she set out to research his life and wrote Desert Queen as an homage. The book is a 2024 Stonewall Award honoree.

Queen Harish, the books main character, lost his parents as a child and had to take care of himself and his two younger sisters on his own. He discovered that when he dressed as a woman and danced it quieted his worries and his heart was at peace.JyotiJyoti Rajan Gopal displays her books.

The children listened respectfully to the book and jumped at the chance to dance with Malai, who bright light and a little bit of magic to a rainy weekend in the ‘Dale.

malai2

DesertQueenMalai1Jessica Kaplan and Olivia Abramowitz from Bronx River Books were on hand with copies of Desert Queen.

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