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poetry imgThis poem was sent to us by Hartsdale resident Rob G. If you have a poem or thoughts to share in these unusual times, please send us your work for publication.

2020 introduced the world to coronavirus
And as we looked for someone to inspire us

All we got were messages that were mixed

From someone who also claimed elections were fixed

So everyone panicked and bought toilet paper

At the supermarket such a caper

People packed in like a tin of sardines

After they’d been told to self quarantine

The situation also meant that stocks took a hit

And showed how much people are so full of shit

Stockpiling Charmin and hoarding Purell

No ones concerned about ending up in hell

What was a Me Too culture is now Me First

Self centeredness seems to have unquenchable thirst

Now we can only hope for the best

As the world is put to the test

Let’s hope the population does not end in tatters

And we as a people realize what matters.

fairnessScarsdale resident and data analytics expert Lee Fischman has updated his analysis of the Scarsdale tax roll. See below for his analysis of the relationship between home values and real estate taxes.

(From Lee)
I last reported on the health of Scarsdale’s property tax assessments in March 2019. This time I’ve refined the data a bit and so prior year numbers are slightly different from last time, but not enough to change past conclusions. This report uses assessed values that incorporate successful property tax appeals.

Are currently assessed values relatively fair and equitable? Let’s say we’re all sure that one home is worth twice as much as another. It then would be perfectly “fair” if the first home were assessed at twice the value. According to the statistic used to measure this, total fairness for all properties would produce a value of 0%, while any other value would indicate an assessment bias in favor of either cheaper or more expensive properties. The chart above shows the fairness statistic for each assessment roll year since 2010:

The 2014 assessment corrected seemingly systemic bias against less expensive properties. In 2015, for whatever reason, assessments became worrisomely biased against more expensive properties. The 2016 assessment restored order, essentially favoring neither cheaper nor more expensive properties. In 2017 bias crept up in favor of cheaper properties, reverted in 2018, and then crept up again in 2019. However, the level of bias is still low, and there has been no discernable pattern over the last few years. Bottom line: Scarsdale’s assessments are not showing a discernable trend in favor of either cheaper or more expensive properties, though they generally might be slightly biased in favor of cheaper ones.

consistency

We also care that homes of the same value are assessed the same. For example, if the underlying worth of two different homes is the same then their assessments should be the same, i.e., “consistent”. However, unless properties are cookie cutter duplicates, they will almost never be assessed equally. This isn’t unexpected nor worrisome according to the guidelines of the International Association of Assessing Officers. How consistent are Scarsdale’s assessments?

The higher the bars in the above graph, the more inconsistent are assessments. While Scarsdale’s assessments have remained within an acceptable range for consistency, a trend may have developed since the 2016 revaluation. That revaluation seems to have done a good job of restoring consistency. However, the trend since then has been towards greater inconsistency. This does not necessarily mean that the solution is to revalue. It may be that the increased inconsistency after the 2016 revaluation is the result of the fact that some property owners are more inclined to file grievances than others. If this is the cause, it is something that would be expected to recur after a future revaluation.

While we have looked at properties across Scarsdale, are there differences by geography? It appears so: Edgewood may have regularlyratio been under-assessed relative to other neighborhoods (2019 is not included due to an insufficient number of sales). Nothing seems to explain this disparity except geography itself. Regular under-assessment in Edgewood may or may not be cause for a revaluation, but more study is necessary. Certainly, Edgewood property owners would not be happy about a revaluation that increases their relative share of taxes.

I have intentionally refrained from recommendations, as that is a matter for careful and collaborative discussion. (I also don’t have any.) Rigorous, continuous market surveillance should ideally be the job of the Assessor’s office, accompanied by open public discussion. For those of you who would like to read further, the Scarsdale Forum report on the assessments is an excellent resource:

Notes:
An important part of this work has been making sure that formulas and data are correct. I appreciate Michael Levine's review and input in this area. I will gladly provide my materials to anyone else who asks. Contact the Editor and she will forward the request.

This analysis included residential sales only. It excluded land sales, Christie place sales, transactions that were marked by a NYS-standard “condition code” indicating an irregularity, and properties renovated within two years of the assessment.

Ranges for fairness (PRB) and consistency (COD) were obtained from “Guidance on International Mass Appraisal and Related Tax Policy”, International Association of Assessing Officers, 2013.

Lee Fischman, March 1, 2020

112LeeRoadOriginalThe original meeting house, NELIC Hall at 112 Lee Road.

Residents gathered at a meeting of the Committee for Historic Preservation on February 25 to attempt to save the first house built in BramLee Heights which also served as a meeting house and a Dutch church.

An application has been filed to completely demolish the home at 112 Lee Road which was built in 1906 by the North End Land Improvement Corp (NELIC). According to CHP historian Jonathan Lerner, at the time, Scarsdale only had 800-1,000 residents, and the house, formerly known as NELIC Hall served as the gathering place for union hall meetings and the fire company. For eight years it became the Dutch Reform Church.

Lerner noted that Lee Road is named after the owners of the North End Land Company and the house is important in the history of the Village.

Neighbor Lisa McIver attended the meeting and presented some history about the house to the committee, including archived notices in the Scarsdale Inquirer that show the establishment of the church in 1912 and a minstrel show in Nelic Hall in 1913. She said, “If there is any house in BramLee Heights that means something, it is this one.” She also submitted a petition with 40 names asking for the house to be preserved.

Natalie Reich of 125 Lee Road noted that the site provides “greenery and history” and it would be sad to have it torn down. Neighbor and realtor Sheri Wolfe of 117 Lee Road said, “Houses on Brown and Brambach Roads have been torn down and replaced with cookie cutter homes. Our street is beautiful. I want to preserve the history of the neighborhood.”

The committee is charged with considering the following criteria to determine whether a property is historic and should be preserved: 

In making a determination whether to grant an application for a certificate or to deny such application and require that the building in question be preserved, the Committee shall consider the level of significance in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering and culture present in the building, as well as the integrity of location, design, setting, materials and workmanship , and

1. That the building is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to broad patterns of Village, regional, state or national history; or

2. That the building is associated with the life of a person or persons of historical significance; or

3. That the building is the work of a master and embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period or method of construction that possess high artistic values; or

4. That the building has yielded or may be likely to yield information important in prehistory or history,

B. The Committee may consider if the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, New York State Register of Historic Places or Westchester County Inventory of Historic Places. A national, state, or county listing alone is not sufficient to warrant preservation.

In this case, the committee needs to determine if 112 Lee Road meets criteria #1, "That the building is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to broad patterns of Village, regional, state or national history;

In the discussion about the decision, committee members regretted that they did not have all this information before the meeting and said that the onus to provide historical information was on the applicant who claimed there was little to discover.Committee member Kevin Reed said, “I cannot decide tonight – I need time to look at it. We need to judge it on all the facts and not just some of 112LeeRoad2020112 Lee Road today.them.”

Mark Behr, an architect and committee member noted that the home had been extensively renovated in the 1960’s and said, “The board has to consider the structure as it stands today. Should we consider this building or the historic structure that was there? If a building has been altered, should it still be preserved?... It is now a 1960’s house.”

At the end of the discussion, Kevin Reed made a motion to table the decision until the committee’s next meeting and it was approved.

Commenting on the article, former resident Alan Sacks said, "The house at 112 Lee is over a century old. Yes, it’s been modified, but the basic is hand-built. In other parts of the country this would be deemed a treasure. Maybe a partial restoration is in order. Why do we need another styro McMansion?"

bowlcommitteeThe Scarsdale Bowl Committee: Back row left to right: BK Munguia, Jon Mark, Dana Matsushita, Andrea Seiden, Nancy Michaels, Dara Gruenberg, Seth Ross, Matt Martin Front row: Farley Baker, Jeff Robelen, Abby SrokaScarsdale is a community full of volunteers whose dedication shines in every area of civic life. For the first time, all of us can now thank our community volunteers by naming them to the new Scarsdale Foundation Volunteer Honor Roll!

The Honor Roll will support The Scarsdale Foundation, which provides need-based scholarships for college sophomores, juniors, and seniors, reach a critical fundraising goal of $150,000. As a community that values education, we should give every Scarsdale student a chance to succeed beyond their time in Scarsdale schools.

All Scarsdale volunteers are eligible to be part of the Honor Roll, including former residents. For $25 per volunteer, you can honor as many volunteers as you choose, such as neighbors and friends who coach sports, help at our schools, cook for the homeless, serve on local boards, committees, and more! It is a way to acknowledge those who serve in the more prominent ways and the quieter ways as well.

All members of the Honor Roll will be contacted and recognized in print, online, and at the Scarsdale Foundation Bowl Dinner at Brae Burn Country Club on April 22, 2020. Please honor your friends and neighbors, and remember that all donations will help the Scarsdale Foundation reach its goal for college scholarships and ensure that our students have a bright and shining future! Please click here to participate

shineon

 


bballThe Scarsdale’s boys’ basketball team hosted the Mamaroneck Tigers on February 12 in its regular season finale. The Raiders were looking to avenge an overtime loss at Mamaroneck earlier in the season. In that contest, Jayshen Saigal lit up the scoreboard with 27 points featuring five 3 pointers. The evening began with Senior Night – celebrating Scarsdale’s graduating class of 2020. The following seniors and their families were honored in a pregame ceremony:

Dennis Alter
Michael Callahan
Evan Kashanian
Matthew Lipsay (co-captain)
Chris Saenger
Jayshen Saigal (co-captain)
Fisher Waterhouse

With the playoffs to open in just a few days, Scarsdale was hoping to snap a five game losing streak and get on track for a post-season run. Unfortunately, the Raiders’ shooting was as cold as the early February weather. In a messy game marked by poor shooting and tightness on the part of each team, the Raiders fell to the Tigers 39-29.

The contest began with both teams having trouble making progress on the offensive side of the court – and neither team scored for almost the first half of the first quarter. After the slow start, Saigal got the Raiders rolling with a 3 point play on a drive and another basket after a steal. The Raiders utilized a 2-3 defense which was quite effective in keeping Mamaroneck off the scoreboard - holding the Tigers to a mere four points. Saigal paced the Raiders with seven and the Raiders led 10-4 after the first quarter.

The second quarter saw the Tigers get its offense going. They, too, switched to a 2-3 defense which paid immediate dividends and led to a few Mamaroneck baskets. Saigal, who was awarded all league, conference, and section honors earlier in the week, was hit with two quick fouls on consecutive plays – on both ends of the court - and was relegated to the bench for the final several minutes of the half. With Saigal watching from the bench, the Raiders offense was slowed, and the Tigers knotted the score at 17 at the half.

bballseniorsSenior Varsity Basketball Players: (left to right) Dennis Alter, Michael Callahan, Jayshen Saigal, Matthew Lipsay, Fisher Waterhouse, Evan Kashanian, and Chris Saenger. Captain Jayshen Saigal was named to ALL SECTION

After two quick baskets by Mamaroneck to start the second half, Jacob Smith responded with a three pointer. However, the remainder of the third quarter saw the Raiders continue to struggle when they had the ball. The Scarsdale effort was further stymied when Saigal picked up his third foul on a charging call midway through the quarter. Smith’s three represented the only Scarsdale points of the quarter. On the other side of court, the Tigers got hot from the outside: neutralizing the Raider zone by hitting three three pointers and opening up a 7 point lead. The quarter ended with the Raiders being outscored 13-3, trailing by 10 points, and looking for a spark.

Unfortunately for Scarsdale, the Raiders could not overcome the deficit during the final quarter. Despite a tireless effort, Scarsdale continued to have difficulty scoring and the teams played a fairly even fourth quarter. The game ended with the Raiders on the wrong end of a 39-29 score.

LipsayCo-Captain Lipsay looking for an open man. Photo by Ray Cooper.

 

The Raiders will look to reverse course with the “fresh” playoff season commencing within the next week. Given how well the team played against some of the stronger teams in the league and conference this season the Raiders look to rise to the level of their competition and make some noise. Senior photos by Maryellen Saenger.

SaigalSaigal going for 3 from the corner. Photo by Ray Cooper.

blballparentsProud moms of seniors with Head Coach Joseph Amelio wearing their son's jerseys.

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