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Last updateSat, 06 Mar 2021 2pm

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birthdayWhile Scarsdale residents stay home to remain safe from the novel coronavirus (COVID- 19), the Scarsdale Fire Department is announcing the launch of a Drive-By Birthday Program. As kid’s birthdays are unable to be celebrated in traditional ways, our department would like to help bring some joy to village children who are unable to gather with others to celebrate their special day.

Scarsdale career and volunteer firefighters are joining together to deliver birthday greetings with lights and sirens blaring.

This program is being offered to any child between the ages of 4 and 12 who resides in the village and who has or is celebrating a birthday in the month of April. The program will be available on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 1:00 – 3:00 pm until the end of April.

The department would like to give Scarsdalians some sense of normalcy during these very uncertain times. It is our time to support our residents much like they support us year after year.

To request a Drive-By Birthday you can call/text SFD 914-645-7728. This program is subject to apparatus availability. No firefighters will leave the rigs and proper social distancing must be observed at all times.

helipcoptorScarsdale Police, New Rochelle Police and the Westchester County Police’s Aviation Unit were all involved in a manhunt on Thursday night April 9. It started when Meadow Road residents reported trespassers on their property. New Rochelle Police were alerted and saw suspects running along Weaver Street, an aviation unit that happened to be in the area at the time helped police to locate the suspects on Gatehouse Road. The suspects were interviewed and identified but no arrests were made. The incident is currently under investigation by Scarsdale Detectives.

While conducting the search, Scarsdale Police found a parked, occupied vehicle nearby. They determined that the car was unregistered. The driver was identified and issued numerous summonses and the car was impounded.

Though residents believed this was an attempted burglary, there appears to be insufficient evidence to press charges. Helicoptors were heard overhead.

Last week there were multiple reports of activity in Scarsdale Meadows and West Quaker Ridge and this incident was similar. Here is what we reported last week:

On April 1, two residents reported unknown individuals holding flashlights on their properties. The reports were made by residents who lived on Meadow Road and Penn Boulevard around 9 p.m. and 9:20 p.m.

On April 2, an Old Lyme Road resident told police someone opened a gate to his property and possibly attempted to gain access to his locked house, triggering an alarm activation April 1. No one was observed on the property.

On April 2, a Herkimer Road resident showed police video surveillance that captured an unknown car stopping on the street near the resident’s driveway, followed by an unknown man exiting the car and walking toward the resident’s house during the evening of April 1. At that moment the video cut off. There was no damage or signs of force to the house. Patrol forwarded the video to detectives for investigation.

An Old Lyme Road resident reported seeing a “suspicious” white man wearing a black jacket, hat and sunglasses walking around the neighborhood and “looking into windows” April 2. The resident said he sees the man on an almost daily basis. Police will increase monitoring of the area.

Here is the official press release from the Scarsdale Police Department about the April 9th incident:

On Thursday, April 9th 2020 at 9:37 PM, the Scarsdale Police Department received a report of suspicious parties on the property of a home on Meadow Road. This call was similar to incidents that were reported last week.

Upon arrival, Scarsdale Units began canvassing for the parties along with the New Rochelle Police. Scarsdale Police observed a parked, occupied vehicle nearby. An investigation determined that the vehicle was unregistered. The driver was identified and issued numerous summonses. The vehicle was impounded.

A short time later, a New Rochelle Officer observed two parties running along Weaver Street. Westchester County Police’s Aviation Unit was in the area and directed ground units to the parties’ location on Gatehouse Road. Multiple Scarsdale and New Rochelle Units stopped the parties on Gatehouse Rd. The parties were identified and this incident is currently being investigated by Scarsdale Detectives.

The fact that the Scarsdale Police had officers assigned to the area because of last week’s reports and the fact that residents contacted the police so quickly, the parties were able to be stopped and identified.

If anyone has any further information on this incident, please contact the Scarsdale Police Investigation’s Section at 914-722-1200.

letter to the editorMary Beth Evans of Edgewood Road read the following on the ZOOM meeeting of the Scarsdale Board of Education on March 30:

Dear Members of the Board of Education: Thank you for this opportunity to comment on the budget and especially for carrying on as a District during this crisis on behalf of the community.

We recognize the need to prepare for a potential loss in State aid and support your prudent approach to the 2020-21 proposed school budget presented last week, which includes postponement of certain expenses that are not core to your mission of maintaining and enhancing the quality of our schools.

We oppose the notion that the School Board should act immediately to, in the words of a few, dig into the “muscle” of the proposed school budget. We are at a loss to see the logic in crippling the very institution that supports our home values during this uncertain time. We further believe that our students and our teachers need the support of the entire community now more than ever, and we especially reject the notion that eliminating teaching positions or cutting teacher salaries is a productive way for us to respond as a community to current uncertainty. With regard to staffing as it relates to enrollment, in particular, we urge the Administration to make sure to clarify for the community that the relationship is not linear but is shaped by various considerations, including mandates.

Cutting the school budget to the level you’ve recently proposed already does have a long-term consequence. As the Board and the Administration have acknowledged, resident taxpayers generally prefer to avoid sudden spikes in their tax bill. The State imposed tax cap additionally, and more profoundly, affects the Board’s ability to restore or add new funding to future budgets. The tax levy law not only sets an arbitrary cap – disconnected from educational costs -- on each district’s ability to raise local taxes to fund its schools but also enforces this mandate by replacing democratic majority rule with the requirement of supermajority voter approval should a local district try to exceed the State’s cap. Even if a local school board believes it important for the school budget tax levy to exceed the State-determined local levy limit increase, the law empowers a minority of local voters to defeat that effort. Thus, to convey now to the public that the Board can readily convince the voters to exceed the tax cap, as needed, at any time down the road is both unrealistic and disingenuous. We therefore urge the Board and the Administration – along with the PT Council -- to focus on explaining to the public the predicament of the tax cap, which is real.

We are resident taxpayers who no longer have children in the schools, but we continue to subscribe to the unwritten “compact” that has sustained the Scarsdale schools at the current level for what is now coming on some 100 years. Just as the entire community supported school budgets for the duration of our children’s attendance, so do we now support the same high level of education for our neighbors’ children.

This compact is in large part what makes the geographic place known as Scarsdale a community, especially in difficult times. And proof of that this compact was in force even during the Great Depression can be found in a Scarsdale Inquirer article dated May 8, 1931 (“Scarsdale School Budget is Adopted at Large Meeting”). It describes public support at a meeting that resulted in the school budget’s passage. Among those speaking in favor were:

• “Harry E. Lesan who showed that the increase in this year’s budget over last year’s would amount to about $1.10 per thousand dollars of property valuation and offered to contribute his $1.10 to keep up the high standards of Scarsdale schools;

• “Pliny W. Williamson who declared that the schools would unquestionably suffer if [teacher] salaries were decreased or classes enlarged […and] that property values in Scarsdale were due in large measure to the high standard of the school system;” and

• “Dr. Howard J. Savage, a member of the Board of Education, [who] said that he had been a teacher himself for many years, and that he would like to remind those present that, while business men were having lean years now, they had had fat years [adding], ‘ There are no fat years in the teaching profession, however,’ he said, ‘I believe it would be a serious mistake to cut salaries in our schools, and I, as a parent, would like to disagree emphatically with this suggestion, for I do not want second-rate teachers to experiment on my children.’”

Later that same year, in October 1931, the Scarsdale community again voted to invest in education when it approved a $1,150,000 bond to add classrooms to Edgewood School and to build “part of a new High School at a cost of $745,000 and part of a new elementary school on Kelwynn Road at a cost of $350,000.” (Scarsdale Inquirer, October 30, 1931)

Sincerely,

Mary Beth Evans & Daniel Moretti
16 Edgewood Road

[Note: The 1931 Scarsdale tax rate of $1.10 per $1,000 of assessed value is the equivalent of $18.72 per $1,000 of assessed value in today's dollars. This amount is $2.11 more than the 2020 proposed Scarsdale tax rate of $16.51 per $1,000 of assessed value in the District's initially proposed school budget, which the Board now proposes to cut by some $3.6 million. The $1,150,000.00 bond that Scarsdale voters approved in 1931 to expand school facilities is the equivalent of $19,571,032.89 in today's dollars.]

Comments from Claudine Gecel

Claudine Gecel, A Chartered Financial Analyst, lives at 10 Kent Road, and spoke at the online BOE Meeting. These are a few of the points she made:

1.) Concerning the potential items for savings, it is probably not a good idea to pre-pay the Computer Lease. In a difficult financial environment, every institution and every household in the US will be conserving cash. Our School District should be doing the same. And while the US Federal Reserve is flooding the system with liquidity, all the large banks are asking their corporate clients not to draw down on their credit lines - unless absolutely necessary. Most of us have seen the classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”. We all can’t take out money from the bank at the exact same time, and we should just continue to pay the lease, as usual. That will continue to establish Scarsdale Schools as an excellent credit, who pays bills even during a difficult financial time. And that ability to continually pay bills during all economic cycles is one reason why Scarsdale Schools maintains a Triple A Credit Rating.

2.) Concerning the maintenance of Financial Reserves, it is also probably not a good idea to immediately start dipping into any of the District’s Reserves. Financial Reserves are set up specifically for emergency situations. And in highly leveraged institutions, the reserves are set up because the institution is operating at a higher financial risk than comparable peers. Our School District has recovered nicely from the Real Estate and Banking Financial Downturn that we all experienced beginning in 2008. As a District, we have been working very hard to build up the Financial Reserves that we do have. And the reality is that those Reserves could be a bit bigger, and they wouldn’t be hurting anybody. Nevertheless, the School District is not presently in a Financial Emergency. Let us all try to remember what it was like in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, etc. It was painful to manage the School Budget during those years. There were clearly insufficient Reserves existing at that time. This time we have higher Reserve Levels, and we should keep them that way, until we actually experience a major financial emergency. These Reserve Levels are another reason why we maintain that Triple A Credit Rating.

3.) Concerning the maintenance of the Triple A Credit Rating, it is probably not a good idea for the District to become a slave to that Rating. As anyone who invests knows, there are very few institutions in the ENTIRE WORLD that maintain a Triple A Rating!!!! Yes, the entire world!!! So we all need to give ourselves a pat on the back, shake each other’s hands (when the virus is over) and bask in the glory of a Triple A Rating. Once we are done doing that, we need to move on, and manage the School District in a way that is Financially Responsible. What that might mean is that if we are confronted with a Financial Emergency, we can either raise the tax levy or dip into the appropriate Reserve. If we are in a Financial Emergency, it will obviously be very difficult to replenish the reserve for an entire economic cycle. The rating agencies understand this cyclical process. In the meantime, the Ratings Agencies will become very busy downgrading highly leveraged entities of all stripes. If they do end up downgrading Scarsdale School District because we draw down reserves, we will still be rated higher than the MANY institutions on this entire earth.

4.) Concerning each household’s payment of a 1Plus Percent increase in the tax levy, it is probably a good idea to make that concept a bit more relatable to each individual homeowner. When we are all feeling financially flush, we don’t manage our finances down to the penny. That is natural. When we feel that we might have to tighten our belt, all of a sudden we are scrutinizing each and every request that we receive for our precious funds. (Go back to Point Number 1, concerning the conservation of cash). So if we do need to ask homeowners to increase their school tax payment by 1Plus Percent, maybe it might be MORE HELPFUL to actually explain what that means. I am suggesting a LARGE, ONE PAGE CHART. On that Chart, the District would list several popular House Prices. A Suggestion: is $1 Million, $1.5Million, $2 Million, $2.5 Million and $3 Million. A very quick and dirty estimate is that those theoretical home values would encompass roughly 70-75% of the roughly 5000 Plus single family homes. Each home value could be listed on the one page chart, and right next to it would be a calculation of the exact tax increase the homeowner is expected to pay if the taxes are to be raised by 1Plus percent. If the potential tax increases are listed by home value, residents could see what sort of cash outlay they are being asked to make, and we could all see that the amount requested is in the hundreds of dollars. People who are busy and tired are not going to whip out their calculator and figure out “basis points”. And unless you are employed by a Financial Institution in a Financial Role, you will not even know what a Basis Point is!!!

Thanks for taking the time to consider these comments, and thanks for all the hard work which has already gone into revising the District Budget. It seems like we do run a bit of a tight ship, and yet there is always room for improvement!!

WP2This letter was sent to us by Dara Gruenberg and Scott Kleinman Co-Chairs of the White Plains Hospital COVID-19 Relief Campaign
Dear Scarsdale Friends: A little more than four weeks ago our lives were forever altered by the confirmation of the first case of COVID-19 in Westchester County. Since then, our beloved White Plains Hospital has been transformed, operating at a capacity we never thought imaginable as we do everything possible to fight this invisible enemy.WP1

Our doctors, nurses, and staff are on the front lines, risking their lives every day, and exhibiting an unforgettable display of selflessness, dedication, and compassion in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We need your help now more than ever as the number of cases continues to climb.

Please consider making a tax deductible contribution to support our efforts. Below are some of our specific needs (of which we need multiples of everything), which your generous gift will help support:

$250,000 – ICU expansion to outfit additional units for critical patients (per ICU unit)
$50,000 – Improvements to Emergency Department Testing and Screening
$25,000 – Mobile Testing Facility
$20,000 – Glidescope (for intubation)
$12,000 – Daily cost for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
$10,000 – Disinfectant products
$6,000 – Enovate Workstation on Wheels (WOW)
$3,000 – TytoPro Telehealth Device, enabling remote physician care capabilities
$2,700 – Spot Vital Signs Monitor, measuring pulse oximetry, blood pressure, and temp
$1,000 – ASCOM Phone and Charger for wireless on-site communication
$160 – IV Pole
$50 – No Touch Thermometer

If you have already supported the Hospital’s COVID-19 Relief fund, thank you. The impact of your generosity is profound. For those who would like to contribute, you can support the COVID-19 Relief Fund by following this link. If you would like more information or details on how to make a wire transfer, please contact the Foundation Office and Megan McMullen at (914) 681-2261 or mmcmullen@wphospital.org.WP3

Thank you again for your support of our Hospital. Any amount makes a difference, and is so appreciated.

Sincerely,

Dara Gruenberg & Scott Kleinman
COVID-19 Relief Campaign, Co-Chairs
White Plains Hospital Foundation Board Members

primemeats1Financier Jon Solodar made a prescient career change is happy he did!At least a few local businesses are thriving during the outbreak. Those providing products deemed “essential” by the state are in high demand in these unusual times. Scarsdale resident Jon Solodar made a risky career change in December, moving from finance to one of these essential businesses, food, and now finds he made the right move.

Here’s the story: After a long career on Wall Street as an equity sales trader, Jon Solodar had an epiphany... he was due for a change. The long hours, stress, and commoditization of the sales trading industry became unsustainable and he decided change was inevitable. "Making a career shift at this stage in life wasn’t easy. I spent a long time looking for the right opportunity with the help of my close friends,” Solodar said. His search finally paid off with the discovery of a high-end butcher in Armonk called Village Prime Meats (VPM). "The food was off the charts. I probably went to the butcher every other week for years,” Solodar said. The quality of the meats and special marinades they have perfected over two decades are what drew Solodar to the business, but he also saw the talent behind it. Recognizing the dedication and knowledge of junior butcher John Rubio, Solodar planted the seeds for a potential partnership. "I needed to be a part of this. I told Rubio that if the senior partner ever wanted to retire, I would be thrilled to partner with him.”

In December 2019, Solodar and Rubio officially partnered and bought Village Prime Meats. Rubio, who has more than 18 years of experience as a professional butcher, took the role of senior butcher and oversees day-to-day operations. Solodar, with his financial and sales background, runs the financial side of the business as well as business development. As partners, Solodar and Rubio are on a mission to make VPM not only the best butcher in Westchester, but in all of New York.

Village Prime Meats was established in 1986 and has won "Best of Westchester” top butcher awards. Solodar said, "We are not messing around with our 100% Prime USDA Meats, Bell & Evan chickens, and our famous marinades. Customers love the fact that they can take home a complete meal with quality meat that has been marinating and is ready to grill, sear, or sauté at home. They love the easy, delicious results.”

The new partners have already made some changes and upgrades to the store. Solodar’s favorite part of his new role is building relationships with customers. “We are listening to our loyal customers about what they would like to see in the store." VPM has added healthy new dishes (like healthy chicken salad), several gluten free and organic options, and other high-end products that complement the meats and poultry. "We have expanded the gourmet prepared foods section that has been a big success and added a specialty sandwich board highlighting our new commitment to our deli section.”

Since most are now homebound given restrictions due to the virus, Solodar finds that their shop’s meats and prepared foods are highly valued. He reports that, “People are buying a lot of steaks and chicken. The most popular steaks being Skirt, Filet, Strip, Shell. The marinated chicken and steaks freeze well along with our homemade soups. Two thirds of our foods are for everyday consumption.

What else? Solodar says, “Our meatballs (beef, chicken and turkey) are very popular as are our signature salads from our deli section. Fan favorites are our Bell and Evans fried chicken and rotisserie chickens that sell out daily. People come in and buy 20 burgers at a time as you probably won’t find a better burger. The lamb and veal chops are very popular as our turkey and beef meat loaves.” Also in demand are our chicken and beef stir fries. People buy these by the quart and its very convenient for them to go home and cook for ten minutes or so on the stove. Our marinade is so popular that we are thinking about ways to sell it outside of the store.”

Solodar says, “With restaurants closed, schools closed and kids home from college, people are doing more cooking than ever.”

The store is only 12 minutes from Scarsdale and is open six days per week. Meats can be freezer wrapped and dated. Solodar says their supply is plentiful and there is no need for panic purchasing. The store is small so there are never more than a few people inside at a time. Those who are concerned about coming inside can call and order beforehand and their food will be brought to the curb.

Village Prime Meats
475 Main Street
Armonk, NY
(914) 273-5222
villageprimemeats.net

Photos by Jon Thaler

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