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Scarsdale Train StationThe MTA will install a new elevator at the Scarsdale Train StationThe Board of Trustee Business Meeting on July 13th marked a major step in the return to normalcy as the Board held its first in-person meeting in Village Hall since the beginning of the pandemic. This meeting was also the first led by interim Village Manager Rob Cole, who will fill in for retired Village Manager Steve Pappalardo until his replacement is hired.

During his announcements, Cole announced that smoke testing will be conducted in various areas of Scarsdale over the summer and that during the tests, smoke may be discharged from building foundations, sewer cleanings, and may seep from the ground. If the smoke is entering a resident's home, this likely means there are other unsafe gases are entering the premises and posing health risks. Any resident in a potentially affected area will receive direct notification from the village about the dates the tests are being conducted. Residents will also receive instructions on how to report any smoke detected in their home. Cole emphasized that the smoke is non-toxic and non-staining and that the tests will ensure that the village is up-to-code.

During Mayor’s comments, Mayor Jane Veron touched on a variety of topics including her excitement over the town’s first in-person meeting and an update on the status of the village manager search. After receiving 56 applications, the village narrowed the field to 14 qualified applicants for village manager and conducted extensive interviews for the Village Manager position over two days. Finalist interviews will be held in late July.

Proposed Changes to Building Code

Mayor Veron also addressed the local zoning law that was taken up during a public hearing later in the evening. Below is an excerpt from her statement:

"In just a few moments we will open a public hearing on the proposed changes to land-use code. To offer context, over 15 years ago, a SNAP subcommittee along with other community groups, land use boards, and village representatives developed draft FAR legislation to address complaints about bulky houses and the risk to neighborhood character. Ultimately, these efforts led to the FAR code change. Over time, many residents have called for stricter requirements and have asked that the Village reexamine the FAR legislation yet again and consider other regulatory tools. This issue is never easy as we regularly struggle to find the right balance between individual property rights and public good. We also know that Scarsdale's charm is its diversity of neighborhoods and finding a solution that is good for all can be complex. Pre pandemic, Land Use Board Chairs formed a working group to examine multiple reports and recommendations made over many years that they felt would have helped Scarsdale move closer to the collective desired outcome. The Village Board referred this working group's proposal to the Planning Board in early 2021, and the Planning Board deliberated for many months and made the recommendation to the Village Board that is on the agenda this evening. We look forward to the public hearing. We will listen and absorb, and we will not vote on the matter this evening. I expect that this item will be back on the agenda in early August.”

Next, the Board opened the public hearing to amend a local zoning law. The proposed law will amend existing legislation by:

• Reducing the maximum permitted roof height from 35 feet to 32 feet;
• Reducing the FAR side yard setback bonus by 30%;
• Eliminating the requirement that any home addition must be to the read of the home in order to utilize the side year FAR bonus;
• Clarifying the Village Code to specify that the FAR garage credit applies to the square footage of the floor level of the garage where cars are parked, excluding space on upper floors;
• And requiring Planning Board Sit Plan approval for single-family residential projects involving more than 15,000 square feet of gross floor area, eliminating review through a Special Use Permit from the Board of Appeals.

Only one resident, Brian Nottage, spoke during this public hearing. Mr. Bottage said, "to me, it strikes me that this law is targeting something specific (overbuilding homes) by doing something very general. If the issue is that new homes are too big, the law should address this specifically." He also commented that "these rules are impossible for any citizen to understand. I have no real concept of what these rules do… it would probably be a problem for my house. I would like to see something more targeted." Mr. Nottage also spoke about his concern that the amendment would penalize existing homeowners and encourage more teardowns in neighborhoods.

Trustee Arest also raised his concern that in the amendment, the term "bulk" is subjective and that the vague nature of how parts of the amendment are written will force a future Board to reevaluate the matter in a few years. Trustee Arest questioned the wisdom of the Board's incremental approach but also stated that he currently has no plans to vote against the legislation. Trustee Whitestone added that the law "seems to balance interests of homeowners and developers pretty well… I feel there is targeting and specificity to the recommendations… it is not ideal to go back (to reevaluate) three years from now, but balancing all these considerations it makes sense to consider what we have before us." Trustee Lewis affirmed Trustee Whitestone's position.

New Elevator and Heated Canopy at Scarsdale Metro North Station

The last significant agenda item of the meeting was the passing of four resolutions. The first, presented by Trustee Arest, was a resolution to authorize the execution of an easement agreement for the Metro-North Scarsdale Station Project. Metro-North submitted renderings of what the project will look like – see figures 1 and 2. This project is subject to an RFP, so the below drawings of the station improvements are not exact, but rather an estimation of what the work will look like. This is a two-phase project; the first phase will be installing a new elevator (see figure 1) and relocating the motorcycle and scooter parking to meet ADA compliance. Phase two will feature the installation of a canopy, a heated platform, and other amenities. Before voting unanimously to pass the resolution, Trustee Whitestone commented that Metro-North has "a bad track record of designing facilities updates with commuters in mind." He stated that the last improvements were done without sincere regard for how residents actually used the facilities and that the Board needs to "keep a close eye on" how the project develops.

Appointment to Library Board

Trustee Brew led the next resolution, where the Board voted to approve the appointment of Robert Jeremiah to the Scarsdale Library Board. Jeremiah will finish the five-year term of Deb Morell who submitted her resignation earlier this year after moving out of Scarsdale.

Transportation

Next, Trustee Lewis presided over the resolution to executive an inter-municipal agreement with Westchester County for prisoner transportation services. He remarked that this agreement provides compensation to the village for these services and enhances public safety as well as improves police department work. The resolution passed unanimously.

Library Bench

Finally, Trustee Whitestone introduced the last resolution to accept a gift of a new library pond bench in memory of Scarsdale resident Dr. Tanya Dutta. Dr. Dutta was in her mid-40s and passed away in early June 2021 after a battle with cancer. She was a renowned cardiologist and a wonderful resident of Scarsdale. To honor Dr. Dutta’s lifelong passion for reading and learning, her family decided that the library pond was a fitting location for a bench in her honor. The board voted unanimously to approve the acceptance of this gift and agreed it was an appropriate way to honor the tragic loss of Dr. Dutta.

AurthurManor1Here is an Independence Day addresses from Scarsdale Village Trustees Jonathan Lewis delivered at the Arthur Manor Independence Day Celebration:

With common struggle, with shared challenge, comes a common understanding, On this July 4th, it is inevitable we talk about our shared hopes to declare independence from the pandemic around us. Yet, though this topic may be inevitable, as is the inevitable fact that each day we eat, breathe and sleep, we hope a year from now, we are not preoccupied with the all consuming question, when will it be over? When will it finally be over?

Times like this, as our neighbor in New Rochelle Thomas Paine said, try mens souls. In 2021 he would have said, try all of our souls.

And this year has done exactly that. But as we reflect on this year, it is possible that before our very eyes we are developing a common understanding of the importance of government to do good things, of people to unite, of neighbors to realize we share a common responsibility to look after one another, to take care of one another, to think about one another.

Independence Day, in that context, may also mean we are confronting a moment in our national history where we have a chance to declare independence from aspects of our national story that have been harder to confront, to address, to solve, because they are so difficult.

America’s birth, its creation story and independence, has many chapters. One chapter in our creation story is the of the Mayflower and the Pilgrims who before landing signed the Mayflower compact, the first joint declaration of duties and responsibilities and freedoms. It was those conceptions about building communities based on the commitments we make to each other that is a cornerstone of our national greatness, not closing our borders, not thinking about how do I keep a larger slice of the pie than you keep. Building communities that are fair, where we work with each other, respect each other, and welcome each other, are the essence of Independence Day. It is why we fought to be free and why we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men and women are created equal. It is an ideal we aspire to, and it is a long time in coming.

The question before us today is not simply: are we declaring independence from this pandemic? The question before us today is: are we declaring independence from the bias, the prejudice, from the racism, the stereotypes, the inequities that have been exposed by the pandemic, that have been exposed by the cold statistics of who lived and who died, who had access to healthcare, and who did not, who was able to live safely at home, and who worked the front lines by choice and who had no choice. The statistics of life and death in the pandemic exposed fault lines in our society, and shined a bright light on questions of fairness that have been unresolved for years. Some of our ancestors came to America by choice, and some did not, and the inequities unleashed by that part of our creation story remain incompletely addressed and unresolved as well.

If we achieve a lasting scientific breakthrough that eradicates the virus, or eliminates its threat to the lives of those we love, surely that is a triumph. But if we accomplish that and don't accomplish eradicating the racism, the bias, the injustices, the differences and disparities between rich and poor, whites and blacks, haves and have nots, who lived and who dies, if we don't achieve THAT independence, will we have justly honored the memories of the 600,000 Americans who have died?

So let us join together on this day, to honor those who have fallen, by renewing our commitment to the unfulfilled ideals and aspirations of our nation, so everyone has an equal opportunity to pursue happiness. Let us commit ourselves not only defeating the virus, but also the diseases that have plagued our society from its birth, let us declare independence from our human failings, from prejudice based on skin color, race, or religion, from a failure to understand and support those with disabilities that we can see, and those whose disabilities we cannot see. WE the people must struggle for an independence from these human failings, our own failings, and to ensure that they are no longer national failings.

Scarsdale has always played its own rule in this struggle, in the way we debate each other to be better, to rise above our own limitations to set an example. We can see the promise of tomorrow in the community of neighbors here to day. And, even in the landmarks around us in our village. Scarsdale was a route on the underground railroad, we as a community know what is right and wrong and we take action. When we visit the graves that mark the unfortunate and tragic end of slaves who seeking freedom in Canada did not make it, and lay buried in the cemetery of St. James the Less, just a short walk from here, we must acknowledge the struggle that marked their lives is not over. Let us honor them too by renewing our commitment to independence from prejudice.

We see the promise of tomorrow in the eyes of the children here today, in the history of our villagers who fought for freedom and died in the revolution, and the wars the followed. And in the dedication of our neighbors who volunteered at the front lines of this pandemic because they believed in service and making our world better. Let’s honor Independence day, by recommitting our selves to that better America, open, welcoming, struggling to be better, the one we must all still fight for because it is not quite here yet. Thank you.

Jonathan Lewis

curejmThis letter was written by Scarsdale resident Nikki Hahn:

As many of you know, my daughter, Addie suffers from a rare and life-threatening disease called Juvenile Dermatomyositis. Since diagnosis 7 years ago, Addie has endured monthly 12-hour infusions, high doses of steroids, low dose chemotherapy medication, and a multitude of side effects that, unfortunately, accompany those treatments. Ironically - today is infusion day for Addie.

The pandemic had a negative impact on our fundraising so we need your help now more than ever - we have an opportunity to fund a clinical trial for a steroid replacement drug, Vamaorolone. It's a drug that acts as a steroid but without debilitating side effects. Please consider making a donation to make this research possible!

Cure JM is the only organization committed to funding research for better treatments and ultimately a cure for JM. We also provide family education, support, and advocacy. I am proud to be a member of the Board of Directors, Co-Chair of the Development Committee, and President of the National Foundation. It is an honor and a duty; I simply don’t want other kids to go through what hahnAddie HahnAddie has been through.

I hope you'll join us Friday at our home at 5 pm for a short walk to raise funds for a cure! Email me at nikki.a.hahn@gmail.com for the address.

Please help me fund more research so we can find a cure and give kids like Addie hope for a brighter future!

Donations can be made here:

A $25 donation gets you a piece of Cure JM swag!

edgewood1Edgewood School and the four other Scarsdale elementary schools all conducted warm and vibrant ceremonies marking the moving-up of their 2021 fifth grade classes.

There was a processional with Pomp and Circumstance playing. There were encouraging and thoughtful speeches as well as parents smiling and cheering in the audience.
edgewood2

At Edgewood the music portion was provided via a video that was found in the program with a QR code. The fifth graders had recorded a song they sang while playing their ukuleles. In addition, each class wrote customized lyrics that brought many to tears. Restrictions prevented singing at the ceremony.

Shortly thereafter, the children enjoyed ice cream and professional photos were taken of the children in their graduation t-shirts. It will always be a memorable day for all in attendance.

edgewood3edgewood4

SVAC5The Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps is providing extended hours PCR COVID-19 testing for kids heading to camp. This year, most camps are requiring a negative PCR test 72 hours in advance, even with proof of vaccination. SVAC provides convenient testing at its 5 Weaver Street headquarters, and results are received in approximately 15 minutes. Reservations can be made here.

SVAC acquired both rapid and PCR testing capabilities a few months ago as an alternative to the long lines that were forming at area urgent cares. Patients pull their car into a dedicated parking spot where they are met by an EMT. Without leaving the vehicle, they are swabbed, and their results provided while they wait.

“We have performed more than 400 tests in the last two months,” said David Raizen, SVAC’s President. “Originally, the State of New York provided us the test kits, but they have not replenished them and we must now procure them on our own at market value.”

In addition to individual appointments, SVAC has worked with Scarsdale Schools to provide private testing sessions for prom-bound kids and is offering rapid testing for unvaccinated individuals attending commencement.

“We are a community-based volunteer organization that is passionate about serving Scarsdale and the surrounding area in any way we can,” said Raizen. “We have highly trained personnel, we have modern equipment and facilities, and we have the supplies. It is the right thing to do.”

SVAC is transitioning from a model of being purely reactive to include proactive services as well. They ran vaccination clinics including at-home injections to homebound seniors. They are currently running four EMT classes, including an accelerated version for senior option students. And, they are once again offering CPR classes, a service they had suspended during COVID.

SVAC celebrated its 50th anniversary last year and runs four 911 ambulances and three fly cars through a combination of paid and volunteer personnel. As one of a handful of certified EMS training centers in the County, they provide all the training necessary for new volunteers. No prior experience is required except a desire to help your community. For more information about becoming a volunteer, donating, or taking a class, visit scarsdalevac.com.

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