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freightwayAfter negotiations to build a transit-oriented development on the Freightway site reached an impasse earlier in the year, the Village was left with a deteriorating parking garage and the need to foot the bill for yearly maintenance and long-term repairs. Then the COVID crisis hit and the garage was abandoned by commuters and parking revenues for the Village virtually dried up.

Eleven months later, the Village still faces the same problems. Should we continue to invest in the preservation of the garage or build something new on the property?

Built in 1973, the 48-year-old structure requires yearly repair and maintenance in order to keep each parking level safe and functional for town residents. In 2002, the Village of Scarsdale invested over $1.5 million in the garage for necessary restoration and upkeep work. Since then, the town authorized various smaller scale financings for Freightway, including $88,000 in 2005 for security camera installations, $33,000 in 2016 for repairs to the top deck level, $100,000 in 2018 for drainage and brickwork, and $100,000 in 2019 for concrete repairs.

As we close out 2020, the Village of Scarsdale must make critical decisions on what the future of the Freightway Garage will look like. The Village Trustees are split on the matter, with some advocating for a pause on spending, some pushing for continuing yearly maintenance repairs, and others hoping to develop the property into something else entirely.

In 2018, seven development firms presented their preliminary visions for the future of the site. These plans included various combinations of improvements, with some creating residential units, increasing parking capacity, building retail and office spaces, and adding pedestrian bridges and plazas. These models generated enthusiasm from some who visualized the property as a key to revitalizing the downtown and bringing new residents to town. However others feared the impact on school enrollment numbers, additional traffic and the effect on the existing Garth Road retailers who would be impacted by a multi-year construction project.

After considerable dissent, in January 2020, these development plans were put on hold while the Village of Scarsdale weighed its options on how to proceed with the garage and the 2 acre site. 

On Tuesday December 7, the Scarsdale Village Board of Trustees held a meeting to discuss the future of Freightway Parking Garage via Zoom video conferencing. Attending the meeting was Jack Caliendo, a Senior Associate from Desman Associates, a firm hired to provide consulting engineering services and perform a condition assessment of the garage. Mr. Caliendo presented the Board of Trustees with a Condition Survey Report that can be found here.

The survey concluded that the garage is in “fair to poor physical condition... (with) cracks on the structural slab freightway1and traffic membrane observed throughout the parking garage.” Additionally, the firm reported that “the cracks and the failed caulk joints have permitted seepage of moisture into the concrete slab initiating corrosion of the embedded reinforcement and metal deck soffit” which then resulted in “deterioration of the supported concrete floors.” The report goes on to detail where the garage faces leeks, steel corrosion, clogged drains, and other maintenance and structural issues.

Mr. Caliendo estimated that the garage could last another 20-25 years if properly maintained. If the upkeep does not remain current, he anticipated only 10 years of future use. To plan for the future of the site, Desman Associates developed a course of action for the next 25 years that would cost an estimated $8 million. The first five years would focus on the most pressing structural fixes, waterproofing work, and drainage repairs. In later years, the firm budgets for necessary guard replacements, paintwork, and lighting and exterior improvements.

After Mr. Caliendo presented his findings and 25-year maintenance plan, several trustees expressed concerns about the cost of the project. Trustee Jonathan Lewis said that in light of Scarsdale’s current revenue challenges, he believes that the board’s efforts should be focused on establishing the budget for the next fiscal year. Trustee Lena Crandall echoed this sentiment and highlighted that “there are too many unknowns right now” amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. She suggested enlisting the Scarsdale Forum or the Scarsdale League of Women Voters to engage the community and suggest ideas for future uses of the garage.

freightway2.jpgTrustee Randall Whitestone endorsed this idea and emphasized that because we are still in the middle of the pandemic and a period of economic uncertainty, he does not think the town has the capacity to make any concrete decisions regarding the future of Freightway.

Mayor Samwick made one last attempt to restart the development process but was not able to convince others on the board. He said, “I agree with what has been said – but the potential for the Freightway site is an economic decision. Do we want to spend money on repairs – or do we want to look for a revenue opportunity?... We now have $2.4 million in revenue shortfalls in the present year and there will be shortfalls in the coming year. … There were concerns about the size and scope of previous proposals. If we don’t need that large a garage, this could have a positive effect on the Village. Let’s see if we can engage with the community. This is a fiscal discussion. What’s the harm of having some focus groups?

Justin Arest said, "Finding the best value for that site is important. This benefit would not come from many years – we need to discuss our situation now. I am concerned that we’re having these discussions when we don’t have the time for other serious discussions."

Looking at the future, Trustees wondered if work and commuting habits may have been permanently changed by the pandemic and asked whether a garage of this size would ever be fully occupied again. They discussed the need to generate revenue and ideas for alternate uses for the garage such as installing solar panels on the roof for a solar energy farm or renting out a few levels to a car rental company or an auto dealership. They agreed that more work was needed but that the Village budget, not the garage, was a priority at this time.

In conclusion, the Village of Scarsdale is currently stuck with an ailing garage and has no plans to move forward with either developing the site or investing in the necessary maintenance work. While the future remains uncertain, for the time being, the Freightway Parking Garage will stand unchanged.

ScentLibraryThe scent library at ScentfluenceWith so many of us spending more time than ever at home, we’re embarking on home improvement projects, converting play spaces to workspaces and reconfiguring outdoor areas for year-round alfresco entertaining. However, there’s one element of your home environment that you may have overlooked. How does your home smell? When you enter are you greeted with the scent of a fresh bouquet or the stale odor of last night’s dinner?

That’s where Scent Fluence can help. In an age when many retailers are closing their doors, Scarsdale resident Caroline Fabrigas has taken a bold step, opening a unique aroma boutique on Harwood Court in Scarsdale Village. The store provides curated home scents and an array of atomizers to disperse these tantalizing aromas throughout your house.

Step into the store of a tour of their scent library where you can catch a whiff of a wide variety of fragrances from florals like Gardenia, Pure Rose and Bergamont to naturals like citrus, woody and ginger. Fabrigas explains that in her house they diffuse some Eucalyptus and another scent called “Full of Energy” to wake up kids who get sleepy after many hours on Zoom. For the holidays there’s Apple Pie, Berry Tart, Candy Cane, Cognac, Ginger Bread and Pumpkin Spice.AtomizersBattery operated diffusers are available in many colors.

Fabrigas reports that some customers are purchasing multiple scents and diffusers for different areas of their homes.

There are many scents to choose from and Fabrigas is also happy to curate a mix for you, based on what you find appealing. To diffuse the scents, there are atomizers in all price ranges, from a small battery operated device priced at $35 to more complex devices in all price ranges. There’s even a small diffuser that you can plug into the USB port of your car or home computer.

scent2Scented hand sanitizerThe scents and diffusers are unique holiday gifts and Fabrigas is offering grab and go gifts for the holidays. For as little as $50 you can have a unique gift for anyone on your holiday list.

Fabrigas has spent a lifetime in the beauty and fragrance industry and inherited this business when her husband suddenly passed away. She explained, “For the past eight years, I've been the CEO of Scent Marketing Inc., which I inherited after the sad loss of my late husband and Scent Marketing Pioneer, Harald H. Vogt. Scent Marketing Inc. is a full-service Scent and Sensory Marketing company that has become the trusted resource for Fortune 500 global brands such as Baccarat Hotel & Residences, 1 Hotel, Auberge Resorts Collection, Hyatt, Neiman Marcus, The North Face, Campari Brands and Citizen watches to name a few.”

Now she is offering these scents to customers to use at home in her first ScentFluence Aroma Design Studio.

Stop by Scentfluence at 22 Harwood Court in Scarsdale Village to tour their scent library. It’s a breath of fresh air.

Scent Fluence
22 Harwood Court
Scarsdale, NY 10583

SBAHoliday2020The Scarsdale Business Alliance (SBA) is thrilled to announce its Holiday Shop & Dine the ‘Dale initiative, which will take place from November 1st through December 31st. Join fellow community members this holiday season and celebrate our independent and local businesses. By choosing to shop and dine locally, you are investing in our neighborhood and strengthening our community.

This year more than ever, Scarsdale brick and mortar businesses need your support. As sales and dining decreased due to the lockdown, merchant spending has increased in order to meet new safety regulations. Our merchants have invested in helping to keep us safe. In return, we should help them keep their businesses viable.

As a core part of its Holiday Shop & Dine the ‘Dale campaign, the SBA will be selling raffle tickets, with chances to win gift cards and items from Scarsdale’s favorite merchants. Raffle tickets are available for purchase for $10 each, with a package of 6 for $50 ( Weekly drawings for winners will take place throughout the month of December. Proceeds from the raffle sale will support the Scarsdale Business Alliance and all of its members

The SBA is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the Village of Scarsdale and its local businesses. Like all other businesses, the SBA suffered financially this year as well. Many merchant members were unable to pay their annual dues, and free provisional memberships were given to all 10583 businesses in order for the SBA to offer its assistance and services to its local businesses. In addition, the Scarsdale Music Festival, the SBA’s largest fundraising event, was unable to be held.

This spring and summer, the SBA, in collaboration with the Village Board and staff, worked diligently to reimagine outdoor usage of space to support its local businesses. Codes were amended to allow sidewalk usage for the display and sale of wares, and sidewalk cafe footprints were expanded to allow for safe outdoor dining. The Dine the ‘Dale tent area has been a huge success in the downtown Village center. The SBA is grateful to its donors, both local property owners and corporate sponsors, whose generosity has helped to create a safe venue for community members to dine and socialize. Key sponsors include presenting sponsor, Scarsdale Improvement Corp., and Platinum Sponsors, Advocate Brokerage Corp., Chubb, Houlihan Lawrence, Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty, Spencer East Realty and White Plains Hospital.

“The Scarsdale Business Alliance has been integral in finding ways to support our local merchants during this unprecedented time,” said Deputy Mayor Justin Arest. “It is more important than ever to shop and dine locally. Entering the holiday season, let’s make sure that we continue to support the SBA and our retail community.”

Please consider supporting the SBA with your purchase of raffle tickets. Proceeds from the raffle sale will support the Scarsdale Business Alliance and all of its members. 


yessignBerg lost his challenge to allow the posting of signs in the Village right of way.The court has ruled on Robert Berg’s claims challenging the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Scarsdale Village Code and alleging that Scarsdale Village denied him his First Amendment rights in connection with the enforcement of that local law barring the placement of signage in the Village right of way and the removal of signs from Village-owned property. In general, In Scarsdale, the Village right of way is 13 feet on either side of a paved road, or the first 13 feet from the curb.

In a decision filed on November 12, 2020, Nelson S. Roman, a judge for the Southern District of New York ruled in favor of the Village of Scarsdale finding that the Village code, on its face, is constitutional both under the Fourteenth Amendment (because it gives sufficient notice to Scarsdale residents about what “acts” are prohibited) and under the First Amendment (because it is “content neutral” and narrowly tailored to serve significant government interests ).

However, the court did grant Berg summary judgment on his claim that the Village violated his First Amendment rights by “selectively enforcing the signposting law against political speech relative to other forms of speech.” In other words, before 2018, the Village did permit the posting of political signs around the Village in the weeks before an election but barred any commercial signage. The court found that, if the Village enforces its code, it must be done uniformly for all types of signage.

The dispute dates back to January 2018 when voters were considering a $64.8 million school bond referendum. Berg and his supporters placed “Vote Yes” signs in the Village right of way in front of their homes and in other public places around the Village.

When police removed the signs, Berg sought clarification about the law and was told by the Village Attorney that it was “unlawful for anyone to place sign or advertisement on Village property without permission or authority. However residents can place signs on their property in the portion that is not owned by the Village.”

On February 6, 2018, Berg applied for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order to prevent the Village from removing any signs so long as they posted no traffic hazards and he was granted the injunction by the court.

Since February 2018 Scarsdale Police have complied with that injunction and political and commercial signage has been permitted on Village-owned land throughout Scarsdale.

The disputed Village code reads as follows:

“No person other than a duly authorized official or employee of the village shall post, attach or display any sign, notice, placard, poster or other advertising medium to or upon or over any sidewalk, tree, stone, fence, wall, pole, railing of other object in, along, upon or over any street, park or other public place in the village.”

At the time, in response to the injunction, a new provision was added to the Village code that required those who wish to post signs in the Village right of way to apply to the Village Engineer who was required to make a decision on the application within three business days.

Testimony from Village officials shows that the code was rarely enforced. It says, “For at least the past ten years, the Village has allowed for election signs to be posted on the grass area of the Village right of way for a period of time before the date of any election. If a complaint were received the Village would ask that the sign be moved from the right-of-way to one’s property.”

In January 2018 in response to complaints about political signs in the right of way, the Police told the Deputy Village Manager that they were going to collect all signs in the Village right of way in order to be consistent. Berg then applied for a restraining order and when he won it, the Village responded and ordered the police to cease from removing any signs in the Village Right of Way.

Here is a summary of Berg’s case:

Bergs first set of claims were that the provision was “impermissibly vague” and, thus, violated the due process requirement of the Fourteenth Amendment. Berg argued that:

-It did not state the Village right of way was approximately 13 feet from the curb.

-Since the code regarding signs was in a chapter of the code called “Littering and Handbills” that it was only intended to prevent litter, especially from handbills, i.e. not signs.

-It failed to define the words “obstruct’ or “obstruction.”

-The provision is vague because the Village never issued a permit to place a temporary political sign in the Village right of way.

-The provision fails to provide enforcement standards by which the Village Engineer is to evaluate the applications.

The court rejected all of these arguments and found that the provision was not vague and gave fair notice to “persons of ordinary intelligence” of what “behavior or acts” the Village was prohibiting.

First Amendment

The court then turned to the question of whether the Village code violated the First Amendment. Here is what they concluded.

-The court found that the Village code is “content neutral” because the provisions apply to all signs and obstructions without reference to their content or viewpoint.

-The court found that “some regulation of signage is permissible,” if it “is related to esthetic concerns which many courts have found to constitute a significant government interest.” In addition, the code “is intended to advance pedestrian and traffic safety which is in itself a substantial interest.”

-Finally, they found that the Village’s sign regulation clearly leaves ample opportunities for protected speech where it regulates the posting of signs only in public places and not on private property.”

For those reasons, the Court found that the challenged sections of the Village Code do not, on their face, violate the First Amendment.

Finally, the Court turned to Berg’s argument that the “discriminatory enforcement” of the Code violated his First Amendment rights. The court found that, until 2017, the Village did permit political signs to be placed around the Village – but did not permit commercial signage. They said that this extended “preferential treatment” toward political signs and discriminated against other kinds of signs. Any distinction between types of speech would be unconstitutional, but “content neutral” enforcement is permitted because it enforces the sign posting laws without consideration of content.

The court vacated the temporary restraining order that allowed the posting of signs in the Village right of way. The ruling says, “the Village is free to enforce the proscription against the posting of signs on public property, including the Village rights of way, as to all types of signs or as to none of them but it cannot selectively enforce based on whether a sign contains political, commercial or another type of speech.”

Commenting on the decision, Scarsdale Village Manager Steve Pappalardo said, "The Village is pleased that the Court agreed that the Village Code provisions were constitutional and enforceable. We’ll need to review the decision closely and further discuss the operational and legislative decisions amongst the administration, Village Board and legal counsel."

So, what’s the message for Village residents? If you have signs of any kind in the 13 feet in front of your house, move them or lose them!

images(Update October 20) In a second incident in just one week, the Scarsdale School district ran into another COVID challenge on Saturday October 17. After students took the PSAT test at Scarsdale High School, an individual who had been in the room with 80 students in the cafeteria, received a positive diagnosis for COVID-19.

According to the email from the district, “The individual was asymptomatic during the test but noticed a loss of taste/smell while eating lunch after the exam. The person immediately went for testing and then contacted the District with this information.” It was later revealed that the COVID positive individual was a proctor or a person administering the test.

Though students were placed six feet apart and wore masks during the exam, the positive diagnosis required for contact tracing to be done. The Westchester County Department of Health said that the students and staff who were in the cafeteria will need to quarantine for 14 days. However, siblings of these students will not be required to quarantine.

The email from the school district says, “The Department of Health believes the risk for transmission is low due to the safeguards that were put into place but issued the quarantine to ensure there is no further infection from this gathering. The approximately 80 students and staff members who need to quarantine will be contacted directly by the Department of Health over the next 24-48 hours. Additionally, the High School staff will also be contacting all affected students/families.”

The schools custodial team cleaned all affected areas in compliance with the district’s restart protocols and CDC guidance.

School will re-open as scheduled on Monday.

We asked Assistant Superintendent Eric Rauschenbach for more information and here is what he shared.

“Once we were informed of the test result we immediately contacted the Department of Health. On the weekends there is a hotline and you leave a message. In the meantime, the District interviewed the individual and immediately gathered contacts for all of the students and staff that could have come in contact. The DOH contacted us shortly thereafter and we discussed the particulars of the situation and where there could have been exposure. The DOH collected contact information for students and staff so they could follow-up and confirmed they would place all students and staff in the cafeteria during testing on quarantine.”

We wondered if they were investigating where the exposed student may have contracted the virus and contacting whoever else may have been exposed? Rauschenbach said, “The individual was not in the buildings for 2 weeks prior to the test administration so there was no chance of in-school exposure prior to yesterday. The school's role was limited to providing information about yesterday. The Department of Health also interviewed the individual and will be following up on all non-school related contacts and public health concerns as per their procedures.”

How will the 80 quarantined students keep up with their work? Rauschenback said, “They will attend their classes virtually similarly to the way virtual-only students do.

And will they need to be tested before they can return? Rauschenbach answered, “The DOH requires a 14 day quarantine regardless of testing results. If a person completes the 14 day quarantine symptom free they may return to normal life (including school). We encourage families to contact their primary care providers to discuss testing and follow their recommendations. If a person becomes symptomatic during the 14 days they should immediately contact their doctor and follow their advice for testing and follow up.”

SHS Junior Sydney Piccoli interviewed some of the students who took the PSAT in the cafeteria on Saturday October 17 and here are their comments:

Shamolie Panjwani ’22:
Finding out about the COVID case at the PSAT, I was shocked. I was sitting with my mom when she had heard that where a case in the cafeteria and immediately went up to my room and called my friends to find out more information. I had always thought that if I were to be quarantined or get COVID it would be at school, not something I voluntarily went to. My first thoughts were whether I had contracted COVID and if I had spread it to my parents. While I wasn’t as scared about getting COVID myself, I was worried about my parents getting the virus. While I know that going to school, hanging out with friends, and daily activities are all a risk, I felt that this case was a wake up call for many in realizing that COVID is still prevalent within Scarsdale. In terms of my school schedule, I’ll be zooming into classes in the morning in addition to the start of cross-cohort streaming. Because many clubs and extra-curriculars are happening on zoom, quarantine doesn’t affect my schedule too much, apart from hanging out with friends and family.

Charlotte Davis ’22:
I’m glad that the school was so quick to respond to the issue so that it hopefully won’t continue to spread, but I’m personally kind of irritated that I have to spend two weeks locked in my room when I have been following all the protocols and such. I have to be fully online for the next two weeks which I am not excited about because of the added screen time when cross streaming is on the horizon as well. I am also annoying because I’ve had to cancel some of my upcoming plans with family and friends.

Samuel Drescher ‘22
I think it’s really unfortunate but not entirely surprising. The event definitely could have been regulated better. The seats were not assigned and the school did not keep track of who sat where so as to best inform people if they were close to patient 0. The lines in front of the school to check people in were unregulated and crowded, so there was much more room to be exposed than was necessary. It’s ultimately understandable that this happened, but I believe the effects of this exposure could have been mitigated.

Being in quarantine definitely throws a wrench in things. I’m now all virtual, which comes with its own consequences because I have to be on zoom all day. I believe this will have negative effects on my education and my mental health. Before quarantine, I was participating in cross country, but now that I cannot go to practices or meets for two weeks, I may not be able to have a significant season. Also, I will be unable to go on runs and exercise in public, which will probably make it harder to keep up with my physical health.

I was definitely shocked when I found out I had to quarantine. At first I was very concerned for at-risk people in my house, and in case I have the virus, I have to be very careful. This feeling quickly involved into panic as all of the sudden my life felt very out of control, and I know that the next thirteen days are going to be a big challenge. However, I’m optimistic that I will be able to keep up with all of my responsibilities and come out of this having undergone a tough experience.

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