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jillspielbergJill SpielbergJill F. Spielberg of Scarsdale has joined Abrams Fensterman as a partner and leader of the Matrimonial and Family Law Practice in their White Plains office. Spielberg has more than 13 years of experience in high-net worth matrimonial cases and high conflict custody litigation.

Prior to joining Abrams Fensterman, Ms. Spielberg was a partner at Harold, Salant, Strassfield & Spielberg where she focused exclusively on divorces, post and prenuptial agreements, child support and custody cases. Before that, she practiced at Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, one of the largest litigation law firms in the world. Ms. Spielberg earned her Juris Doctor from Brooklyn Law School in 2005 where she was a Carswell Scholar and a member and coach of the Moot Court Honor Society competition team.

Ms. Spielberg has been recognized as a Super Lawyer and was named as one of 40 Under 40 Rising Stars by the Business Council of Westchester. She was also selected as one of the top 10 Family Law Attorneys under 40 by the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys and the American Institute of Family Law Attorneys. Ms. Spielberg is also an active member of the Westchester community, serving as a Board Member and former Vice President of the Scarsdale Forum, the Chair of the Scarsdale Citizen’s Nominating Committee, as well as a Representative for Scarsdale C.H.I.L.D.

“I am thrilled to be bringing my clients from Westchester, Manhattan and surrounding counties to Abrams Fensterman, where I will continue to represent and support them, and others, through the legal process and emotional experience of matrimonial and family law matters,” said Spielberg. “The attorneys at Abrams Fensterman are some of the most talented I’ve worked with and it is an honor for me and my team to be able to join them.”

Following the enormous growth and success of the firm’s Lake Success, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Rochester offices, Abrams Fensterman tapped former Appellate Division Justice Robert A. Spolzino in 2019 to lead the development of the White Plains office. In January 2021, former Appellate Division Justice Jeffrey A. Cohen joined the firm in the White Plains office, along with two additional attorneys from the Appellate Division, rapidly establishing Abrams Fensterman’s presence in the region.

“It’s with great excitement that we share the news that Jill Spielberg is joining our firm as a partner,” said former Justice Robert A. Spolzino of Abrams Fensterman. “Working with our established matrimonial and family law attorneys, Jill and her team will bring Abrams Fensterman’s White Plains office to new heights as we continue to expand our team and practice areas.”

“Jill Spielberg is a zealous advocate for her clients and her extensive experience will be a tremendous asset in expanding our firm’s matrimonial and family law practice as well as our White Plains office,” said Howard Fensterman, Managing Partner at Abrams Fensterman.

Learn more about their practice areas at www.abramslaw.com.

cannibus 1080x675Spring is in the air and so is the smell of marijuana. After New York State legalized usage and possession of up to 3 ounces of pot, it seems to be everywhere. According to the new law, people ages 21 and up can:

-Possess, display, purchase, obtain, or transport up to 3 ounces of cannabis and up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis;

-Transfer, without compensation, to another person 21 or older, up to 3 ounces of cannabis and up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis;

-Use, smoke, ingest, or consume cannabis or concentrated cannabis unless otherwise prohibited by state law;

However, when it comes to selling cannabis, local authorities have the power to make their own regulations. The Village of Scarsdale can decide if, where and how dispensaries can be sited in the Village and needs to enact a law or opt out by December 31, 2021. If Scarsdale does decide to permit the sale of cannabis it could be a new revenue stream. The new law imposes a 4% local tax on the retail sale of cannabis which will be distributed to the county and the Village.

You can learn everything you need to know about the new law here

Village Trustees would like to hear your questions, comments and concerns that you think should be considered in an upcoming Village Board work session on the topic.  Please send your thoughts to: Trustee Lena Crandall (lcrandall@scarsdale.com) and Trustee Karen Brew (kbrew@scarsdale.com)

Marijuana was just one of the items under discussion at their second meeting as a new board, and work session conducted via Zoom on April 27, 2021.

Here are a more items of interest:

Village Board meetings will now begin at 7:30 pm.

Personnel

Village Manager Steve Pappalardo said that all Village employees will return to work at Village Hall on June 1. The Recreation Department is moving to Supply Field and their employees will return to work on May 1, 2021. He reported that the Village has lost a dozen employees this year. Many of those positions have been refilled, but some remain vacant. Trustee Ahuja pointed out that according to national business leaders employee retention will be challenging after the pandemic.

Camp

The Scarsdale Recreation Camp will be open this summer, operating within the guideline of state and county health departments.

Infrastructure Projectsscarsdalepool

The Village is working with Congressman Jamaal Bowman to see if any of our infrastructure projects are eligible for federal funding. Pappalardo outlined a big list of capital improvement projects that was sent to Bowman’s office:

Here’s the list of projects and the estimated cost:

-Drinking Water System Improvements needed to the Village’s underground water infrastructure: Cost :Up to $20 mm

-Sanitary Sewer Rehabilitation; Cost: Up to $4mm

-Traffic Safety Enhancement Projects: Cost: Up to $4mm

-Scarsdale Pool Complex Rehabilitation: Cost: $2.65mm

-Village Hall Council Chambers and Municipal Court Security Improvements: Up to $1.7mmneeds improvements – Cost: Up to $1.7 million

-Wayside Cottage Interior -Cost: Up to $525,000

-Water Meter Remote Reading Network Cost: $500,000

-Heathcote Road Bridge Rehabilitation: Cost: $1.7mm (Grant from NYS DOT received,)

-Hutchinson River Flood Mitigation: Cost: $6 - $10mm (Grant funding of $3.5 million secured)

-Middle School Comfort Station - $115,000 –Possible state grant for $120,000 to fund it.

See more details on these projects here:

Village Budget

The Board continued a hearing on the proposed 2020-21 Village Budget of $60,115,945 which will require a 2.99% tax increase translating to a $151.00 increase for the average homeowner in Scarsdale. When the first pass was done, the tax increase was projected to be 4.87%. The increase was reduced by cutting expenses and by using $2,850,000 in fund balance, most of which was set aside in a COVID reserve fund. The Village realized $1,025,000 in revenues from interest and penalties from late tax payments, some of which were the result of the Village’s new two-part payment system.

The Village expects to receive $1.9 million in federal funds in two tranches from the American Rescue Act which will help in the short term but does not solve the Village’s longer term shortfalls.

The Mayor, Village Manager and Trustees all noted that the utilization of this level of fund balance, over $1.5mm more than last year, is an unsustainable tactic to balance the budget in the future and leaves the Village without adequate funds to protect against unprojected expenses. However, they all voiced support for the budget.

Commenting on the budget, Deputy Mayor Justin Arest thanked everyone for their hard work, especially Village Manage Steve Pappalardo. This is Steve’s last budget as he is retiring this summer and Arest thanked him for his loyalty and dedication Arest noted that the budget process began early and cost cutting measures were enacted. A Covid reserve was set aside and we were “armed with relatively low debt levels.” He said with a new Village Treasurer, Village Assesor and Attorney, the Village has the opportunity to “overhaul their practices,” and said “Scarsdale should be a model for best practices.

Trustee Randall Whitestone made the following points:

-I’ve done my own research on the historic use of unassigned fund balance going back to 2007, and in my reading it shows that our use of balance in this new budget is relatively steep by historic standards.

-I’d echo the point made by others that the way we have budgeted this year, using much of a Covid reserve and dipping heavily into unassigned fund balance, is not sustainable over the long run.

-Quite simply, we’re spending more than we’re taking in, and while we’re in the ultimate ‘rainy day period’ this year, we face some tough long-term choices. And today’s budget pressures aren’t a one-year phenomenon.

-We have some holes to fill going forward in terms of parking revenue, perhaps less robust mortgage tax receipts, and, on the capital front, the need to revitalize the pool and water system. And, based on a year of learning and the Treasurer’s plans for improved tax bill communications, I’m hopeful we won’t see nearly as much revenue inflow from tax delinquencies.

-And yes, we have to look at spending, at calibrating village services to the perhaps somewhat permanent changes we’ve seen in residents’ behavior, from less commuting to more walking, running, and biking; to being receptive to rethinking how we handle our autumn leaves.

Trustee Karen Brew also commended the village manager, staff, former trustees and colleagues for a job well done in difficult times. She said, "There is always a tension between managing the tax levy to be as low as possible while making sure that by keeping tax revenue in check one is not sacrificing the short or long-term health of the Village." 

Trustee Sameer Ahuja thanked the trustees for helping him to get up to speed and to the staff for the multiple revisions to the proposed budget. As I look forward, the words that come to mind are “known” and “unknown.” This budget prepares the Village to be ready to fact those unknowns that lay ahead of us. Our process is going to be great and I have faith in the intensity the board will bring to that process in our renewed commitment to transparency and engagement.”

Trustee Jonathan Lewis thanked the trustees for vigorous discussion, questions and debate. He said, “This is our report card on how well we are performing as stewards… I believe that debates demonstrated significant process improvements. The Treasurer provided process enhancements and I expect further enhancements will help us to manage better in the future.

Trustee Lena Crandall echoed the comments of her fellow trustees and added, “During this summer we will be examining whether or not to continue to vacuum the leaves. This was a very controversial subject in the past and the Board would like your thoughts on leaf vacuuming.”

Mayor Jane Veron discussed the outlook for the Village saying, “All told, we experienced a gap of $2.7MM this past year, and we still have no idea what the future holds. While we will be receiving federal funds to make up for some of the shortfall, this is a one-time infusion of cash and doesn’t even fully cover this year’s gap. Non-property tax revenue is sharply down, and we do not have visibility to recovery. Will parking revenue return or will our residents change their way of life and work more regularly from home? How will the related non-property tax revenue line items fair as well?

Our costs continue to climb. Personnel and related expenses drive the majority of our budget, and we don’t have a tremendous amount of discretion over these line items. In fact, we have been operating for a while with open positions and a lean Village staff, placing enormous strain on our Village administration.”

Roadsroadpaving

Three resolutions were approved for road resurfacing, curb and pathway restoration and road patchwork. Funding for the work is coming from CHIPS allocations and Con Edison paving reimbursements.

Road Resurfacing of Village Streets $ 2,791,875.00

Curb and Pathway Restoration $712,600

Road Patchwork and Related $375,500

Girl Scout House

The Village Board announced a Public Hearing for Tuesday May 11, 2021 to review projects that may be applicable for Community Development Block Grant Funding.

Since this funding is available for projects for seniors or people with disabilities the Village is considering applying for funds for upgrades to the Girl Scout House which is used by seniors.

Specifically they could apply for:

-Installation of a new roof consisting of removing all layers of asphalt shingles and replacing with new felt paper and asphalt shingles;

-Installation of new windows and doors and new radiators;

-Installation of an air purification system; and

-Demolition of the first-floor kitchen and installation of new cabinets and appliances.

-Rehabilitation of the Girl Scout House Parking Lot

Reminders from the Village:

Gas Leaf Blower Ban

A new gas leaf blower ban goes into effect on May 1, 2021. If you use a landscaper, be sure the company is aware of the new law and complies when performing work on your property. Property owners are equally responsible for compliance, meaning that an observed violation will result in a summons to the equipment operator, landscaping company the operator is employed by, and the property owner.

During May 2021, the first month of the new regulations take effect, enforcement personnel will issue warnings and endeavor to educate landscapers and property owners about the amendments to our local law restricting the use of gas-powered leaf blowers; however, individuals not complying with a warning, as well as repeat violators, may receive a summons during May.

Water Conservation

As we head into peak water usage season the Village asks residents to start conserving in order to avoid sticker shock when the bill comes in. Importantly, leaks of varying magnitude are a substantial contributor to high water bills, yet there is relatively low-cost technology that can help to detect leaks quickly and alert one by cell phone of a problem requiring attention. See some conservation tips from the Village here.

Watch the meeting online here:

scarsdalevillagehallNewly elected Mayor Jane Veron presided over the first Business Meeting of the 2021-2022 Board of Trustees on April 13, 2021. After welcoming new members Karen Brew and Sameer Ahuja, and reelected member Jonathan Lewis, Mayor Veron praised retired trustees Seth Ross, Rochelle Waldman, and Mayor Samwick for their dedication during such a tumultuous year. Next, she moved to discuss the agenda for her term as Mayor.

Mayor Veron announced the reinstatement of regular public work sessions on Tuesdays at 5:00 pm and reintroduced her new framework for governing. Stating that “the goal of the framework is to give a structure to our work and to assign concrete roles and responsibilities,” Mayor Veron outlined the structure’s four pillars of government: 1. Quality of Life, 2. Infrastructure Municipal Services & Sustainability, 3. Public Safety, 4. Economic Development & Land Use. She then identified four additional categories for dividing government work: Technology, Communication, Personnel, and Law. Each of these categories is assigned a Trustee Chair who will have primary oversight for the work.

Below is an excerpt from the Mayor’s statement:

Our objective is to develop a comprehensive strategic and financial plan guided by our vision for Scarsdale. We fully anticipate that we will need to develop a new approach to budgeting, investing, and spending. We cannot assume that there will be a return to normalcy, and we must be prepared. To that end, we have invited our Village Treasurer to our next work session on April 20 to help us consider paths to reengineer the budget and financial planning process. Instead of waiting until next year’s budgeting cycle, our board is starting now.

I fully anticipate that at the end of the planning work sessions, the Board will outline short and long term priorities. In the interim, we will immediately kick off two additional special assignments, one focused on the Pool Complex and the other on Complete Streets/Village Center. Finally, guided by our professional colleagues at GovHR, this board is diligently leading the Village Manager search. We have already done extensive outreach to the community to seek input. In fact, we have a special committee focused solely on communications for this effort.”

Additionally, Mayor Veron updated the community on the status of the gas-powered leaf blower ban that takes effect on May 1, 2021. She stated:

The expanded ban prohibits the use of gas-powered leaf blowers from May 01, 2021, through September 30, 2021. During leaf season, October 01, 2021, through December 31, 2021, the use of gas-powered leaf blowers is authorized only Monday through Friday, except federal holidays, when gas-powered leaf blowers are also prohibited.

Beginning in 2022 and each year thereafter, the ban on gas-powered leaf blowers will run from January 01 through September 30. Please also note that from October 01 through December 31, gas-powered leaf blowers shall only be permitted Tuesdays through Fridays, except federal holidays, when gas-powered leaf blowers are also prohibited – Monday usage will no longer be authorized after January 01, 2022.

To help make sure our residents are aware of the recent amendments to our local law further restricting the use of gas-powered leaf blowers, staff will undertake a variety of communication strategies, including issuing a press release, Tweeting information, inserting a notice into the May 01 water bills, and completing a direct mailing to landscapers on record with the Village.

Importantly, property owners are responsible for the actions of their landscaping company. As such, a violation of the gas-powered leaf blower local law will result in the property owner, landscaping company, and individual operator of the prohibited equipment receiving a summons. During the month of May, enforcement personnel will be distributing warning notices to landscapers and homeowners, though repeat offenders may also receive a summons.”

The Mayor also announced the relaunch of her Twitter and Instagram accounts - You can find her @MayorJaneVeron.

Following Mayor Veron, Village Manager Pappalardo announced and congratulated Scarsdale Police Chief Andrew Matturro for his professional leadership appointment as the President of the Westchester County Police Chiefs. He also congratulated all those who participated in person and virtually in Scarsdale's 15K/4M Road Race this past week.

Public Hearing: 2021-2022 Tentative Budget

During the public hearing on the tentative budget for the coming fiscal year, the trustees heard from four residents who each supported the budget and also brought their concerns to the Board’s attention. The first speaker was Diane Gurden, who spoke on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale. Here are excerpts from their statement:

The League supports the Scarsdale Village Proposed Budget for 2021-22. The League offers its comments and recommendations regarding certain budgetary items as well as the budget process, which we hope will be considered as this year’s Budget is revised and finalized, and in the future.

The League commends the Board and the Administration for their strategic pivot with the 2020-21 Budget, where they both created the COVID-19 Reserve to cover unknown pandemic expenses and instituted austerity spending to control costs. This strategy has allowed the 2021-22 Fund Balance to stay within the acceptable range of 10-15% of General Fund expenditures. The League recognizes that the new Village Treasurer Ann Scaglione and the Village Superintendents have worked tirelessly to present multiple financial scenarios to support the budget decision making process. In addition, the League acknowledges that having former Village Treasurer Mary Lou McClure’s invaluable experience made available during the new treasurer’s transition period provided critical stability.

The League acknowledges that future revenue streams are uncertain but is concerned by the continued reliance on austerity budgeting without a more clearly defined longer range plan for the projects being deferred. The League is specifically concerned about the aging infrastructure of Village Hall, the headquarters of our Village staff, court and government. For the past five years, the aging and deteriorating Village Hall building has been identified by the League as a major issue that needs to be addressed by the Board.

As per the Village Manager, in order to focus on pedestrian and cyclist safety as well as traffic circulation in the Village Center, the Budget includes a $100,000 appropriation to “undertake a major study to identify publicly supported alternatives for improving safety for all Village Center transportation network users, enhancing the relationship between our transportation network and our valuable public spaces, and for new traffic circulation alternatives…” The League values the Board’s initiation of a community supported plan for the Village Center considering various modes of transportation that will support pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles in a safe, convenient, and appealing environment.

The League acknowledges the Board’s use of Advisory Committees and Task Forces as a valuable tool to leverage and engage the community in decision-making. However, the League encourages more transparency related to the formation of these committees and a more proactive outreach into the community to publicize and fill committee positions. More visibility into Advisory Committee and Task Force meeting goals, content, and action plans is also desirable.

The League understands that in-person Board meetings may return in the near future but COVID-19 safety constraints will limit the number of residents who may attend. The League believes that community engagement and proactive discourse is essential to Board work and encourages the Board to find ways to make public access to meetings and meeting information a priority, even after COVID-19 constraints have been removed. Recorded videos of working sessions, if moved back to the Trustee Room, are essential for the community to understand the Village Budget evolution and process.

The Board also heard from residents Madelaine Eppenstein, Bob Harrison, and Robert Berg. Ms. Eppenstein stated that she was “disappointed…. that the board up until now may not have done enough to reduce the tax rate increase.” Bob Harrison and Robert Berg echoed this sentiment, with Harrison stating that he believes that federal government funds designated to Scarsdale through the American Rescue Plan could be used more creatively to ease the burden on taxpayers. Mr. Berg stated that he believes “this budged cycle was a lost opportunity,” as he saw many areas for cutting costs that were not taken advantage of. He was also frustrated that early work sessions did not allow for public comment, and that when a public comment period was added, residents were limited to only 3 minutes of speaking time.

Deputy Mayor Arest addressed these concerns by expressing that the Board has the full intent of turning the budgeting process into a 12-month project to garner as much community input as possible. Mayor Veron also emphasized this sentiment by firmly declaring her intent to begin next year's process much earlier and dedicating a committee to this effort.

Rhett Needleman, a Scarsdale High School student also spoke during Public Comment about the importance of recognizing severe allergies in the community. As a teenager who suffers from serious food allergies, he proposed that the Board declare a Food Allergy Awareness week in Scarsdale to make a difference on this issue.

Annual Board Resolutions, Appointments, and Assignments

After assigning each Trustee to various liaison-ships with Scarsdale volunteer boards and committees, Mayor Veron allocated which portion of Scarsdale each Trustee will be responsible for. Next, various village administrative positions were nominated and appointed, including the approval of Steve Pappalardo as the Village Manager for his 33rd year.

Next, the Trustees approved the new members selected for Scarsdale’s 18 volunteer boards and councils. New volunteers were approved for each committee, including the Board of Appeals, the Library Board, The Council for People with Disabilities, The Advisory Council on Senior Citizens, the Arts Advisory Council, the Conservation Advisory Council, the Committee for Historic Preservation, the Advisory Council on Human Relations, and the Advisory Council on Parks and Recreation. See who was appointed here:

Following the appointments, the Board approved three resolutions. The first was to execute an agreement with Woodward & Curran Engineering and Geological Services, which will handle the short-term needs of Scarsdale’s water enterprise fund as well as develop a 10-year plan for water rates. The second resolution awarded a renewal of a preferred source agreement with New York State Industries for the Disabled, which will provide services through Alternative Earthcare Tree and Lawn Systems, to maintain and improve the quality of Scarsdale’s public fields. The third resolution granted a contract to furnish and deliver Scarsdale pool maintenance supplies to Streamline Aquatics LLC.

We received the following letter from Bob Harrison concerning the Village Budget:

To the Editor :

Do Scarsdale residents know that our Village is getting $ 1.96 million from the American Rescue Plan and the US Congress with one half or $989,000 coming in the next 60 + days in our new fiscal budget year starting June first .

Will Scarsdale taxpayers get a tax break in their high property taxes in the coming fiscal year ? At the moment the answer is NO as the Village Board's tentative budget has a tax increase of 2.99 %. It is time for our new Mayor and two new elected trustees and the entire Board to reduce any Village tax increase to less than 2 % and take into account the $ 1.96 million of new money coming into Village coffers. Every $ 400,000 can the reduce the Village tax increase by 1 %.

Do Scarsdale tax payers want lower taxes then NOW is the time to act . Send your protest emails against a 2.99 % Village tax increase to mayor@scarsdale.com and dconkling@scarsdale.com ( our village clerk ) and Bob Harrison at proscars@aol.comor call 914 725-0962 or send a text to 914 646-4054 (cell).

The proposed tax increase for the coming year school tax is only + 1.93 % .Remember that that every tax increase compounds over time and that is why we taxpayers have to keep any tax increase at a minimum !!!

Bob Harrison , Chairman
Scarsdale Taxpayer Alert
65 Fox Meadow Road
Scarsdale , NY 10583

HockeyPhotoIn the depths of the pandemic, when schools were closed, extracurricular activities cancelled and most sports programs were on hold, one independent sports organization managed to keep going and provided a vital outlet for sidelined kids.

While their parents worked with the Governor’s office, the Westchester County Health Department and other hockey associations to adapt to regulations as they evolved, kids in the Scarsdale Youth Hockey Association stayed on the ice.

The organization’s response to the pandemic reflects the enthusiasm and determination that their volunteer board, coaches and team members have exhibited for years. Passion for ice hockey comes through in every conversation with board members and parents who are devoted to the sport and Scarsdale Youth Hockey, now in its 25th season. Evaluations and tryouts for their upcoming season will be held during the first two weeks of May and you can register your kids here.

Mehan Kathirithamby, the organization’s president explained that 148 kids participated last season, starting with six and eight year-olds who learn skating and stick handling, to kids on the 12U, 14U, 16U and 18U teams who practice and play competitively. The season goes from September to March, and the program has ice time at EJ Murray’s and the Westchester Skating Academy.

The program is run by nine parent board members with help from 40 parent volunteers. Some of the coaching is done by parents who played in high school, college and even pre-professional teams. 52% of the kids are from Scarsdale and the remaining 48% are from all over, including Connecticut and Manhattan.

About the philosophy of the program Kathirithamby said, “The Scarsdale program is a friendly community-based program. It’s a collegial, friendly environment where kids can learn to play hockey and have fun with their friends. We teach teamwork, sportsmanship, responsibility, how to put on your own skates, carry your own equipment and be responsible for it.”

Is hockey rough or dangerous? Kathirithamby explained, “Any sport has the potential for injury, but we do a lot to keep it safe.” He said, “There are always several coaches on the ice during the games to keep it safe. At every level the kids learn how to protect themselves, how to fall and get back up and how to approach the boards without getting hurt. Kids are wearing a lot of pads and they are taught how to protect themselves and their opponents.”

Rachel Rilander who grew up playing hockey and coached this season said, “My son was 5, my daughter was 6 when they began. Kindergarten is the earliest kids can begin the program, but any age is a great age to start. They should be emotionally ready, able to separate from parents and listen to instructions, etc. They pick it up so quickly.”

She continued, “My kids had taken skating lessons before starting the program and knew the basics, but that is certainly not necessary. They are on the ice twice a week or more. This program is meant to teach them all the basics. Kids who have never skated before are grouped together and the coaches focus more on skating technique.”

Rilander said, “My son has become more independent. When he first started he had a hard time separating from me, and he had a hard time making it through the full session on the ice. At the time it was good for him to build up his confidence and learn to deal with the separation. It’s also great exercise and a safe and fun way for kids to burn energy. For my daughter, the program was something different than what she was used to, as it was more physical and she was playing mostly with boys. It was good for her to learn how to stand up for herself.”

We asked her if girls can play too and she said, “Absolutely. The program is co-ed. This year we had two female coaches, and seven girl players. At this age the girls are developmentally the same as the boys so it works.rachelhockey

Does Rilander think it is safe? What would she say to parents who are reluctant to sign up their children due to safety concerns?

She said, “It is very safe. The kids are wearing equipment head to toe. At the younger ages they are not allowed checking. Even at this young age we teach them body positioning and how to play safe and keep from getting hurt, and to focus more of the skating and hockey skills (vs. the physical). I played for years, never once got hurt. The equipment does wonders!”

How much do they play? She explained, “The kids who are in the Learn to Skate/ Learn to Play programs have two practices a week. Scarsdale gets great ice times. These kids practice Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons for the most-part. The kids who are travel level have an additional practice and game each week typically. For non-travel there are three sessions so you don’t need to commit to the entire season. This is a great option for someone trying it out for the first time.”

Jodi Barrow added, “Scarsdale Hockey has been the most amazing experience for Blake.(her six year-old son.) He had always asked to play hockey, and since nobody else in our family has ever played hockey, I wasn't sure where to even begin. Scarsdale Hockey offers a comfortable environment where Blake was able to learn alongside his peers. Practices are filled with instruction, but also with fun games and activities that make it a lot of fun for the kids. Blake grew to truly love the sport, and became more and more confident as the weeks progressed. Toward the end of the season, consistent with instructions based on COVID guidelines, the kids began competing in games. Blake loved being part of a team, and developed close friendships with his teammates. Scarsdale Hockey offers a great community, for both players and their families. Blake's hockey practices and games were by far his favorite days of every week.”

About COVID she said, “The COVID crisis certainly presented many challenges, but the dedication of the parents who organize the program made it possible to still give the children an incredible season. Players wore masks, and often plastic shields as well over the front of their helmets to give extra protection. Parents were also required to complete paperwork before their child attended practices or games. The number of spectators at the games were limited, and traffic was controlled into and out of the rinks to limit interactions with other groups. Although games were delayed due to COVID, the players truly enjoyed the opportunity to compete once it was possible.”

Stacey Strauss said, “I have two children that play hockey. Jacob is 10 and Matthew is 7. Jacob has been a part of the program since he was 5 and Matthew joined at 6. The program is great for so many reasons. I personally love that Scarsdale Youth Hockey takes all levels of skaters. The program dedicates coaches to the newest skaters to help them in the “Learn to Skate” program.”

Elizabeth DeRobertis said, “My son Nicky started playing Scarsdale Hockey when he was in second grade. Now he is in tenth grade and still plays for SYHA and also has been coaching the 8U team. Some of his friends started to play when they were in Kindergarten or even before. When he started in second grade he felt like he was late to the game. But what we have seen over the years is that kids can start at different ages, and as long as they are dedicated to the game, they catch up.”

“Nicky was able to skate when he started to play, but the organization did an amazing job really teaching him how to scale well and excel quickly with his skating ability. A child does not even need to know how to skate to start playing for SYHA. The Learn to Skate program teaches them basic skating skills, and then they progress to learning to play hockey. The coaches are amazing and the kids feel really comfortable on the ice. One thing I want to point out is the incredible coaching through SYHA. SYHA has extremely dedicated parent coaches combined with paid coaches at the older levels (including Nates Clinics weekly). Each year Nicky's coach has had a profound influence on his development both on and off the ice.”

She continued, “I can't imagine life without SYHA. Outside of school, SYHA has been the biggest presence in our lives in terms of the hours Nicky spends at the rink and with his team, and the friendships that we have made over the years. Hockey is a big commitment and with it comes and even bigger benefit. From traveling to tournaments and spending weekends away with the team, to growing up with your teammates from elementary school through high school, hockey has taught Nicky so much about responsibility, teamwork and commitment.

About COVID she said, “I am actually the COVID coordinator for SYHA. We started by doing a lot of research to see what guidelines were published by each of the heath organizations and updated them throughout the year. We had to coordinate with the rink guidelines and also work with the local Department of Health. We needed to implement a waiver system, which was challenging initially. But overall, we are proud that our players were able to have a full hockey season, even though it looked different from past seasons, but they were able to be on the ice and spend time with teammates, exercising and developing skills. Most were even able to get in some games and tournaments.

Jon Waldman, father of two skaters had this to say: “Playing hockey has helped my kids both physically and mentally. From a physical standpoint, they benefit from improved balance, agility, strength, and overall athleticism. From a mental standpoint, they have improved self-confidence, coping skills (learning how to deal with losing games and even winning them), leadership skills, and have learned how to be good teammates. Most importantly they’ve made lots of friends and have fun playing!”

“There are also benefits for parents too! Scarsdale Youth Hockey is a great community and a great way to meet awesome new people in the area. My wife and I have lived in Scarsdale for nearly 6 years and many of our closest friends in the area are people we've met through the program. “

“This quote from Wayne Gretzky sums it up pretty well: "The greatest thing about hockey is the people you meet, the friendships, the memories, there's nothing like it. It's the greatest game in the world." “

How can you get your children involved? Scarsdale Youth Hockey will hold tryouts and evaluations during the first two weeks of May, and this year they are free. You must register in advance and sign a waiver before your children can try out. Six to eight year-olds can sign up for the Learn to Play Program and those nine and up can be evaluated to play on team. Learn more and sign up here:

WalkoflightsA new brick walkway, celebrating the donors who contributed to bring lights to Butler Field, is now complete at Scarsdale High School.

The 10’ by 50” walkway, called the Walk of Lights at Butler Field, leads to the stands at the track and football field. It is constructed of engraved pavers recognizing the names of those who gave $1,000 or more to the $850,000 campaign. All 438 donors were publicly acknowledged in a page in the newspaper.

Scarsdale High School Booster Organization Maroon and White led the Light the Future campaign to replace the portable diesel powered lights with clean, highly focused LED permanent lights. The lights will facilitate home night games, playoff games, pre-season games, youth recreation games and more, and offer additional playing time on the turf in dark and wet weather.

MandWPaver

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