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exit22If you thought you lived off Exit 22 of the Hutchinson River Parkway, the Mamaroneck Road exit, think again! As if life wasn’t confusing enough, the New York State Department of Transportation has decided to renumber the exits. So moving forward, the Mamaroneck Road exit will become exit 12.

Why? Here’s the official explanation we received:

As part of a New York State Department of Transportation project to install new reflective signs, the DOT is also transitioning to a mileage-based exit numbering system, replacing the consecutive exit numbering system.

Under the new system, exit numbers correspond to mileage markers. So, an exit between mileage markers 1 and 2, will be numbered Exit 1. If there are additional exits before mileage marker 2, the exits will have letters added -- 1A, 1B, 1C, etc.

Below is a table from the NYS DOT showing the old consecutive exit numbers and the corresponding new mileage-based exit numbers.

 

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PaulinPressConferencePaulin at Press Conference to announce the Passage of the LegislationThough New York State mandates that early intervention services are available for children under the age of three with delays or disabilities, many have not been able to access these services. Why? Because when an Early Intervention provider renders services, they must bill the insurance company first. In recent years, private insurers have only paid approximately $12 million out of $80 million in EarIy Intervention claims, rejecting approximately 85% of claims.

Though these unpaid claims are ultimately paid by New York State and local counties which split the cost, the process is cumbersome and the delay in receiving payment has caused many providers to close their doors.

Now, new legislation sponsored by Assemblymember Amy Paulin and Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick and passed by the NYS Legislature will ensure that commercial health insurers contribute their fair share to the Early Intervention program. It increases funding for Early Intervention services and streamlines the reimbursement process to providers. The bill will save counties around the state $28 million while creating a reliable fund for early intervention service providers, funded by the health insurance industry.

Commenting on the passage of the legislation, Paulin said, “This legislation is a massive step forward in reforming and strengthening the state’s Early Intervention program so that more children can get the help they need, when they need it. It will ensure that commercial health insurers contribute their fair share to the Early Intervention program, will assure good stewardship of state and local tax dollars and, most importantly, will allow Early Intervention providers to focus on the critical services they provide to children and families.”

“Early Intervention fundamentally changes the trajectory of a child’s life for the better,” said Westchester County Executive George Latimer. “Thanks to Assemblywoman Paulin and Senator Reichlin-Melnick’s leadership, this law would provide additional funding for these life-changing services. When we know a program works, it should be a no-brainer to increase its capacity – our children’s lives are too important.”

Those who work in the field praised the passage of the bill and urged the Governor to sign it into law.

"Westchester Children's Association applauds State Assemblymember Amy Paulin and State Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick for successfully passing critical Early Intervention legislation (A5339/S5560A) and urge Governor Cuomo to promptly sign it into law,” said Josh Prywes, Program and Policy Manager, Westchester Children's Association. “As a proud member of the Kids Can’t Wait Leaders Council, a coalition dedicated to strengthening availability and access to Early Intervention services, WCA knows this bill will build crucial statewide capacity for young children with developmental and special needs. It provides a vital and viable mechanism to prevent delays in Early Intervention services, which is especially important to our County, which ranked number 56 out of counties in the timely delivery of Early Intervention services across New York State in 2018. We know that, when enacted, this legislation will jump start wellness for young children, reduce long-term developmental challenges and statewide costs, and center children and their families on a path for success."

“Covered lives is a practical approach to ensure that Early Intervention agencies and their therapists continue to focus on therapeutic services and that Insurance Companies are held accountable to pay their fair share of the costs of these services. Covered lives will save the State and Counties millions of dollars by no longer subsidizing the commercial insurance industry for denied services. For these reasons, I am delighted to join the bill’s sponsors urging Governor Cuomo to sign into law, covered lives when it reaches his desk,” said John Calderon, President, Theracare of New York.

Assemblymember Amy Paulin, a Scarsdale resident, has long been an advocate for families and children, and this legislation is another in a long line of bills she has passed to improve constituents’ lives.

Paulin SkoufisAmy Paulin and James SkoufisAssemblymember Amy Paulin and Senator James Skoufis, joined by Scarsdale Mayor Jane Veron and members of the League of Women Voters of Westchester and Scarsdale held a press conference at the newly re-opened Scarsdale Library on June 23 to announce the passage of legislation to require all counties to follow fair redistricting standards.

The legislation is aimed at preventing counties from gerrymandering for political gain and from disenfranchising voters by dividing villages and towns with common interests. It requires the 23 counties in New York that operate under a charter to follow the same redistricting standards as all other counties in New York. Their bill modernizes those standards to further ensure towns from being divided for unjust purposes and to bring the standards in line with generally accepted best practices for redistricting. Importantly, the updated standards include ensuring that equal weight is given to all residents in the allocation of representation, that districts are not drawn to favor voters of one political party, that districts are compact and contiguous, that districts are formed to promote the orderly and efficient administration of elections, and that districts are not drawn with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minority groups to participate in the political process.

Baum PaulinAmy Paulin, Renee Baylor and Alissa Baum, President of the LWVS"Representation matters, and for those living in self-chartered counties such as the three I represent, this legislation takes us one large step toward preserving the will of the people by standardizing how legislative districts are drawn and redrawn,” said Skoufis. “Just shy of 20 years in the making, this is a bill with serious teeth and I call on the Governor to sign it so that these reforms are enacted just in time for the 2022 once-a-decade county redistricting proposals. I am grateful to Assemblymember Paulin for her partnership and years of dedicated Veron PaulinAssemblymember Paulin with Scarsdale Mayor Jane Veronleadership on this issue."

The passing of this legislation represents the culmination of 20 years of work by Paulin who first fought for fair county legislative districts as president of the Scarsdale League of Women Voters (“LWV”) in 1991. At that time Scarsdale was split into two separate districts, and the Town of Scarsdale, along with the Scarsdale LWV, sued Westchester County on the grounds that the state Municipal Home Rule Law (“MHRL”) prohibits towns from being divided. The Town of Scarsdale’s lawsuit was dismissed due to lack of standing, and although the Scarsdale LWV lawsuit proceeded it was never decided by the courts.

Scarsdale, a small town of only 6.6 square miles, was then split into 3 districts in 1993. At that time Paulin, who was now the President of the County LWV, again sued the County over unfair redistricting. The case went to the NYS Supreme Court, and then to the appellate level. Ultimately the NYS Appellate Division upheld the lower court decision that Westchester County was not required to follow the criteria in the MHRL because it operates under a charter form of government and is bound only by the redistricting criteria in its charter.

The County had two subsequent redistricting cycles in 2001 and 2011, when fair districting was restored.

Meany PaulinLWV Westchester Members with Amy PaulinHenry Neale, a Scarsdale resident and the attorney who represented the LWV in its lawsuit, said, “All counties in New York State should follow the same standards for redistricting—something I have been advocating for a long time. It is not logical and clearly unfair that voters in a chartered county can have their votes diluted by splitting towns or packing members of one political party or another into a district, when voters in the rest of the state are protected.”

“This legislation will prevent towns like Scarsdale from being split into multiple legislative districts, which dilutes the vote of residents and leaves them without a clear, singular representative to advocate on their behalf,” said Paulin. “With this legislation, the integrity of cities, towns and villages in Westchester and other chartered counties.

Veron, also a former President of the LWV of Scarsdale thanked Paulin for her excellent representation and the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale and the LWV of Westchester voiced their support for the new legislation.

floatfamilyThird Place Winners: Jack (4) and Sloane (2) Callaghan. Stephanie Tsang and Christian CallaghanOn a slightly overcast Sunday morning, July 4th, the Arthur Manor Neighborhood Association held its 93rd Annual 4th of July parade though the roads of Arthur Manor ending with its time-honored patriotic ceremony in Davis Park.

The marchers began gathering at the corner of Bell and Sprague Roads at 9:15 am on Sunday morning. Before the parade kicked off at 9:45, the judges ranked the individual and group marchers in categories such as most patriotic scooters, tricycles, and strollers and floats.AurthurManor1Matt Callaghan, Jon Lewis, Teegan Lee

At 9:45 am sharp, special Scarsdale Police and Fire Department escorts with their sirens blaring accompanied Scarsdale Volunteer Fire Company Number 1 and all of the marchers through Arthur Manor to Davis Park. The parade ended at Davis Park where the traditional 4th of July ceremony was held before the flag pole at the North end of the park.

The ceremony began with the raising of the flag by the Scarsdale Volunteer Fire Company No. 1’s color guard and accompanied by the National Anthem, sung perfectly by Arthur Manor resident Richard Gast, which was followed by the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. The crowd then observed a moment of silence to remember all of the men and women of the U.S. military who sacrificed so much for liberty and democracy in the United States and abroad.

Scarsdale Village Trustees Randy Whitestone and Jonathan Lewis then separately addressed the crowd in Davis Park on the significance of July 4th and the relevance of this special day for all residents. Village Trustee Karen Brew and Former Village Trustee and member of Scarsdale Volunteer Fire Department Number 1, Matt Callaghan, were also in attendance together with Arthur Manor’s own Uncle Sam - played magnificently, as always, by Teegan Lee!

JeanneJeanne Bongiorno, with the winning float Independence ice cream and children Grace and Christopher Horne and husband Chris.Former Arthur Manor President Al Stuart then conducted the awards ceremony for the day’s marchers and other parade participants in the various categories such as floats, bicycles, tricycles, etc.. (A complete list of the winners follows below) – with trophies and ribbons awarded to the winners! Because of the risk associated with COVID, the annual games were not held this year – but will return in 2022. Plenty of time to practice the egg toss with your friends!

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Local Scarsdale volunteers Mason Marsh and Darlene LeFrancois-Haber were also on hand in Davis Park to demonstrate to interested residents the benefits and ease of the Village’s food scrap and composting system.

ARthurManorCarltonBobby Kyle CarltonThis annual event in Arthur Manor is only made possible through the collective efforts of the Arthur Manor volunteer residents including the Marcus, Roche, Porco, Bonanno, Bongiorno, Stuart and Martin families, and all of the other Arthur Manor volunteers too numerous to list here.

Arthur Manor Parade Winners:

Patriotic Scooters: 1st place: Malula Schuerlein, 2nd: Michael Selvitella 3rd: Bella Marmann

Patriotic Bicycles: 1st place: Brooke Biondi, 2nd: Zoe Zheng, 3rd: Elliot Chang, Honorable Mention: Johan Schuerlein

Patriotic Tricycles: 1st place: Ryan Rybicki, 2nd: Cole Capossela

Patriotic Carriages & Strollers: 1st place: Oliver Wilcott, 2nd: Michael Rybicki

Patriotic Floats: 1st place: “Independence Ice Cream”, Grace and Christopher Horne, 2nd: “Team USA”, James and Molly Martin and Caitlin and Collin Maddaloni, 3rd: “Arthur Manor USA”, Jack and Sloane Callaghan, Honorable Mention: Johnny Biondi, “Patriotic Wagon”

callaghanMatthew and Jack Callaghan

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cannibus 1080x675Marijuana, cannabis products, dispensaries and even smoking lounges are legal in New York State, but are they going to be a fixture in Scarsdale’s future? That is a question the Board of Trustees tackled during this week’s highly anticipated work session on Tuesday, June 15.

The new Marijuana Taxation and Regulation Act (MRTA) was signed into law in March 2021, legalizing the possession and use of marijuana. As of March 31, 2021, anyone over the age of 21 may possess, display, and transport up to 30 oz of cannabis and can transfer up to 3 oz of cannabis without compensation. It is also legal to use, smoke, or inject cannabis products, purchase cannabis paraphernalia, and plant or cultivate cannabis in a personal residence. You can find a complete overview of the law HERE. The framework of MRTA is similar to alcohol regulation and will be managed by the NY State Cannabis Control Board. Similar to liquor stores, sales will take place at retail dispensaries, which are anticipated to open in late 2022 or early 2023.

Public consumption of cannabis products will be treated the same as tobacco and will be banned in areas such as workplaces, food service establishments, public and private educational intuitions, commercial establishments, hospital grounds, public libraries, and indoor areas.

While most of the law’s implementation is decided by the state, individual municipalities have some agency over the sale of cannabis within their borders. By December 31, 2021, towns must decide if they want to "opt-out" of the sale of cannabis by passing a local law banning the practice. If no law is adopted by that date, retail cannabis dispensaries and on-site consumption businesses can open. A municipality can also choose to allow dispensaries but not on-site consumption centers, or vice versa, if that is the preference of the community. If a town chooses to opt-out, they may repeal the provision and “opt back in” at any time. If a town opts out, it will forfeit the highly anticipated tax revenue that comes from these sales. By state law, MRTA will add a 4% tax to all retail sales, of which 1% will go to the county and 3% will go directly to the town.

If Scarsdale permits dispensaries and consumption sites, the village can govern the time, place, and manner of operation of these establishments as long as such provisions do not make the functioning of those facilities unreasonably impracticable. Local governments can also implement additional smoking and vaping restrictions on property owned by the municipality, such as parks and playgrounds. In addition, these retail shops and consumption sites cannot be located within 500 feet of school grounds or 200 feet of a house of worship.

Given these restrictions, Village Planner Greg Cutler identified only two possible sites for cannabis retail stores or on-site consumption facilities in Scarsdale. In the maps below, the orange zone represents the 200-foot buffer from houses of worship, and the red zone represents the 500-foot buffer from schools. Within these parameters, only certain areas of the Village Center and the Golden Horseshoe Shopping Center would be potential areas for these businesses to operate.

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After the presentation by Village Attorney Pozin and Village Planner Cutler, Board members shared their first impressions before opening the discussion to public comment. Trustee Lewis pointed out that the village is currently facing severe fiscal challenges, and that Scarsdale could collect cannabis revenue while further restricting facility locations. He also stressed the need for the Board to consider how this issue will affect the downtown revitalization plan.

Trustee Whitestone raised his concern that substance use is increasing among teenagers. He stated that while social views on marijuana have evolved, revenue cannot be the paramount concern. Wendy Gendel, who later spoke as the Chair of the Drug and Alcohol Task Force, also emphasized the need to educate our students on the dangers of marijuana.

Sharing his thought process, Trustee Arest explained that he was originally against the idea of permitting cannabis sales. While he remains opposed to an on-site consumption facility, he now recognizes the economic value of a dispensary. Because consumption, delivery, and home-grown cannabis are legal, there is little the Board can practically do to limit the drug’s use. For this reason, Arest said we must be cognizant of the possibility that other towns, such as Eastchester (on Garth Road) and New Rochelle (in parts of the Golden Horseshoe), might take advantage of this opportunity. For example, if Scarsdale opts out but New Rochelle chooses to permit dispensaries, a store could potentially open on the border of two towns and Scarsdale would not gain any of the tax revenue.

Attorney Pozin shared what he knew so far about the neighboring towns. Mamaroneck, Briar Cliff, Dobbs Ferry, Elmsford, Tuckahoe, and Rye have started scheduling public sessions to get community feedback on the issue. New Rochelle is most likely going to permit the sale of cannabis in retail shops, while Eastchester is leaning towards opting out.

Trustee Brew urged the Board and the public to keep an open mind and evaluate the situation with facts. She said, “my gut reaction was to no, and I am still in my gut thinking no to on-site consumption lounges, but I’ve really started opening my mind to dispensaries… I hope we can look at this with information, data, and logic rather than emotion.” She later added that she would never look at the situation strictly from a financial perspective, but based on her own experience with her two daughters, “marijuana use is thriving” at SHS. She reported that rates were skyrocketing even when cannabis was illegal, so now that it is legal, it would be a safer and more secure to sell it in a licensed location that will be strict on IDs. If Scarsdale outlaws sales but a dispensary opens in a neighboring town, Trustee Brew speculated that this may increase rates of people driving while under the influence of drugs.

Trustee Crandall shared that she lost her 39-year-old brother in a car accident where a driver was under the influence of substances. She is sensitive to possible marijuana addiction and the dangers of driving while impaired, and for this reason, she is "strongly against on-site consumption." That being said, Crandall stated she is open to allowing a high-end dispensary.

Many residents spoke during public comment and voiced a wide array of opinions. Similar to Trustee Crandall, Susan Douglass declared that she is against an on-site lounge, but is open to the idea of an upscale retail establishment. Resident John Schwarz had the opposite perspective and said how dangerous drug use can be. He stressed how impressionable children are, and said that he doesn’t want marijuana use to be a habit that kids witness. Mr. Schwarz also said he would rather raise our taxes by whatever it takes than permit the sale of cannabis. This sentiment was echoed by Carol Silverman, who stated that she’s against all marijuana sales and that taxes should be raised to whatever extent necessary to prevent the legalization of a retail shop or consumption site.

Resident Anne Hintermeister was concerned that people will be smoking on sidewalks, outside of restaurants, and in their backyards. She worried especially that in the backyard, cannabis smoke will bother neighbors. Attorney Pozin clarified that to a large extent, streets and sidewalks are village property and the Board can regulate that. With regards to neighbors, while it may be unpleasant, legally you must treat cannabis use the same as tobacco products. While smelling a neighbor’s cigarette smoke is not ideal, there is nothing the village can do to regulate it.

Resident Kevin Broom took a practical approach, and said that “however you feel about it, the state law is there.” He proposed the Scarsdale align to the greatest extent possible with the surrounding communities. If neighboring towns are permitting these sales, he believes it wouldn’t be practical or wise to exclude Scarsdale. Resident Andrew Sereysky had a similar thought process. He stated that “the cat is out of the bag. Pot is here. Anyone can walk down the middle of Scarsdale and smoke a joint, it’s perfectly legal.” He also does not think White Plains or Hartsdale will pass up this revenue opportunity, and while it is important to protect our children, we also must consider what the financial disadvantages will be if Scarsdale is one of a small number of surrounding towns to opt-out. Mayor Veron added as a clarifying point that under MRTA, the municipality would not need to pool revenue with neighboring towns, and therefore a higher portion of the tax revenue generated would go directly to the village as compared to other types of sales.

While the meeting did not end with broad consensus among the trustees or the public, the conversation was the first of many that Scarsdale will have about this topic. Cannabis sales are coming to New York soon, and Scarsdale must decide whether to opt-out of the retail system by the end of this year.

Juneteenth

At the work session, Mayor Veron recognized the significance of Juneteenth, a holiday celebrated on June 19th to mark the freedom and emancipation of African American slaves in the United States. The holiday commemorates the day in 1865 when union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, two months after the fall of the confederacy, to enforce the emancipation proclamation and ensure that all slaves knew they were free. Mayor Veron emphasized the need to recognize the importance of this moment, honor and celebrate the day, and work towards building a better future for all.

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