Friday, Jul 12th

Cameron(Updated 12-19-22)
Author Kirk Cameron has filed an application to reserve the Scott Room at the Scarsdale Public Library to hold a story hour for his new book, As You Grow, on Friday December 30 at 3:00 pm.

The Scarsdale Public Library issued the following FAQ on Monday December 19, 2022 to respond to questions about the event:

The Scarsdale Public Library would like to address comments received about an upcoming event booked by Brave Publishing. The event is not a library-sponsored program, but rather a meeting room rental, that cannot be rejected based upon political or religious content under the First Amendment.

The Scarsdale Public Library is committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion for all community members. Granting permission to use a room does not constitute an approval or endorsement of any program.

What’s the difference between a library-sponsored program and a meeting room rental?
A library-initiated or sponsored event is organized and promoted by library staff. External parties may submit requests for the Library to host programming. Per Article V of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, libraries create programs based on educational suitability and audience interest. Libraries are often pitched programs or events by members of the public, publicists, and authors, and a public library is not required or able to put on every program requested.

A meeting room rental is when a group or individual submits an application and pays a fee to reserve a meeting room for their own purposes. First Amendment jurisprudence requires libraries to rent facilities equitably regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of those who seek to use them. Granting permission to use a room does not constitute an approval or endorsement of any individual or group by the Library, the Library Board of Trustees, or the Village of Scarsdale.

Is the library sponsoring a book reading of Kirk Cameron's As You Grow?
No. The Scarsdale Public Library is not sponsoring an event by Brave Publishing.

What type of event has Brave Publishing recently requested?
On Friday, December 16, 2022, Brave Publishing submitted a request for a meeting room rental. Because libraries’ meeting rooms are legally designated as "designated public forums" under the First Amendment, libraries may not exclude any group based on the subject matter to be discussed or the ideas for which the group advocates. If the Scarsdale Public Library restricts potentially controversial groups’ access to meeting rooms, it may face legal and financial consequences.

Libraries may not deny meeting room access even to individuals or groups that are considered offensive or controversial. Libraries have been successfully sued by groups that have been denied access to library meeting rooms based on the group’s beliefs, the content of their speech, or the fear that the group’s meeting will cause controversy. The Scarsdale Public Library is likewise not permitted to regulate the message of any parties who rent a room.

(posted Friday December 16, 2022)

A publicity stunt by an actor and evangelist hit close to home this week, when Kirk Cameron, best known for his role on the television show “Growing Pains,” targeted the Scarsdale Library as a venue to spread the word about As You Grow, his new evangelical book for children. According to the publisher’s website, “This fun story with brilliant art teaches the Biblical truths of the Fruit of the Spirit.”

The book is published by Brave Books, a conservative book publisher who offers a monthly book club, that according to their website covers “difficult topics like gender identity, dangers of communism, cancel culture, critical race theory through family-friendly stories.”

Cameron used the Brave Book website to publish a copy of a letter he wrote to Scarsdale Librarian Elizabeth Bermel requesting the use of the library’s Scott Room on December 30 at 3 pm for a story hour. In his letter he says, “So many of our communities, perhaps like yours, are facing rates of crime, abortion, and murder well above the national average. I believe children in your community would benefit from hearing a message teaching Biblical wisdom as I explain my new book.

Commenting on the request, which has made national news, here is the response from the Scarsdale Public Library dated December 16, 2022:

On Friday, December 2, the Scarsdale Public Library received a message from a book publisher via the Library’s website requesting to schedule a story hour at the Scarsdale Public Library for a book by actor Kirk Cameron, “where we read As You Grow and speak to families about following the wisdom of the Bible, as well as discussing the harmful effects of woke ideologies.”

As with any request to present a Library-sponsored program, we sent a link to our online application for presenting a library program. The publisher did not submit an application.

On Tuesday, December 6, the Library’s Assistant Director received an email from the public relations company, Amplifi Agency, which stated, “We would love to schedule a story hour for Mr. Cameron's book where we read As You Grow and speak to families about following the wisdom of the Bible, as well as discussing the harmful effects of woke ideologies, specifically CRT and the transgender agenda.” The Library replied, “Thank you for thinking of us, but we are not interested in this program.”

One week later, on Tuesday, December 13, Library Director Elizabeth Bermel received a letter via USPS from Mr. Cameron requesting to rent the Scott Room. She sent an email to the contact mentioned in the letter with links to the Library’s Meeting Room Policy and the online form for room reservations. As of December 14, neither Mr. Cameron nor his representatives have completed the form to reserve the room.

It is the mission of the Scarsdale Public Library to encourage the joy of reading, the exploration of ideas, and the pursuit of lifelong learning for the children and adults of our community. Per the Library’s Meeting Room Policy:

The Library has several spaces available for members of the public to reserve and/or rent. These are to be used to further the Library’s informational, educational, cultural and recreational goals. It is the policy of the Library Board of Trustees to provide all members of the community with equal access to Library resources and facilities. Such resources and facilities are available equitably regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of those who seek to use them. Granting permission to use these rooms does not constitute an approval or endorsement of any individual or group by the Library, the Library Board of Trustees, or the Village of Scarsdale.

The full Meeting Room Policy can be found here:

existingauditoriumAt the December 5 meeting of the Board of Education the discussion continued about a proposed $4.7 million renovation of the 800 seat SHS auditorium, that has been in disrepair for years. Though a million dollars was provided for upgrades in the 2014 bond, cost overruns on other projects prevented much of the work from being done. Among the issues are the acoustics, the wood paneling, the carpeting, the seating, the stage flooring, the lighting, the dressing rooms and water intrusion. The issues are outlined in a report here.

The Interim Superintendent Drew Patrick and board members followed up on a more detailed discussion on the matter at the November 14, 2022 meeting and looked for a plan to move forward.

First Patrick corrected a statement that was made at the prior meeting. It turns out that the auditorium was built to be a performance space – not a multi-purpose “gymnatorium” as previously stated.

Second, in response to a question of whether or not the acoustics of the existing space could be sufficiently improved, Patrick proposed that the district spend $4,600 for an acoustical analysis. For that fee, the acoustical consultants can provide an analysis of the acoustics of the current space vs. the space outfitted with proposed acoustic enhancements. Later at the meeting, the board agreed to do this analysis.

Board members, who had toured the facility, were then asked to provide their thoughts on whether or not the district should move forward with the long overdue renovation.

Board President Amber Yusuf said that she noted that the entire floor of the stage looked worn and asked why the front portion of the stage would not be replaced with the rest --– and asked what the additional cost would be to replace the entire stage floor.

Board member and architect Bob Klein said he looked at the 2017 master plan. He said about the auditorium, “There was no discussion in a shift of its location. Turning to the current proposal, he said, “We are talking about a big price tag. We can value engineer it. We are going to have a new superintendent shortly. This may be a good time for the architects to revisit this question by looking at the whole building and seeing if there is any shifting to see if we can come up with a better solution. There was no “big idea.” Mamaroneck has a performing arts program. An idea of that caliber would have an impact on this decision. This might be a time to layer on a version B of the master plan that incorporates some big ideas that may be an outgrowth of the new leadership.”

Ron Schulhof asked if Bob was talking about a master plan for the high school or just the auditorium space? Ron said, “I think the auditorium is a discreet space. I am not aware of anywhere to move an 800 person auditorium.”

Bob replied, “I don’t know that this is the only place for an auditorium. If there are any big ideas we want to think through, I don’t want to jump ahead and do the auditorium. There could be some organizational ideas that might suggest building a new auditorium. This is the moment in time to consider it. … I am an architect. Trust me. There are lots of way of doing these things.”

Jim Dugan objected, He said, “I am troubled by your suggestion on a number of levels. I am troubled by your notion that it is appropriate for the Board to grab the district by the collar and demand a reallocation of resources, both its intellectual and pedagogical resources, in a far reaching and expensive project. Is this what the Board should be doing? Allocating its financial resources and intellectual capital and energies? This is more of a top down situation where no one is saying there needs to be this drastic solution. You are within your right to voice your opinion about what should be done.”

Klein replied, “I take my fiscal responsibility seriously to solve the problem the best way possible. Scarsdale is known for innovation. I think it is important to engage our leadership. I am raising it as a perspective. I am not trying to yank anyone’s collar. I don’t see the harm in doing the due diligence.”

Suzie Hahn said, “Though I appreciate the call to think big, I am concerned there may be too many other competing capital projects. Many were reviewed by Drew and Stuart. In touring the schools we saw the challenges of space for storage, lunch services and providing collaborative spaces to support student learning. I think the auditorium is a long overdue priority but it isn’t the only one.”

Jessica Resnick-Ault said, “I appreciate that we should think big – but also that we have a capable auditorium study committee that has considered this for this past year. I feel like we have an imperative to repair the auditorium. Right now the space is not meeting student needs. There is a need for structural improvement. I don’t know that it makes sense to delay this for another year or two. It needs to be updated promptly.”

Colleen Brown agreed. She said, “I toured the auditorium and was surprised and how much the renovation is needed. I think this is the best return on our investment. The fee is not as high as other auditorium renovations. It is a need for students and the community. Our theater is anything but innovative now. This is a good use for the money. I believe this project should move forward.”

Ron Schulhof concurred. He said, “I saw the repairs that need to happen to this space. It has not seen major repairs. The work was deferred. It is not a question of should we, but when are we doing this. This is a space that is used a lot. I think it makes sense to do this and we should do it right. I support us doing the work and putting this in the budget.

Patrick added, “We can find out if there is any viable space on this campus to add space. The architects can tell us that.”

Amber Yusuf said, “Considering the practicalities of the way the theater looks now and the work of the team studying this problem and the other district needs, I think this is the way forward for us now. It is overdue. I can’t imagine any space where we could relocate the auditorium. I can’t envision that. I think most Board members are in agreement with this.”

Klein said, “I think the architects need to show us that the renovation will solve the problems. Will we see noticeable improvements in the acoustics? Will the changing rooms be adequate?”

When asked about the project timeline, Assistant Superintendent Stuart Mattey said there were multiple ways to fund this and that would affect the project timeline. The funding decisions will be a part of the discussions for the 2023-24 school budget.

Watch the discussion here.

soccercelebrateIt was two months ago when I first wrote about Scarsdale High School’s, now legendary, boys soccer team. They had won their first six matches and were beginning to gain traction and recognition. Now State Champions, and undefeated 21-0, they demand respect for a season unlike any in Scarsdale history. How far they have come since the start of their season and yet how close they have stayed to their principles and determination.

The state championship match on Sunday November 13, 2022, had an energy like never before. The lights illuminated Middletown High School's turf and fans filed into the tall steep-sloping bleachers. Scarsdale’s squad overwhelmed McQuaid Jesuit. Right off the bat, the competition was fierce. Like most of Scarsdale’s games, their possession was profuse. Captain Nico Galeano, with the first goal, won the raiders a 1-0 lead by half-time. In the second half, none other than his brother, sophomore Lorenzo Galeano, skillfully dribbled through three defenders and took the shot over the goalie to score the only other goal of the game and send the crowds roaring.

After the match Nico said his brother, “played the game of his life.” With a unified countdown from the fans, Scarsdale secured the New York State Championship Class AA title for the first time in Scarsdale soccer history.

With the team's accolades and awards, from All-Section to All-State awards, and Nico Galeano’s recent nomination for All-American, it’s obvious that this group of athletes have something special. Every player on the field is instrumental and technically masterful. They do not rely on any one player to carry the team. Since eight of the eleven starters play together in the off-season on New York Premier Future Soccer Club, it's promising that next year we could see the same degree of success. With that, this history-making season comes to a close, and we can only wait to see if Raider’s teams can continue this success in the winter.


Photos by Jon Thaler - see more here:

leafblowerI looked out my back window yesterday morning and saw a tall blond policewoman speaking to our landscaper -- who was holding a gas powered leaf blower. I couldn’t hear the conversation but quickly realized that gas leaf blowers are now banned on Mondays – so she was either warning him to stop using the blower or serving him with a summons.

In the past few weeks, I have noticed that the police are increasing their enforcement of a law that bans the use of gas powered leaf blowers from Saturday – Monday from October 1 to December 31 and also issuing summons for leaf piles in the street.

Here is the law pertaining to gas powered leaf blowers: “The use of gasoline powered blowers shall be permitted in the Village from October 1 through December 31, which includes the Village Fall Leaf Collection Program season but only Tuesday through Friday, but not on Federal legal holidays. Electric or battery powered blowers are not subject to these restrictions.”

Running afoul of this regulation can be expensive, very expensive. A friend reports that her elderly parents were given a $500 summons when their landscaper used the gas leaf blowers at an unauthorized time. What’s more, police gave another $500 summons to the individual with the leaf blower and another $500 summons to his employer. All in all the violation resulted in $1,500 in fees. However, the Village Court Clerk maintains that the highest fine is $250, not $500.

Scarsdale Police say, “Regarding the gas-powered blowers – yes – both the landscaper using the tool and the homeowner can be issued summonses, as well as the company itself, totaling three summonses during each enforcement action.”

Deputy Village Manager Alexandra Marshall clarified the policy. Here is what she said. "Upon witnessing a leaf blower violation, the enforcement officer issues leaf blower court appearance tickets to the landscaping company conducting the work, the actual worker using the leaf blower, and the property owner. Regarding leaf piles, the property owner typically receives the ticket because the landscaping company is often not around when the ticket is being issued. Once the tickets are issued, those who are ticketed appear in Court to discuss the fines with the Village Prosecutor. The fine amounts are at the discretion of the Judge, the minimum amount being $75.00, the maximum being $250.00. Higher amounts are typically given for repeat offenses."

And be warned: Leaf removal is getting more and more expensive every day. If you can mulch mow, you're probably better off.

dancenumberDon’t miss the Scarsdale High School Drama Club’s performance of the hit musical Mamma Mia! on November 18 and 19 at 7:30pm and Sunday, November 20 at 2pm. Three performances!

Mamma Mia! is a jukebox musical based on songs recorded by Swedish group ABBA. On a small Greek island, Sophie dreams of a perfect wedding — one which includes her father giving her away. The problem? Sophie doesn’t know who he is! Her mother Donna, the former lead singer of the 1970s pop group Donna and the Dynamos, refuses to talk about the past, so Sophie decides to take matters into her own hands. Sneaking a peek in her mother’s old diaries, she discovers three possible fathers: Sam, Bill, and Harry. She secretly invites all three to the wedding, convinced that she’ll know her father when she sees him. But when all three turn up, it may not be as clear as she thought!

Told through the legendary music of ABBA, Mamma Mia! has become a worldwide sensation that has audiences everywhere dancing. Get your tickets here.

Photos by Joe DiMartino