Wednesday, Sep 27th
santaOn Friday December 3rd at 5 pm, the Scarsdale Chamber of Commerce invites you to the annual tree lighting in Boniface Circle in Scarsdale Village.  Lange's Deli will provide hot chocolage and donuts and everyone is welcome to attend. On Saturday December 9th, the Scarsdale Parks and Recreation Department and The Scarsdale Chamber of Commerce will Co-Sponsor the Second Annual Scarsdale Holiday Breakfast from 9:00-11:00 AM at Scarsdale High School. All pre-K through 3rd Grade students and their families are invited. Those who attend will receive special holiday giveaways and can have their picture taken with Santa who will be visiting Scarsdale from the North Pole! Cost is $5 per person. Register online at or at the Recreation Department by the December 6th deadline. Special thanks to Lange’s Deli for providing breakfast.
Happy Holidays!

duckpondThe Scarsdale Forum will discuss their recently released report on a town-wide tax revaluation at a meeting on Thursday night November 18 at the Scarsdale Library at 8 pm. Their Assessment Revaluation Committee as well as a panel of experts will be there to lead a discussion on revaluation.

The panel will include:
John Wolham, Director, Southern Region, NY Office of Real Property Tax Services
Mary Marvin, Mayor of Bronxville
Steve Altieri, Town Administrator of Mamaroneck
Alfred A. Gatta, Village Manager of Scarsdale

Robert Berg, who served as Chair of the Assessment Revaluation Committee for the Forum will lead the discussion.

The Forum studied tax revaluation in response to a request by Mayor Carolyn Stevens in 2009. Their 22-page report offers background and history on property tax and covers New York State law and Scarsdale’s history of revaluation.

The last revaluation in Scarsdale was done 41 years ago in 1969, when Sal Horowitz Jr. was the Mayor, and there are now substantial inequities in the tax assessments of comparable properties. According to the report, since “property taxes within Scarsdale are a zero sum game,” owners of underassesed properties are being subsidized by their neighbors, who are paying more than their full share of the tax burden.

Since Scarsdale property tax are among the highest in the country, the committee favors rectifying these inequities through a revaluation.

In their report they recommend that:

  • The Village should conduct a full-scale reassessment as soon as possible
  • The Village should reassess periodically, with no more than four years between assessments
  • The Village should issue an RFP to seek out an appraisal firm to conduct the reassessment within 60 days.
  • The process should be as transparent as possible
  • Residents who face hardship due to a tax increase should be encouraged to apply for STAR exemptions
  • Scarsdale should lobby the state to enact a statute that will allow for deferred tax increases until a property is sold
  • Scarsdale should not phase in tax increases or allow transition assessment as these prolong inequalities.

The report offers a very thorough recap of the history of property taxes and a review of what neighboring towns have done. Since New York State does not mandate revaluations, only three municipalities in Westchester have conducted revaluations recently. They are the Town of Rye, the Town of Pelham and the Village of Bronxville. Some of our neighbors’ assessments are even more antiquated than Scarsdale’s; for instance the last time the City of Mt. Vernon was revalued was 1853.

The report also reviews several current real estate listings to demonstrate how older homes may be under-assessed. For example, the large home on the duck pond in Heathcote that sits on 3.73 acres is now on the market for $5.35 million and it’s current assessed value is $42,900, translating to a tax bill of $52,014. Using the current market value of the property, the assessment should be $94,160 with an annual tax bill of $118,000.

Owners of another Heathcote estate listed for $11.5 million now pay a tax bill of $89,170 and if the house is valued at $11.5 million the tax bill for the property should be $250,000. In contrast, a new home built across the street has been assessed for $144,135 which would translate to a tax bill of $175,000.

These inequities also exist for the tax assessments of more modest homes though examples were not provided in the report.

The report covers the history of tax grievances in Scarsdale and sites the rising number of grievances filed in recent years. During the 1990’s the number of grievances ran between 75 and 100, but by 2010, 756 grievances were filed due to inequities and falling market values. The report estimates that all the property owners who grieve their taxes in total may pay several hundred thousands dollars for appraisal, attorney and filing fees. And the cost to the Village is high as well. In 2010, the Village spent approximately $155,000 defending 551 challenges to the 2009 tax roll and in 2010 the tab for the Village rose to $212,000.

Furthermore, 90 percent of tax grievances result in reduced assessments, with some of these reductions ranging from 20% to 35%. These reductions will cause others to pay even higher real estate taxes.

Given the costs to homeowners and the Village and the basic inequities in the system, the Forum recommends that the Village conduct the revaluation for many reasons:

  • Equitable distribution
  • Transparency
  • Reduction of tax grievances
  • Correction of inequities between Scarsdale properties and those in the Mamaroneck Strip.
  • Maintenance of favorable bond ratings
  • Elimination of reliance on the state equalization rate
  • Eligibility for a small state subsidy if village adopts plans for cyclical reassessments

Learn more at the meeting of the Scarsdale Forum on Thursday November 18 at 8 pm in the Scott Room of the Scarsdale Public Library.

Thanks to committee members: Robert J. Berg, Chair, Robert Harrison Boine Johnson L. William Kay, III Kenneth Keats Edward A. Morgan and Douglas Ulene.


marxThe Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation presented their report on proposed changes to the Village Historic Preservation laws to a joint meeting of the Trustees Law and Land Use Committees on Wednesday night November 3rd.

Former Mayor Noreen Fisher headed up the ad hoc committee that was established earlier this year to determine how the Village might safeguard historic homes, and Scarsdale sites from demolition. Membership of the committee included Fisher, Thomas Giordano, David Karp, Lucas Meyer, Carl Pforzheimer, Emily Sherwood, Terry Singer, Eda Newhouse and Eric Rothschild.

They committee met six times to:

  • Determine the efficacy of the existing law
  • Consider amendments to the law proposed by the Committee on Historic Preservation (CHP)
  • Examine criteria currently used in deciding on proposed demolitions
  • Consider the pre-designation of properties and districts as historic
  • Set standards for the regulation and maintenance or improvement of designated landmarks or districts

Fisher gave the Trustees a recap of the work of the Ad Hoc committee and explained that they had researched the codes of many neighboring towns and villages to see how they work and determine what has proven to be effective in identifying and protecting historic buildings and sites.

In addition, they looked back at the activity of the current Scarsdale Committee for Historic Preservation and found that in the past three years, though 57 buildings were considered, only one was determined to have historic significance under the current code. They found that the current code only provided for a review of historic significance when demolition of more that 50% of a home was proposed and that the current code does not give the Village authority to require owners of historic homes to maintain their properties.

Current law covers homes but does not address historic sites, markers, and monuments that may “represent our historic, architectural or cultural past.” Though the current code charges the Committee on Historic Preservation with fostering civic pride and providing an educational role with respect to preservation it gives the Committee no charge on how to carry this out.

The Committee examined the role of the homeowner in designating their home as a historic property. They recommended that the Village adopt a policy to require written owner’s consent prior to pre-designation and stated that it would be “the CHP’s responsibility, as it is in many other municipalities, to work with the owners of all potentially pre-designated properties and gain the owner’s consent. “

In order to provide an incentive to the property owner to maintain and preserve historic homes, the committee advised the Village to consider local tax benefits for owners of designated homes, saying, “Given the relatively small number of properties that would be found of significant historic importance we do not consider this a burden on Village finances.”

Once was home was granted historic designation the status would become part of the deed and it would pass to the next owner when the house was sold.

During the meeting Fisher discussed why age alone was not a suitable criteria for determining historic significance and Trustee Eisenman concurred saying, “age may not be the best criteria,” and that “homes can be significant, despite their age.”

The report from the Ad Hoc committee recommends that the Village do the following:

  • Adopt a pre-designation law and continue to enforce current code while establishing “the criteria against which buildings, structures, sites and objects would be evaluated.”
  • Hire a consultant with experience in this area to work with the Village Planner and Village Historian in reviewing and surveying Scarsdale to pre-designate historic properties.
  • Train CHP and BAR members on standards for reviewing historic properties

From the tone of the discussion, it appeared that the Trustees embraced the committee’s recommendations and would propose them for adoption by the full board.


scc1.jpgAdvocates for an indoor pool and community center in Scarsdale presented an extensive study including financial projections, a concept design and cost evaluation to a meeting of the Scarsdale Board of Trustees on November 4th. Ed Morgan, a Co-Chair of the SCC, Steve Bush, the organization’s controller, architect Bart Hamlin and an architect from ikon.5 all participated in the report to the Board.

The 150-page document that was distributed outlines plans for a new facility at the site of the outdoor pool on Mamaroneck Road. The new Community Center would include an 8-lane pool, a therapy pool and locker rooms to be built underground, with an above ground extension of the existing bathhouse to accommodate a fitness center as well as community meeting rooms.

The group retained ikon.5 Architects to plan the center as they recently completed a Wellness Center at the College of New Rochelle that is largely below ground and required extensive rock excavation. The current plans for Scarsdale call for removal of 12,000 cubic yards of rock, upgrading utilities and reallocating parking. The 34,000 square foot project would require the relocation of the existing mechanical equipment for the outdoor pool. It is estimated that it would cost $24-$25 million, with approximately $20mm in construction costs and $4.8mm in soft costs. The group hopes to begin construction in January 2012 and believes it would take 20 months to build the project.

The current plan was developed after the SCC considered nine possible sites for the facility. When the site at Harwood Court was rejected due to resident’s concerns, the outdoor pool area was selected due to synergies between facilities.

Discussing the financial viability of the project, Steve Bush explained that the group originally had 1,200 paid members and now, four years later, 1,080 remain active. Sixty of those members donated additional monies to fund the architecture and engineering study, demonstrating that there continues to be a real commitment to the project. His projections call for 1,600 members by opening day with a full family membership at $1,318 per year. The plan ultimately targets a membership of 2,000. The group came up with membership numbers by studying demographics, the population and analyzing membership rates at the outdoor pool and at other similar facilities in the Northeast.

Three quarters of the revenue to support the facility are expected to come from membership fees, with the balance derived from increased summer camp fees, aquatic and fitness program fees, funds from the use of the community meeting rooms, vending machines, merchandise sales, child care and guest fees. In order to finance the project, the group plans to raise $8mm in private contributions. Once they reach this target, the Village would bond the remaining $16 million dollars.

The Trustees questioned the presenters about the validity of the membership scc2.jpgprojections and the financial projections. Trustee Eisenman asked what would happen to the outdoor pool during the construction of the facility. Hamlin explained that they planned to do the rock excavation during the fall and winter and pour the concrete before the pool opened in May. Though parking would have to be relocated the architects claimed they could minimize disruption to the pool during the summer months. There was also a discussion of why the project was expanded from an indoor pool project to a community center and Hamlin explained that the pool alone would not be financially self-sustaining and that together, a Community Center and indoor pool would heighten community interaction in a vibrant environment.

In order to move forward, the SCC is asking the Trustees for a commitment to issue the $16 million dollar bond, once the group raises the required $8 million in contributions. The Trustees thanked the group for their thorough job and opened the floor for comments from the audience.

There were very few people in attendance, making it difficult to gage community support for the project. Mrs. Landau called the outdoor pool site “sacred” and voiced her concerns about use of the outdoor pool during construction. She said “20 months for the project sounds hopeful.” Mr. Landau questioned the financial plan assumptions derived from the experts, saying, “what if things don’t work out?” Mrs. Mackler asked the Trustees to do due diligence to determine if the 1,080 members were still on board and discussed the “financial realities” we now face. Trustee Toder objected answering that if the list was given to the Board it would become a public document.

The Mayor complimented the group on an extremely thorough job and invited comments from the community. The meeting was televised and the plans will be available on the SCC website and at Village Hall.

emmerDavid Emmer, owner of Scarsdale Wrapping and Shipping Center on Harwood Court passed away on Saturday October 30, 2010. Emmer was a respected business owner in the Village and previously owned Arcade Stationers with his brother.

Emmer, 49, was an active member of the South Salem community and served on the Board of Trustees and was co-president of the Jewish Family Congregation (JFC) in South Salem. He is survived by his wife Jane, his sons Andrew and Matthew, his mother Bea, brother Jeffrey, sister Susan, and their families.

The funeral was held on Monday, November 1, at 1:00 pm at JFC, with burial at Sharon Gardens in Valhalla, NY.

Donations in his memory can be made to a college scholarship fund for David's two sons, Andrew and Matthew. Click here to make your contribution.



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