Tuesday, May 26th

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Calm3(This is the opinion of site owner Joanne Wallenstein)
It’s understandable why a proposal to build up to 280 apartments on the Freightway site has so many Scarsdale and Eastchester residents up in arms. Though the garage is dripping and rusting, many cannot understand why the need to rebuild it would necessitate the largest development project in Scarsdale’s history. What’s more, what some see as an opportunity to bring people and revenue to the Village, others view as a threat to neighborhood character and schools.

Without the presentation of any assumptions or financials behind the proposals, residents are unable to assess the potential impact on the schools and the tax rate. Lacking details, it’s hard to see what if any benefit there will be to the schools, the Village and Scarsdale’s 17,000 residents.

Those who support the development plan point out that it may bring new life to the Village and attract young residents who may eventually buy single-family homes. These residents will be able to walk to the train and the Village and fuel a renaissance in our floundering downtown. They claim that transit oriented development in other Westchester towns has not proven to overcrowd schools or unravel the community fabric and has helped these towns to thrive. Again, since no quantitative analysis is provided, it’s hard to assess the impact on foot traffic in the Village and validate the claim that the project will revitalize the market for retail stores and restaurants in the Village.

So where does this leave us? After years of community input, focus groups and work by urban planners, are these objections reason enough to give up on development all together? Is there a potential benefit to listening to both sides to see if common ground can be found? Might there be other solutions that appeal to more residents?

Let’s take a deep breath and consider some facts on which most can agree.

-The Village-owned garage needs to be renovated now and ultimately completely replaced.

-The garage generates $600,000-$700,000 in revenues that are badly needed by the Village.

-The garage and the two and half acres surrounding it are an eyesore – and could clearly be put to better use.

-Scarsdale’s school population has been dipping and is expected to decline by another 300 students in the next five years. See the enrollment projections here: *

-Our downtown lacks the vitality of neighboring towns and many stores are vacant.

Currently, the Village has two proposals before them, one calling for 220 residential units and the other for 280. The two developers have presented renderings and site plans, but the accompanying financial data has been withheld, as Trustees fear that sharing it will put them in a poor negotiating position with the developers.

Neither plan offers much to current owners of single-family homes. One plan proposes a possible theater, but other than that, it’s difficult to envision how current homeowners would benefit. Would real estate taxes go down as a result of the revenue from the development? Would there be any new public facilities such as a dog park, a playing field, a pool or an ice rink? Who knows? Right now, those who live here now are hard pressed to find the pearl in the oyster. As one man put it, these two similar plans pose many risks with little potential reward.

However, just because these two plans have little appeal, it doesn’t mean that a solution cannot be found.

I suggest, as many did at the meeting, that the Village go back to the developers and ask for some creative solutions that reduce the number of residences and increase amenities for Village residents. Trustees should provide developers with a maximum number of housing units and a wish list of additional community facilities. Are office space or restaurant sites viable options? More site configurations warrant consideration.

Under these scenarios, with a reduced number of residences, perhaps the developer would not agree to underwrite the full cost of the garage – and the Village would need to take on debt to share some of the cost of the garage. But the tradeoff would be well worth the cost. More exploring needs to be done and rough cost and revenue estimates need to be shared.

About the finances, as the Scarsdale community includes people with professional expertise in municipal finance and real estate development, trustees should share financial projections and give these folks a chance to analyze the numbers. Simply stating that the development will provide a “net benefit” to the Village, as claimed by the Mayor, is not sufficient evidence to move forward.

In conclusion, the 2.5 acre site is very valuable property and Scarsdale remains one of Westchester’s most desirable places to live. If this development is supposed to be a public/private partnership, let’s put the needs of the public first.

Just because the first two proposals we received our not up to snuff, we should not give up. There are benefits to improving this site for those who live here now and those who will come, so let’s continue to explore our options.

*Note: Here are the school district's enrollment projections as of December, 2019.

enrollment

VillageHallMeeting As you’ve likely heard, at the December 11 meeting about Freightway, the majority of residents present expressed opposition to converting the site into a transit-oriented development (TOD). In particular, they cited concerns about the proposed 200-plus rental/condo units that would serve as a cornerstone of such a design plan. How would the influx of hundreds of new residents impact the school district, the Metro North train station, and daily life in Scarsdale?

Over 30 members of the public lined up to voice their reservations and concerns about preliminary Freightway plans presented by the two finalist development groups. Taken together, the comments provided the village board with much food for thought as they continue to explore whether a TOD is the best choice the village. Here’s what some residents had to say:

Two Hours of Comments
Bob Berg (Tisdale Road) opened the public comment session, stating, “Freightway is an undeniable eyesore but the two proposals we’ve seen… are nonstarters… We’re not… looking for another 500-plus new residents to move into non-age-restricted apartments.” He continued, “If you can’t guarantee that the project will substantially lower our existing residents’ property taxes, stop now and let’s figure out another plan. I have grave concerns that 220 to 285 apartment units… can ever generate sufficient property taxes to even come close to covering the incremental cost the project will impose on our schools and village services, let alone lower our existing residents’ property taxes… Under New York property tax law, apartments receive incredibly favorable tax treatment as compared to single-family homes… This project will substantially raise existing homeowners’ property taxes to subsidize 500-plus new residents who will clog our schools and our already jammed Metro North train platform.”

Max Grudin (Overhill Road) followed, saying, "restricting construction of multifamily units would entrench what has become known as "economic segregation."  That would keep Scarsdale a very homogeneous community that does not relate to the broader American society. At the same time, it is fair to ask that everyone pays their fair share of taxes. In 2016, the village board rejected the Homestead Act. It is not fair to discriminate against one family; it’s also unfair to discriminate against 99 percent of families... We’ve created two different classes of homeowners (single family homeowners and apartment dwellers)… It is important to reconsider the Homestead Act.

Mayor Marc Samwick replied, “Homestead is not able to be acted on right now. Right now… the taxes that are assessed in Scarsdale are consistent with New York State law. New York State provides that you can override a piece of that, known as “homestead.” The village board, over the past five years, has twice evaluated whether to enact the homestead tax option… and on both occasions has unanimously voted against that. Next time it comes up, we’ll be happy to talk about it some more.”

Boning Lu (Jefferson Road) expressed concern about how new rental units would impact Scarsdale schools, and the assumption that only larger, specifically three-bedroom, apartments would house families with school-aged children. “(In New York City) people who live in two-bedroom, even one-bedroom (apartments) can raise school-aged kids… if you don’t have restrictions… you cannot prevent (these children) from (going) the schools. I don’t think 200 units will only generate 20 kids (as previously projected).” She went on, “We have to learn from other school districts… In Larchmont, they had a large residential unit constructed recently, and their school is overcrowded because they have too many kids… They had to build temporary classrooms… we spend so much, we don’t want our kids in temporary classrooms.”

Samwick responded, “We all are here for the schools as well... If we believe, at any time, that this development would yield something that is detrimental to our schools and changes the foundation of our community, we don’t need to proceed.” He added, “What I also want people to understand is these are things that absolutely will be and, by law, have to be studied and assessed.”

Bert Cohen (Chesterfield Road) followed, “I’m hearing about paid professionals and consultants, and it really reminds me of the reval. Whatever the arguments were (about) the logic, clearly, in many ways, the village didn’t understand the impact on the residents.” He continued, “270 apartments might lead you to 500 new students. I don’t care what study you have; it’s not going to work out... This whole thing is out of proportion to the village and… a parking lot. If we need a different parking lot, let’s come up with something else instead.”

Bram Levin (Overhill Road) “I think there are so many intersecting issues, which is why we hear such a diversity of comments… One of the things we keep repeating… is that we don’t have policy papers… published papers on our economic development… We should have an environmental plan… we don’t have an economic plan… we don’t have a future plan… We’re really working in the dark here… These (proposals) are very limited ideas. They don’t solve our traffic problems; they don’t protect or show concern for the school issues. The (Bronx River) parkway zone, which is a sensitive environmental area, has really suffered a great loss of trees… there are a lot of people living in this area… We should be dealing with this in a comprehensive, multi-community way. “

Samwick replied, “There is a village comprehensive plan that goes back. There have been other studies that have been done of our village center since. We’re standing on the shoulders of that. So, this is not coming out of left field by any stretch… Frankly, the discussion about redeveloping Freightway is decades old.”

A bit later, Brice Kirkendall-Rodriguez (Fox Meadow Road) said, “There has been discussion about the expected demographics for 200-plus new rental units at Freightway but we need to also think about the future demographics for… empty nests that are increasingly under pressure… We can make our community friendlier to our longest-tenure residents by minimizing tax burdens and increasing amenities. Freightway offers help in this regard and more.”

He continued, “While retail is suffering nationally, it is possible that our woes are amplified by a near monopoly in the village center… Perhaps Freightway offers an alternative to this monopoly and a way to fulfill consumer demand… non-residential, experiential retail opportunities abound, and the market already exists as evidenced by what Scarsdalians spend elsewhere… To see them realized means using the full scope of land available to us. Scarsdale already owns the air rights over Metro North’s tracks. It adds about 40 percent to the acreage for the site and more cohesively integrates Garth Road with Scarsdale Avenue and the village center… If our air rights are not part of this project, that value will never be captured… the project scope for Freightway remains smaller and has largely concentrated on rental apartments and parking.”

Samwick replied, “Amenities… we want to hear what your priorities and preferences are so we can try to incorporate that, as much as possible, into the development. Air rights: we’ve had preliminary discussions with everyone about how to best utilize them. Keep in mind the difficulties we had constructing the Popham Road Bridge, which is just 80 feet wide.“ He went on, “There’s only so much value in that land right now; there are a couple of ways you can get that value. You can put it on the tax rolls, you can sell it and develop it – you can get something up front and tax dollars at the back end. If you increase the tax dollars at the back end, you’re going to get less up front. We have certain needs up-front, primarily… parking. We also have a number of wants, in terms of amenities and things we can bring to the community. “

Deborah McCarthy (Bradley Road), “I don’t think that the path… to address fiscal concerns is the path we should be on… I have a great number of concerns about what is being proposed and how it may detract from rather than enhance the village center. In addition… I have a question with respect to the parking… how much parking is going to be allocated for the residences? When they’re talking about 720 spaces, is that for the commuters and residents?” Samwick quickly responded, “That’s for the community. Residents would have separate parking.”

McCarthy added, “One of the things… these two proposals fail to show is the ability to access the site and to depart the site in ways that would enhance traffic flow… The other thing is… the village should be asking for affidavits from these developers as to their litigation history. Have they been sued; have they settled those suits; what have the suits been about, so we have a better understanding of what their track record is. I can understand the desire of the village to want to develop that site… (but) there is vacant (retail) space in the village and working with the individuals who own that space is probably the most productive step the village can take in that regard.”

Samwick answered, “That is something that is already happening; the village manager and I met with (an) owner… two days ago. With regard to other things… We are not supporting or sponsoring the development proposals... These are designed to engage a conversation… we’re going through extra steps to involve the community, and involve the community at a much earlier stage than would normally be the case… By having early discussions, we’re not having refined plans to dive into.”

Marshall Kitain (Butler Road) “A vibrant downtown is a worthwhile goal. The proposed development here is too risky, is too big, and it offers no guarantee of creating the vibrant downtown we would like. Creating this much new housing supply does not serve current village residents... It will pressure the school system infrastructure, particularly if zoned for a single elementary school… Adding significant new housing supply at a low price point depresses existing property values, and the development itself is risky… The potential for unintended consequences here is very large… while transit-oriented developments may be great for some towns, that does not mean it’s right for Scarsdale… Listen to your constituents here tonight.”

Samwick replied, “We haven’t addressed school zones; that’s something the school district and board of education determines… I agree with you; just because transit-oriented developments have worked in other communities doesn’t mean this is right for 10583. But we want to look at it and make an educated determination.”

Kitain followed, “I wholly agree that it’s worth exploring. What’s being presented here are two, by and large, similar kind of developments. They’re not real out-of-the-box thinking… Amenities like squash courts and a pool… a park, a playground… those are real creative ideas and should be presented… once you continue going down one path, it almost becomes a fait accompli.”

Zangzhou Hu (Brite Avenue) then discussed the desirable Short Hills school district becoming overcrowded after a new apartment complex was built. She also expressed concerns about Scarsdale’s timeline in selecting a preferred developer, as well as the quality of the project analysis to date. Samwick explained that the reason a preferred developer would be “selected prior to having all the information is so that (it will) have enough comfort to spend money to do site due diligence. They will determine what the environmental condition of the site is; they will see where the bedrock is, where the water table is, and what can be built there. That enables the developer with the village to refine the program… in the meantime, we are doing analysis; we are looking at the experience of comparable communities; we’re looking at what the experience is with school generation…we’re looking at what it is in Scarsdale… We’ve heard about what is happening in Short Hills… we have not yet been able to confirm that… but it’s critically important (to take into account).”

Claudine Gessel (Kent Road) said, “This is just more kids, no matter how you look at it… and, of course, we don’t know how many kids there are, we just know they’re more. What we also know, from the Greenacres thing that just happened, is that we’re pretty maxed out… in every room, with every teacher, in every seat. We are maxed out and people don’t want to raise the tax bill… (for more square footage, and more teachers)… what kind of taxes is this generating?” Samwick followed, “Fiscal impact: if it doesn’t work, it’s not happening… with respect to schools, if we have to build more schools, it’s not happening.”

Alex Wolf (Harvest Drive) stated, “It seems to me that this project is offering us very marginal benefits in terms of the public amenities in return for huge profits for developers, who come in here, build, and, yes, Avalon will manage their asset. That’s wonderful for us… This garage (will cost) $2.5 million to repair. That’s less than one-tenth of a percent over a 10-year period during which those repairs are supposed to have a useful life… That’s $500 a family over 10 years. So why are we getting nothing for this (development)? We have to accept this residential component to get marginal benefit to the community? …We could have a bond issue and make the improvements that the community wants.”

Samwick followed up, “If we think we’re getting nothing (with this project), we’re done; we’ll fix the garage. With respect to the future of the garage, the garage is almost 50 years old. This $2.5 million is just the beginning. There is a lot of money, probably tens of millions of dollars, that needs to be spent over a longer period of time, albeit, but, unquestionably, we are at the beginning of a downward spiral with respect to that garage… That’s why it’s so important to do the evaluations that we’re doing right now.”

Fernando Gueler (Taunton Road) stated that he and other residents would like to see a spectrum of options for the Freightway site. He explained the frustration of having to choose just between repairing the garage and a large scale, multi-use project. He also felt that the two finalists’ designs were very similar, and presented residents with too few ideas/choices. Samwick explained that all developers were asked to provide designs that reflected existing village center architecture; the two designs presented include features that currently work in these types of developments and are market-driven

Kenneth Clay (Tompkins Road) commented, “It feels like a remedy for an illness I’m not sure we have. We have a parking lot that’s in decay; it can be repaired. We may have an opportunity to do some other things… We ought to do a little more to define the needs… I would hope this isn’t fully baked; this is illustrative, and that we will give further consideration with community input.” Samwick then said, “The way you’ve said it is exactly right; it isn’t fully baked.”

Michael Levine (Walworth Avenue) then said, “What is the impact on the public school population and what’s the sustainable or acceptable impact? …The visioning study… estimates at most 20 new public school students; that’s not consistent with the RFEI from East End, which says it’s targeting mature adults and seniors, and young families seeking starter homes in a walkable, suburban location with great schools. LCOR, similarly, (states)
‘The intent is to provide a wide variety of residential unit sizes… from families to millennials to mature adults, we’re committed to reaching as many groups as possible. Well, families and millennials, millennials become families. People who will have school kids… You really ought to look at this carefully now because it may avoid doing a whole lot of other work if you can’t find a way to keep the school population down to the 20 or so you said in the visioning study.” Samwick replied, “If there’s one threshold issue, it’s school impact. We are on top of it.”

Soon after, Mayra Kirkendall Rodriguez (Fox Meadow Road) stated, “I think it’s fantastic to have this kind of a session; I think it’s really great to see so many residents wanting to be actively involved in our municipality and it’s essential to have cognizant diversity. It can be hard, it can be ugly, because everybody has a different background, everybody has a different culture, (and) everybody has a different way of speaking. But it’s when you really deal with the differences in opinion… that the result is far better. If we surround ourselves with just the people who agree with us, that results in a higher probability of failure… I want this to be a smashing success... The sun is setting on America’s longest economic expansion in history… 25 huge retailers went into bankruptcy this year; 30 more are predicted to go into bankruptcy next year… I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade… we have to be very careful in our due diligence – the financials of the bidders, the economics of the project, and hopefully, that’s coming at some point soon… and any reputations risks to Scarsdale. “

Residents raised a number of other issues and urged that any development feature sustainable design; asked the village to improve communications efforts related to the project and engage more residents; questioned if the developers could drastically reduce the number of proposed residential units; reinforced the need for the village to serve current residents rather than future residents; and asked their neighbors to debate the issues respectfully.

If you were unable to attend the meeting, you may view the developers’ presentations and provide feedback via Scarsdale.com.

Following the meeting, John Gliedman of Lyons Road sent this letter to Scarsdale10583:

Meetings like the one publicized by the mayor and held on December 11, 2019 are so important because they help focus and foster advance planning. I fear there was no such meeting in the town to our east, Mamaroneck, when it learned in 2014 that 300 new families had been added as residents due to various trends, including new construction.

The signs of overcrowding began the following year, but they erupted in 2017 with news that rezoning of school assignments was on the table. A map had been prepared showing the new assignments, as the Chatsworth and Murray Avenue schools had become overcrowded. This triggered petitions and public meetings in early 2018, when parents who had moved to be walking distance from their school suddenly faced long trips to their proposed assigned school.

There is nothing inevitable about Scarsdale to say that this could not happen here. Take the Freightway out of the equation for the moment. Demographic pendulums have a way of swinging back and forth. Overcrowding is an ever-present risk. Now, add Freightway apartment development plans into the equation. Why risk a self-inflicted problem of overcrowding into our community? Surely our local store profits and the cost of sustaining Freightway are problems that we can isolate and solve without triggering new, worse issues?

houselitatnightThe Scarsdale Police Department, in partnership with the community, wants all residents to help make the Village a safe place to live, work and visit. Police suggest the following recommendations to assist in preventing home burglaries and other seasonal crimes:

-Make your house appear occupied. Leave lights or televisions on timers when you are out.

-Use motion-activated exterior lighting and keep the perimeter of your house well lit. Even the smallest light may be a deterrent to prowlers.

-Consider investing in a camera surveillance system and advertise that your house is protected by video surveillance by posting signs.

-Make your home more difficult to enter by increasing exterior security.

-Always turn on your alarm system when you are away. This includes second-story alarm sensors.

-Keep all exterior doors locked, using deadbolt locks. Keep your garage door closed and locked.

-Always lock your vehicle, whether it is parked on the street or in your driveway. Do not leave keys in unattended vehicles.

-Don't allow daily deliveries of mail, packages or other items to build up while you are away. Arrange the Post Office to hold your mail or ask a friend or neighbor to collect them regularly.

-Be an observant neighbor. Immediately notify police of any suspicious activity in your neighborhood. Always be vigilant and aware of your surroundings.

holidaytipChristmas tunes are playing on the radio, you took advantage of the Black Friday super-sales and you gave generously on Giving Tuesday …. so what’s next on your holiday list? Tips … and all the questions surrounding them. What are you tipping the trash guys? Are you allowed to give a cash gift to the mail carrier? If you get your hair highlighted right before Christmas, should you give more than the usual tip?”

Why do we tip? Some people tip and gift simply because it brings them joy. Others say they want to show appreciation for those who make their life easier or better while some tip out of obligation or fear that they won’t get good service if they don’t tip at holiday time.

Most just want to know what everyone else is doing so that they can tip the right people the appropriate amount.

The Emily Post Guide to Etiquette suggests thinking about tipping at holiday time in the following way and giving based on the following:

• The quality and frequency of the service you receive
• Relationship with service provider
• Years person has provided service
• Budget: only give what you can afford
• It’s always okay to give baked goods and a note showing your gratitude

The guide also states that all gifts or tips should be accompanied by a personal note.

It takes a village to answer the tipping question and thankfully, our village loves to respond to surveys. Here’s a breakdown of your response to our survey:

The Nanny: As a regular in the household, it is no surprise that nannies get the biggest gifts from the families for whom they work. The overwhelming majority of people give their nanny a full week pay as a bonus or tip. Some people say that they give a smaller amount of money ($100-$200) and a gift like a nice handbag or perfume. Etiquette sites warn that nannies do not want gifts related to kids, particularly your kids (like a framed picture), but they do recommended that your children write a note or draw a special picture for their nanny accompany the gift. A note of gratitude from the parent(s) goes a long way.

The cleaner/housekeeper: These are other people in many people’s lives that are not regularly tipped. Two-thirds of respondents show their appreciation with a gift of one-week’s pay. Another 15% give $200 which may be more or less than they pay their crew weekly. About 10% of people give a $100 bonus to their cleaning help during the holidays. Again, if this is someone you have a personal relationship with, a note of thanks is always appreciated.

The Beloved Babysitter: If you love and appreciate your babysitter, it’s nice to give this person a card expressing your gratitude and a little extra spending money over the holidays. Most people give $50, $100, or an average week’s pay. If your kids add on to this with an art project or card, that’s even better.

The Trash Pick-Up Team: Although it’s not a glamorous job, being a sanitation worker has its perks. Whereas Scarsdale's Department of Sanitation has a policy stating that sanitation workers cannot accept or solicit monetary gifts, it seems like a good number of you either ignore this or don’t know about it since only 8% of people don’t give cash. Of those who do tip, 45% leave $25 per person, 33% leave $50 per person and 14% leave $100 per person. One person responded that they leave a week’s pay, but I’m not sure how we know what that is.

A very common question is HOW do you tip them, as in where do you leave the money and cards? Some people tape gifts onto their garbage or recycling bins but if you worry about someone else taking it, you can leave a note asking them to ring your doorbell and then hand them their gifts on garbage collection day. Of the 8% who do not acknowledge sanitation workers with cash, the most common reason they give is because they are salaried employees with benefits and are not dependent on tips.

The Mail Carrier: Postal workers are usually acknowledged during holiday time, although the United States Postal Service (USPS) does not allow mail carriers to accept cash gifts, checks, or any other form of currency. They may accept snacks and beverages, gifts valued under $20 including gift cards to a specific retailer, or gift baskets that can be shared with other staff. That being said, of the 80% of people that give a cash gift to the mail carrier, half give $25. Other denominations include $50 (26%), $100 (14%). A few people give a token $10 thanks. Again, mail carriers are not tip-dependent workers, so if your budget is tight and your mail delivery person doesn’t show much love, consider skipping the tip.

The Delivery People: Newspaper delivery people depend on tips for income, so it’s nice to give a bit extra ($10-$25) to these people during the holidays if they provide a good service. Private delivery services (like FedEx and UPS) may accept monetary and non-monetary gifts, but they are salaried employees and do not depend on tips for wages. One-third of people give cash gifts of $25-$50 to their package delivery people but two-thirds give nothing extra to them during the holidays.

The Teacher: Almost everyone appreciates their children’s teachers and all but 5% acknowledge them at holiday time with a gift or a cash equivalent. Of the 78% of respondents who have kids in school, 25% give a gift valued under $25 and 6% give a gift valued over $25. Another 25% give $25, 10% give $50 and 8% of people give their child’s teacher $100. Although it is likely that some respondents have children in private school with different policies, Scarsdale school policy states that class parents can ask for contributions of up to $10 per family for a group gift for the teacher and individual gifts must remain under $15. Hmmmm….

The Lawn Service: Less than 20% of people gift their landscaping/lawn service companies during the holidays but those who do give about what they pay their lawn company for one or two weeks of mowing. T’is not the season for lawn care so that may be the reason people forget the gardener.

The Bus Driver/Monitor: Less than half of respondents have a bus that takes their kids to school, but of those that do, most give $25 or $50 to the driver and monitor. If your kids are on a bus with other kids you know, it might be a good idea to pool money and give one larger gift to the driver and monitor. It’s also nice to have your kids write a card or draw a picture if they like their experience on the bus.

The Groomer/Dog Walker: Only 25% of those surveyed use groomer and dog walking services. Those who do tip give about $50-$100 or what they’d pay for a week of walking or a pup grooming session. If you have a personal relationship with this person, it’s thoughtful to include a note of thanks for treating your furry family member well.

The Trainer: Most people don’t have a personal trainer. Of the 25% of people with a personal trainer, most give $100-$200 or the equivalent of one week of training. As this is someone you spend time with, a personal note of gratitude should accompany any gift.

The Coaches/The Tutor: A quarter of people responded that they do not give an extra tip to a coach or a tutor at holiday time, but about 20% people give a tangible gift, 20% give $50, and 15% of people give $25 or $100. This was quite a range which suggests that relationships with coaches or tutors vary.

The Hairdresser and The Manicurist: Most people (65-75%) have a hairdresser and/or a regular person for manicures and pedicures. Of those, 30% give nothing extra to their hairdresser and 50% give nothing extra to their manicurist. About 25% give $50 to their hairdresser and 17% give $100. For nail technicians, most give $25 and some $50. A few people bring small gifts. If you go to your regular hairdresser or nail salon to get your hair or nails done during the holidays, it is appropriate to give a bigger tip than usual (and up to the cost of the service).
However, some etiquette sites say that if you regularly tip someone, there is no need to tip a significant amount extra during the holidays. If you’re getting your hair cut, colored and styled and think you are expected to give the cost of the hair treatment, this can add up to a lot of dough.

Here are the results of our survey of what your fellow Scarsdalians are giving this season:

TippingChart

Remember that there is no right or wrong amount to tip and that a personalized card is a most sincere gesture of gratitude. The above list is just a guide of who you may want to consider giving a gift to but is by no means exhaustive. Quite a few people wrote in the comments saying they also tip the dry cleaner, the handyman, the boss, the administrative staff or co-workers, the milkman, the vet, the gym instructor and the tennis pro.

If you don’t feel comfortable giving a tip consider a special gift like a bottle of wine, a fruit basket or a gift card to a local restaurant to show your appreciation. A donation in someone’s name is also a nice way to show that you are thinking of them, particularly if it’s to a charity that’s meaningful to them.

We hope this season brings you joy with your gift-giving and that this helps takes the stress out of the whom and the how much.

LittleDrunken1A bright boldly striped awning announces the opening of Little Drunken Chef on Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains. Here I was , midweek, just a few minutes north of Scarsdale , and upon opening the door of Little Drunken Chef, I was transported to what could have been lower Manhattan, perhaps Greenwich Village, preparing to enjoy a meal at one of their funky restaurants. The décor in this new White Plains eatery is amazing and as interesting as its menu. A painting of a woman enjoying a cocktail greets you at the door. The exposed brick walls are covered with collages of newspaper articles, photos, quotes and bumper stickers. One wall is mounted with a collection of old wooden doors, covered in peeling paint and graffiti. Hanging from the industrial ceiling is lighting constructed from plastic piping. The main level has a large friendly bar on one side, and several high tables. The other side of the room has a long banquette and many tables. The long staircase in the back, with the black risers covered with graffiti, leads to the upstairs dining area, perfect for parties of about 45 guests. On Fridays and Saturdays a DJ and dancing add to the festivities. The design of Little Drunken Chef shows off the artistic talent of owner Bonnie Saran and her creative co-worker Anna Canna.

littledrunkenbarBonnie Saran the multi-talented owner, is the creative force that brings her concept to White Plains. Some of Saran’s other ventures include Little Mumbai Market in Pleasantville and Little Crepe Street and Little Kabab Station in Mt Kisco. Saran’s family roots are from India, where her military family moved around a great deal. She is well travelled and added to her culinary knowledge through her visits around the world. She learned a great deal helping her mother in her catering business.

Little Drunken Chef is casual and fun and serves street food from many of the countries that Saran visited. People she met in her travels shared recipes with her. There are tastes of Mexico, Spain, The Bahamas, Greece and India, to name but a few. She also has an extensive catering business. “One of the best parts of my job is creating something out of nothing. I love and get great satisfaction from the planning aspect of my business. My work is very hands on and I can help with all facets at my restaurants. Everything at Little Drunken Chef is prepared in house, and is fresh daily. We do not freeze our dishes. If I were dining at Little Drunken Chef, I would have loved to have my father and grandmother share my table and enjoy dishes such as our goat curry.”

The menu here has many categories with interesting selections within each. Choose from Chef’sLittleDrunkenTuna board, soup, tapas, tacos, burger barn, and fried wings, flat breads, big plates, bowls, bunny chow and a kids section, as well. If you are with a few friends, start with the chef’s board with your cocktails. Several cheeses, assorted fruits and bread and charcuterie will arrive.

On a cool day, a bowl of soup makes a nice starter. There are several interesting salad combinations which can be topped with tofu, salmon, shrimp, falafel, or chicken and homemade dressings. The organic quinoa salad, beet’em salad and drunken chopped salad are some of the appealing choices.
Of the 20 plus tapas selections we loved the ones suggested to us. Chicken Montadito arrived on a slate tray. The shredded chicken was tossed with a nicely seasoned sauce and sat on a fried plantain. Jamon and Manchego croquettes were tennis sized balls of Serrano ham and Manchego cheese lightly crusted and fried Chipotle mayo gave them a tasty twist. From India a tapas of lasooni gobi was perfect. The florets of cauliflower were enhanced by a savory chili and garlic sauce. One of my favorites was the gambas al ajillo. Here the tiger prawn is served in a cocktail glass with spicy tomato sauce, a crisp crostini and a celery swizzle stick -- pleasing to the eye as well as the taste. Haloumi fries were a not to be missed tapas.

littledrunkentikkamasalaI look forward to sampling cocktail samosas, patatas bravas, roti kebab rolls, crispy calamari and giant wild mushroom ravioli. The presentation of these tapas are creative and original. An example is a dish of chicken empanadas, which arrive attached to a mini clothesline with clothespins .Lots of thought has gone into the creation of every aspect of Little Drunken Chef.

We moved on to the tacos which can be served on white corn tortillas or jicama. We opted for the halibut tacos. The fish was fried to a nice crispiness and was topped with pico di gallo, and tartar sauce as well as cole slaw. We look forward to sampling the lamb, roasted pork, chicken vindaloo and falafel tacos. Five varieties of flatbreads are awaiting your taste, The lamb was beautifully seasoned. Next to be sampled were the big plates. Would it be pan seared halibut, seafood paella, aji tuna or albondigas, (Spanish meatballs)? A platter of tender baby lamb chops was presented to our table. By this time I was feeling very much at home, and picked up each chop and enjoyed every bit of the nicely marinated lean meat. Carrots, cauliflower, squash, and spinach mixed with rice completed this hearty dish.

Future visits will include a selection of bowls, perhaps saag paneer, lamb madras or goat curry littledrunkentableserved with rice or quinoa, salad and pappadam. Several Indian specialties can also be ordered in a scooped out bread bowl. There are several vegan dishes and gluten free dishes offered. Just inquire.
Desserts include blueberry or mango panna cotta, churros, or, Knickerbocker Glory, a Sunday variation with whipped cream, ice cream and ginger snaps.

Yes, busy Mamaroneck Avenue in downtown White Plains has become busier with the addition of “the new kid on the block.” Once you visit Little Drunken Chef, I’m sure you will return to experience the varied international influenced menu that it offers.

Little Drunken Chef
91 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, New York
914 615-9300

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