Sunday, Apr 21st

DemocraticLogoThe Scarsdale Democratic Club is hosting its annual fundraiser on Sunday, September 7th, from 2 PM to 5 PM at Taiim Cellar, 11 Boniface Circle. Here's your chance to meet and greet local leaders such as Congressman Eliot, Engel, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, State Sentaor Andrew Stewart-Cousins, Assemblyman David Buchwald, Ben Boykin, Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer, Rachel Hahn and Justice Arlene Katz. Supporters are invited to purchase a ticket and stop by and meet the candidates.

To buy your tickets or learn more, contact Mark Lewis at 914-723-3766 or send a check to:
Scarsdale Democratic Town Committee
C/O Bernard Kobroff
107 Brewster Road
Scarsdale, N.Y. 10583

Marketplace-radioDiscontent among the well-heeled about the Scarsdale Tax Revaluation has now gone national. David Bunzel, a Murray Hill resident who is leading a challenge to the revaluation along with Robert Berg, who supported Scarsdale's first revaluation in 45 years, were interviewed on the Marketplace Program on National Public Radio on September 3. You can listen to the interview here:

On the broadcast Bunzel says that the 30% increase in his assessment is not fair and that his group is challenging the new assessments. Records show that the valuation on his house on Sherbrooke Road rose from $3,092,000 prior to the revaluation to $4,124,000 afterwards. Taxes before the revaluation were $76,367 and in 2015 could rise by $18,000 to an estimated $94,000.

However, Bob Berg who championed the reassessment says, "Who has sympathy for these people? ... They were getting a great deal that we were paying for, for 45 years in many cases."

Turns out that one of the members of the Scarsdale Board of Trustees does have sympathy for the cause. Trustee Marc Samwick has filed his own tax grievance. Because of the VIllage's conflict of interest policy, and a long-standing agreement between the Village of Scarsdale and the Town of Mamaroneck for situations like this, Samwick's grievance will be handled by the Town of Mamaroneck Assesor rather than Scarsdale's assessor, Nanette Albanese

We asked Samwick to comment and he sent us the following: "I am filing a tax grievance in the ordinary course with no agenda other than to have my assessment better reflect the value of my home. It is my understanding that the Village is following standard operating procedure by having a Village Trustee's grievance heard by the Town of Mamaroneck."

However, Samwick has far less at stake then Bunzel. Samwick's home valuation rose about $300,000 in the revaluation, taking his taxes from $26,155 in 2014 to an estimated $31,409 for 2015. If he is successful with his grievance, he stands to gain a few thousand dollars a year.

patbuddy2Greenacres resident Pat Simmermacher and her Welsh Springer Spaniel Buddy have walked miles together – in fact together they have covered every street in Scarsdale and Bronxville. How did they accomplish this and why? Read their endearing story here:

How did you get the idea to do the walk?

I found that I was walking the same roads over and over again and I was getting a bit tired of these routes. Since my children are grown and I was no longer carpooling, I wasn't seeing much of Scarsdale. I got a map of the Village Roads from the Park and Recreation Department, and thought that it would be fun to see more of our Village.

When did you begin in Scarsdale? How many months did it take? And why did you decide to continue in Bronxville?

I began walking Buddy on October 10, 2012. There was no schedule or regimen to our walks. We walked the streets when my schedule permitted. It took almost a year. We finished the walk on September 13, 2013.

I love our walks together because each walk is different and each feels like we are exploring. Some days we walk ¼ mile because we stop to chat with someone or because there are lots of interesting smells that Buddy wants to check out. Other days we might walk 3 miles. There is never a boring walk, and the walking never seems like exercise.

Buddy and I had so much fun exploring Scarsdale that we decide to continue to explore other towns. We decided on Bronxville because it's a manageable size and Bronxville's streets have little traffic and it is a pretty village. A friend of mine lives in Bronxville and we thought this would be a good way for us to catch up and walk our dogs at the same time. We started our walk on November 2, 2013. My friend was not able to finish these routes because her dog became ill. Buddy and I finished Bronxville in three weeks.

How many miles of roads did you cover in each town?

Bronxville is a very small village It is 1 square mile whereas Scarsdale is 6 ½ square miles. Scarsdale has 95 miles of roads.

What were some of the interesting sites you saw?

I loved seeing all the beautifully landscaped yards and gardens that thrive all over Scarsdale. Scarsdale homes are well maintained, and the architecture is amazingly diverse. Each neighborhood – and they are not just Greenacres, Fox Meadow, Heathcote, Quaker Ridge, and Edgewood – but a multitude of smaller, self-composed neighborhoods, who have their own personalities, energy and character.

I saw wonderful pocket parks and hidden neighborhood passageways to the elementary schools and neat weather vanes. With many homes I enjoyed contemplating what seems to be important to each family. Their yards and front doors and cars and sports equipment offered lots of clues.

What were some of the biggest surprises about your journey?

I was surprised to see how many people enjoy taking walks in Scarsdale.
Scarsdale is full of phenomenally successful and talented people. Rubbing elbows and getting to know such people is something I truly treasure. But on my walks I never encounter people in "Type A" mode. No one I meet is walking to win a trophy or accomplish anything. People walk to relax and regroup and enjoy being outside. It cannot be more simple. It is a delight to say hi and chat with them! It so often leads to wonderful conversations and insights.

Did people stop you along the way and ask why you were there?

There were many times when Buddy was sitting and staying at intersections, waiting for the traffic to clear, when people would stop their car, lean out the window, and say something sweet about Buddy. If they knew us, they would ask why we were so far from home. I would tell them we were exploring Scarsdale. It was fun hearing from them that they had seen us before somewhere, unexpectedly. It was like finding Waldo...or where is Waldo today?

Did you ever arouse suspicion?

No one ever questioned why we were in their neighborhood and we never aroused suspicion. However, there were a few homes that we passed where we wondered what was going on because the houses, unlike most houses, seemed dark, bordered up, or hidden by overgrown shrubbery.

How old is Buddy and what kind of dog is he?

Buddy is seven years old. He is a Welsh Springer Spaniel. Welsh Springer Spaniels are hunting dogs. True to his breed, he is active, loyal, and affectionate, and needs lots of exercise. Buddy has a brother and a half sister in Scarsdale.

Did he get into the routine and learn what to expect?

Buddy adores his walks! When I say, "Let's take a walk!" and go to the kitchen counter to get his leash, Buddy can barely contain himself. He jumps, he wiggles, and tears down the stairs to the door we always go out. As we walk he always seems to be smiling! It is impossible not to be happy while watching Buddy be so curious and delighted! During each walk, within 3 -4 minutes, Buddy becomes attuned to my pace and embraces it. He is an excellent walking companion!

Are there roads you could not walk due to the conditions?

Yes, there were a few roads we were not able to walk on like Saxon Woods Road and Weaver Street. They were either too narrow or windy, or had too much traffic. On roads that I felt were unsafe, I would put him in the car and we would drive down the streets. I wanted to be able to say: "Buddy has been on every road in Scarsdale!"

Did you carry the map with you or memorize the route before you went each day?

Early on we headed out without a map. But too many times we would head down one road and end up on different streets than what I intended. So eventually, I made a copy of the Village map and carried that and a pen in my pocket so I could mark off each road as we went. When I got home, I would take a blue magic marker and color in the roads that we covered that day on my large wall map. It was fun seeing the map get filled in and to plot out my next route.

Did you end up walking in bad weather at times?

There were a few unexpected rain showers that got us when we were too far away from our car, so we got pretty wet. Some of our most enjoyable walks were during and after fresh soft snow fell. If the conditions were too unsafe we wouldn't walk far, but on some of these snow days it was just glorious being outside! It was so peaceful. The only trouble with snowy days was Buddy couldn't pick up all the smells he enjoyed when the weather was warmer.

Anything you would like to add?

Every time Buddy sees a mailman or a white mail truck he sits pretty and waits patiently for a biscuit that he is sure every mailman carries.

Buddy's favorite spot in Scarsdale is at the intersection of Brewster Road and Chesterfield Road. That's where he gets 1 or 2 BIG biscuits from the Fox Meadow School Crossing Guard!

Buddy's favorite time to walk is around 3:00 PM when he sees lots of children. He loves the attention he gets and their affectionate pats.

The author John Steinbeck, in Travels with Charley: In Search of America, would say to his dog Charley: "You don't even know where I'm going." Charley would answer back: " I don't care. I'd like to go anywhere."

My Buddy says the exact same thing every time we head out!

Recently I read about a group of Chappaqua women who meet once a week to walk NYC blocks. Their goal is to walk every block in Manhattan. As long as I can include Buddy, it sounds like lots of fun to me!

freshairMartha Mintzer, originally from Larchmont, first became familiar with The Fresh Air Fund in the 1960s when her family opened their heart and home to a New York City child, Ceretha. "Forty plus years later, our family still reminisces about her visits," says Mintzer. It was an experience that Mintzer could never forget, and one that influenced her to continue the tradition of hosting a Fresh Air child with her own family. Now, over four decades later, Mintzer is a Fresh Air Fund consultant and local volunteer leader for The Fresh Air Fund. She has not only continued the tradition of hosting within her own family, but has worked endlessly to expand this tradition across Westchester County and beyond.

The Fresh Air Fund is an independent, not-for-profit agency that has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.8 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. Each summer, over 4,000 children visit volunteer host families in rural, suburban and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada.

Mintzer is now working to develop The Fresh Air Fund's Volunteer Host Family Program in and around Scarsdale and is spreading the word about the volunteer host program. "Scarsdale is such a great community with families who have so much to offer these kids," Mintzer praises of the New York suburb. "We're not all that far from the city, yet it is a world of difference to the city children."
While Mintzer's family originally decided to host a Fresh Air child for the child's benefit, she has found that it is a truly rewarding experience for everyone involved. "My kids have become very open to giving back and helping others," Martha says proudly. "It is awesome to see a kid learn to swim for the first time, to see the smiles on their faces as they jump into the open arms of a new host family; it is an indescribable experience."

For more information on The Fresh Air Fund's Volunteer Host Family Program, join Westchester County's current and prospective host families on April 3rd from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm at the Mamaroneck Public Library, at 153 Library Lane (entrance through the Emelin Theater). Local host families will share their experiences hosting New York City children and the significance of opening your heart and home to a Fresh Air child. Light refreshments will be served. You can also contact Martha Mintzer at 203-226-6627 or visit for more information on The Fresh Air Fund.

Photo Credit: Hannah Beck

PeteSeegerSeeger enriched my Scarsdale-bound life long ago--and still does today: Like many kids growing up in Scarsdale in the early 70s, my universe consisted of my front and back yards. If you'd asked me where I was from, I would have answered "my house." There was, of course, a world beyond the split-level ranch I was lucky enough to call home, but unless my parents drove me somewhere in our Chevy Impala, I probably wasn't going much farther than kindergarten.

Expanding my horizons wasn't about traveling far and wide, but rather about reaching for something small and round—the Pete Seeger LP on our living-room shelf. It was tricky making the music happen: My chubby little fingers often dropped the record-player needle on the vinyl too abruptly, summoning a staticky burst that would earn me a reprimand from any adult within earshot. But then I'd get to hear Pete sing, and all was right again.

The album of his I so loved, if I'm remembering correctly, was called "Pete Seeger: Children's Concert at Town Hall". There was no Waist Deep in the Big Muddy on it, no Where Have all the Flowers Gone; none of the seminal Seeger anthems of the dynamic generation before my own. I knew nothing of Pete's contributions to society. All I cared about was listening to "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore," "I've Been Working on the Railroad," and my favorite, "AbiYoyo."

That last tune has been lost to time (or Beyoncé and Eminem, take your pick). But I recall it vividly, for it told one heck of a tale. Pete sang of a boy whose noisy ukulele playing got him ostracized from his town along with his father, a naughty magician who'd make chairs disappear just as people were about to sit down. Yet when a menacing giant called AbiYoyo showed up, it was this odd pair who saved the village. The son played his ukulele faster and faster till the dancing giant collapsed, then his father made AbiYoyo disappear by waving his wand and yelling "Zoop!".

I'd circle the coffee table in my parents' living room as Pete strummed his ukulele, pretending I was a misunderstood child stalking Abiyoyo, getting ready to take down the monster. And just like that, Pete's music transformed me, as it had my predecessors in the 50s and 60s. I was only five, but in my mind I was a giant-slayer– never a bad way for a child to be made to feel.

Or any of us, really. And that was perhaps Pete's biggest gift. He gently goaded listeners, everywhere, to realize they could take on the world's problems, even the seemingly huge, unbeatable ones. He urged us all to realize that our pooled strengths could overcome individual weaknesses; that answers could come from the most unlikely places; and that when you use your imagination, magic happens.

So maybe I shouldn't be feeling so silly, after all, to have found myself welling up more than a few times this week at the news of his timely passing. (I think Pete himself would have called it that—I can't believe otherwise from the man who reminded us that to everything, there is a season.) I feel I've lost an old friend; a wise guide through those bright and shiny, but often bewildering, days of early childhood. He didn't have all the answers, but he pointed us toward them. To quote a comment someone posted on YouTube this week: "Pete's done teaching. What did you learn?"

Listen to Abiyoyo on YouTube:

skolnikheadshotContributor Deborah Skolnik is a Greenacres mother of two and the Content Director for Myron Corporation, a large business-gifts firm in Maywood, New Jersey.


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