Scarsdale Forum Recommends a Wait and See Approach on Marijuana Sales in the Village
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Category: The Goods
A report from the Scarsdale Forum recommends that the Village Of Scarsdale take steps to leave their options open in regard to new laws regulating the sale and usage of marijuana. A 9-23-21 report from the Scarsdale Forum recommends that Scarsdale should opt out of marijuana sales and lounges before December 31, 2021 in order to give the Village more time to examine the potential effects of marijuana sales and the potential revenues.*
Why? The new state law says that it the Village moves to opt out before the end of the year they can opt in later, but if they fail to opt out by 12/31/21 they cannot do so later.
The report also recommends that the Village prohibit smoking and vaping of tobacco on all Village owned property and outdoor public spaces as well as the oral consumption and open containers of cannabis edibles, capsules and oils.
The Scarsdale Drug and Alcohol Task Force (DATF) issued a similar statement in July 2021 citing concerns for Scarsdale’s underage users. In their statement they say, “Of immediate concern are the impact on our youth and the uncertainty of the regulatory and implementation framework. As a community that attracts families for the outstanding quality of resources and opportunities for youth, allowing marijuana stores/businesses to operate in the Village poses a significant risk for our young people.”
Here are excerpts from the Forum Report:
MRTA permits a local government to opt-out of state-licensed dispensaries and lounges within its borders by passing a law before December 31, 2021. A municipality that opts out can decide to opt in later but if it fails to enact an opt-out law by the deadline, it cannot opt out later. MRTA amended the smoking restrictions in the New York Public Health Law by adding cannabis smoking and vaping. Local governments can enact additional restrictions on smoking and vaping of tobacco and cannabis in public places.
The most prudent approach is for the Village to avail itself of a legal provision that gives it more time and allows the Board and the community to study the regulations that ultimately will be adopted, and also other consequences that may flow from permitting retail dispensaries and/or on-site consumption establishments in the Village. In particular, additional time is needed to assess the potential impact on the use of cannabis by underage residents, to more accurately estimate tax revenue and additional costs – both “hard” costs (such as hiring more police and enforcement agents) and “soft costs” (such as education and training) – from a cannabis establishment in the Village, and to learn from the experience of similar communities that allow dispensaries. The Village should pass an opt- out law by December 31, 2021 and not make a premature, irrevocable decision to allow dispensaries and lounges by failing to act.
There is no downside to taking a “wait-and-see” approach. While MRTA legalizes the possession and use of cannabis immediately and requires municipalities to exercise their option to opt out by December 31, 2021, the actual sale of adult-use cannabis is not expected to begin until late 2022 or early 2023.6 Consequently, the Village would not receive any revenue until 2023 at the earliest. The two state regulatory bodies specified by MRTA – the Cannabis Control Board and the Cannabis Management Office – have not been created. Extensive regulations governing cannabis lounges and dispensaries are expected but will not be in place by the opt-out deadline.
State regulations may or may not address the myriad issues involved in retail sales of cannabis, including: what kinds of products can be sold, the concentration of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC),7 types of packaging, permissible ingredients, labeling requirements, security standards, signage, local advertising, marketing strategies and materials, including distribution of “swag” and use of cartoon characters or other product “sponsors,” and whether and under what circumstances underage individuals can enter the dispensary. Despite the New York legislature’s establishment of the Office of Cannabis Management and Cannabis Control Board to regulate licensing of producers, distributors, and retailers of marijuana products in the state,8 industry observers estimated, as of June 2021, that “it could be over a year before New Yorkers can purchase weed from dispensaries in the state.” New York's legal implementation process also appears to have been delayed, owing to “a political struggle as to who will oversee the industry.”
What is known is that local control will be minimal. Specifically, Cannabis Law section 131(2) preempts county, town, city and village governing bodies “from adopting any law, rule, ordinance, regulation or prohibition pertaining to the operation or licensure of registered organizations, adult-use cannabis licenses or cannabinoid hemp licenses.” 10 The law permits towns, cities and villages only to “pass local laws and regulations governing the time, place and manner of the operation of licensed adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries and/or on-site consumption site, provided such law or regulation does not make the operation of such licensed retail dispensaries or on-site consumption sites unreasonably impracticable as determined by the board.”
MRTA allows the Village to assess the impact of these many unknowns by opting out by December 31, 2021 and then opting in later, even before sales begin or at any time in the future, when a more informed decision is possible. Given the substantial uncertainties about potential tax revenue and costs, yet-to-be-written state regulations governing the operations of these cannabis businesses, as well as the potential impact of a cannabis store or lounge in the community on cannabis use by our young people, the prudent course of action would be to opt out by the deadline to avoid making an irrevocable decision without full information. The overriding factor in favor of Scarsdale opting out of this currently undefined course of action is that there is no penalty for doing so. Scarsdale may opt-in to participate in the program at any time later on, also without penalty. By taking the prudent course, by viewing this moment as an opportunity to chart its own path, and by taking its time to study the ramifications and also await state regulations, the Board will be able to become better informed about how to prepare for its next decision in the exercise of its own discretion.
*Please note, this Report has been approved by the Board of Directors of the Forum and authorized for release to the public, but it has not yet been submitted to the Forum members for their approval.
Just Say No to Development on Garden Road: An Open Letter to the Mayor and Scarsdale Planning Board
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Category: The Goods
This letter was written by Andrew and Lisa Rodman from Cushman Road in Scarsdale.
The Village of Scarsdale is a community internationally known for its first-class school system and regionally recognized as the Village in the Park because of the town’s commitment to “green space. In recent years Scarsdale has undertaken projects such as adding cobblestone curbing along many of the village’s streets and repaving major streets such as Fenimore Road. A few years ago the town completed a major infrastructure improvement when a 7-acre water retention pond was built at George Field Park and along Post Road adjacent to the headquarters for the Scarsdale Police and Fire Departments.
Every Scarsdale resident knows that the cost of maintaining the village’s commitment to excellence does not come cheap--real estate taxes in the town are amongst the highest in the country. Scarsdale’s governmental leaders have recognized that there are limits to how much taxes can be raised every year and accordingly, always are on the lookout for additional sources of revenue. Over the past 10-15 years, one such source of incremental revenue has been tax dollars raised from the development of new homes in the community. Obviously, there is an inherent conflict between the need to raise new taxes and the need to not overly ‘tax’ the village’s infrastructure and services.
One current example of this conundrum is the desire of a local developer to construct eight new homes on Garden Road, adjacent to the town’s architecturally unique water tower. As of the time of the writing of this letter, it appears that Scarsdale’s government is inclined to choose easy money over the health and safety of its current residents. The proposed Garden Road site is a wetlands. In the best of times the land is swampy. After rain events such as the ones the community experienced three weeks ago (Hurricane Henri) and two weeks ago (Hurricane Ida), the site becomes a lake. The irony is the current situation comes to the Planning Board after heavy rains, but these rains have just brought to light the conditions that have prevailed for the 30 years we have been a residents of Cushman Road.
The developer of the proposed site has pretended to address the site’s soil problem (the underlying geology consists of dense clayey soil, rock, and a highly elevated water table) by proposing to elevate the site by 5-6 feet. The proposed Garden Road development will massively aggravate a bad situation. The existing homes located on Garden Road and Cushman Roads undoubtedly also will materially suffer. As every resident of Scarsdale knows, water flows downhill. The elevated platform proposed by the developers will flood its neighbor’s homes. No water collection system designed by the developer’s engineers can possibly hold all of the water that will be collected after a rain storm. This is a massively failed plan. One only had to visit the new George Field retention basins after Hurricane Ida (such visit was only possible by rowboat) to recognize that after such a heavy rain event the retention ponds overflowed and shut down several of the local streets. Can you imagine what it would have looked like without the George Field retention basin in place! When it was built we all hoped that would remediate the problem. It has helped but it has not solved the area’s flooding situation.
The Garden Road developer also cleverly ignores addressing critical issues such as who will maintain and pay for their proposed drainage system. It’s a very good bet that after the system fails several times, the new homeowners will request that Scarsdale Village assume responsibility for funding and maintaining the water collection system. In other words, at the onset, Scarsdale’s government officials likely are thinking that the real estate taxes collected from the proposed new homes will be accretive to the Village’s tax base. In reality, the damages caused to village property most probably will cost the Village more than it collects as it focuses on constructing new water retention facilities that the developer of the proposed site failed to properly address.
One last point should be highlighted. In classic real estate developer fashion, the builders of the proposed site have requested approval to construct eight new homes. Even they know this is a ridiculous request. They probably are hoping only to build four homes. When the decision makers who decide such matters for Scarsdale ‘cut’ the developer’s request from eight to four homes, they likely will feel like they ‘beat’ the developers and showed how they could not be played. The Garden Road site realistically can support (with extensive engineering) only one or two new homes.
Please go to the Houlihan Lawrence website. One can see the developer is so audacious that he is already advertising the sale of these unapproved and unbuilt home. Lot #5-#6-#7 are being offered. One must ask oneself with previous failed attempts to get approvals, how can they be so confident? Has control of the narrative been handed over to developers in Scarsdale?
This is one of multiple attempts over the years by developers to try to push through a plan at the site. What has changed? The climate change issues that face the rest of the world are being felt in Scarsdale. Nothing should be giving the developers confidence except that the sitting government of Scarsdale has changed. We appeal to the present Scarsdale government officials who will rule on the outcome of the proposed Garden Road development. JUST SAY NO. Just as other Boards have done in the past, put the interests of the community’s current residents over those of the real estate developer whose only goal is short term profits.
Lisa & Andrew Rodman
(residents for 30 years)
Photos taken of the water pooling on the proposed building lots from the Garden Road water tower.
Experienced Scarsdale Varsity A Soccer Team Set After Highly-Anticipated Tryouts
- Written by Adam Katcher
- Category: The Goods
“Normal.” After spending many months bound by the restrictions and concerns imposed by COVID-19, everyone has redefined the term for themselves. The meaning of “normal” is now different on an individual-by-individual basis. And, for some, a sense of ease and normalcy is gained through playing the sport they love - a mechanism for passion, escapism, and realization of dreams.
After a modified 2020 season - one which was not guaranteed to take place at all - the returning Varsity A soccer players made sure to start preparations for the 2021 campaign as soon as possible. Led by captains Kian Batliwalla, Rowan Haffner, and Luke Peltz, players aspiring to play for any of the four Scarsdale High School soccer teams were welcome at “captains’ practices.” The aim was simple: play as much soccer as possible. The more touches everyone has on the ball ahead of when it will matter the most, the better. Apart from these Scarsdale school-related practices, many players also plied their trade for highly-respected club teams from around the region.
At the end of a summer break, as the world continued to inch towards normalcy, the hot August sun beat down on Butler Field. A few dozen players from all four grades prepared to impress the coaches. As always seems to be the case - which may be a testament to the larger influence the sport is having across the nation - talent arrived in increasing abundance.
The way tryouts are carried out ahead of the creation of the Varsity A team is straightforward: the players play in matches from the first minute to the last, with fitness-testing components sprinkled throughout the process. After all, there is no better way to evaluate players than by seeing what they contribute within a team. The pitch is cut in half so all candidates have a chance to impress for every possible second. Except, of course, during the necessary water breaks.
Inclement weather stole a couple of sessions from the initial tryout process, though the sessions that were not affected were enough for head coach Marcos Monteagudo and assistant coaches Andrew Nagel and Carlos Vazquez to make a thoughtful and well-informed decision on the composition of the final squad. The coaches were doubtless forced to make some tough choices, as there was a large contingent of very talented players who are just on the cusp of the Varsity A program.
The Varsity A roster is as follows:
Kian Batliwalla, Rowan Haffner, Luke Peltz, Matthew Choe, Carson Cohen, Trevor Cohn, Oliver De La Fuente-Akersveen, Javin Edlitz, Carlos Farha, Lorenzo Galeano, Nico Galeano, Eli Gelblum, Adam Katcher, Leo Khang, Adrian Lim, Dylan Manin, Jeremy Mann, Henry Mcallister, Zach Ruback, Teo Sheth, Sam Siegel, Rafael Tassari, Peter Troiano, Sebastian Verrelli, David Wang, and Ben Yacoub.
Players on the Junior Varsity A team are eligible to be called up to the Varsity A team during the course of the season. There are a considerable number of Junior Varsity A players already attending Varsity A training so they are primed and ready to play a big role for the top team in 2022.
Regardless of the team on which the students are placed, they have the opportunity to further a return to their own definition of normalcy. If anything, after the frantic nature of last season where quarantine orders and restrictions impacted many players’ seasons, the passion and energy to be seen during the fall 2021 season will surpass that of even the “old normal.”
With 15 seniors on the Varsity A roster, this could be the last hurrah for many in their respective soccer careers. So, it is important as ever to back the team to help them meet their high expectations for the season. The competition will be tricky and talented as always, but there is no limit to how far this Raiders team can go.
Are Hosts Responsible for Teenage Drinking Parties? You Bet They Are
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Category: The Goods
We received multiple reports of a large party of high school aged students in Quaker Ridge on Friday night September 10. Parents said there was a big gathering and saw drunk high schoolers leaving the party looking very inebriated.
A neighbor says that the police passed by the house several times during the evening but failed to break up the party until a third drive by at about eleven o’clock when they did go to the front door.
The question arises, what is the police’s policy regarding private parties and underage drinkers? And are host parents responsible if kids get sick at the party or get into an accident on the way home? We asked Scarsdale Captain Edward Murphy for clarification and here is what he shared.
“The Scarsdale Police Department’s focus involving these types of incidents is the safety of the children. If we are called to a report of an underage party, responding police officers first work to ensure that everyone is safe and that no one is sick. Officers then attempt to locate an adult and interview same. If no adult is present, officers will then attempt to locate a person on-scene who lives in the home. Officers will then contact each party goer’s parents to ensure that all leaving will leave with an adult.”
“If evidence is present that adults knowingly allowed underaged parties to drink in their homes, those adults could be held accountable through civil lawsuits. In addition, there may be other violations of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law (ABC Law) and/or the Westchester County Social Hosts Law that the adult could be charged with.”
Here are links to Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah’s website and an article from Scarsdale10583 dated December 12, 2019 entitled Panelist Warn Parents of the Danger of Hosting Teen Parties at Home regarding this issue.
(The text on the DA’s site says, “Parents and other adults have a special responsibility with respect to hosting house parties. Party hosts are required to ensure alcohol is not being served to underage guests. If you host a party and plan to serve alcohol, you should understand your responsibilities and take precautions ahead of time.
Under the Westchester County ‘Social Host Law,’ it is unlawful for any person over the age of 21 to “knowingly allow” or “to fail to take reasonable corrective action upon becoming aware of” the consumption of alcohol by minors in his or her residence. The social host law “[serves] to deter the consumption of alcoholic beverages by minors by holding those persons who are 21 years old or more responsible.” First and second offenses of this law result in fines, and a third offense is a misdemeanor, which could result in a criminal conviction and jail time.
Under the New York State Penal Law, any person who gives, sells or causes to be given or sold any alcoholic beverage to someone under the age of 21 faces potential prosecution for Unlawfully Dealing with a Child, a class “A” misdemeanor, which could result in up to one year in jail and/or a fine.)
Captain Murphy continued, “As for the other questions in your email, if an officer is dispatched to a location on a reported underage party, the officer would observe activities taking place and take appropriate action. Officers would investigate further if violations were observed and follow actions described above.”
“The Police Department received one noise complaint (Party with loud music) on Harvest Drive at approximately 10:52 PM. An officer was dispatched to the location and upon arrival, did not hear any loud music. The officer met with the homeowner who stated that there was a party and that it was ending with guests leaving. The officer reported that there was no excessive noise. (See call 21-25413 on this week’s Media Log). This was the only call we received regarding a noise complaint/party on Harvest.”
“The Scarsdale Police Department encourages parents to speak with their children about the risks of underage drinking. For information, please see the Scarsdale Drug and Alcohol Task Force. In addition, the Scarsdale Police urges all residents that if they see an incident of this nature to immediately call Police Headquarters so officers can be dispatched and investigate the situation.”
Hoff-Barthelson Announces New Offerings for All Ages
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Category: The Goods
Hoff-Barthelson Music School will launch its 2021-22 school year by offering exciting new classes for all ages and resuming in-person delivery of most of its programs – including lessons, classes and ensembles – following an immaculate safety record during the 2020-21 school year and 2021 summer session. Students wishing to continue private lessons and perform online may do so; additionally, the School has installed two state-of-the-art smart classrooms so that students may continue to participate in online musicianship classes as well.
Over the past year, the School has developed and refined rigorous safety protocols and, with generous support from the Scarsdale Foundation, made major investments in its HVAC systems. It has also just announced that 100% of its staff and faculty are fully vaccinated.
“We are excited to be resuming our full range of ensembles, classes and lessons for students of all ages on campus this fall,” said Executive Director Ken Cole. “At the same time, we are redoubling our efforts to ensure that all in-person activities are conducted safely. I encourage everyone in our community with an interest in music education to visit www.hbms.org to review our newly-revised campus-wide safety plan.”
“We also are thrilled to introduce a number of exciting new offerings in our Early Childhood, K-12 and Adult Divisions,” Cole continued. These include Group Guitar Classes, Advanced-Track Musicianship Classes, a Piano Ensemble Program, and several new adult classes, many offered in partnership with the Scarsdale Adult School. These classes are open to all, including students who study privately elsewhere. Further, we’ll be continuing to offer multiple tiers of our Comprehensive Program. Our expanded financial aid program continues as well. These are but a few of the many changes driven by our commitment to ensuring that everyone – students of all ages and levels of development – have access to world class music education in our community. I invite everyone to join us at one of our upcoming Open Houses scheduled over the next few weeks!”
Group guitar classes, for ages 4 through adult, provide opportunities for students to enjoy making music together, engage in group discussion, and support one another. For the youngest learners, group classes are an ideal way to prepare for private instruction.
Chamber music for intermediate and advanced youth and adults has always been an important part of Hoff-Barthelson’s program over the school’s 77-year history. Members of the New York Philharmonic visit annually to lead master classes for students enrolled in the chamber music program. This Fall, Hoff-Barthelson is excited to announce a new Piano Ensemble Program within the School’s larger Chamber Music Program. The Piano Ensemble Program, held in the School’s state-of-the-art piano lab, is for intermediate to advanced piano students who would like to develop ensemble and sightreading skills as well as enjoy the social and emotional benefits of participating in music-making with others.
The School is also pleased to introduce new Advanced Track Musicianship (ATM) classes especially tailored for upper elementary though high school students with an avid desire to develop a comprehensive understanding of music theory. For adult learners seeking to develop a strong foundation in music theory, HBMS will be introducing an Adult Music Theory and Ear Training Bootcamp in partnership with the Scarsdale Adult School.
Generous support from an ‘angel’ donor has made it possible for the School to refurbish a set of White Chapel Bells — the Stradivari of handbells. HB’s Adult Handbell Class will be ringing in this beautifully refurbished new set this fall and welcomes new members starting October 1. Playing handbells is a wonderful way for adult amateur musicians of all levels to make truly beautiful music together.
Hoff-Barthelson’s unique comprehensive program for students at all stages of development combines individual lessons on more than 20 instruments and voice with regular access to professional accompaniment; musicianship classes; myriad performance opportunities; an ensembles program featuring orchestras, choruses, chamber groups, and jazz ensembles; and written performance critiques and progress reports. The tiered pricing structure introduced last year, which ties prices to levels of utilization within the School’s comprehensive program, remains in effect as does the newly expanded financial aid program available to families with incomes up to four times New York State’s Reduced Price Lunch eligibility levels. This includes those families whose incomes have been temporarily impacted by the pandemic.
Hoff-Barthelson will be hosting Open Houses for the Chamber Music and Piano Ensembles Program, the Suzuki Program, the Youth Orchestra Program and the Early Childhood and Adult Divisions in September. Masks, social distancing, adherence to the School’s Fall Safety Guidelines and RSVP are required for all in-person event participants. Learn more about these events and RSVP by clicking here or by calling 914-723-1169 or e-mailing email@example.com.
The School year begins Thursday, September 9, 2021. Enrollment is ongoing throughout the year. For additional information visit www.hbms.org, call 914-723-1169 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.