Greenacres: The Neighborhood Association and the School
- Category: Schools
- Published on 02 October 2015
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
This letter was written by the Greenacres Neighborhood Association to clarify their role in the decision-making process on the future of the Greenacres Elementary School:
Greenacres Neighborhood Association– A Voice for All
This letter is in response to the recent articles and Op Ed piece regarding the Greenacres Neighborhood Association and Greenacres Elementary School.
First, we would like to take a moment to remind everyone of the role of the Greenacres Neighborhood Association. We are an organization of civic-minded volunteers working to make Greenacres a community with a spirit of neighborliness and cooperation. To this end, we strive to host a variety of community events throughout the year and provide information to our membership that is from the Village, the School District and other community groups. We also provide Greenacres residents with a Town Hall meeting which allows them the opportunity to come and listen to Village and School District leaders and a forum to ask questions.
Over the decades, the GNA has enjoyed quiet gratitude from those in the neighborhood. Whether we are focusing on traffic safety, arranging for the installation of traffic signs or street lights, planting trees and beautifying traffic islands, or burying a time capsule, we see ourselves as a community encouraging neighbors to work together for the betterment of all the residents of Greenacres as a whole.
It is now being suggested that the GNA take on a new role that will involve resolution of differing opinions regarding Greenacres Elementary School. Unfortunately, this is a role that is beyond our scope and purpose and definitely one we are unable to fulfill. The residents of Greenacres whom we have heard from to date already have differing points of view on the topic. There are some who want the larger field saved at any cost, many whose decision will be driven solely by economics, others who believe that any position is premature and more data is needed and those who believe a new building on the field may ultimately be the optimal solution for future generations of Greenacres children, and these are just the opinions that we have heard so far!
We have been asked by the School District to appoint two people to the Greenacres Building Committee. A committee like this one was created for each of the previous school projects at Edgewood, Heathcote, the middle school and the high school and reports to the School District Administration. This committee will be reviewing the school and its needs. At this point, the GNA has appointed Lynne Clark and former Mayor Robert Steves. These two individuals are open-minded and ready to work collaboratively with all members of the Building Committee, but will not arrive with any preset agenda on what the final outcome should be regarding the school as that is a decision of the School Board. They will also provide the GNA with information about the progress of the committee and its collective thoughts on matters.
The Greenacres Neighborhood Association's role regarding the elementary school is to collect information from the School District and share it with the residents of Greenacres so that each person can be informed with complete and accurate information to make their own decision. We are also working with the School District and hope to host a special Town Hall style meeting where the School District can explain the current situation with the elementary school and Greenacres residents can present their thoughts and ask questions.
Our organization has been around for 104 years. We embrace the opportunity to hear from all Greenacres residents, help them stay informed on issues affecting our neighborhood and build a sense of community with our fun family events. Please contact us at Greenacres10583@gmail.com if you have any questions about the Greenacres Neighborhood Association.
Thank you for the opportunity to respond.
Board of Directors
THE GREENACRES NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION
Note: The entire list of all the board members is on the GNA website at www.greenacres10583.com. Click on the contact page.
Hearing on Gravel Amendment Draws Crowd
- Category: Real Estate
- Published on 30 September 2015
- Written by Lori Gertzog
The Scarsdale Law and Land Use Committee held an additional public hearing on a proposed law to treat gravel as impervious for purposes of lot coverage at 8 am meeting on Wednesday September 29. Despite the early hour, the meeting was well attended.
Before opening the floor to public comments, the Board reviewed some new materials that were produced by consultants Frederick P. Clark Associates in response to question raised at the September 21 hearing.
The document states the intent of the legislation which is to "protect the ratio of built areas to green open space on lot which is part of neighborhood character... and to balance the rights of the individual property owners with the right of the community to enjoy the traditional character of the neighborhood." As to why the definition of gravel is being used, the document says, "The NYSDEC and local municipal engineering departments throughout Westchester County , including Scarsdale, all include gravel as an impervious surface. Since the current definition (as pervious) provides a way to increase lot coverage when gravel paving is proposed, amending the definition will affect the maximum allowable lot coverage."
The consultants prepared a chart showing maximum allowable lot coverage by lot size in Scarsdale and neighboring communities so that Scarsdale's code could be compared to neighboring towns. Another chart outlined lot coverage standards by town, offering an interesting look at how lot coverage is regulated. For instance, in Scarsdale lot coverage is specified in square footage, depending on lot size, while in Bronxville a minimum of 50% of the lot area must be "vegetated open space." This differs from the approach in Scarsdale where the percentage of allowable lot coverage is reduced as the property size gets larger.
A third document was a Q & A form than answered many of the questions raised at previous meetings.
There was also a discussion of whether or not other municipalities consider gravel as impervious in both their stormwater and lot coverage regulations. The consultant said that most communities consider it an impervious substance for both purposes.
Village Planner Elizabeth Marrinan explained that currently 10-11% of Scarsdale homes have gravel driveways, but that 25% of applications for new homes utilize gravel to meet lot coverage requirements. She also said, "This is not as drastic a change as people think, because 89 – 90% of homes are conforming."
Trustee Carl Finger asked Marrinan to run through some estimated numbers to show how the law could affect lot coverage on homes on an acre. She explained that 13,000 square feet of coverage is permitted on a one-acre property and the maximum building imprint is 4,630 square feet. That leaves approximately 9,000 square feet for a driveway, pool, patios, walking paths or a tennis court. Even if the driveway is 150 feet long, it would take up 1,500 square feet or perhaps 3,000 square feet for a circular drive.
In an exchange that grew heated, builder Steve Rakoff said, "I am surprised my study was not posted on the village website or presented here. We need to hear each other! My point is that I counted the gravel driveways. And the calculation is dramatically different in Murray Hill." When Trustee Finger sought to interject, Rakoff objected and Finger said, "Don't chastise me." Rakoff continued, "There is a cancer here. Some people get very disrespectful."
John Brandt said, "My mother owns a 1.5 acre property. She has a pool and a tennis court and a circular driveway and a 6,000 square foot house. If she is grandfathered now what happens when the person from Goldman Sachs wants to tear down the house and build a 10,000 square foot house?"
Village Attorney Wayne Essanason replied, "If you have a C of O for the existing property and your amenities are conforming you are grandfathered."
Lena Crandall said, "There needs to be a community focused discussion on this issue." She urged everyone to get acquainted with sustainable LEED-certified design and smart development. She said, "I am all for making money. But our comprehensive plan needs an overhaul. What is the reason for having open space? Why does Bronxville require 50% open space and why does the Conservation Advisory Council recommend 50% tree canopy coverage."
Landscape Designer Elaine Yellen said, " I am here to represent people who live on properties of 1/3 acre. We will suffer the most. Gravel is not always built on an impervious surface. I have 60 projects that I built that will now be non-conforming. What should I do with places in the yard where you can't get grass to grow? Cover that area with river stones that improve drainage and look lovely. If you live on a decent size property and want a patio and a walkway, it will be tight."
Elana Ezratty said, "Rakoff only surveyed his neighborhood. There are acre lots in Greenacres, Fox Meadow and Quaker Ridge that are not in this study. I understood that the intent of the law was to prevent 6,000-7,000 square foot houses from going up on 1/3 to 1/2 acre lots. But this attacks larger properties."
Local realtor Lynne Clark said, "You the Trustees, our elected representatives through the non-partisan system, have an important decision to make, one that affects the future development of our entire Village on most properties. My main concern, if you pass this new law, is for those who live on smaller lots, not only the larger ones. By taking away lot coverage options through making gravel impervious, the law before you stifles the ability to create what todays families are looking for. The zoning appeal process will be extensive, complicated, long and expensive. After listening to all the comments this morning and last week, it is my recommendation that it is in best interest of our Village to drop the moratorium now and let us all get on with our lives."
Dan Hochvert, who chairs the Planning Board explained the Planning Board's findings on the proposed amendment. He said, "The management of stormwater is addressed under Chapter 254 of the Village Code and although all Planning Board members agreed, we split 3/2 regarding the retention of the term "impervious" in Chapter 310 (lot coverage). The Planning Board unanimously supported the changes in 310 that the consultant developed. Under the FAR section of 310, properties over 1.75 acres were exempt from the FAR, but although there was some discussion regarding possibly increasing the amount of coverage permitted for large properties that approach would permit not only more coverage from gravel but other types of coverage to increase."
The Board of Trustees will continue to consider the amendment at their meeting on Tuesday October 13 at 8 pm at Village Hall.
11 Pinecrest Road
New Heathcote home under construction on level property in Sherbrooke Park. Two-story entry hall with 9.5 foot ceilings, living room with fireplace, formal dining room, kitchen with adjoining family room with fireplace, and a powder room completes the first floor. The second floor has 9.5 foot ceilings, a master bedroom suite with a master bath, two walk-in-closets, three additional bedrooms with two baths, and a laundry room. There is also a slate roof, and a brick and stucco exterior. The lower level has nine foot ceilings, a family room, bedroom with bath, recreation room and an exercise room. The builder will customize.
Sale Price: $2,895,000
45 Hamilton Road
This four bedroom, 2.2 bath colonial has a new custom designed, eat-in kitchen with center island, granite counter tops, and Viking Professional Series and Miele appliances. Adjacent to the kitchen, there is a family room, breakfast room and a formal dining room. French doors across the back of the home provide for expansive views and multiple access points to a private level back yard and new patio.
Sale Price: $1,385,000
210 Madison Road
This classic Edgewood home has a center hall, a living room with a distinctive fireplace, a formal dining room with access to a screened-in porch, a kitchen/family room combination with views of the yard, and access to a mud room and a flat, level, landscaped .26 acre. The second floor features a master bedroom suite with a dressing room and bath, as well as three additional bedrooms and a hall bath, while a separate wing offers a fifth bedroom and third full bath. There is also a full attic and basement.
Sale Price: $1,180,000
93 Carthage Road, Scarsdale
A stunning young Colonial fully appointed with top-of-the-line finishes and every amenity. Grand entry hall provides wonderful flow with perfect access to all first floor rooms. Second floor features a generous landing and four bedrooms, including a master suite with tray ceiling, two walk-in closets, dressing area, office area and fabulous bath. Second floor has been plumbed for a third bath. The lower level recreation room/bath, comprised of over 1,100 additional square feet, offers the perfect complement to the first floor. Beautifully maintained and improved, this 5-zone heat, 3-zone air home is ideally situated near the school, shops, transportation, as well as the town pool and fields. For more information, click here.
List Price: $2,050,000
7 Meadow Road, Scarsdale
Beautiful level property surrounds this 4 bedroom 2.2 bath split level home on a lush .48 acre. Your imagination and tender love care, will create a lovely living space as is, or, use the property's potential to expand and create your own dream house in Scarsdale. There is a generator for the house. Property being sold "as is". Walk to elementary school. Bus to Junior high and high school. For more information, click here.
List Price: $1,150,000
53 Lincoln Road, Scarsdale
Public Open House: Sunday, October 4, 2015 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Stunning new custom seven-bedroom, six-and-a-half bath home in prestigious Heathcote is move-in ready for you. This breathtaking stone and cedar Colonial, with distinctive wrap-around porch and sweeping circular drive, nests on a lush .66 acre with room for pool. Elegantly paneled center hall foyer ushers guests into a 7,974 square foot living space, including formal living room with marble fireplace, dining room with coffered ceilings and Butler's pantry, 9 foot ceilings and custom millwork throughout. Gracious open layout showcases a gourmet chef's kitchen with Carrara marble countertops, oversized island and bay breakfast area, adjoined by a Great room with double doors to a sprawling mahogany deck. A sunlit library and a guest bedroom wing off a back hall with mudroom, pantry and heated 3-car garage complete the first floor. Second floor features a master bedroom with tray ceiling, custom-built his and hers walk-in closets, marble bath with radiant heat floor; 4 additional bedrooms with 3 en-suite baths and an extra bonus room that abuts a back staircase. Beautiful 2100 square foot finished lower level with bedroom/bath, and customizable rec room/home theater with optional wet bar, gym, wine cellar. Pre-wired for state-of-the-art smart house, back-up home generator included. Walk to school and close to places of worship. For more information, click here.
List Price: $3,999,000
Builders, Real Estate Agents and Large Property Owners Contest Law To Limit Lot Coverage
- Category: The Goods
- Published on 23 September 2015
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
An attempt by the Scarsdale Board of Trustees to limit the size of homes in the Village met resistance from builders, real estate agents and owners of homes on multi-acre lots at a hearing on proposed new village zoning code on September 21.
The revision calls for gravel surfaces to be treated as impervious and thereby included in lot coverage calculations. This would mean that gravel driveways and pathways would count as asphalt surfaces and limit the size of homes or other accessory structures on a lot.
Trustees originally passed a moratorium on counting gravel as pervious in February 2015 after they received widespread complaints about teardowns and the construction of new homes that dwarfed neighboring properties, blocked light and air and appeared to be too large for their lots. Unable to find an easy fix to the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) provisions that would address these issues, they passed the moratorium to allow for time to study it. It was subsequently extended until October 2015. The new gravel definition would also address an inconsistency in Village Code whereby gravel surfaces are treated as impervious for storm water management purposes but pervious when calculating lot coverage.
However, the residents who originally spurred the moratorium were no where to be seen on Monday night when Village Hall was filled with angry developers, their lawyers, real estate agents and owners of large properties who voiced their objections to what they believe is a limitation of their rights as property owners.
Before they took the microphone, Trustee and Deputy Mayor David Lee, who heads the Village Law and Land Use Committee, asked a consultant from Frederick P. Clark Associates to present a summary of her findings on the use of gravel surfaces. She explained that her group examined 5,026 residential lots and determined that 504 parcels had gravel driveways. They found that that though 10% of existing homes have gravel driveways, 25% of the recent applications (within the past two years) utilized gravel surfaces to exceed lot coverage regulations. She concluded that if the law stays as is, open space will decrease as more projects exceed lot coverage regulations.
The consultants recommended that the Village eliminate the discrepancy between the storm water and zoning code definitions of gravel and revise code to treat gravel as an impervious surface. They also recommended that all homes with gravel surfaces now be grandfathered.
Benefits to the change would include:
- Protection of open space by limiting increased development on residential lots
- Correction of the inconsistency of the definition of gravel
- Treatment of gravel will be consistent with NYSDEC regulations
- A Grandfather clause to provide relief to non-conforming lots
The builders, attorney's and residents who voiced their objections questioned every aspect of the consultant's study, her findings, the legal basis of the code revision and even the competency of the Trustees and Village Planner. They spared no words in attacking the proposal and the people behind it.
Landscaper Elaine Yellen asked if the engineering department had looked beyond driveways at the use of gravel in backyards. She said, "I do care about stewardship of the environment but this law takes away people rights unnecessarily. She said that gravel is permeable, and the substructure underneath it could be permeable too, "If there is a problem it is not the gravel, it is what's underneath it." She continued, "I don't use it to increase lot coverage and I use it to solve drainage problems and it's baffling that there is the perception that gravel impedes drainage." She concluded with, "If it seems to me that if the houses are too big let's change the far or bulk codes. Leave my precious gravel alone."
Raif Ezratty of Garden Road said, "I don't see why we are confusing storm water and lot coverage. Peoples' rights are being taken away. It is affecting the larger lots that have plenty of grass and have very long driveways.
The storm water drainage systems that people are putting in, store water and then empty into the village's storm water system. We passed laws that were not thought out. If the town is concerned about water they should limit people's basements. The bill would affect home values and take away tax revenues."
Attorney John Orsini spoke on behalf of his client Bala Real Estate Holdings who owns a flag lot at 15B Cushman Road. He explained that his client was concerned that the long driveway leading to the flag lot would count as lot coverage but that after a meeting with the Village Planner and Village Attorney he found that this will not be the issue for flag lots. Even though the law did not pose a problem for his client, he went on to argue against it sayings, "Why are we talking about the definition of impervious? If the board thinks there should be less coverage there should be straightforward amendments.... this is confusing ..."
Lynne Clark, a resident of 13 Walworth Avenue and a realtor with Houlihan Lawrence said, "I care about Scarsdale a lot. It appears that the main intent is to limit and reduce lot coverage to limit the size of construction. But it will also limit other homes from adding a family room or a two car garage. I do not believe this as prudent as rethinking the FAR.
My comments apply to existing homes. There will be unintended consequences such as:
- Infringement of property rights
- Increased request for variances
- Increased burden of applications for building department
Permits are now taking 6 weeks. It will take even longer. There will be more teardowns because you wont be able to modify what is there. I think we will have more applications for new construction. There will be delays in making a sale because of uncertainty. There will be delays to get on the agenda of the zoning board of appeals. A buyer will move onto another less complicated opportunity."
I have an old house. The house badly needs a family room. I am afraid the new law won't allow it. You need to think about these consequences
Elana Ezratty, also of 97 Garden Road said "Oversized new homes do not have gravel driveways. This law will impact the larger properties. Many of the large homes have large gravel driveways and as the property grows you have less room to work with. Pools and pool houses are behind homes and are not the point of the law. This will mean that all the people who now have gravel can pave the driveway and it
will result in less permeable not more permeable surfaces."
Jeremy Gans of 45 Harvest Drive said, " This is my third time before the board. Though you must balance development with maintaining the community, this does nothing to maintain it. It reduces property values and is environmentally and scientifically unwise. The intent is to reduce bulk, maintain neighborhood character and adequate light and air. If I had drafted this I would have been dismissed from my law firm. It does not address the concerns. Amend the section of code limiting the size of homes on the lots. I have only heard one person speak in favor of it. Given substantial opposition, let the moratorium lapse. Over a year has been devoted to this issue."
In an effort to demonstrate the pervious nature of gravel, builder David Fenton brought a glass pitcher which he had lined with paper towels and filled with gravel. He poured the liquid over the gravel and watched it fall onto the paper towel. At this point, Mayor Jon Mark asked, "Is that how a driveway would be installed?"
Fenton said, "We have a problem! There are great builders in this community!
It is difficult for us to move forward during this moratorium. We are handicapped because of this situation. When you look at sales, it has almost been at a stand still. There are a lot of gray areas. We can't get things approved. This is impacting sales."
At this point, Trustee Bill Stern asked Fenton, "How do these large homes impact smaller homes? How do you think the McMansions affect the smaller homes on the block?"
Steve Rakoff introduced himself as a builder, family man and a realtor since 1989. He said, "People who have larger homes will have to move their homes forward. We are investors in the future viability of our village. Ultimately it's not about what we want, our customers are telling us what they want – a fire pit, an exercise room. This will impact a sale and they will go to other places."
He continued, "FP Clark only looked at 5,000 homes out of 5,900. We did our own study of one neighborhood (Murray Hill) and found that 44% contain gravel driveways. We cannot put a bullet to our heads. For high-end homes this would be the second step in unfairly penalizing 1+ acre lots. I have not had problem with storm water. Listen to the applicants that are investing in these properties." He then presented charts showing the allowable lot coverage on properties with one to six acres to demonstrate that as lot sizes get larger allowable coverage is not increased proportionately.
Lawyer Lawrence Graham said he was representing clients on Sherbrooke and Heathcote Roads. He said, "All of my properties are in excess of 3 acres. We are grappling with the driveway and getting to the garage. These homes are unnecessarily penalized. Additionally acreage is not rewarded with additional lot coverage."
Shawn Singer of 70 Penn Boulevard said, "My ninth grade daughter says gravel is a rock we find in nature. We spent money for this survey and all we got are 3-4 slides. We don't have the numbers. It's a waste our taxpayer dollars. Let's discuss FAR, not gravel."
Dawn Knief, an agent at Julia B Fee in Scarsdale said she just moved out of town. She read an extensive letter from her client Melinda Witmer of Whig Road. Witmer said, "I installed extensive water retention program at my house ...Gravel is permeable...
I addressed drainage by installing a drainage system ....It's ridiculous to maintain the character this way."
Knief continued, "We've had zero showings on high end properties because of high taxes. People are choosing not to come here. It used to be almost a right of passage to move to Scarsdale to put children into our schools. Now our taxes are so high. We're not allowing them to come in and build and put in a pool. I am very concerned!"
Mark Koch of Birchall Drive said, "My house will become non-conforming. Sales are being impacted and future buyers will be impeded. Gravel was the mainstay of a system that the town embraced."
Builder Bobby Ben Simon of 11 Seneca Road said, "This committee and the planning board should come clean. Do you want to attack houses, fine! You are trying to change engineering. Concentrate on what you are trying to achieve. You cannot have it both ways."
Turning to the consultant's report, Ben Simon charged, " This is some piece of work!
Why take only two years, why not five, why not ten! 2% of construction is new over the last 2 years. You missed a great opportunity ..... you wasted six months .... you did not hold a hearing ....it is a mediocre report. Maybe 4 years in college was a waste of time!"
He continued, "I built more than half of the houses on Seneca Road. The fight on large homes came to a halt. You maxed out on the FAR rules. We get it. You want small houses, find the right way to do it."
Developer Paul Fontana credited the previous speakers with raising many of the points he was going to make and added, "It's just going to limit our ability to build pools and tennis courts – it won't make homes smaller."
George Stone told the trustees, "This will change the aesthetics. We used gravel to set our homes back on the property. This is disproportionately against the larger homes. We are using the wrong tools. There will be unintended consequences on value. This creates uncertainty. We can't calculate this easily and it will put an undue burden on administrative staff. You're creating a much bigger problem that you can't solve."
Former Trustee Bob Harrison urged the board to "Change the height requirements.
Change the FAR. You've come a long way. The consultant put a lot of time in – of course she got paid! It won't harm our community if you don't pass this legislation."
Lena Crandall put in a plea for the Village to "Protect the village's tree canopy and maintain and increase the green infrastructure. She said, "Renovate in a considerate way. We need our trees."
Ron Parlato, from the Heathcote Association said there are deed restrictions on the 38 homes in the Association and asked Planned Liz Marrinan if she had looked into how this new law would impact those deeds. He said, "I have a 9,000 square foot house on 2 acres with another structure. This means I can't put a pool on my property."
John Brandt said, "I have lived here a long time. We heard many well-spoken people speak reasonably. Reconsider the approach you are taking ...go the FAR route. There is uncertainty in the market and the moratorium should be lifted. I don't think the direction is a good one."
At the conclusion of the meeting Mayor Jon Mark thanked the group for coming to the meeting and said a vote on the proposed law would not be held that night. He announced that the Board of Trustees will meet at 8 am on Wednesday September 30 to discuss the matter further and to vote. The complete meeting can be viewed here.
Will Scarsdale Be Part of 1 Million Strong?
- Category: Shout it Out
- Published on 28 September 2015
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
This letter was sent to Scarsdale10583 by Mayra Kirkendall-Rodríguez, a Fox Meadow parent who is part of a group called The Mandarin Team, that is encouraging the Scarsdale Board of Education to widen language choice in Scarsdale schools.
Last week's Chinese President Xi Jinping's official state visit to the United States generated significant media attention, because of the numerous important trade, cybersecurity, and national security issues on the agenda. What was unexpected and generated less media coverage was that Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO held a meeting with the Chinese president speaking entirely in Chinese. Speaking a foreign language can be taxing to most Americans, but speaking a language that bears no resemblance at all to English, especially to the leader of the world's second largest economy is certainly an admirable feat.
As the meetings with President Xi Jinping closed, President Obama launched an ambitious national initiative, '1 Million Strong,' a plan to increase the number of Mandarin speakers in the US to 1 million by 2020. Currently only about 200,000 students in the United States study Mandarin nationwide. In comparison, there are about 350 million Chinese students currently studying English.
As I analyzed the initiative's components, I could not help but wonder, whether Scarsdale can be part of the 1 Million Initiative. This US government initiative has the objective of creating a standardized and comprehensive national Chinese curriculum, but that would be flexible enough for local school boards to adapt it. The initiative will also promote language learning technology and online investment, promote investment in teachers colleges, and establish a consortium of governors to support learning in US public schools.
President Obama stated that 'if our countries are going to do more around the world, then speaking each other's language, truly understanding each other, is a good place to start.'
Understanding foreign cultures, especially that of the largest country in the world is certainly very important for Americans. Additionally, however, there is significant demand for foreign language speakers in the US. For example, Wanted Analytics, a recruiting company, currently has 85,000 job postings nationwide in a variety sectors of the US economy such as education, finance, healthcare, the military, retail, and science. About 40% of the demand is for Spanish speakers; the second most in demand language is French, followed closely by Mandarin, and subsequently in order by demand Japanese, Portuguese, German, Russian, Korean, Arabic, and Italian.
For Americans interested in working in the State Department, National Security Agency, CIA, select groups within all military branches or the FBI, languages that are of particular interest are Bahasa Indonesian, Farsi, Mandarin, Swahili, and Urdu.
Not only is there significant demand for foreign language speakers in the US, individuals who speak foreign languages can command a higher salary than those who only speak English. Albert Saiz, an economist at the University of Pennsylvania, and Elena Zoido, an economist at the consulting group LECG , published a study comparing wage premia for American college graduates who spoke Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian and Chinese as a second language. Unsurprisingly, the laws of demand and supply reign. Because there are many more Spanish speakers in the US, speaking that language only added about 2% more to a salary than that earned in an equivalent position by a monolingual American. French commanded an average of a 3% premium, while German, Italian, Russian and Chinese were more valuable, translating into an average 4% higher.
I am very pleased that in October, the Scarsdale Board of Education will be sending out two World Language surveys to Scarsdale parents of elementary and middle school parents.
The first one will be focused on asking us what additional languages should be taught at the middle school level; presently students are limited to only taking one of two languages, French or Spanish. The second survey will ask us what languages should be added to the high school language curriculum, which presently includes, French, Latin, Mandarin, and Spanish. We cannot say that we have a World Language program in Scarsdale, when the emphasis is disproportionately on Romance languages and practically nothing from the other language families.
In Scarsdale we are incredibly lucky to have a high level of educated and committed parents, educators, administrators, and members of the board. I have no doubt that in the not too distant future, the next American who will speak Mandarin fluently with a high level politician, business person, or scientist in China could very well be a Scarsdalian.
Mayra Kirkendall-Rodríguez is a member of the Fox Meadow Multicultural committee and is in a group of Scarsdale parents, The Mandarin Team, encouraging the Board of Education to widen language choice in Scarsdale schools.
Mayor Jon Mark Welcomes Home the SHS Class of 1965
- Category: Village Voices
- Published on 29 September 2015
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
This weekend, Scarsdale Mayor Jon Mark welcomed back 190 of his classmates from the SHS Class of 1965. Here is a letter he wrote to the class on the occasion of the reunion:
To the SHS Class of 1965: Welcome back. I am very much looking forward to seeing all of you this evening. My past 50 years have been filled with a variety of ups and downs probably not unlike what many of you have experienced. Of immediate note is the present "up" in which I find myself serving as Mayor of Scarsdale. To answer a question I am often asked, "no, this is not a position I ever aspired to or dreamed of holding." But here I am -- and I am glad to be serving the town I grew up in.
There is a room in Village Hall – the Trustees room – where the Board of Trustees, which I Chair as Mayor, meets twice a month. On the walls are photographic portraits of former Mayors. Among them are Jean Stone – the first woman Mayor and Greg Marx's aunt, George Szabad, Ellen Szabad's father, and Seymor (Chuck) Sims, Barbara Sims' father. There may be others who are relatives of some of our classmates but these are the names I recognize. I am humbled to be in such good company. (Mark later learned that Mayor Warren Cunningham was the great grandfather of his classmate Bob Shay and Mayor Malcom Pirnie was the grandfather of classmate Pam Pirnie.)
The Village has changed in a variety of ways since we grew up here. It is more built up, housing prices and real property taxes are high and the kids' sports leagues seem more competitive than recreational. However, in important ways the Village is the same as it was in 1965. Education and the schools remain the predominant reason families move here – and are most of the reason for the high real property taxes. The desire for beautiful park-like surroundings in which to raise a family is still an attraction to those who come here from, and commute to, New York City.
Serving as Mayor provides an opportunity to see first-hand the balancing act required to keep the Village running and delivering the municipal services residents expect. Due to the non-partisan nature of our government, the Board is in the fortunate position of being able to exercise its best judgment on the matters that come before it without being beholden to special interest groups or campaign contributors. It is a unique position in which to serve. I believe it serves the Village well as it frees decision-making on municipal issues (road repaving, sewer maintenance, staffing of police, fire and public works departments and land use issues) from political pressures. We are also fortunate to have a very able and devoted professional staff who assure the Village operates smoothly day in and day out.
When we graduated from the High School in 1965, I was not thinking of coming back. My wife, BK, and I returned in January 1992 and I am glad we did. I look forward to seeing all of you coming to reunion today and tomorrow and hearing your stories as well.
Jon Mark, Mayor
Preserve the Village in a Park
- Category: Local Finds
- Published on 28 September 2015
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
This letter was sent to Scarsdale10583 by Fox Meadow resident Lena Crandal:
Letter to the Editor: The front-page article in last week's edition of the Scarsdale Inquirer mistakenly reported that no one spoke in favor of the proposal to amend Article IV of the Scarsdale building code entitled "Lot Area Coverage." I was the lone ranger amidst the crowd.
I also think I was the only one who read the proposed amendment in the middle of the thick packet provided at the back of Rutherford Hall. This section of the zoning chapter regarding lot coverage in residence "A" districts is all about saving some land for landscaping. It doesn't matter if blue water can seep through 6 inches of gravel in a plastic pitcher to turn paper towels blue. What does matter is that no one in his or her right mind would plant an oak tree in the middle of a stone driveway, regardless of its drainage pattern.
You've all seen the new houses built so close to one another that there's only room for a row of evergreen shrubs. What I tried to explain during my 6 minutes before the village board is that landscape architects like the Olmsted Brothers, the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, planned much of Scarsdale. The basic idea was to have lovely homes in a pastoral setting, so that those stressed out from working in the city could slowly unwind as they saw different green vistas at every curve. That's why our older housing stock generally features one or more large mature trees and other interesting plantings.
So, yes, get rid of the gravel driveway exception to lot coverage in Section 310; but also rewrite the legislative intent, so that it's clear that some unadulterated land is necessary around our homes to support a variety of trees, shrubs and maybe even some flowers. I don't want Scarsdale to look like the borough of Queens with pavement and "brick jobs" everywhere. I don't think I'm alone in my love of our "village-in-a-park." Although, I certainly was the only one who spoke in favor of the proposed amendment to Section 310.
If you agree with me that we need to preserve open spaces around our homes, then please contact the Scarsdale Village Board ASAP. It's easy; just send an email to Mayor@Scarsdale.com. If you love the big box houses the developers are convinced you want to purchase, then do nothing. That's how democracy works.
227 Fox Meadow Rd
Scarsdale, NY 10583
Scarsdale Concours Scheduled for Sunday October 4th
- Category: Arts and Entertainment
- Published on 22 September 2015
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
The 12th Anniversary Scarsdale Concours d'Elegance car show is scheduled for Sunday, October 4, 2015 in Scarsdale Village. If the weather fails to cooperate, the raindate is Sunday October 11.
The Scarsdale Concours d'Elegance is the second longest running Concours in the Eastern United States. This year's show follows the success of last years event with over 125 cars participating (plus 25 new vehicles from our various sponsors, including BMW, Miller Motorcars, McLaren Greenwich, Jaguar/Land Rover of Larchmont, Pepe Porsche, Mercedes Benz, Cadillac and Infiniti. Last year over $24,000 was raised for charity for Scarsdale and Edgemont Family Counseling Service, The Warrior and Family Assistance Fund and the Scarsdale Foundation.
Once again our beneficiaries are very worthy local charities, and will include Scarsdale and Edgemont Family Counseling Service and The Warrior and Family Assistance Fund.
This year's panel of judges will be comprised of distinguished members of the automotive press from various media outlets, including Top Gear, Consumer Reports and Car & Driver.
Public viewing will begin at 10:30 a.m. and will feature over 130 American and European automobiles as well as displays of new vehicles from various manufacturers and dealerships. Viewing ends at 4:00 p.m. with Final Judging and an Awards Ceremony, followed by a champagne toast to the winners.
For more information visit www.scarsdaleconcours.org.
Literary Salon at the Scarsdale Library
- Category: Events
- Published on 28 September 2015
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
The Scarsdale Salon will host its first literary event at The Scarsdale Library on October 8th, 2015. The Salon aims to bring stories and their writers to an audience of readers and listeners. Some of these writers have published their works and others might have work-in-progress stories. The selection at each Salon is carefully curated to cover fiction, poetry, personal essays, and non-fiction genres like travel, memoirs, cooking, and other that might appeal to readers.
The Theme for the first Scarsdale Salon is Journeys. Journeys, inside ourselves and without, help us discover our purpose in life, and our space in the world that we inhabit. No two journeys are ever alike and in our selection of books for this Scarsdale Salon, we go on different journeys with our authors and their books.
Girl in the Woods , by Aspen Matis is a beautiful story of emotional and physical boundaries eroding to reveal the truths that lie beyond the edges of the map.
Love and Miss Communication , by Elyssa Friedland, asks us to look up from our screens and out at the world . . . and to imagine what life would be like with no searches, no status updates, no texts, no Tweets, no pins, and no posts!
We journey into the realm of mythic fantasy with Soul Warrior by Falguni Kothari, where a trick of fate appoints the legendary Karna as the guru to a motley crew of gods and he agrees to train them as demon hunters against his better judgment.
In With the Children by Henry Webb, Neil Riley dodges the Vietnam draft in 1969, but his journey as a teacher of 6th grade in a South Harlem school takes him into an even more difficult journey.
And from personal journeys, we move to the journey of a whole community in Sara Aharon's From Kabul to Queens: The Jews of Afghanistan and Their Move to the United States – and discover the story of a small Jewish community that lived in relative peace with its Sunni Muslim neighbors.
The Scarsdale Salon is an initiative by Preeti Singh, author of Unravel, and manager of thegoodbookcorner.com, and author Ines Rodrigues, who has just completed her book Days of Bossa Nova.
Find more information on the Scarsdale Salon here:
Nicole Eisenman Wins MacArthur Fellowship
- Category: Good Work
- Published on 30 September 2015
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
Artist Nicole Eisenman has done it again! The 50–year-old painter and sculptor who attended school in Scarsdale has won a MacArthur Genius Award, granting her $625,000 over five years to use as she wishes. Eisenman was one of only 24 people selected to receive the prestigious award that affords the recipients complete freedom to express their creativity during the five-year term. Others on this year's list include Lin-Manuela Miranda who wrote, produced and stars in the Broadway hit "Hamilton, " and Marina Rustow of Princeton University who is mining ancient texts to shed new light on Jewish life in the medieval Middle East.
Eisenman uses her artwork to make statements on contemporary issues such as politics, gender, history, mores, technology, family, wealth and power and "sometimes paints the world the way she wants it to be." In a video on the MacArthur Foundation website, Eisenman explores her sources of inspiration and says she had two great aunts who were painters and that she grew up in a house full of their art. She loves the visceral quality of painting and the connection between her eye, her hand, the paint and the canvas.
According to Eiseman, "The Fellowship gives me an extra boost of confidence to go forth and do what I have been trying to do my whole life."
Eisenman has been receiving accolades for the last several years. In 2012, 45 of her portraits were displayed in the Whitney Biennial, in 2013, she won the Carnegie Prize and in 2014 she had a solo show at the Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis and also travelled to St. Petersburg Russia where her work was displayed in the Manifesta 10 show.
Eisenman grew up on Brewster Road in Greenacres and is the daughter of former Scarsdale Trustee Kay Eisenman. She attended Scarsdale High School and art classes taught by Joan Busing. Two murals that she painted on the walls of Scarsdale High School remained for 20 years before they were taken down. She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1987. Asked for a comment on the momentous news, her mother Kay and father Shelly said, "We are humbled by this honor but don't feel we can take too much credit. She has had a very fortunate trajectory with her art and we are always waiting with bated breath for her next step."