Board of Trustees Continues to Deal with Fallout from 2016 Revaluation and more from Village Hall
- Category: Shout it Out
- Published on 29 September 2016
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
The Scarsdale Board of Trustees continued to consider a range of issues surrounding the 2016 revaluation at their meeting on Tuesday night September 27. Members of the audience brought up their own assessments, called for Village Assessor Nanette Albanese to be dismissed and questioned the decisions of the Board of Assessment Review.
Here is what was discussed:
First, the Village has retained a consultant to consider a challenge to the 89.06 equalization rate that was assigned to Scarsdale. They have hired Mr. Laurence Farbstein of Latham New York to review property assessments to see if Scarsdale can be assessed at 100% of market value rather than 89.06. The Board will consider a formal appeal of the equalization rate after they hear back from the Office of Real Property Tax Services (ORPST.) If the rate remains at 89.06, Scarsdale's portion of the county tax could go up, but that is yet to be determined.
Phase-In of Tax Increase:
The Scarsdale Town Board of Trustees will consider proposed legislation to phase-in real estate tax increases for qualified residents over a three-year period. The legislation, which would need to be passed by both the NYS State Legislature and Senate, would spread the impact of tax increases over three years to ease the burden on those hardest hit.
Greenburgh passed similar legislation following their recent revaluation and opted to allow those who had more than a 25% increase and were STAR eligible to qualify for the phase in. To be eligible for STAR the subject must be the homeowner's primary residence with a combined family income of less than $500,000. Qualified residents must also have a certificate of occupancy, be up to date on their taxes and have no changes in the value of their homes due to physical changes in the property.
However, the savings for qualified residents would mean an increase in the burden for the balance of taxpayers in Scarsdale. The Village staff did some estimates and found that only 128 households would be eligible for the phase in, which would mean that on average, the balance of taxpayers would pay $92.92 more in year one and $46.40 in year two.
The Board of Trustees will consider the resolution at a future committee meeting on October 13 at 6 pm when there will be opportunity for the community to provide feedback.
Hyatt Park Comfort Stations:
In other business, Deputy Mayor Marc Samwick, speaking for Mayor Jon Mark, relayed that $2,000 worth of damage had been done to the new bathrooms at Hyatt Field Park which were vandalized. The village will undertake repairs, and in response to an article on Scarsdale10583 about the fact that the bathrooms are locked and only available for use by Scarsdale residents who buy a key fob, will also reach out to the neighborhood for feedback to see if that policy should be changed. They will consider leaving the bathrooms open during the day so that everyone in the park can use them.
Speaking during the public comments portion of the meeting, the following people commented.
Petition to dismiss the Assessor:
Bob Harrison read a statement from Mayra Kirkendall Rodriguez introducing a petition to dismiss the assessor that is posted beginning on page 80 of the agenda of the Setpember 27 meeting on the Village website and has 130 signatures. The statement calls Albanese "unfair" and "rude," and says she "derides residents" and was too "cozy" with J.F. Ryan.
Bob Berg offered the following comment:
The proposed Resolution to Seek Authorization from the Legislature to Phase In the Ryan Reval Tax Increases for Certain Qualifying Property Owners is a really bad idea.
The resolution seeks to put a small Band-aid on a gangrenous limb that, instead, needs to be amputated. The fatally flawed Ryan reval needs to be invalidated – not triaged.
If you are going to seek special legislation for Scarsdale from the State legislature and the Governor, then ask for meaningful legislation. Ask the legislature to allow the Village to annul the Ryan reval because it completely failed to meet the goal of assessing properties at 100% fair market valuation.
Lobby the legislature to give the Office of Real Property Tax Services enforcement authority to make sure that municipalities conduct revaluations properly and to give the ORPTS the power to void them when they don't.
Use our political capital wisely to move towards the goal of the equitable distribution of Scarsdale residents' outrageous tax burden. Don't use it to foist the tax burdens of one small group of residents onto the backs of the rest of Scarsdale taxpayers.
You seem to be fond of doing that – twice in the last four years you have perpetuated the massive tax break that Christie Place condo owners get every year at the expense of every other owner of residential property by unanimously refusing the adopt the Homestead Tax option in connection with each of the two revals.
And you are considering doing so again with this ill-conceived proposal.
Scarsdale residents want our properties to be valued fairly so that the property tax burden is distributed fairly. We don't want to create special tax benefits for Christie Place condo owners and for certain STAR eligible property owners who have been hit hard by the Ryan reval.
We have all been negatively affected by the Ryan reval, even if our property values were decreased. Confidence in our Village government has been decimated. Capital projects requiring bond referenda are in serious jeopardy.
After three months of community uproar over the disastrous Ryan reval, you remain tone deaf to the community chorus. Forget this ridiculous resolution. Ask the legislature to allow us to invalidate the Ryan reval and reinstate the 2015 assessment roll.
Ron Parlato questioned the qualifications of people who are on the Board of Assessment Review. He argued that he "doesn't think the BAR has the tools the need. He said, "They need professionals to make these decisions. I don't agree with their decisions. I think we need the proper people to help the BAR."
Parlato continued, "I received an appraisal of $4.8 million – but the BAR brought mine down from $6.2 million to $6. Now I have to go back to the court and split the savings with an attorney."
He complained, "The assessor is ignoring the deed restrictions on properties in the Heathcote Association. The assessor is ignoring us, why?"
He also questioned the salaries paid to the people who work in the assessor's office and the number of people who work there. He asked if the assessor's salary could be reduced for failures on the job. He told the Board that Nanette Albanese, the Village Assessor, had a "bad slant" on the wealthy residents and should be dismissed. "Get rid of a person in this town who has destroyed the fabric of our real estate."
Norm Bernstein told the Board that if they considered phasing in the tax increases for qualified residents they should also phase in the tax decreases for those who received reductions. He said that he would consider suing the Village if they only gave the benefit to those whose taxes had gone up more than 25%.
The Personnel Committee of the Board of Trustees is also seeking candidates to fill the following vacancies:
The Personnel Committee of the Village Board of Trustees has announced vacancies on the following Boards/Councils/Committees:
• Board of Architectural Review
• Cable Television Commission
• Conservation Advisory Council
• Advisory Council on Human Relations
• Scarsdale Arts Council
• Ad-Hoc Committee on Communications – New Committee -Submission Deadline for this
Committee is Friday, October 7, 2016
Trustee Jane Veron, Chair of the Personnel Committee, encourages residents to apply for these positions by submitting their names, together with a listing of community service and relevant professional background. It is also helpful for Scarsdale residents to recommend other residents for consideration. Applications may be submitted in one of two ways:
• Via the Village Website – At www.scarsdale.com, click "read more" under
* Volunteers Needed for Boards and Councils (located under Village News on the home page). Then scroll down and complete the on-line application form, following the on-screen instructions.
• Via Village Hall – Applications are available in-person or online and should be directed to Trustee Jane Veron at Village Hall, 1001 Post Road, Scarsdale NY 10583.
To review the guidelines for membership, terms of office, and member responsibilities for Scarsdale's Citizen Boards, Councils, and Committees, visit the following link: http://www.scarsdale.com/Default.aspx?tabid=199
Please contact the Village Clerk, Donna Conkling, at 914-722-1175 or via e-mail email@example.com for further information.
Meet Me at the Station for Dinner
- Category: Around Town
- Published on 28 September 2016
- Written by Judie Dweck
My destination this week was to visit Modern on the Rails in Mamaroneck. It is housed in the second oldest and surviving train station building on the Metro New Haven Line. It was most recently the home of Club Car. The impressive Romanesque Revival style red brick building, overlooks a tree lined park with umbrella tables and lush plantings on either side of the heavy wood doors of Modern on the Rails. As you enter, you are transported to the past century.
It is owned by Sebastian Aliberti and Tony Russo, also owners of Modern in New Rochelle and Jerry Tomic, co-owner of the Croatian restaurant Dubrovnik in New Rochelle, as well. I had the pleasure of chatting with the personable managers, Sebastian Aliberti Jr. and Ana Zarak. "We are a historic landmark offering a varied Italian menu with an American bistro twist. Some of our recipes are traditional, originating with past generations of the Aliberti family. Other choices are new creations. Grandma Aliberti's lasagna and marinara sauce are memorable, as are many of the original kitchen creations, which often appear on the daily dinner specials, as well. We are family oriented, and hope to become a staple in Mamaroneck." Co- manager Ana Zarak, indicated that "I love the element of surprise each day. It makes my job exciting." Both Sebastian and Ana love interacting with their guests. The service here is a perfect combination of being solicitous without becoming overbearing, which results in a comfortable relationship between the restaurant and its patrons. "At Modern on the Rails, we maintain the classics, but are always experimenting with new ideas."
The large space keeps its old world feeling with very comfortable circular banquettes, many gleaming crystal chandeliers, stained glass and a welcoming bar. A large wine cabinet, built in keeping with the style of the period by Mr. Tomic is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. Seating about 160 guests inside and 60 outdoors, Modern on the Rails is a delightful place to dine.
The menu is extensive and at dinner many specials are offered, as well. We started with selections from the raw bar. Jumbo shrimp, creamy purple mountain oysters, from the west coast, Bailey variety from Delaware and familiar bluepoints from Long Island were presented over ice, with horseradish, cocktail sauce and mignonette sauce. I happily slurped these fresh from the sea delights. The menu's appetizers ranged from classic Italian to more creative preparations. My taste buds were perked up with chipotle calamari. These tender fried rings, were mingled with a smoked chipotle sauce and cherry peppers. A drizzle of balsamic glaze completed this piquant dish. For the less adventuresome, try the simply fried calamari with marinara sauce. Little neck clams were a fine choice, as well. They were freshly shucked and whole and lightly topped with nicely seasoned breadcrumbs. Rails fried meatballs were a hearty starter. The large kobe beef meatballs were beautifully spiced and were served with a dollop of ricotta on top. They sat in a pool of marvelous homemade marinara sauce. From the specials, Rails burrata should not be missed if it is available upon your visit. The creamy centered burrata shared the plate with grilled house made crostini, fig jam, baby arugula and a garnish of bits of bacon. The combination of tastes and textures was delightful. Polenta Calabrese, mussels marinara, rice balls and several salads are some other possibilities.
The pasta selections span the classics to the more modern. Choose from penne ala vodka, linguine in white clam sauce, cavatelli Bolognese to salmon Portobello over black fettuccine and black truffle trofie. We enjoyed the lobster ravioli, bathed in a pink sauce studded with shrimp and crabmeat. It balanced richness and delicacy. I hope to try broccoli rabe and sausage over rigatoni, linguine with shrimp and calamari and cavatelli Bolognese soon. Gluten free penne is available upon request. Their brick oven is the root of many pizza choices. The clam pie is on my list of things to taste upon a future visit.
Entrees range from chicken in many classic preparations, parmigiana, Marsala, scarpariello, bruschetta or simply roasted. Beef Sorrentino with eggplant, mozzarella and prosciutto, Colorado lamb chops, and Hatfield Reserve pork chops, with mixed peppers, onions, sausage, potatoes and mushrooms all sound most appealing even as I type at an early morning hour. Old family recipes for eggplant rollatini or parmigiana are enhanced with Grandma's non-acidic marinara sauce. From the seafood offerings, we savored an outstanding dish of blackened sea scallops over a classic risotto filled with Portobello, shitake and button mushrooms. This was a most satisfying combination. The perfectly cooked scallops, the woodsy mushrooms and creamy risotto were heavenly. Waiting to be sampled are a classic zuppa di mare and fresh herbed bronzino. Sometimes a guest is craving a good steak. My black and blue New York Strip with its sauce of bourbon and Cipollini onions was most satisfying. The rich flavorful sauce was a perfect match for the prime quality beef.
Desserts include Juniors Cheesecake, tiramisu, cannoli and apple tart. We tried a homemade crepe with orange jam filling, a sweet ending to a well-prepared meal
With a setting as beautiful as that of Modern on the Rails, keep in mind that it is a perfect party venue. Their catering facilities offer in house and off premises options. Whether you choose lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch, happy hour or a party, Modern on the Rails offers the excellent combination of welcoming service, lovely surroundings and delicious food.
Modern on the Rails
1 Station Plaza
(914) 777 9300
Rails Meatballs (Serves 4)
¼ pound ground beef
1 pound kobe beef
1 clove garlic, minced
½ loaf of a 6 inch Italian bread, day old, soaked in water
2 ounces grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 ounce minced parsley
¼ cup breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
4 Tbsps. olive oil
4 Tbsps. fresh ricotta cheese
1 cup of your favorite marinara sauce
Squeeze out and drain off the water from the soaked bread. Place bread pieces in a bowl. Mix the bread with the cheese, parsley, egg, bread crumbs, salt, pepper and garlic. Add the meat and mix together until blended. Form the mixture into balls of about 1 ½ inches each. Heat olive oil to medium in a skillet. When the oil starts to sizzle add the meatballs and fry until evenly cooked. Place ¼ cup sauce into each of 4 bowls. Divide cooked meatballs among them. Top each with a tablespoon of ricotta and serve as an appetizer.
Judie Dweck has been writing about restaurants and food for many publications. She teaches creative cooking to children at Scarsdale elementary schools. Through the years, her articles have appeared in Jack and Jill Magazine, Spotlight, The Pleasure of Cooking and The Scarsdale Inquirer. She balances her restaurant tastings with daily ballet classes.
Don't Throw the Baby Out With the Bathwater
- Category: Neighborhood News
- Published on 28 September 2016
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
(This is an editorial written by Scarsdale10583 site founder Joanne Wallenstein) Watching the presidential debate on Monday night and reflecting on recent rumblings in Scarsdale, I couldn't help but draw some parallels between the national and local political scenes.
In the first debate, Donald Trump called our country a "disaster" and made sweeping and damning generalizations about complex issues and historical events. He repeatedly blamed his opponent Hillary Clinton for failing to defeat ISIS, for sending U.S. jobs overseas, for poor race relations and for a host of other global issues.
Here in Scarsdale, we have a similar debate going on, with a few despondent residents calling our Village a disaster and blaming Scarsdale's past and present mayors and trustees for failing to manage the professional staff at Village Hall.
One member of our community, who led the opposition to the 2016 tax revaluation, posted the following as a comment on Scarsdale10583.... "The damage that two sets of mayors, Boards of Trustees, and village managers have inflicted on residents is incalculable and will have lasting negative effects on any capital plans that the village or school district have."
Like candidate Trump, she and a former president of the Scarsdale Forum are suggesting that flaws with the 2016 property revaluation indicate that Scarsdale not only needs new leadership, but that the entire system of governance, Scarsdale's Non-Partisan system, should be overturned as well. In the September 23rd issue of the Scarsdale Inquirer, Bob Berg says, "The system is not working. It's a disaster here." Opponents appear to be advocating for contested elections for Mayor and Trustees, which would put Scarsdale into full campaign mode for a good part of every year.
Let's take a step back and consider whether Scarsdale is indeed a "disaster." From my window, things look pretty good. I live on a beautiful tree-lined street. It's free of trash, garbage cans and cars, since overnight street parking is not allowed. Our police and fire departments are respected and quick to respond. If I want to go to the city, I can walk to the train. My children benefited from first-rate schools and I use the public tennis courts and lovely town pool. It's easy to access the Village for food, coffee, and other necessities and I often run into people I know in town, fostering a sense of belonging and community.
One might ask what does governance have to do with any of this? In fact, it has everything to do with our experience here. Our Board of Trustees and our Mayor carefully consider how everything from the sanitation to the recreation departments are run. They pass resolutions to manage parking, paving, parks and events. In fact, there is little that you use or enjoy here that is not managed by the Village staff and overseen by our elected officials.
Yes, there have been issues. The second revaluation was not conducted in the way it should have been done, and sometimes people at Village Hall can appear high handed and dismissive to residents' concerns. But if you watched or attended any of the well-publicized meetings at Village Hall on the revaluation, you could see that both the managers and the board have accepted full responsibility for the flawed process and are seeking ways to ameliorate its effects and improve future revaluations. For those who were unfairly assessed, the Board of Assessment Review considered over 1,103 grievances and granted reductions to 373 property owners out of a total of 5,900 property owners, or about 6%.
Is that a reason to disrupt the non-partisan process that has served the Village well since 1930? According to the Non-Partisan Resolution, the system was put into place to, "Obtain the services in public office of many men and women who would not have been available merely as the candidates of a political party in contested elections for village and town office." The League of Women Voters of Scarsdale studied the Non-Partisan system and found that, "The intention of Scarsdale's nonpartisan system is to attract the best possible people to run for school board, village trustee and mayor while minimizing electioneering, money, partisan politics and agenda-driven candidates. Scarsdale's nonpartisan system allows the focus to be on bettering our community, rather than on running costly campaigns."
Though to some, the Non-Partisan system appears to squash public debate, what it does do is to allow qualified and thoughtful residents with the best interest of Scarsdale in mind to serve as Village leaders, without conducting political campaigns. A democratically elected committee of nominators seeks qualified candidates who take an objective approach to the issues at hand and seek solutions that work best for the village. If the Board needs expertise in engineering, sustainability, the law or finance, the committee seeks out candidates who fit the bill. Anyone, with any view, is invited to run for the nominating committee or to put in their name for consideration for Village Trustee or even Mayor.
As a 26-year homeowner in Scarsdale, I take comfort in the fact that we have a truly representative government that considers the rights of all residents. I am wary of ceding our leadership to neighbors who come to their positions with a focus on a single issue or a wrong to right.
Let's not permit a few loud and angry residents to claim to represent us... or to say that the system is broken when it's not.
We received the following responses to the opinion piece above from Robert Berg and Bob Selvaggio of Scarsdale:
(From Robert Berg)
I just read your article recommending against changes to our CNC-run system for electing Village officials. I think you sugarcoat the Non-Partisan System. It works fine when we don't have to address significant issues and are just concerned with the day to day operation of our Village. It really fails badly when it comes to anything substantial or meaningful. To wit, for 45 years, successive Village Boards and Mayors failed to do a property revaluation. That's incredibly poor governance. And the Ryan reval debacle? What more needs to be said?
Then take a look at the Christie Place situation. That building site came super close to becoming another Freightway monstrosity before last-minute community opposition stopped the madness. And while the Christie Place condos are a great project, they were fraudulently marketed as a permanently low tax opportunity for seniors. Now the rest of Village taxpayers has to perpetually subsidize their taxes because two Boards and Mayors want to protect these unfortunate luxury condo dwellers forever -- even after the units transfer hands -- and they are unwilling to do what is fair to everyone.
Take a look at One Palmer, a hideous structure that failed to comply with the Board of Architectural Review requirements. How in the world was that disgusting building allowed to be completed by our Building Department? Why wasn't a stop work order issued and enforced until the building was reconstructed to plan? Something is real fishy there. What did the Mayor and Village Board do about that building while there was still time. Absolutely nothing!
Check out 2-4 Weaver. The Village Board and Mayor facilitated the construction, with the sale of Village land, of another tax-favored, yet non-age restricted super luxury apartment complex, without extracting from the developer any agreement to ensure that residents pay property taxes based on the fair market value of the apartments. Instead, the units will now be sold as co-ops so that even the Homestead Tax option can't tax them on a fair market value basis. All this to protect the "historic" Heathcote Tavern which now will be dwarfed by the office building-like structure rising on the site.
Look at Superstorm Sandy where the Village was largely without power for 2 weeks and was one of the last municipalities to regain power. None of our elected officials nor Village administrators was capable of putting enough pressure on Con Edison to give us a break and get the power back on. I would have picketed the CEO of Con Ed's house in Rye and held a press conference there until he was embarrassed enough to correct the situation.
Look at historic preservation. The Village Board has been studying this issue for about 10 years straight with no results.
Look at the gutless and unprincipled response of the Mayor and Village Board to the Monte Nido proposal. To assuage a bunch of wealthy neighbors, the Mayor and Village Board unanimously voted to object to the facility, even when they knew that the law was completely against their position. They lack moral courage.
The simple truth is that the Non-Partisan System attracts people who oftentimes lack leadership skills and common sense and who fail to act on principles. Instead, they seem to respond to the wealthiest squeaky wheels. Yet the CNC process forbids anyone from vetting these nominees on their positions or putting them to the test of public debate. This is an absurd vestige of the past. Instead, the CNC listens to a 10 minute rah-rah speech by the candidate, conducts a couple of reference checks, and votes to pick the candidate who gave the best speech. I know. I've been there.
In my view, we need contested elections for Village office so that residents can learn how the candidates approach the important issues. We don't need to have partisan contested elections, but a healthy and vigorous debate among candidates will inform the electorate, and might even get them to come out and vote.
From Bob Selvaggio:
Simply put, voting in an uncontested election in which the positions of the "candidates" on issues of importance to the Village is fully obscured (at least to the voter) is as irresponsible as it is irrational. Those in JoAnne's basket of "despondents", notably Bob and Mayra in their rebuttals, make an excellent case for the sub-optimal outcomes that have been associated with allowing the CNC party to run unopposed in recent years. And even those of us of lesser talents understand that our time is too valuable to waste in voting when we have no choice among alternatives. As much as we all might abhor Clinton's corruption and Trump's brutishness, I cannot imagine any of us would prefer not to have the opportunity to choose between the two.
My hope is that good Scarsdale citizens will step forward as Mayoral and Board candidates to provide robust challenges to the CNC party's slate of candidates, not out of partisanship, but rather out of civic virtue. I have personally implored Mayra to throw her hat in the ring, and I do hope Bob Berg will do so.
I want the ability to vote for candidates who assure me that they are committed to fair real estate taxation based on a universally applied percentage of market value that is equal for all homeowners. It boggles my mind to think that the current CNC-appointed Board voted UNANIMOUSLY to continue our citizens' forced subsidy of a group of millionaires living in Christie Place. I want to vote for candidates who will clean house in the office of the Village Assessor and for one or two who have the expertise in housing finance and statistical analysis to assure that the next reval is done correctly, and by the best firm among a number who respond to an RFP in a competitive bidding process. I want to know that the candidates I support are committed to fiscal prudence and zero-based budgeting. I also want to know, for example, their stances on forced mulching, their positions on library expansion, and on solar panels.
We can do much better for Scarsdale by encouraging our residents to run for office in competitive races and to provide full disclosure of their positions on key issues. I have observed that the citizens who fill Village Hall hoping to catch the attention of the group sitting on the dais far above and removed from the crowd know their stuff and come prepared. Many among them would serve the Village well.
Community Weighs Plans for Library Renovation: Scarsdale Forum Invites Residents to Participate in a Survey
- Category: Village Voices
- Published on 26 September 2016
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
The community continues to consider a proposed library renovation that would modernize the aging facility, make the space more flexible, handicapped accessible, and sustainable, bring in more light and accommodate new technology. In response to feedback from the Board of Trustees and the community, the Library Board has revised their plans to cut $3 million from the proposed budget therefore decreasing the funding that would be needed from the Village.
At the September 26 meeting of the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale, Library Board President Terri Simon and Library Director Elizabeth Bermel explained the cost savings which included modifications to the foundation of the building, substitutions for furniture, shelving and lighting, modifications to woodworking, interior materials and reductions in the purchase of AV systems and wiring. The original plan included a wrap around reading deck which has now been shelved – however it could be added on in the future if funds become available.
All the changes were made with the intent of not gutting the original plans, goals or vision for the new library. This new plan is called Option A-1.
The net result is that the total project is expected to cost $17.9 million. Funding sources will include $7.5 million in private donations, of which $2 million has already been raised along with a $500,000 grant from New York State and $1.5 million that will be saved when the library is closed for two years. Simon anticipates that the Village would need to fund $8.4 million with debt financing – which will mean an $8.4 million bond (or $9.9 million if the $1.5 million in savings cannot be included in financing for the project.)
Meanwhile, the Scarsdale Forum is studying the proposal and has issued a survey to the community to gather more information for their report.
According to a press release from the Forum, the committee will be chaired by
Madelaine Eppenstein and Rosanne Underweiser. Eppenstein said, "Now that the Village has received 'Option A-1' we are reviewing the details to understand both the revised costs and the updated project components. Wider community feedback is essential for an informed dialogue about the project."
Lena Crandall, President of Scarsdale Forum added, "The Forum continues to provide valuable analysis and research on important Village issues, as our organization has done for over 100 years. Community surveys are a natural extension of our ongoing member meetings and discussions. We welcome and encourage all residents to voice their opinions on issues of community interest."
Your Skin: Questions and Answers from an Expert
- Category: People
- Published on 29 September 2016
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
Dermatologist Dr. Jennifer Goldwasser is one of Scarsdale's most sought after specialists. With an impressive resume, she's a recognized expert in her field who is both respected and well liked by her patients. Now at the Scarsdale Medical Group she's the go-to person for any questions or issues with skin – and because it seems like everyone has concerns, we decided to ask her some questions. Here is what she shared.
Are skin cancers more common now or are doctors just better at diagnosing them?
I believe there is a true increase in the incidence of skin cancer, AND that more are coming to light, due to greater public awareness and due to more prevalent screening.
What are the signs that a skin patch could require treatment?
Non-melanoma skin cancers, like basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, can look rather innocent: a pink pimple, a crusty spot, or a scaly flat pink patch that persists for over 1 month should be evaluated. Melanoma skin cancers tend to be irregular in shape and multicolored.
New spots that do not resemble other spots on the body are suspicious, and a lesion that changes over time, in size, shape, or color, is suspicious. Lesions that itch or hurt or bleed should be evaluated. Any persistent spot on the nose after the age of forty should be reported.
What are the most common types of skin cancers?
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common, followed by squamous cell carcinoma, followed by melanoma.
How do doctors usually treat basel and squamous cell carcinomas?
These can be treated in a number of ways: burning and scraping them away, cutting them out, radiation therapy, and even topical creams can be used--it depends on the location, size, and other characteristics of the lesion and the patient.
If left untreated, will squamous and basal cell lesions spread or metastasize?
These two types of skin cancer rarely metastasize.
How can parents prevent kids from getting sun damage early on?
Follow the ABC's: Make sure your children AVOID midday sun, wear BLOCK, and COVER up with physical cover-ups and shade structures.
What can adults who already have damaged skin do to protect themselves?
Don't add insult to injury! Follow the ABC's and do quarterly self-examinations, and seek attention if you find a suspicious lesion. See your dermatologist regularly for a full body skin exam. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, and drink brewed teas, which are rich in antioxidants. Don't smoke--smoking increase your risk of squamous cell skin cancers.
Which sun blocks do you recommend and why?
I generally recommend water-resistant sunblocks with at least an SPF of 30. I prefer products that contain zinc oxide and or titanium dioxide as the active ingredients--these are PHYSICAL sunblocks (as opposed to chemical sunscreens). They work by reflecting light as soon as they are applied, and will continue to work until they are washed off by water or sweat, or rubbed off. Several manufacturers produce sunblocks that meet these criteria: Blue Lizard, Neutrogena PURESCREEN, Elta MD, and MD Solar Sciences are some examples.
Some vitamin D exposure is necessary for good health – how can people balance this need with the risk of skin cancer?
Each person has to make health decisions on an individual basis. If you have a personal or family history of skin cancer, and/or if you are very fair-skinned, taking sun to increase your vitamin D level may not be the best way to go for you. If you are not high risk for skin cancer and you have a low Vitamin D level, you might benefit from cautious sun exposure.
Dr. Goldwasser can be found at the Scarsdale Medical Group, 259 Heathcote Road, Scarsdale, NY 10583, Phone: 914-723-8100.