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Katrine Steffensen: Headed to the U.S. Open

KatrineWhile many Scarsdalians have tickets to attend the U.S. Open at Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow, only one person from Scarsdale will be on the court at the event. Katrine Steffensen, an 18 year-old players from the Dale will be playing both singles and doubles in the juniors on Sunday August 31 and Monday September 1. Currently ranked 51 in the world, Steffensen has already played in the Australian Open, French Open and at Wimbledon this year. We caught up with her pounding balls at Crossway one morning this week and noticed that she was no ordinary player. She strikes the ball with determination and speed.

We asked Steffensen to tell us a bit about herself and here is what she shared:

When did your first pick up a racquet and when did you begin to play tournaments?

I started playing when I was four years old and I have enjoyed it ever since! I would even beg my parents to bring me to tennis. At age six I started to play local 10-and-under tournaments and by the time I was eight, I was #1 in my section. Then I started to play national tournaments (as well as sectionals) in the 12's, 14's, 16's, and eventually international tournaments in the 18's.

When did you start to travel and who went with you?

The last three years, I started to travel more to compete in international tournaments. For example, I've been to several countries in South America, Europe, and Asia. I usually traveled with my mom, but I also traveled with my coach to a few tournaments and with a group with one coach other times. This past year, I went by myself to London to play in Roehampton and junior Wimbledon, and that was a great experience for me!

How often do you train?

I usually play 3 hours a day and do an hour and a half of fitness from Monday to Saturday.

Were you able to complete high school while competing?

I was enrolled in a distance learning program called Laurel Springs School that was based in Ojai, California so I actually didn't attend Scarsdale High School (but I went to SMS all three years). I had more flexibility but it was definitely still difficult to balance tennis and school.

is this your first Grand Slam tournament?

Three years ago, I played in the qualifying of the US Open Juniors, but unfortunately didn't qualify. The first time I was in the main draw of a Grand Slam was this year at the Australian Open Juniors (where I won my first round in both singles and doubles). I also played the main draws of the French Open and Wimbledon this year. All of these tournaments were really great experiences and it felt absolutely amazing to be playing on the same courts as the top pros in the world.

What is your ranking?

My current ranking is approximately 51, but my highest was 33.

What do you like better; singles or doubles?

I really enjoy both singles and doubles! They are so different, but both are so fun and exciting.

Who is your doubles partner?

I don't have a set doubles partner but I usually rotate among a few girls that I met from tournaments and then just contact them via Facebook or text message.

At what age will you move out of the juniors?

I am playing in the juniors at the U.S. Open. I am not really sure what the age limit is for juniors, however I know there is a 15-year-old playing in the main draw this year!

What will you do next year?

I will attend Princeton University where I'll be on the university team so during the year I'll be playing for them, but in the summers I am hoping to play some pro tournaments for myself.

As far as you know, are you the first person from Scarsdale to play in the US Open or have there been others?

Yes, I am the first person in Scarsdale to play (as far as I know)!

Boardwalk Empire to be filmed at Scarsdale Pool

boardwalkempireThe diving pool at the Scarsdale Pool Complex will be the setting for the filming of an underwater scene for the popular TV series Boardwalk Empire next week. Bootleg Productions will be in town during the week of August 18th to film a scene in Scarsdale. Stop by the pool to see the production team and actors in action.

Scarsdale has not been the only Westchester venue for the filming of television series. According to the County Executive's office, many television shows filmed in Westchester have received Emmy nominations. The 66th Annual Emmy Awards Show will be aired on August 25, 2014.

Clare Kelly, a communications intern in the County Executive's office shared this information about where some of the Emmy-nominated shows were filmed this year:

Girls: Filmed in Peekskill at the Inn on the Hudson

Orange is the New Black: Filmed in areas of downtown White

Boardwalk Empire: Filmed in Alder Mansion, Yonkers; used Lenoir Preserve as a blue screen backdrop.

Blacklist : Filmed at a private jet provider at Westchester County Airport; along the rocky shores of Glen Island Park

The Americans: Night scene filmed in parking area at Saxon Woods Park

The Good Wife: Filmed at the courthouse in downtown White Plains 

Storyteller Sandi Marx to Perform at the 92 Street Y

MarxStoryteller Sandi Marx will be a featured storyteller at two upcoming performances. On Saturday, September 13 at 8pm Marx will perform at Pros (e) of Pie at the W@tercooler 21 North Broadway, Tarrytown. It's an evening of stories and very good pie. On Monday, Sepember 15, she is thrilled to be part of the "6 Word Memoirs" event at the 92nd Street Y. It's an evening of stories about Jewish life, hosted by Larry Smith. Larry's wife, the real Piper Kerman from "Orange is the New Black" will also being sharing a story that evening.

A former Scarsdale resident, Marx is a frequent storyteller at The Moth and has won two StorySLAM competitions in both Los Angeles and New York City. Before finding her voice in storytelling, Sandi spent close to 20 years as a commercial talent agent, specializing in voice overs. For most of those years, Sandi was a partner at Schiffman Ekman Morrison & Marx in NYC. Over the past 14 years, Sandi has spent much of her time raising her three, now grown children, and three dogs in Scarsdale.

Most recently, Sandi has been busy writing humorous short stories and telling her tales at different venues throughout NYC and LA. She currently lives in White Plains with her husband, a nice Jewish dentist, Keith Marshall, who laughs at all of her stories even when they aren't that funny.

Trustees Consider Leaf Mulching Initiative

sustain3A new resolution under consideration by the Scarsdale Village Board of Trustees would put an end to the vacuuming of fall leaves from Scarsdale's streets. Rather than sweep fallen leaves into the street, the Village will encourage residents and gardeners to mulch or grind up leaves with a blade on a power mower and leave the shredded material on the lawn to moisten and fertilize the soil. Those who do not wish to mulch their leaves can place them in biodegradable paper bags that can be left at the curb for weekly collection or brought to the recycling center. The new policy, which would go into affect in October 2015, would save the Village approximately $150,000 per year and would prevent leaves from blocking sidewalks, streets and storm drains.

A public hearing on the resolution will be held at the Scarsdale Village Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday night August 12th.

Both the Friends of the Scarsdale Parks and the Scarsdale Forum support the measure and sent Scarsdale10583 the following statements:

Madelaine Eppenstein, co-President of the Friends of the Scarsdale Parks, sent us the following statement from the group's Board of Directors:

"The Friends of the Scarsdale Parks supports an amendment to the fall leaf collection regulations of the Village of Scarsdale, to take effect immediately. The new regulations should require bagging of fall leaves on all residential properties, with the option for residents to use leaves on their property as mulch; to have leaves and grass clippings mower-shredded in place; to use leaves and grass clippings as a component for making compost; or to have leaves and grass clippings carted away by landscapers. At the same time the Village should establish an ongoing educational program to actively promote the methods and environmental benefits of leaf and grass recycling, and should establish an accelerated timetable for the discontinuation of Village collection of leaves and grass clippings."

FOSP has been an early advocate for a more sustainable environmental approach than the existing collection program of yard organics, and for the use rather than disposal of leaves and grass clippings by residents and the Village contractor and Staff. We vigorously supported the practice of mower shredding/mulching on site in the parks and other Village properties, which was implemented at the two Village center parks in 2012, Chase Park and de Lima Park. Thanks to the farsighted leadership of the Trustees and the Staff, since the beginning of 2013 this method has quickly become the norm throughout the more than two dozen Village properties, including recreation fields, parks and other open spaces. The Resolution on the Fall Leaf Collection Program is a step in the right direction for more sustainable environmental practices in the Village.

Michelle Sterling, is also an advocate for the new plan. According to Sterling, the program has many benefits above the $150,000 in cost savings to the Village. She says it simply makes no sense to clear away leaves from your lawn and then purchase compost from garden centers when the leaves will become compost themselves. She believes that with an effective educational campaign by the Village residents will get their landscapers to purchase mulching blades and change the way they deal with leaves in the fall. The full text of her remarks are included below.

However, everyone is not on board with the new process. In a letter to the Mayor and Board of Trustees dated July 27, 2014, Phyllis Finkelstein of Fenimore Road says that the new process may not work for some. Finkelstein has professional training in horticulture and also owned her own business in the field. She cited several potential problems with mulching, including the following:

1) Some do their own lawn care and do not own a power mower
2) Her home has large deciduous trees and leaves need to be removed from beds and the driveway – not mulched.
3) Gardeners do not have trucks large enough to cart leaf bags
4) On some properties the large volume of leaves if mulched would kill the grass before they could decompose.
5) The process would create more mulch than could be absorbed on small properties
6) The new policy would discourage residents from planting trees.
7) The new police will be hardship for gardeners who will have to purchase new equipment and require more labor to comply.

Finkelstein urged the trustees to seek wider public opinion before "rushing headlong into a change."

(from Michelle Sterling)

The Benefits of Scarsdale's Proposed Leaf Resolution Are Many

Here is our current situation: We pay our landscapers each fall to blow all of our leaves to the curb. Then we pay the Scarsdale $800,000 a year in taxes to come around from September to November to vacuum and rake up all of the leaves. Then we pay Westchester County our tax dollars to have the leaves trucked to Rockland County, upstate New York and Connecticut where facilities compost the leaves and turn around and bag it and sell it to garden centers. Then we pay our landscapers to buy that compost from garden centers and use it to mulch our lawns and beds. This is what is happening right now. Does this make sense to anyone? It doesn't to many of us who are already mulching. We are basically stripping the organic material (our leaves) from our lawns and beds, giving it away for free and then buying it back and paying our landscapers to reapply it. Not mention the environmental cost and impact of trucking the leaves in diesel trucks hundreds of miles away day after day for 3 months every year.

The good news is that there is a better way and the Village has now come out with a resolution in support of mulching and a way to help residents get there. They are saying, look, we realize that loose curbside leaf pickup is a costly, hazardous and environmentally damaging practice. We realize that there is a better way and that onsite leaf mulching, whereby leaves are finely shredded and absorbed into the lawn, is the way to go. The resolution provides for an educational and promotional campaign for mulching. It also allows residents to bag leaves and leave them curbside if for some reason they feel they are unable to mulch.

The Scarsdale Board of Trustees initially passed a resolution in support of leaf mulching in 2011. The resolution asked for the education about and promotion of leaf mulching. To that end Scarsdale has started mulching on all Village parks and public properties, and the schools have started to mulch as well. There hasn't been, however, as much of an impact on residents. Clearly there needed to be something more than an educational campaign, some sort of trigger, to get people to speak with their landscapers and ask them to make the change. The new resolution, with its promotion of mulching along with a bagging option, acts as both a trigger and a fallback. Since mulching is easier than bagging, it will trigger both landscapers and residents to consider mulching their leaves in place, as well as better for the lawn and our environment. The new policy also has a fallback – for residents who don't wish to mulch or who can only partially mulch, they can have their leaves bagged and the Village will pick them up.

But back to the cost of loose leaf pickup: as I mentioned the Village spends $800,000 a year vacuuming up fall leaves. Imagine what could be done to benefit the village and its residents with that money! We have a limited amount of DPW staff that services our community. How nice would it be if they would be able to continue giving us those services from September through November as opposed to devoting themselves to picking up piles of leaves for those three months? What if we could turn what is now called "leaf collection season" into normal work months like any other, where our DPW can go about their normal services, upkeep and care of our community as opposed to devoting themselves to leaf pickup? Some people may feel that the Village is taking a service "away" from them by discontinuing loose leaf pickup. The reality is that residents could be getting that much more in services.

As to the hazards and nuisance of loose curbside leaf piles, I think that we all know them by now: children play in them and if the piles are in the street it is very dangerous, leaves flow into our drains and clog them (causing the village extra expense to clean them out) and of course, the leaves cause hazards on and block our sidewalks, roads and parking spots. Again, we know that loose leaf pickup is costly, environmentally unsound, dangerous and a nuisance and that mulching is the remedy for this, so again, I have to ask, why not do it?

Most landscapers already have mulching blades on their mowers but if they don't anyone can purchase one for their mower for about $50. The Greenburgh Nature Center provides mulching demonstrations with a small Toro lawn mower fit with a $50 mulching blade and it mulches leaves just fine (and they have lots of leaves!). I've seen it myself.

Scarsdale's new leaf resolution would go into effect in the fall of 2015. That gives residents and landscapers 15 months to get up to speed on the best mulching practice for their property.

Most of our neighboring towns already have passed a similar resolution so we are not the first to be doing this. It doesn't matter though whether we are the first or last - the fact is that we have gotten this far and it's a great and positive step environmentally - not to mention fiscally. Let's pass this resolution and move forward and reap the benefits!

Construction in Scarsdale: Going Up and Coming Down

8HeathcoteConstructionThe landscape changes almost daily in Scarsdale with demolitions, renovations and new construction in full swing.

Here are a few projects we noted this week:

When the new owner of the former home of Earl Graves at 8 Heathcote Road applied to demolish the home, the Committee for Historic Preservation denied the application and the BAR ordered them to maintain the façade. It looks like they have done just that. Take a look at the hollow shell of the house under construction.8HeathcoteRoad

Just across the way, the new house at 1 Duck Pond Road appears to be almost completed but it does not look like anyone has moved in. Deliberations about razing the original home on the property date back to 2010 –- and now almost four years later the new 12,805 square foot home on 3.67 acres has been assessed at $11,215,900. That would mean that real estate taxes on the home would be an estimated $255,000, up from $113,000 in 2013. Is this sustainable?


Last we noticed this deep trench at a home that is being renovated on Paddington Road. The trench appears to be at least six feet deep. What is this for? Trench warfare? Provide your best guess in the comments section below.duckpondPaddingtonRoadHome