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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

Jansen Hospice Thanks Volunteers

Jansen Lunch PhotoJansen Hospice honored their hospice volunteers at a special summer luncheon – a perfect way to celebrate some of the most important people in the Jansen Hospice program. Laura Hanlon, Jansen Hospice Volunteer and Bereavement Coordinator, organized the lunch at The Old Stone Mill in Tuckahoe to thank the volunteers for the value they bring to Jansen Hospice.

The afternoon was a well-deserved break for the volunteers who dedicate so much time to Jansen, even before they begin visiting patients. To become a volunteer, people must undergo a five-week training program that prepares them for serving terminally ill patients. They explore new topics each week with the medical, nursing, counseling, and pastoral professionals of Jansen Hospice, and learn from other volunteers. Lori Lahn's experience in the training program was essential for her transformation into a hospice volunteer. Lori admits, "I was initially hesitant. I didn't know if I could go and visit dying patients. Then a fellow volunteer brought in a book that helped my understanding of the dying process, and restored my confidence in what I was doing. I am very thankful she brought in the book." For Lori, and others, time spent with Jansen staff and other volunteers is a necessary step to move to the next level of providing support for patients and their families.

Once training is complete, volunteers travel throughout Westchester to visit patients and give whatever they can to help out. Emely Scioli has been a Jansen volunteer for six years and says, "Whenever I go see a patient I ask for guidance about what they want most, and you have to just open yourself up. By the end of my visits I'm mentally exhausted from giving as much as I possibly can. And that's the best part. I have so much love to give, and it feels good to transfer it to my patients." Emely puts her own needs out of the way when she visits patients, and believes conversation and communication is fundamental to the volunteer-patient relationship. In fact, after one of Emely's patients suffered a stroke and reverted back to her native language of Spanish, Emely took Spanish lessons so they could continue to understand each other. Many volunteers believe communication and ongoing support is the core of hospice, and they're ready to dedicate their time and energy towards the wellbeing of the Jansen patients, and their families.

The Jansen volunteers go above and beyond in what they do, and Laura Hanlon wanted their dedication to be recognized. At the luncheon, Laura told the volunteers, "Thank you for volunteering because you want to, for being caring, for bringing life experiences to what you do, and most importantly, for bringing comfort to the patients and families that you visit." Most days, Jansen volunteers are so busy "doing what they can" for other people that they don't have a chance to think about the wonderful contribution they make to the community. The luncheon was a day for the hospice volunteers to get together, enjoy, and celebrate themselves.

Jansen Hospice is located in Scarsdale and provides service to patients and families throughout Westchester county. If you are interested in becoming a Jansen Hospice volunteer, please contact Laura Hanlon at 914-787-6158.

Andrew Harris Meets Alex Trebek


If you turn on your television to Channel 7 on Friday July 11, you might recognize Scarsdale's Andrew Harris as one of the contestants on Jeopardy. Harris, a 2007 grad of SHS and a 2011 graduate of Hamilton College competed on the show that will air next week. Harris majored in history at Hamilton and then worked for three years for a consulting company that specializes in corporate investigations. He plans to attend NYU Law School in the fall.

We asked Harris how he was selected to compete and what it was like and here is what he told us:

I've always liked Jeopardy, but I wouldn't say I was a big fan or every night watcher. In college, I started taking the online tests they offer each January, and I finally got an invitation to audition in June of 2012. The general thinking is that you need to answer at least 35 of the 50 questions correctly, and then they choose a random selection of the many people who pass to come in and audition in person.

My in-person audition was at a hotel in midtown Manhattan, and it was me and about 20 others in a room with 3 or 4 of the "contestant coordinators." We had to take another 50 question test to make sure we weren't cheating on the online one, and then played a mock game and had an interview session, to get a sense of our personalities for the show.

The thing that struck me most about the audition was how "TV" it felt; the coordinators were incredibly high energy and kept reminding us to display outsized happiness, enthusiasm, and energy. I had thought of Jeopardy as an academic contest, and it is, but it's also a game show, with all that entails. They're not only looking for people who know the answers, but also people who would be interesting to the viewers. They told us that after the audition we'd be in the contestant pool for 18 months -- if we didn't hear from them in that time we could re-take the online test. They said about 10-15% of people are chosen from the auditions to be on the show.

My 18 months, from June 2012 to December 2013, came and went with no call. I had pretty much forgotten about the whole thing. Then in the middle of February, I got a call from Culver City, CA, asking if I wanted to fly out there for a taping in exactly a month. I obviously said yes.

Then came the preparation. The first thing I did was actually to start watching the show regularly, to get a sense for the flow of the game, and what sorts of questions are asked. I started looking around online for the experiences of other contestants, so I knew what I could expect when I actually went out there. I'm hardly a math person by any means, but I started reading about wagering theories for daily doubles and final Jeopardy. And, finally and most importantly, my Dad went through a website that keeps records of every Jeopardy game ever played, , and determined some categories that they frequently ask about, like literature. He, amazingly, also put together a brief series of facts and questions about particularly famous events, movies, and books that Jeopardy seems to ask about with which I had little experience.

Going in, I knew my weakness would be in literature, especially British literature, which the show seems particularly fond of. My knowledge of 60s and 70s pop culture was also hilariously terrible, at least to my parents. There are certain things you can learn before going on the show, like books and authors or the presidents, but I wasn't going to spend time learning about 70s TV. I would say I didn't prepare an outrageous amount, particularly as I was working during the week, but I definitely spent more time on this than I did for most of my exams in high school and college, as my mom liked to remind me.

The night before the taping, all the potential contestants stay in the same hotel in LA, so we shared a nervous, mostly silent ride over to the Sony studios. Once there, we were debriefed on the rules and process for about an hour, and then we had makeup applied and rehearsed our stories for our brief talk with Alex after the first commercial break. You put down three potential talking points, and highlight one that you want to talk about most. The coordinators remind you however that it's ultimately Alex's decision on which one he chooses.

Then they brought us out to the actual set, which looks just about as it does on TV. We practiced on the buzzers for a bit, though I wasn't great with my timing, and didn't feel that confident at that point. They film five shows in a day, and film Tuesday and Wednesday of most weeks. The one thing I was most afraid of was being in the first game, before I had a chance to see how the whole thing worked.

Luckily, I wasn't one of the names randomly drawn first. As I watched the game from the audience with the rest of the other contestants for that day, I was struck by the timing of the show. It's basically shot on the same schedule as it's shown live, they take about 5 minute breaks for commercials when Alex talks with the audience while contestants have their make up retouched. Since contestants never actually talk with him until he walks around the screen before your game, it was nice to get a sense of his stage personality in between games.

And he's really a showman. He's been doing it long enough to know how to work the audience, and he would alternate between his musings on daily life,( i.e. how Ding Dongs have gotten smaller since he was a kid), and taking questions from the audience. He definitely comes off as a bit cynical and dismissive, though again that may be all part of his stage persona.

Given that my first game airs on a Friday, I was actually chosen for the last game of the day's taping. Having watched 4 games before me, I was definitely ready to go. Thinking back now, 4 months later, I only barely remember the questions or categories. Once I was up there, I was sort of in a state of disbelief; I was competing on Jeopardy, something I never thought I'd do. For me, I used the unlikeliness or uniqueness of the whole thing to adopt a "here goes nothing" approach, and I'd like to think I was legitimately comfortable up there. I'm not sure what it may have looked like on screen, but I can say 100% that I loved every minute of being up there.

The other thing you realize only after playing is how random the game actually is. The coordinators tell you this before you even start, but you don't believe it. You think that if you're smart, all you need to do is answer questions correctly and you'll win. But then you watch a previously unbeatable looking champion get some tough categories, or opponents, and you realize how fleeting the game is. Even people who win 3 or 4 or 5 games, legitimately long champions on Jeopardy, are only actually champions for 2 or 3 hours in actual filming time. The coordinators tell you all you can control is how you play the game and comport yourself, and that sounded wishy-washy to me, until I actually played.

Watch Jeopardy on Friday night to see how Andrew Harris fared!

Residents Call for Shooting Range on Ardsley Road to be Moved

rangeAfter a woman on Birch Hill Road in Greenburgh was hit with a bullet fragment from a shooting range on Ardsley Road, residents are calling for the range to be closed and for the regulation of shooting ranges in Greenburgh. The victim was in a backyard of a home on Birch Hill Road off Ardsley Road on June 12th when a flat circular object hit her leg and scratched it. The fragment was later determined to be from a bullet that was shot at the Westchester County Police Revolver and Rifle League located at 693 Ardsley Road. Birch Hill Road is part of a new development of luxurious homes built by Toll Brothers that is adjacent to the range. Following the incident the range was temporarily closed.

Edgemont residents are now asking for the shooting range to be moved – as it is within a mile of the Greenville Elementary School. In addition to the danger of the bullets, they say it is noisy and poses the risk of lead contamination from the ammunition. An email from Jennifer Holmes of Residents for a Safer Greenburgh says, "This range is under investigation with the EPA and the DEP and has been temporarily closed due to a bullet fragment hitting a pedestrian. With the increasing number of school shootings, necessitating budget increases and bonds for safety enhancements to our schools, we cannot afford to allow people to bring guns into our neighborhoods. The consumption of alcohol is also being looked into at this range."

Despite its name, the Westchester County Police Revolver and Rifle League is not associated with law ArdsleyRoadenforcement and it is open to the public. The range is located on property owned by Con Edison who leases it to the range operators.

Bob Bernstein, President of the Edgemont Community Council prepared a draft of an ordinance regulating shooting ranges that Greenburgh Town Supervisor will propose at a meeting f the Greenburgh Town Board on Tuesday night July 8th. The proposed ordinance would require among other provisions that:

-Shooting ranges receive a permit from the Town of Greenburgh,
-No shooting range can be sited within ¼ of a mile of any residence, school, place of worship, playground, child daycare center or public park
-Each shooting range facility shall be designed to contain the bullets and/or shot on the range facility
-Each shooting range facility shall be designed to minimize off-site noise impacts generated by the activities conducted on the range facility.

Read the entire text of the proposed ordinance here:

Residents are asking their neighbors to attend the meeting on Tuesday night to voice their concerns and support the ordinance. See coverage of the issue here: 

NYS Supreme Court Reverses Lower Court Decision Regarding Leon Behar and Quaker Ridge Golf Club

brittanyA NYS Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a Quaker Ridge resident who charged that flying golf balls teed off from the club's second hole were careening into his yard and denying him use of his property. The resident lives on Brittany Close in a home that was built on a piece of the original Winston Estate that borders the Quaker Ridge Golf Club. The club was built in 1918 and the new development went up almost a century later when Gail and Leon Behar Behar bought their home in 2008. Many of the trees that originally shielded the property from the golf course came down during storms or were removed when the Behar's put in a pool.

The case dates back to 2009 when the Behars of 8 Brittany Close in Scarsdale asked the Village of Scarsdale for a variance to construct a 40-foot fence to shield them from flying golf balls. At that time they claimed that during one seven-day stretch 69 golf balls flew into their yard. The Scarsdale Board of Appeals denied the Behars the right to build the fence in March 2010 which neighbors contended would be an eyesore. Behar then retained attorney Julius Cohn who took the case to the State Supreme Court where the judge recommended that the club build not a 40-foot fence, but a 60-foot fence with Behar contributing $10,000 to the cost. In June 2010 the matter went before the Scarsdale Planning Board where the Homeowner's Association objected to a 60-foot fence saying it was unsightly and argued that a 40-foot fence surrounded by trees would suffice.

Until the matter could be resolved use of the second hole of the golf course was restricted.

In November 2010 the Planning Board asked the club to build a 40-foot screen and to plant a stand of 35-foot Armstrong Maple trees on the club's side of the screen. The fence was to stay up for five years until the trees grew in to shield the property. This fence was erected and it appeared that the matter was resolved.

However, apparently the 40-foot fence did not do the trick. Behar says there are still "an inordinate number of balls coming on to his property." He and his attorney Julius Cohn continued to pursue the matter in court and on June 18, 2014 the NYS Supreme Court issued a decision in Behar's favor. The found that Quaker Ridge Club had "failed to reduce the number of golf balls landing on the plantiff's property producing a tangible and appreciate injury to the property that renders its enjoyment especially uncomfortable and inconvenient."

They found that Quaker Ridge was trespassing on the Behar's property as "golf balls have invaded their property with such frequency and over such a long period of time, without Quaker Ridge taking steps to sufficiently abate the situation, so as to amount to willfulness."

They said Quaker Ridge was negligent in it's operation of its golf course in relation to the Behars' property and held ".......that Quaker Ridge breached its duty to exercise reasonable care in the maintenance and use of its property to prevent foreseeable injury that might occur on adjoining property by failing to take precautions in design and location, in the form of play, or in the erection of protective devices as a safeguard against injury to the plaintiffs' property."

The court overturned the previous ruling that blamed the problem on the Behar's decision to remove trees, saying "Contrary to the Supreme Court's determination, Quaker Ridge did not establish that the plaintiffs were bound by a tree preservation plan, or that the plaintiffs' conduct in failing to preserve trees on their property was the sole proximate cause of the condition underlying their claims of nuisance, trespass, and negligence.

As a consequence, the Club is permanently "enjoined from operating its golf course in a manner which constitutes a private nuisance and causes a trespass upon the Behar's property."

How the club is required to avoid being a nuisance is not clear from this ruling and will be left to another court to decide. However, the Behar's can now seek monetary compensation for the loss of the use of their property and these damages will be decided in a subsequent hearing.

Commenting on the decision, Behar said, "Quaker Ridge Golf Club knowingly prevented me from using the outside of my home or over 6 years. Four Appellate Division judges used the word 'willfulness' in describing the actions of the Club. Moreover, those same four judges found Quaker Ridge Golf Club liable for their actions and in breach of their duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent foreseeable injury. This decision has restored my family's faith in our legal system and I am confident that a Westchester jury will ensure that I am adequately compensated for the loss of the use of our home for the last 6 years and for the unnecessary hardship and fear that Quaker Ridge Golf Club intentionally imposed on my family."

Calls to the Club's manager and their attorney's were not returned.