Village Board Names New Attorney and Awards Contracts for Library Renovation

AngelaMartinAngela Martin has been named Scarsdale Village AttorneyAfter 19 years in Scarsdale, Village Attorney Wayne Esannason announced his decision to retire, setting off a debate about the process for the selection of a new attorney and ultimately the promotion of a current member of the Village Staff to that post.

Wayne Essanason has served as Village Attorney for as long as many can remember. All of the Trustees and the Mayor expressed their gratitude for Esannason’s work on behalf of Scarsdale. Mayor Hochvert said that “The work [Wayne] has done has always been a conservative one that protects the village from his perspective, and I think without it we would’ve probably been way behind the eight ball on a number of cases.” Village Manager Steve Pappalardo said “I’ve always appreciated Wayne’s thoughtful and research advice and legal judgment, but more importantly, his affinity for Scarsdale and for protecting the village’s best interests.” Trustee Finger referred to Wayne as “accessible" and Trustee Ross said, “Wayne is a Scarsdale fixture.”

After considerable discussion and a vote, the Trustees chose to promote the current Village Director of Human Resources and Risk Management Angela Sapienza-Martin to the position of Village Attorney. Martin graduated from Pace Law School in 2009, and served as the Assistant and then Deputy Village Attorney between 2009 and 2012. In December of 2012, she was appointed to her current position as Director of Human Resources and Risk Management. Village Manager Steve Pappalardo has referred to Ms. Martin as ”factual and dependable” and said she “possesses a unique skill set that will benefit the Village.” Since she understands the inner workings of the village, Pappalardo believes her promotion will allow for a more seamless transition from the Village staff perspective. She will also be able to provide the new HR director with assistance as he/she transitions into that position.

During the public comments period, however, some citizens demonstrated concern over Ms. Martin’s appointment. Gregory Kirchoff, spoke on behalf of Bob Berg, who wanted the Village to form an advisory committee before the board voted on a new Village Attorney. He expressed concern over her appointment due to “lack of litigation, criminal justice, constitutional law, and reevaluation experience,” and believes there may be a more qualified attorney outside of the current village government. He also attacked her effectiveness at her current position as Director of Human Resources because he claimed that the labor contracts which she negotiated “seemed to hit [Scarsdale residents] pretty hard”.

Bob Selvaggio mirrored Berg’s comments. He stated that when he hires attorneys for his financial consultant firm, he always makes sure to interview at least five candidates. He believes that perhaps some attorneys from Scarsdale would like to be considered for the position, and a panel should be assembled to “assure Scarsdale gets the best for their money”.

Before voting on Ms. Martin’s appointment, each trustee gave a brief statement on why they chose to vote they way they did. Trustee Arest stated that he was impressed by Martin and believes she will grow into a superb Village Attorney, but expressed concern over process. He believes the most important consideration in voting is how the decision is made, and not just the decision itself. Since he believes a standard requirement was not met, he voted Nay. Trustee Callaghan said that the Village Code is based on successive management, and voted Aye. Trustee Crandall expressed some similar concerns to Trustee Arest, but noted that Ms. Martin has the right temperament for the job, and that hiring from within will allow the Village government to operate efficiently, which is important during times when many people are concerned about future tax bills, and voted Aye. Trustee Finger, Ross, and Veron also voted Aye, and Trustee Veron stated that this decision had been deliberated extensively by the Board. Mayor Hochvert voted Aye and previously expressed his support for Ms. Martin saying she is “an individual thinker” and did an excellent job negotiating with very aggressive labor unions in her current position.

Besides Ms. Martin’s appointment, the issue of potential DAS antenna installations in Scarsdale was addressed in public comments. Zoe Berg, Robert Berg's daughter, stated that three times this week she tried to schedule a meeting with Mayor Hochvert and a wireless radiation expert to discuss the dangers of installing DAS antennas. She wants the antennas to be installed far away from schools/homes due to potential health hazards. Following her comment, Mayor Hochvert addressed her concerns, stating that potential health detriments will not be discussed until Crown Castle (the maker of the antennas) comes back to the Village with a full proposal. Once the proposal is submitted, the village will look to experts on both sides. Trustee Finger also stepped in and read aloud a portion of federal law that states, “No State or local government or instrumentality thereof may regulate the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions.” He concluded that the Village will not be able to choose to install the antennas far away from schools and homes solely on the basis of environmental impact.

Bob Harrison used the public comments to promote registration for the Scarsdale Youth Tennis League, where he serves as the Volunteer Director. Kids aged 6 to 18 of any skill level are allowed to participate. The matches will take place from 6-8PM on the Middle School Tennis Courts for four weeks beginning July 10th, and the cost is $50.

The contracts for the library construction project were also discussed. The board voted to approve four contracts for general construction, plumbing and heating, electrical work, and mechanical work at the library. Niram, Inc. of Cedar Knolls NJ was selected from six bidders and awarded the $10,307,00 contract for general construction at the library. Also selected were S & L Plumbing and Heating Corp., Healy Electric Contracting, Inc. and ABM A/C & Heating Inc. Trustee Veron expressed gratitude to the library for informing citizens about the upcoming construction via post cards, and noted that the book and media drop at Olmsted will remain open through July 4th. The new Library Loft at Supply Field is expected to open on July 5th. Trustee Crandall also thanked Bartlett Tree Service and the Scarsdale Public Library for moving two previously donated trees away from the construction zone to sites near the adjacent pond. One tree was a flowering dogwood, and the other was a Japanese maple.

During the public hearings, the board approved two Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) for improvements to 2 Drake Road and Wayside Cottage. The estimated cost for the improvements at 2 Drake Rd is $52,000, and the estimated is $524,000 for Wayside Cottage. The Village covers half of the cost. The President of the Junior League of Central Westchester, who has leased Wayside Cottage since 1953, expressed gratitude for the grant. The Junior League trains and promotes volunteers and serves the community by helping low and moderate income women and children by providing immunizations, shelter, foster care and more.