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LEDLightinNow that the resurfacing of Butler Field and the track is underway, a longtime request to light the field is back on the table. At the Board of Education meeting on Monday, January 14, Athletic Director Ray Pappalardi reported that the resurfacing of Butler Field, D Zones, and the steeplechase, pole vaulting and long jump areas is complete. The track will be re-milled in April and resurfaced and painted in June.

He raised the issue of installing LED lights on the field and said that Maroon and White had already agreed to donate $200,000 to the project and spearhead the fundraising. The total for the lighting is estimated to cost $810,000. Four meetings have been held to examine the proposal. Maroon and White, the Scarsdale Schools Educational Foundation, the administration, the Board of Education, the village and local independent sports organizations all expressed renewed interest in installing permanent LED lighting. He called the lighting a “program enhancement.”

Pappalardi said that these lights are energy efficient and direct light onto the field with very little spillover beyond the field.

For evening games, the school currently uses diesel-powered lights that cause light, noise and air pollution, and the athletic community believes that LED lights would be superior. The cost of the temporary lighting is about $20,000 a year.

He added, “For me, lights were not a priority – but in my first season, other schools refused to come here because they had to leave school early to play during daylight. I was told, 'You guys should get lights.' The assumption is that schools have lights so kids don’t have to get out of school early.”

Pappalardi said that the project would require SEQRA review – or an environmental impact statement – and requested that the school district act as the lead agency.

Ass’t Superintendent Stuart Mattey said that it would cost about $2,500 a month for the lights or $15,000 per year for operation of the lights. He also thought it would be good to budget $20,000 to $25,000 for administrative costs the year that the lights were installed.

Discussing the proposal, Board Member Lee Maude asked, “What about kids practicing at night? How can we assure ourselves that having these lights won’t extend the day for these kids?”

Pappalardi said, “We would have to agree on when the lights would go off – and what will be scheduled.”

Dr. Hagerman added, “I would think participation would reduce stress.”

Chris Morin said, “We already deal with this for swimming, hockey, play practice – where there are no limits.”

Pam Fuerher asked about donor recognition and plaques. Pappalardi said that they would look into this and come up with a proposal, but for now, it seems that the best way would be to have donor recognition plaques on each pole.

At the conclusion of the discussion, Pappalardi asked the district for approval to reach out to the neighbors, neighborhood associations and community groups for more feedback and to visit neighboring districts that have similar lights. Hearing no objections, he was given the go-ahead to move forward.

CNCGraphicThe Procedure Committee begins a new season administering the non-partisan village office election system next month on February 1. The PC is currently inviting all qualified voters to apply to be part of its 88-year non-partisan tradition of representative democracy in Scarsdale. The PC will be comprised of the soon to be retiring class of Citizens Nominating Committee members and eleven appointees by invitation.

This year’s PC members paved the way forward by amending the Non-Partisan Resolution to ensure a more independent process, the 42nd set of amendments since the non-partisan system was formalized in 1930. They are in the process of creating an operations manual that will provide clear guidelines for the primary task of the PC, which is the recruitment and election of CNC members who nominate non-partisan candidates for village office. Members of the PC perform an important civic function with only a modest time commitment that typically fits well with the busy schedules of Scarsdalians.

The work of the PC this past year, other than an introductory organization meeting and conducting the CNC election in November, was conducted through subcommittees by email, conference call and in-person on an ad hoc basis as needed. The next PC’s term ends around the same time that the work of the CNC concludes at the end of January 2020.

Please consider joining the Procedure Committee, one of Scarsdale’s most important civic organizations. Contact PC Chair Madelaine Eppenstein for more information at meppenstein@eppenstein.com or by phone at 914.262.6656.

freeholidayparkingThe Village of Scarsdale will provide two hours of free parking in the downtown business district from December 21, 2018, through December 25, 2018, at specifically marked metered locations.

This Village program is intended to attract residents and visitors to the downtown to shop local this holiday season. In order to ensure turnover and maximum access to the parking spaces, the Scarsdale Police Department will enforce the two (2) hour parking limit. Merchants and their employees will be permitted to park free of charge in the Freightway Garage (all levels) and Christie Place Garage (levels B1 & B2).

The decision to offer free holiday parking in the downtown business district was made after discussion with key stakeholders including representatives of the Village Board, Village staff, and the Scarsdale Business Alliance, a group of downtown merchants and property owners.

Please call the Village Manager’s Office at 914-722-1110 with any questions.

canadiansWhat were the top stories in Scarsdale in 2018? We looked back at the content posted this past year and sorted stories by the number of hits. The exercise brought back memories of a rather tumultuous year here in town where there were untimely deaths, the passage of a controversial school bond, two contested elections for Village Board and School Board, a paralyzing Nor’Easter that knocked out power to one third of Scarsdale and big turnover at the high school athletic department. Based on the number of hits, these were the most-read stories on the site in 2018.

Here are the top stories of 2018

2018 began with a tragedy when a small plane carrying all five members of the Steinberg family crashed in Costa Rica on 12/31. The community was stunned by the sudden loss of five good souls. Relatives, friends and neighbors struggled to come to grips with the news.

In January residents scrambled to pre-pay local taxes in the hope that they would be able to deduct local real estate taxes from their 2018 returns despite the new tax law that limits local deductions to $10,000. Ultimately it was advised that prepayments would not be deductible and these checks were returned.

In February the community voted on a controversial $65.8 bond offering for the Scarsdale Schools which called for an addition to the Greenacres Elementary School and various infrastructure improvements to other district schools. The bond proposal was opposed by the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale and a tenacious group of Greenacres parents. However, the administration retained a public relations firm to sell the bond to voters and prevailed by a narrow majority of 65% of voters. The placement of large lawn signs urging voters to vote YES or NO on the bond resulted in a lawsuit from Robert Berg who claimed that a local law that prevents political signs in the Village right of way inhibited free speech.

The SHS Athletic Department also had a rocky year. Several coaches were dismissed or resigned and it was determined that the turf field was votingunsafe for play. Kids were suddenly left without seasoned coaches and or a home field. It was a challenging year for the Raiders.

The first half of 2018 marked the opening of the new Learning Commons at SHS where students eat, meet and collaborate. Also opened were the design lab and fitness center financed by the a big donation from the Scarsdale Schools Education Foundation. Controversy erupted about donor nameplates crediting those who gave funds to build these new facilities.

In March the slate of Non-Partisan candidates triumphed at the polls. Trustees Justin Arest, Lena Crandall Jane Veron,were elected with Voter’s Choice Party candidate Robert Berg earning 519 votes.

March brought the Nor’Easter that plunged a large swath of the community into the cold and dark for almost two weeks. Trees fell and snarled power lines while Scarsdale waited for help to come from crews as far away as Canada to restore power.

DSC01896In April, former Scarsdale Mayor Bev Sved was awarded the coveted Scarsdale Bowl for her service to Scarsdale, only to pass away unexpectedly in September.

Scarsdale experienced another shocking loss in May when beloved Jewish leader, rabbi and friend Aaron Panken was also killed in a plane crash. The funeral brought national Jewish leaders and hundreds of mourners to town to honor a bright light in the Jewish community who passed away at the age of 53.

DSC02180In May Scarsdale was focused on another contested election when a school board member ran independently for a second term on the Scarsdale Board of Education. After Pam Feuhrer did not receive the nomination from the School Board Nominating Committee she opted to run against the SBNC nominee Woody Crouch and succeeded in winning a second term. Alison Singer was elected for a first term and the 2018-19 school budget passed.

The community celebrated volunteer Dara Gruenberg at the Scarsdale Family Counseling Service “Evening of Enchantment” on May 10. Though only 36 years old, Gruenberg was instrumental in raising $7.5 million for the renovation and expansion of the Scarsdale Library and has an impressive resume of volunteer activities.

In June Scarsdale10583 published two perennial favorites – our photo gallery from the prom, this year titled “Photos from the Wet Carpet” and our report on the SHS graduation. At Fox Meadow Elementary School both the principal Duncan Wilson and the Assistant Principal Coleen Mangan announced that they would depart for positions in Briarcliff Manor.

In the Democratic Primary on June 26, Scarsdale resident Jonathan Lewis challenged incumbent Eliot Engel to represent the district in the U.S. House of Representatives. Engel was the clear winner but Lewis, a first time candidate. came away with an impressive 16.4% of the vote.

The Scarsdale Library closed to prepare for a major overhaul and expansion in July and the staff and some of the collection moved to the newly constructed Library Loft at Supply Field.

Schools opened in September with a marked decrease in enrollment. The district was down three kindergarten sections – possibly due to the new tax plan which eliminated some of the deduction for local taxes and made buying a home in Scarsdale more expensive. School administrators also conjectured that more parents were “red shirting” or holding kids back for an extra year before beginning school.

A new elementary school lunch program debuted in September with hot lunches prepared at the high school cafeteria and sent by truck to elementary schools without kitchens. Though there were some glitches at the start, parents and students now seem to be getting used to this new service.

HeathcoteCafeteriaIn October, 220 members of the SHS Class of 1968 returned to Scarsdale to celebrate their 50th reunion. They shared stories of the opening of Heathcote Elementary School, protests and the draft lottery for the Vietnam War and female students’ fight to participate in Varsity athletics. Edgewood Elementary School celebrated the opening of a new library and Heathcote a new multipurpose room and cafeteria with ribbon cutting ceremonies.

A heated debate erupted in November about a proposal to build a dog park in Scarsdale. After the Village commissioned a study to consider a dog park at the Weinberg Nature Center, Quaker Ridge residents came out in force to object, followed by those who live near other proposed sites. For now it seems that NIMBY has triumphed, and there will be no place for dogs and their owners to congregate in town.

And Scarsdale experienced another tragic loss when Dr. Jedd Sereysky, the 34 year-old son of Andrew and Joan Sereysky passed away in November.

The annual “Light the Dale” celebration brought Santa, kids, food and fun to Scarsdale Village for the tree lighting and holiday happenings.dogparkca

At Village Hall in December the Board of Trustees considered new laws to regulate the sale of guns and vape gear in Scarsdale, after two SHS students appeared on Good Morning America to warn about the dangers of e-cigarettes.

Late in December we learned that long time Scarsdale resident, unofficial Mayor of the Scarsdale Pool and committed volunteer Howie Nadel also died.

What were some of the other top stories?

Readers were keenly interested in new restaurants, new stores and downtown development. The year marked the opening of Bango Bowls, Bronx River Books, Café Alia, Popojito and Rudy’s Music in Scarsdale. Readers were dismayed to learn that the opening of Season’s Kosher Grocery in the Golden Horseshoe was delayed due to a bankruptcy filing.

The police blotter and court reports stayed top of mind this year. Former resident Julius Reich was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the stabbing of his wife Robin Goldman and a Scarsdale couple was arrested for running a pill mill. Teens posted online threats, a new driver plowed her jeep into the front window of DeCicco’s while the store was open for business and high school students taunted police at an unsupervised party.

Weiss SvendsenArticles on home sales, zoning and preservation were also very popular. Pieces on an appeal to raze a historic home at 6 Fenimore Road, a decision to deny the demolition of a mid-century home on Overlook Road and a 9-lot subdivision on Garden Road were among the site’s best read pieces along with quarterly real estate sales reports.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom. When former Scarsdale resident Jan Svendsen received a marriage proposal live on TV at the Emmy nomination, site traffic surged. Wedding announcements, the Halloween window painting contest results, costume parades and the July 4th celebration at the pool all served to enliven the site.

Keep your news coming our way in 2019. Wishing you all a good year.

securityThis is the opinion of SHS Junior Jordy Love: Following a peaceful Thanksgiving Scarsdale residents were shaken by rumors of a specific threat to a high school student.

On Saturday evening November 24, a Scarsdale High School student received a threat via social media. That student’s parents alerted both the Scarsdale Police Department and the high school. This threat included gun violence and included the personal address, and phone numbers of the student and the student’s family.

The Scarsdale Police Department began investigating the origin of the threat. The School Principal Kenneth Bonamo alerted the Scarsdale High School community in an email on Sunday morning. Because the threat was made towards an individual and was not a general threat, he said that school would continue as scheduled with extra police presence added as a precaution the following day. However, later on Sunday evening students and parents received another email from the school that said that the social media post also mentioned bombing Scarsdale High School. As a result of the bomb threat, the Scarsdale Police Department had the county bomb squad do a sweep of the entire high school on Sunday night and continued to monitor the school building throughout the night until school opened on Monday morning. School proceeded on Monday without incident.

These events, although unsettling, demonstrated strong cooperation between the Scarsdale Police Department and the high school to address student safety.

But in my view, cooperation is not enough. Although these posts were later discovered to be “jokes” by those trying to gain popularity for an Instagram page, the threat to the individual and our community was terrifying. In this day in age, with gun violence and threats to schools constantly plaguing our country, it is important that all communities develop a comprehensive approach to keeping students and staff members safe.

After the shooting at Parkland High School last year, in addition to the multiple mass shootings across the country, students nationwide expressed frustration over a lack of government intervention by participating in the March for Our Lives movement. Marches were organized in cities across the US and internationally to promote gun violence awareness, support gun control and encourage people to register to vote in order to demand change. In light of the lack of government progress on gun control, I believe we need to find other ways to make schools across the nation safer.

Districts all over America have already begun to have security upgrades installed throughout their schools. Cameras and doors with electronic locks seem to be the priority. Unfortunately most districts still believe that a school shooting will never happen in their community. Schools tend to be reactive rather than proactive. Most school shooters showed signs or spoke to others about what they were going to do and little to nothing was done to intervene before it was too late. Districts need to make more counselors available for students. Staff needs to be more involved with situations and notifications amongst each other. Schools need to do more to truly provide safe environments.

According to Chris Cooper, CEO of School Safety and Security Solutions, “We have met with many districts that have spent very high dollar amounts with little return on prior security and protocols. One district told us they spend millions a year in security and have no idea what they get. Our company was formed because nothing seemed to change. We have former law enforcement, secret service, retired SRO’s, psychologist’s and professors involved within our company to provide a very broad approach to helping secure schools beyond just cameras and locking doors. What we find most is that schools are no better prepared for any type of emergency situation. Most teachers are taught to wait for further instructions after an event unfolds. The planning stage usually consists of a small group and anyone outside it doesn’t really know what to do. Lockdown drills are done with what a teacher thinks may work best rather than actually shown what is best. Some districts do not even include local law enforcement in the emergency planning strategies. Providing safer schools starts with the people in place already. See something, say something goes a long way. Offering anonymous ways to provide information is very helpful. Bringing awareness to students and their parents is also very helpful as we firmly believe in this approach. None of these events happened when the shooter woke up and decided to do this spur of the moment. They were all planned and discussed. When Parkland happened, the shooter was known even before proven by most everyone in the school. Even the FBI was contacted in regard to things he posted and nothing was done. We have our own campaign: Be Safe, Not Sorry… Reporting something saves lives plain and simple. In todays world we no longer have the luxury to just sit back, we all need to be more proactive to create safer schools.”

Fortunately, we live in a community that is committed to keeping students and residents safe. Scarsdale residents are largely unaware of the work that District and Building Safety committees is doing to respond to concerns of teachers and parents, to plan for possible issues and to conduct emergency drills.

This year, the Scarsdale Schools contracted with security and safety management firm Altaris and we now have a full time Director of Security on site. They have taken many steps including (but not limited to) reviewing and revising emergency plans and protocols, training employees and conducting drills. Last February, the community approved a $65 million bond and some of those funds will be used to construct security vestibules at the five elementary schools and enhanced security cameras at all of the schools.

Other security improvements in the works are panic buttons at the security stations, motion detectors that work in conjunction with the alarm systems, high functioning PA systems, required school personnel IDs, and many others.

Let’s hope that these measures are enough to keep us all safe.

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