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Scarsdale Promotes Gun Violence Awareness and More from Village Hall

BOT 1Tuesday’s Board of Trustees meeting began with a special proclamation from Mayor Marc Samwick, who declared Friday, June 7 as “Gun Violence Awareness Day” in Scarsdale. On that day, and at events nationwide during the weekend of June 8 and 9, thousands of Americans will honor both the victims and survivors of gun violence.

It’s no secret that safety and security are top-of-mind issues for village residents. This concern has given rise to local groups such as Scarsdale Coalition for Safer Schools, Scarsdale 4 Gun Safety, Safety in Scarsdale Schools, and the village’s Safe Coalition, which have raised awareness about increased brutality and conflict in our society, and the pressing need for preventative action. Gun Violence Awareness Day is yet another opportunity to support these efforts, draw attention to the real impact of gun violence, and demand definitive change to stem a devastating tide.

“We would like to encourage our residents and others to reflect upon gun violence, and do what we can to address this issue,” said Samwick. “With that said… on behalf of all village residents, I am pleased and proud to join all associated with National Gun Violence Awareness Day, and encourage all residents to support their local community efforts to prevent gun violence, and to honor and value human life.”

The village proclamation was given to Patricia Colella (Bradley Road), membership lead of the New York State Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which was founded after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The organization now has more than 5 million supporters through chapters in every state, and works with the public, government officials, religious leaders, medical professionals, and others to advocate for stronger laws and policies to save lives, and promote responsible gun ownership.

After thanking the mayor for the proclamation, Colella provided some staggering statistics. “In 2017, for the first time in modern history, substantially more Americans were killed with firearms than in motor vehicle accidents. Data from the CDC shows that 39,773 people were killed by gun violence in 2017… That is an average of 108 people per day.” She continued, “Sadly, Americans are 25 times more likely to be killed with guns than people in other high-income countries.”

BOT 2Colella urged her fellow residents to raise awareness by discussing the issue and wearing orange on June 7. “Anyone can join this campaign… to help raise awareness… and honor the lives of gun violence victims and survivors.” Why orange? Traditionally, hunters wear orange to announce themselves to other hunters, and the color also is worn at most, if not all work sites, as well as at night, to ensure safety. It was worn by the friends of Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot and killed in Chicago just days after performing at President Barack Obama’s second inaugural. After Pendleton’s death, her friends began the Wear Orange movement to remember victims and express hope for a future free of gun brutality.

In addition to issuing the proclamation, Scarsdale will illustrate its support with orange ribbons tied to trees in the village center, now through June 9.

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After the proclamation, the Mayor and Board focused on practical government matters, most notably the tentative assessment roll and grievance process, changes to the public comment process at BOT meetings, and upcoming infrastructure projects.

Samwick announced that Scarsdale’s tentative assessment roll will filed by this Monday, June 3 at the latest, as the statutory filing date of June 1 falls on a Saturday. Letters will be mailed to property owners whose year-to-year assessments have changed, and the tentative roll will be posted to next week, allowing all residents to review their assessment information.

moneyhouseTuesday, June 18 is grievance day. Residents have a window to grieve their tax assessments between the issuance of the tentative assessment roll and June 18. Grievance day is the only opportunity each year for property owners to challenge their assessments and meet with the Scarsdale Board of Assessment Review. This process is governed by New York State law, and cannot be modified or adjusted by the village.

Anyone who is interested in grieving his or her property assessment must contact the assessment office at 722-1133. All meetings with the board of assessment review are by appointment only.

As you review your assessment notice, note that the valuation date is July 1, 2018, and the 2019 equalization rate is 94.75 percent. To convert assessed value to estimated fair market value for your property, divide the assessed value by the equalization rate.

Later in the meeting, Trustee Justin Arest noted that former assessor, Nanette Albanese, no longer works for the village. During the short term, and throughout the grievance process, Jane Lawrence will serve as acting assessor. Lawrence currently works in Scarsdale’s assessor’s office, and is a New-York-State-certified residential appraiser and practicing affiliate of the Appraisal Institute. Arest added that the board and village staff continue to search for a permanent replacement for Albanese.

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In his comments, Samwick also announced the addition of a second public comment period to village board meetings. This is in response to recently voiced concerns about limited opportunities for residents’ input. “We will commence a second public comment period at the end of this and future regularly scheduled board meetings,” said Samwick. “(It) has been added to enhance the opportunity for residents to express their views to their elected officials and is consistent with this board’s encouragement of communication.” The second public comment period will follow the same parameters set for the first public comment period (e.g., time limit), and won’t extend past 11:00 pm. Further, should the regular business meeting extend beyond 11:00 pm, there will be no second public comment session. Residents may speak once during each period.

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Scarsdale Village Manager Steve Pappalardo then reviewed a number of upcoming capital improvement projects of interest.

Popham Road Fire Station #1 is “substantially complete” and fire department staff will reoccupy the facility next month. During the $4.7 million renovation, the village corrected a variety of structural deficiencies in the building, including modifications to accommodate “the newer, larger fire apparatus that is being built today.” The project also included the addition of a female dorm room and bathroom, an exercise room, new kitchen, new mechanical systems, a 60-kilowatt generator, and wheelchair lift.

The library renovation and construction of a 9,000-square-foot addition continues, and expected to be completed in the spring 2020. About 90 percent of demolition is finished and structural steel framing has begun.

The Arthur Boniface Water Tower on Garden Road, a designated landmark that has been in use since 1929, is in need of rehabilitation, and will be scraped and painted on the inside and outside. The tower holds 1.7 million gallons of water and provides excess water to residents as needed, as well as adequate water pressure for properties in higher altitudes. The village plans to start work in September, with a break during the winter months.

The Heathcote Road Bridge replacement project, to be funded by a New York State grant of $1.6 million, is expected to begin in the third or fourth quarter of 2020, and will entail the replacement of supporting abutment structures. The bridge, which runs over the Heathcote Road Bypass, currently is safe, with temporary abutments in place.

The Girl Scout House will be refreshed in fall 2019, via new paint and new carpeting; Westchester-Putnam Girls Scouts will share related costs equally with Scarsdale, pursuant to a long-standing agreement.

Scarsdale Village Hall also will get a mini facelift this summer. The front canopy will be replaced, and wood panels in Rutherford Hall will be refinished and/or replaced as needed. More mundane projects include replacement of a roof drain and underground fuel storage tank, which, while functional, are past their life expectancies.

Last, the village will continue improvements to Wynmor Park, which include tennis court resurfacing, and the installation of new fencing, preschool playground equipment, and landscaping. The project, a collaboration between the village and East Heathcote Neighbors Association, has been delayed due to a number of factors, but will be finished this summer.

Here are comments from Mayor Marc Samwick:

There are three items I would like to discuss this evening.

Filing of the Tentative Assessment Roll and Grievance Day:
The annual Tentative Assessment Roll for 2019 will be filed this week or Monday June 3rd at the latest, as the statutory June 1 filing date falls on a Saturday this year. Letters will simultaneously be mailed to all property owners whose year-to-year assessments have changed. The Tentative Roll will also be posted on the Village website the week of June 3rd so all residents can review their assessment information. Tuesday, June 18th is Grievance Day. Property owners have a window to grieve their tax assessments between the issuance of the tentative assessment roll and June 18th. This is the one opportunity each year that property owners may challenge their property assessments and have the opportunity to meet with the Board of Assessment Review to discuss their assessments. This process is governed by New York State law and is not subject to modification or adjustment by the Town or Village.

We encourage all property owners to carefully review their 2019 tentative assessments and to file a grievance if they have a dispute with their assessed value. As you review your assessment notice, please note that the valuation date is July 1, 2018 and that the 2019 equalization rate is 94.75%. To convert the assessed value to the estimate of fair market value of your property, divide your assessed value by .9475. Property owners interested in filing a grievance and/or meeting with the Board of Assessment Review on Grievance Day, should contact the Assessment Office at 722-1133. All Grievance Day meetings with the BAR are by appointment only. Additionally, if you have any questions as you review your assessment information, please call the Assessment Office or view the Assessor’s tab on the Village website –

Freightway Update:
Earlier today, the Board met in executive session with AKRF to review a draft of the Request for Proposal document for the redevelopment of the Freightway Site and to incorporate public comments into the document prior to its release – which is expected in mid-June. We would like to remind people that the Board goes into executive session to discuss Freightway to protect the value of this important Village asset.

The Village Board started the public engagement of the Freightway redevelopment process with the formation of the Freightway Steering Committee and a community outreach process that resulted in a Visioning Study. The Board is committed to actively engaging the public as it proceeds through an open process that includes public meetings, such as the Community Engagement Forum that took place on May 15th.

We encourage residents to view the Freightway Community Engagement Forum on Scarsdale Public TV and to continue to share your comments with the Board. There will continue to be opportunities for the public to comment on the redevelopment of Freightway as specific proposals from developers are presented and as the land use process takes place.

Addition of Second Public Comment Period:
As you will notice on this evening’s agenda, we will commence a second Public Comment period at the end of this and future regularly scheduled Board meetings. The second Public Comment period is being added to enhance the opportunity for residents to express their views to their elected officials and is consistent with this Board’s encouragement of communication.

The guidelines for the second Public Comment period will be consistent with the guidelines that are in place for the existing Public Comment period, with the inclusion of one additional parameter – there will be an 11:00pm conclusion to the second Public Comment period and the second period will not take place in the event the regular business meeting is not concluded by 11:00 pm. Also, note one modification – speakers may speak once at each Public Comment period.

We look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

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