Flooded Residents Tell Planning Board to Turn Down Garden Road Development
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 1746
The timing of a developer’s appeal to build eight homes and a private road on a swampy lot at 80, 88 and 90 Garden Road could not have been worse. In the wake of Hurricane Ida, which deluged Scarsdale with an intense downfall of eight inches of rain, neighbors were already stressed and aggravated by flooding in their streets and their homes. The prospect of taking down over 300 trees and displacing even more pervious surfaces drew scores of residents to Village Hall on Wednesday night September 22 to voice their objections to the Planning Board as they heard the developer’s seventh attempt to win approval in 2021.
In response to questions from Mott MacDonald, an engineer retained by the Village to review the plan, the developer’s Attorney Lucia Chiocchio of Cuddy and Feder and his Engineer Eliot Senor presented their latest plans on how the property could retain more water than it generated and to explain where excess water would drain.
In their latest iteration, the builder is proposing to raise the grade of the seven acre site by four feet by hauling in truckloads of landfill and enclosing the site in a six foot retaining wall. Rather than pave the private road, they would use porous pavement over a 2-foot bed of gravel.
They claim that the current water table is four feet below ground and propose to install an underground detention system to collect the water in 36 inch pipe sections. Senor claimed that the landfill will absorb more water than the existing ground does now and that his conservative estimates showed that the development would decrease the overall run off to Cushman Road by about 5%.
The road and detention system would be maintained by a private homeowner’s association.
The developer supplied a tree analysis to show the effects of tree removal and replacement. He plans to remove 322 trees to build the development and to plant 438 replacement trees to absorb water and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. As it will take decades for these trees to reach maturity, he provided a series of calculations showing how many gallons of water these trees could absorb and CO2 they could absorb at mid-maturity.
Senor said he walked the property after Ida and “did not see a lot of standing water, and the road was not muddy.” He said, “The stream did not exceed its banks.” He continued, “I saw the devastation on Cayuga Road but this will not add any water to that system – it will reduce it by 4% or 5% at total build out. We are providing for a 100% impervious surface.”
However after reviewing the report, MacDonald concluded, ‘In all, it appears that even if the assumptions and conceptual model that underlie this analysis were appropriate for this site, the community would have to wait more than a decade for relief from the increased runoff caused by the replacement of 322 existing trees (plus about 70 invasive maple trees) with 438 small replacement trees.
About the water table MacDonald concluded, “The hydrologic analyses performed mostly focus on managing and reducing runoff but do little to address the impacts of the proposed work on the water table. In that the neighboring properties suffer from wet basements; it is not enough to target runoff alone. It may be that the combined proposed diversions from eight new private wells, without any return of wastewater to the aquifer, would be sufficient to assure the Board that the proposed subdivision would not cause a long-term water table rise or otherwise exacerbate the problem. But the proposed replacement of more mature trees with the proposed 3-inch DBH plantings will result in an increase in the amount of water that reaches the ground and a decrease in the amount of water taken up and transpired. Although there will be an increase in the proportion of impervious cover, the increased amount of water reaching pervious surfaces will increase groundwater recharge causing the water table to be higher than it might otherwise be.”
Planning Board Chair John Clapp said “In brief we are looking at a net increase of covered surface of 1.3 acres, an 18% increase in covered surfaces and the removal of 400 trees. The replacement trees will only absorb 13% of the water that is currently absorbed. He said, “the applicant will need to respond to Mott MacDonald’s memo before the project can move forward.”
Planning Board member Deb Pekarek asked for clarification on the site and was told, “The disturbance area is 5.2 acres and the total property is 7 acres which includes the house at 90 Garden Road. This was originally a 13 lot subdivision and 4 homes have already been built on Cushman Road. The original plan included a detention pond but there will no longer be a pond.”
Senor said “We have already removed some trees, brush and small saplings, but no trees about 6” DBH.”
Later at the meeting Village Engineer David Goessel said the developer had in fact removed 43 trees, 8 or which were larger trees that required a permit. He said a summons has been issued.
Another Planning Board member discussed the runoff. He said, “A 5% improvement is a very small improvement – this margin of error is not acceptable – it could in fact be worse.”
MacDonald said, “The area already floods. If you fill it in it could make the flooding higher. I asked for an off-site drainage analysis. We need 100 year storm analysis. We are trying to make sure that this does not exasperate an existing problem. There is only a one and half foot drainage pipe there now.”
About the porous pavement, MacDonald said, “As the years progress it will get less effective. The pervious pavement deteriorates and needs to be maintained.”
The public comments portion of the meeting extended well into the evening. Many read from letters they had sent to the Planning Board to object to the development and you can read the letters here:
A representative from Fenway Golf Club, which is downstream from Garden Road said that “five golf holes were impacted in the storm – a lake was created on the golf course…. Mr. Senor has to demonstrate that there will be no additional runoff.”
He continued, “Our consultant found no data for the claim of a 5% reduction. There is no analysis to show whether it’s right or it’s wrong –there is nothing to review. I am disappointed that this is on the agenda again without all the pieces. Why have they not mentioned the Sheldrake River Basin? That is why Scarsdale is flooded. They should not increase pressure to the neighbors.”
A team of lawyers and engineers from Zarin and Steinmetz representing Bob Falk of 3 Willow Lane said, the engineer’s “statements are unsubstantiated. There is incomplete information and deficient data. They have not produced an updated SWIPPP (a stormwater pollution prevention plan) as is required by the Planning Board. During Ida, water rushed down my client’s driveway. His first floor was wrecked during the storm.”
Greg Fleisher and Environmental Engineer said, “The current site has very poor drainage. In raising the grade you create a host of other problems. Where does the water go once it hits the water table? Where does the ditch around the property drain? There is a pond in the southeast corner that drains into one 18 inch pipe to Cushman Road. This will worsen conditions on Cushman Road – excess water will jeopardize those properties.”
Robert Rieffel of Cayuga Road said, “There is little infrastructure built to accommodate all this water. Our rights must be weighed against the rights of this developer. The existing infrastructure is already inadequate. Protect the rest of the Village, not the developer.”
Another Cayuga Road man said, “Our street was devastated. Cushman Road is 30 feet higher than Cayuga Road. Water goes downhill –it doesn’t make a difference how. Cayuga is the last built development. We have drainage from Catherine on the east and Cushman and Garden on the west. There is a serious issue…people losing their basement sand first floors repeatedly – this is a real, grave situation. There is an obligation to deal with people’s homes. I am 76 years old – you can’t go through this over and over. There are easy remedies for this water – please address it. This area is being devastated; infrastructure improvements are needed now.”
Andrew Rodman of Cushman Road said, “Is the grade being raised next to the water tower – it will all drain into my property? I will build a wall and drain into my neighbor’s yard– and if this proceeds Bobby Falk’s house will be washed away. There was a heck of a lot of water after the storm on Garden Road. It is sad what is going on – we have to save Scarsdale.”
Greg White from 44 Garden Road said, I have lived here for 30 years. I am a civil engineer. I am a new grandfather. Garden Road is the Indianapolis speedway in the morning and at night. If we have more cars and buses, it is going to be scary. I am frightened for the children in the area. The water table is so high that we don’t need sprinklers. The hydrostatic pressure in this area is extraordinary. The roadways will fail. The soil is dense clay so the water doesn’t go anywhere. Two weeks ago we lost two cars in the storm and our first floor library is also gone.”
Shari Beckman of 75 Garden Road said, “The current developer proposal for the site at 80 Garden Road is a nightmarish vision for all of the residents who live in our beautiful, but waterlogged, area. We have lived in our home, which had been newly developed at the time, on Garden Road for twenty years. The builder proudly showed us the sophisticated, synchronized multiple sump pump system he installed to allay fears on the part of potential buyers who knew that the home was built in a wetland area and quite literally sits on top of water.
Over the years we have been here, we have watched ponds of water appear on our back property from moderate rains. We have also suffered three separate incidents of serious flooding of our entire lower level; we have emergently drained, dried out, de-molded, gutted and rebuilt this space at tremendous cost, emotionally and financially. We live, by the way, on the opposite side of the road that is known to dangerously flood so often. It is clear to us that we and our neighbors live with the peril of endless water below. There is no way to change that.
But it is also clear that the deliberate removal of 5 acres of fully grown trees with substantial roots that have taken hold over the years would seriously deteriorate an already impossible situation. From every perspective, ecological and practical, this would be an extremely grave mistake. Furthermore, the proposed building of so many additional homes would deplete even more the existing shortage of our scarce resources, such as outdated phone and electrical wiring and insufficient water pressure.
With climate change issues upon us, when we expect more frequent and serious storms, this is not the time to be building new structures atop a deteriorated infrastructure. We all know that at Disneyworld, underneath the magic of the sights and sounds we enjoy with our grandchildren, is an entire secret city that services the wonder and awe we experience at such a special place. We consider it a privilege to live in Scarsdale, but shudder to think of what our village looks like underneath the charm and beauty of the homes that make up our community.”
Barry Abramson of 98 Garden Road has lived here for 23 years. He said, “I urge you to reject the applicants proposal. My backyard is adjacent to the project. One third of my yard has standing water after a rainfall. The three new houses on Cushman Road increased this from 25% to 33%.”
About the landfill he said, “About bringing in 1000 truckloads of fill … What is clean fill? Fill is not clean. It is not free of contaminants and pollutants like arsenic, asbestos, lead, and lead paint chips. There will be debris flying and we will be breathing it for years. The wall surrounding it will need weep holes and the fill will drip out of the wall and drain into my backyard.”
Bob Berg said, “This is one of the worst applications I have seen. The developer has chutzpah. This is a wetlands. The stormwater system can’t take the stormwaters that we already create. The whole idea is crazy. Cayuga Road should never have been developed – it should have been open space.To allow this to go forward would be a crime.”
At the end of the meeting the Planning Board again voted to hold over a decision on the application.
Edgewood Residents Create Card Game to Help Kids Deal with Anxiety
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 1429
Research shows that kids who learn healthy ways to express and cope with their feelings are more likely to be empathetic and supportive of others, perform better in school and careers, have more positive and stable relationships, and develop a positive sense of self.
In order to help kids deal with their feelings, Edgewood residents Stephen Baer and his eight year-old son Arlo, a third grader at Edgewood, created a card game called Feeling Lucky. It's focused on helping kids identify, understand, express, and manage a wide range of feelings that have been amplified during the pandemic. Feeling Lucky challenges players to express how they feel in a variety of situations and awards players every step of the way.
Over the past few years Arlo has struggled with anxiety and he used his creativity to turn lemons into lemonade. He built a prototype of this game using popsicle sticks and tested it at home. Then his Dad hired an artist to draw each emotion and they produced a small run of cards for friends and family members to test. After getting feedback, they printed a slightly larger run and are now selling copies of the card game.
Dad Stephen Baer is the Chief Creative Officer for The Game Agency, a company that makes video games for K-12 education and corporate training.
His goal is to show Arlo that creative thinking can help solve his anxiety and help plenty of other kids just like him. Learn more and get your own card game on their website here.
Letter to the Editor: The New Bronx River Pathway is a Near Perfect Juxtaposition of Beautiful Addition to our Landscape and Accident Waiting to Happen
- Written by Russell Kopp
- Hits: 1294
This letter was written by Russell Kopp.
My wife and I visited the pathway for the first time today. We parked (for free) at the Hartsdale Train station, as weekends will let happen, and walked the path to the Scarsdale station and back.
Say what you want about how long it took to complete, or the money spent doing so, or how those funds could have better been spent on feeding the homeless or other social endeavors rather than yet another (paved) pathway we could have lived without.
We're all entitled to our opinions on where tax dollars should flow, as much as I'll report to you that now completed, the developers did what I think is a beautiful job with its design.
But I'll tell you what I don't think is subject to opinion: that same beautiful design, with its winding and sloping (relatively narrow) pathways and tree lined sides will soon I fear, and with frequency, render broken bones or worse as collisions between pedestrians and cyclists inevitably occur.
In the short while we were there, a woman got up from one of its beautiful benches (not otherwise in one of the pathway's bench "cul-de-sacs," but rather right off the pathway) and didn't look both ways before doing so.
Sure, she should have. And I'll bet if she was entering a busy street she would have. But the path's peaceful existence is the same one that for good reasons is its “Achilles heel,” finding the people it relaxes letting their guard down.
“Watch, watch!” my wife and I screamed at her, aware of a bicycle approaching her from behind at high speeds and close distance for the venue.
It was a narrow miss, one I'm sure those already walking also face.
“She thanked us and we all agreed that the woman had no idea what we were initially referring to, admitting that her first instinct was that some bee was about to sting her or something.”
(I must remind myself to say “Freeze, Freeze!” not “Watch, Watch,” to others in such situations given the absence of eyes in the back of our heads, although the former sounds forceful.)
Now, I'm not some anti bicyclist. Last I checked our two wheeled riding friends pay taxes too. But in order to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists safely the path needs signage (ideally electronic) that provides hours during the day for each user, bicyclist and pedestrian, to exist in isolation of the other in the space.
Scarsdale Rec Adult Softball Completes Successful Season
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 1030
The Claire D. Leone Softball Team won the championship softball game of the Scarsdale Adult Softball League on Monday night August 16, 2021.
As they had no season due to COVID last summer, they were very excited to resume play this year.
The players wish to thank the Scarsdale Recreation Department for their support throughout the season and a congratulate Rich Massaroni from the Scarsdale Recreation Department who will be retiring at the end of this year.
Rich Massaroni, Rec Adult Softball League Director said, "I just wanted to say thank you to all participating teams on another successful season. Despite no season last year (2020) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all participants really enjoyed being back playing this season (2021); great fun and competition."
He provided the following season recap:
Regular Season Recap
Included 12 games played on Tuesdays and Thursdays from June 8 to August 2.
All games were played at Crossway 1, Crossway 2, Hyatt 1, Greenacres 1 and Quaker Ridge Back 1 fields.
Regular Season ended with a tie for first place, with 10-2 records, by the Pulled Hammies and the Jager Bombers.
Post Season Playoffs Recap
8 of the 10 teams qualified for a “Double Elimination” format from August 3 to August 16.
The 8 teams included:
Pulled Hammies, Double Downs, Claire D. Leone R.E., Pros, Jager Bombers, Bee Liners, The Launchers, Cavaliers.
Games were all very competitive and well played with all teams showing terrific offensive and defensive talents.
Attached above is a PDF containing the Playoff Bracket with all results.
Championship Game Recap:
Final Score: Claire D. Leone R.E – 5 vs The Launchers – 0
The Launchers (Visitors) (2019 Defending Champions) versus Claire D. Leone Real Estate (Home).
Game played on Monday, August 16 @ Crossway 2.
1st Inning:Both teams scoreless.
2nd Inning:The Launchers did not score.
Claire D. Leone R.E scored 2 runs:
Mike Hodges and Matt Wheeler singled.
Jake Gorobetz had an RBI single and Todd Leone Sr. had an RBI single.
Claire D. Leone leads 2-0.
The Launchers did not score.
Claire D. Leone R.E scored 1 run:
DJ Fuhrman with a leadoff single and Mike Hodges with an RBI single.
Claire D. Leone leads 3-0.
The Launchers did not score.
Claire D. Leone R.E scored 1 run:
Tim Leone with a one out triple and scored on a Launchers error.
Claire D. Leone leads 4-0.
The Launchers threaten but did not score.
Claire D. Leone R.E did not score.
Claire D. Leone still leads 4-0.
The Launchers threaten again but did not score.
Claire D. Leone R.E scored 1 run on singles by Tim Leone, Jake Gorobetz and an RBI single by Yohan Drakes.
Claire D. Leone now leads 5-0.
The Launchers threaten once again but did not score.
Both teams went scoreless. Claire D. Leone R.E scored 1 run on singles by Tim Leone, Jake Gorobetz and an RBI single by Yohan Drakes.
Claire D. Leone wins 5-0 and captures League Championship.
Congratulations to both Championship Finals teams for a well-played excellent game and season!
(Pictured at Top)
Front Row: (left to right):
Mike Hodges, Todd Leone Sr., Jeff Leone, DJ Furhman, Tim Leone, Rob Burns
Back/Top Row: (left to right):
David Finkelstein, Cavan Kehoe, Henry Hirsch, Jake Nathanson, Jake Gorobetz, Spencer Hunt. Ben Brody, Johan Drakes, Curtis Kestenbaum, Rob DeMatteo, Matt Wheeler
Youth Tennis League at SMS Monday through Thursday Nights
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 650
(This letter was written by Bob Harrison)
We continue to enroll new Youth tennis players to the Summer Youth Tennis League with all skill levels.
Show up tonight (7-15) at 6 PM and next Monday through Thursday at 6 PM to register and play at the Scarsdale Middle School Tennis Courts.
Thank you for your support of Scarsdale Youth Tennis.
914 646-4054 (cell)