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WP2This letter was sent to us by Dara Gruenberg and Scott Kleinman Co-Chairs of the White Plains Hospital COVID-19 Relief Campaign
Dear Scarsdale Friends: A little more than four weeks ago our lives were forever altered by the confirmation of the first case of COVID-19 in Westchester County. Since then, our beloved White Plains Hospital has been transformed, operating at a capacity we never thought imaginable as we do everything possible to fight this invisible enemy.WP1

Our doctors, nurses, and staff are on the front lines, risking their lives every day, and exhibiting an unforgettable display of selflessness, dedication, and compassion in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We need your help now more than ever as the number of cases continues to climb.

Please consider making a tax deductible contribution to support our efforts. Below are some of our specific needs (of which we need multiples of everything), which your generous gift will help support:

$250,000 – ICU expansion to outfit additional units for critical patients (per ICU unit)
$50,000 – Improvements to Emergency Department Testing and Screening
$25,000 – Mobile Testing Facility
$20,000 – Glidescope (for intubation)
$12,000 – Daily cost for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
$10,000 – Disinfectant products
$6,000 – Enovate Workstation on Wheels (WOW)
$3,000 – TytoPro Telehealth Device, enabling remote physician care capabilities
$2,700 – Spot Vital Signs Monitor, measuring pulse oximetry, blood pressure, and temp
$1,000 – ASCOM Phone and Charger for wireless on-site communication
$160 – IV Pole
$50 – No Touch Thermometer

If you have already supported the Hospital’s COVID-19 Relief fund, thank you. The impact of your generosity is profound. For those who would like to contribute, you can support the COVID-19 Relief Fund by following this link. If you would like more information or details on how to make a wire transfer, please contact the Foundation Office and Megan McMullen at (914) 681-2261 or mmcmullen@wphospital.org.WP3

Thank you again for your support of our Hospital. Any amount makes a difference, and is so appreciated.

Sincerely,

Dara Gruenberg & Scott Kleinman
COVID-19 Relief Campaign, Co-Chairs
White Plains Hospital Foundation Board Members

letter to the editorMary Beth Evans of Edgewood Road read the following on the ZOOM meeeting of the Scarsdale Board of Education on March 30:

Dear Members of the Board of Education: Thank you for this opportunity to comment on the budget and especially for carrying on as a District during this crisis on behalf of the community.

We recognize the need to prepare for a potential loss in State aid and support your prudent approach to the 2020-21 proposed school budget presented last week, which includes postponement of certain expenses that are not core to your mission of maintaining and enhancing the quality of our schools.

We oppose the notion that the School Board should act immediately to, in the words of a few, dig into the “muscle” of the proposed school budget. We are at a loss to see the logic in crippling the very institution that supports our home values during this uncertain time. We further believe that our students and our teachers need the support of the entire community now more than ever, and we especially reject the notion that eliminating teaching positions or cutting teacher salaries is a productive way for us to respond as a community to current uncertainty. With regard to staffing as it relates to enrollment, in particular, we urge the Administration to make sure to clarify for the community that the relationship is not linear but is shaped by various considerations, including mandates.

Cutting the school budget to the level you’ve recently proposed already does have a long-term consequence. As the Board and the Administration have acknowledged, resident taxpayers generally prefer to avoid sudden spikes in their tax bill. The State imposed tax cap additionally, and more profoundly, affects the Board’s ability to restore or add new funding to future budgets. The tax levy law not only sets an arbitrary cap – disconnected from educational costs -- on each district’s ability to raise local taxes to fund its schools but also enforces this mandate by replacing democratic majority rule with the requirement of supermajority voter approval should a local district try to exceed the State’s cap. Even if a local school board believes it important for the school budget tax levy to exceed the State-determined local levy limit increase, the law empowers a minority of local voters to defeat that effort. Thus, to convey now to the public that the Board can readily convince the voters to exceed the tax cap, as needed, at any time down the road is both unrealistic and disingenuous. We therefore urge the Board and the Administration – along with the PT Council -- to focus on explaining to the public the predicament of the tax cap, which is real.

We are resident taxpayers who no longer have children in the schools, but we continue to subscribe to the unwritten “compact” that has sustained the Scarsdale schools at the current level for what is now coming on some 100 years. Just as the entire community supported school budgets for the duration of our children’s attendance, so do we now support the same high level of education for our neighbors’ children.

This compact is in large part what makes the geographic place known as Scarsdale a community, especially in difficult times. And proof of that this compact was in force even during the Great Depression can be found in a Scarsdale Inquirer article dated May 8, 1931 (“Scarsdale School Budget is Adopted at Large Meeting”). It describes public support at a meeting that resulted in the school budget’s passage. Among those speaking in favor were:

• “Harry E. Lesan who showed that the increase in this year’s budget over last year’s would amount to about $1.10 per thousand dollars of property valuation and offered to contribute his $1.10 to keep up the high standards of Scarsdale schools;

• “Pliny W. Williamson who declared that the schools would unquestionably suffer if [teacher] salaries were decreased or classes enlarged […and] that property values in Scarsdale were due in large measure to the high standard of the school system;” and

• “Dr. Howard J. Savage, a member of the Board of Education, [who] said that he had been a teacher himself for many years, and that he would like to remind those present that, while business men were having lean years now, they had had fat years [adding], ‘ There are no fat years in the teaching profession, however,’ he said, ‘I believe it would be a serious mistake to cut salaries in our schools, and I, as a parent, would like to disagree emphatically with this suggestion, for I do not want second-rate teachers to experiment on my children.’”

Later that same year, in October 1931, the Scarsdale community again voted to invest in education when it approved a $1,150,000 bond to add classrooms to Edgewood School and to build “part of a new High School at a cost of $745,000 and part of a new elementary school on Kelwynn Road at a cost of $350,000.” (Scarsdale Inquirer, October 30, 1931)

Sincerely,

Mary Beth Evans & Daniel Moretti
16 Edgewood Road

[Note: The 1931 Scarsdale tax rate of $1.10 per $1,000 of assessed value is the equivalent of $18.72 per $1,000 of assessed value in today's dollars. This amount is $2.11 more than the 2020 proposed Scarsdale tax rate of $16.51 per $1,000 of assessed value in the District's initially proposed school budget, which the Board now proposes to cut by some $3.6 million. The $1,150,000.00 bond that Scarsdale voters approved in 1931 to expand school facilities is the equivalent of $19,571,032.89 in today's dollars.]

Comments from Claudine Gecel

Claudine Gecel, A Chartered Financial Analyst, lives at 10 Kent Road, and spoke at the online BOE Meeting. These are a few of the points she made:

1.) Concerning the potential items for savings, it is probably not a good idea to pre-pay the Computer Lease. In a difficult financial environment, every institution and every household in the US will be conserving cash. Our School District should be doing the same. And while the US Federal Reserve is flooding the system with liquidity, all the large banks are asking their corporate clients not to draw down on their credit lines - unless absolutely necessary. Most of us have seen the classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”. We all can’t take out money from the bank at the exact same time, and we should just continue to pay the lease, as usual. That will continue to establish Scarsdale Schools as an excellent credit, who pays bills even during a difficult financial time. And that ability to continually pay bills during all economic cycles is one reason why Scarsdale Schools maintains a Triple A Credit Rating.

2.) Concerning the maintenance of Financial Reserves, it is also probably not a good idea to immediately start dipping into any of the District’s Reserves. Financial Reserves are set up specifically for emergency situations. And in highly leveraged institutions, the reserves are set up because the institution is operating at a higher financial risk than comparable peers. Our School District has recovered nicely from the Real Estate and Banking Financial Downturn that we all experienced beginning in 2008. As a District, we have been working very hard to build up the Financial Reserves that we do have. And the reality is that those Reserves could be a bit bigger, and they wouldn’t be hurting anybody. Nevertheless, the School District is not presently in a Financial Emergency. Let us all try to remember what it was like in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, etc. It was painful to manage the School Budget during those years. There were clearly insufficient Reserves existing at that time. This time we have higher Reserve Levels, and we should keep them that way, until we actually experience a major financial emergency. These Reserve Levels are another reason why we maintain that Triple A Credit Rating.

3.) Concerning the maintenance of the Triple A Credit Rating, it is probably not a good idea for the District to become a slave to that Rating. As anyone who invests knows, there are very few institutions in the ENTIRE WORLD that maintain a Triple A Rating!!!! Yes, the entire world!!! So we all need to give ourselves a pat on the back, shake each other’s hands (when the virus is over) and bask in the glory of a Triple A Rating. Once we are done doing that, we need to move on, and manage the School District in a way that is Financially Responsible. What that might mean is that if we are confronted with a Financial Emergency, we can either raise the tax levy or dip into the appropriate Reserve. If we are in a Financial Emergency, it will obviously be very difficult to replenish the reserve for an entire economic cycle. The rating agencies understand this cyclical process. In the meantime, the Ratings Agencies will become very busy downgrading highly leveraged entities of all stripes. If they do end up downgrading Scarsdale School District because we draw down reserves, we will still be rated higher than the MANY institutions on this entire earth.

4.) Concerning each household’s payment of a 1Plus Percent increase in the tax levy, it is probably a good idea to make that concept a bit more relatable to each individual homeowner. When we are all feeling financially flush, we don’t manage our finances down to the penny. That is natural. When we feel that we might have to tighten our belt, all of a sudden we are scrutinizing each and every request that we receive for our precious funds. (Go back to Point Number 1, concerning the conservation of cash). So if we do need to ask homeowners to increase their school tax payment by 1Plus Percent, maybe it might be MORE HELPFUL to actually explain what that means. I am suggesting a LARGE, ONE PAGE CHART. On that Chart, the District would list several popular House Prices. A Suggestion: is $1 Million, $1.5Million, $2 Million, $2.5 Million and $3 Million. A very quick and dirty estimate is that those theoretical home values would encompass roughly 70-75% of the roughly 5000 Plus single family homes. Each home value could be listed on the one page chart, and right next to it would be a calculation of the exact tax increase the homeowner is expected to pay if the taxes are to be raised by 1Plus percent. If the potential tax increases are listed by home value, residents could see what sort of cash outlay they are being asked to make, and we could all see that the amount requested is in the hundreds of dollars. People who are busy and tired are not going to whip out their calculator and figure out “basis points”. And unless you are employed by a Financial Institution in a Financial Role, you will not even know what a Basis Point is!!!

Thanks for taking the time to consider these comments, and thanks for all the hard work which has already gone into revising the District Budget. It seems like we do run a bit of a tight ship, and yet there is always room for improvement!!

martines(This letter was sent to us by the Scarsdale Business Alliance)
All businesses, large and small, are facing many challenges as they navigate what is quickly becoming more than a two-week shutdown. Small businesses, which are the heart and soul of Scarsdale Village, are particularly hard hit by the economic effects of Covid-19. Our SBA businesses must navigate payroll, rent, inventory and other expenses, all with virtually no or reduced revenues. Many of our owners are no longer taking a salary.

During this crisis, the Scarsdale Business Alliance Board has been working hard to both support our membership and support our community.

We know the community wants to support local businesses too. We’ve seen the Facebook posts, received your messages, and heard your voices, and we are so grateful. To the greatest extent possible, we want to continue to offer our services to the community in a safe and convenient way. Here are a few ways we can help each other during this unprecedented time:

Gift Cards - Many of our stores have already closed their doors, but not their businesses. They are offering gift cards, often at a discount. Buy them for yourselves, buy them for your friends, buy them for your neighbors, tell your friends to buy them.

Food take-out or delivery - While our restaurants and bars have temporarily closed, they almost all still offer delivery, take out, and/or curbside pickup. Skip the cooking today and enjoy a freshly prepared meal from one of our local businesses. UberEats, DoorDash, GrubHub and others have waived their delivery fee, so take advantage of this benefit. SBA restaurants include: Bango Bowls, Chat, DeCicco Family Markets (will prepare meals and deliver), Martines, Meritage, Moscato, Popojito, Sapori, The 808 Bistro, Via Forno and Westchester Burger Co.

Private shopping/off-hour shopping - Take advantage of the many creative options our SBA businesses are offering. DeCicco’s is opening early at 7am each day to give seniors an opportunity to shop with few other people nearby.

Virtual shopping - Many businesses are also offering virtual shopping. Go on Facetime from the convenience of your home, peruse the merchandise, and select your favorite pieces. Most stores will also provide free delivery.

Shop on the internet - Almost all our SBA businesses are open online. And most of them are featuring fabulous sales on much of their inventory right now. Don’t miss out! Shop from the safety of your couch and get that special something you’ve been eyeing.

Health Services - It’s hard to receive services when businesses are closed. But some of our services providers remain open, employing strict guidelines to make sure you stay safe. In addition, some providers can offer their services via teleconference or video-conference platforms as well as doctors offering telemedicine appointments. Be sure to reach out to find out if these options are available.

Local volunteers and the SBA have collaborated to create a website that connects local residents in Scarsdale with local/near Scarsdale businesses in need of immediate support. https://www.scarsdalelocal.com/.

Times are difficult. We’re all in this together, so let’s do our best to support each other. In recent days we have all witnessed the lengths to which our local businesses have adapted to make our lives a little easier; from extended hours, to hand sanitizer at checkout, to additional personalized delivery. Now it's time for us to do what we can for them.

Marcy Berman-Goldstein & Ken Giddon, SBA Co-Presidents

SCARSDALE BUSINESS ALLIANCE MEMBERS

Advocate Brokerage Corp.
Athleta Scarsdale
Bango Bowls
BLVD
Bronx River Books
Chase Bank
Chat
Club Pilates
Coldwell Banker
Decicco Family Markets
Douglas Elliman
Dynamic Personal Training
Elder Care Homecare
Equinox
Eye Gallery of Scarsdale
Flora Nail Spa
Greenwich Medical Spa
Great Stuff
Haagen Dazs
Holsten Jewelers
Here&Now Yoga+Body
Hoff-Barthelson Music School
Houlihan Lawrence
I Am More Scarsdale
Iron Vault
Joseph Spadafino: AllState Insurance
Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty
Julius Michael Scarsdale
Learning Express
Lord and Taylor
Martines Fine Bake Shoppe
Meritage
Metro Behavioral Health Associates
Mixology
Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
Moscato
Once Upon a Lil Cupcake
Orangetheory Fitness
Pamela Robbins
Pepe Infiniti
Petticoat Lane
Pilates, Therapy and Wellness Center of Westchester
PixieLane Elanit
Pizza Vitale
PlushBLOW Scarsdale
Pookie & Sebastian
Popojito
Profile by Sanford - Scarsdale
Rothmans
Rudy's Music
Sapori of Scarsdale
Scarsdale 10583
Scarsdale Adult School
Scarsdale Community Baptist Church
Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Service
Scarsdale Improvement Corp
Scarsdale Integrative Medicine
Scarsdale Inquirer
Scarsdale Pediatrics Associates
Scarsdale Prep
Scarsdale Security Systems, Inc.
Scarsdale Shell
Scarsdale Village Flower Shop
Scarsdale Woman's Exchange
Smart Linguists
Stretchlab Scarsdale
The 808 Bistro
The Bar Method Scarsdale
The Child & Family Institute
The Copper Faucet Soap Company
The Dark Horse
Value Electronics
Via Forno
Village Computer Shop
Village of Scarsdale
Westchester Choice Realty
Westchester Boxing Club
Westchester Burger Co.
Westchester Parenting
White Plains Hospital
Wilson & Son Jewelers
William Raveis
Youtherapy Medical Spa
Zachys Wine & Liquor

primemeats1Financier Jon Solodar made a prescient career change is happy he did!At least a few local businesses are thriving during the outbreak. Those providing products deemed “essential” by the state are in high demand in these unusual times. Scarsdale resident Jon Solodar made a risky career change in December, moving from finance to one of these essential businesses, food, and now finds he made the right move.

Here’s the story: After a long career on Wall Street as an equity sales trader, Jon Solodar had an epiphany... he was due for a change. The long hours, stress, and commoditization of the sales trading industry became unsustainable and he decided change was inevitable. "Making a career shift at this stage in life wasn’t easy. I spent a long time looking for the right opportunity with the help of my close friends,” Solodar said. His search finally paid off with the discovery of a high-end butcher in Armonk called Village Prime Meats (VPM). "The food was off the charts. I probably went to the butcher every other week for years,” Solodar said. The quality of the meats and special marinades they have perfected over two decades are what drew Solodar to the business, but he also saw the talent behind it. Recognizing the dedication and knowledge of junior butcher John Rubio, Solodar planted the seeds for a potential partnership. "I needed to be a part of this. I told Rubio that if the senior partner ever wanted to retire, I would be thrilled to partner with him.”

In December 2019, Solodar and Rubio officially partnered and bought Village Prime Meats. Rubio, who has more than 18 years of experience as a professional butcher, took the role of senior butcher and oversees day-to-day operations. Solodar, with his financial and sales background, runs the financial side of the business as well as business development. As partners, Solodar and Rubio are on a mission to make VPM not only the best butcher in Westchester, but in all of New York.

Village Prime Meats was established in 1986 and has won "Best of Westchester” top butcher awards. Solodar said, "We are not messing around with our 100% Prime USDA Meats, Bell & Evan chickens, and our famous marinades. Customers love the fact that they can take home a complete meal with quality meat that has been marinating and is ready to grill, sear, or sauté at home. They love the easy, delicious results.”

The new partners have already made some changes and upgrades to the store. Solodar’s favorite part of his new role is building relationships with customers. “We are listening to our loyal customers about what they would like to see in the store." VPM has added healthy new dishes (like healthy chicken salad), several gluten free and organic options, and other high-end products that complement the meats and poultry. "We have expanded the gourmet prepared foods section that has been a big success and added a specialty sandwich board highlighting our new commitment to our deli section.”

Since most are now homebound given restrictions due to the virus, Solodar finds that their shop’s meats and prepared foods are highly valued. He reports that, “People are buying a lot of steaks and chicken. The most popular steaks being Skirt, Filet, Strip, Shell. The marinated chicken and steaks freeze well along with our homemade soups. Two thirds of our foods are for everyday consumption.

What else? Solodar says, “Our meatballs (beef, chicken and turkey) are very popular as are our signature salads from our deli section. Fan favorites are our Bell and Evans fried chicken and rotisserie chickens that sell out daily. People come in and buy 20 burgers at a time as you probably won’t find a better burger. The lamb and veal chops are very popular as our turkey and beef meat loaves.” Also in demand are our chicken and beef stir fries. People buy these by the quart and its very convenient for them to go home and cook for ten minutes or so on the stove. Our marinade is so popular that we are thinking about ways to sell it outside of the store.”

Solodar says, “With restaurants closed, schools closed and kids home from college, people are doing more cooking than ever.”

The store is only 12 minutes from Scarsdale and is open six days per week. Meats can be freezer wrapped and dated. Solodar says their supply is plentiful and there is no need for panic purchasing. The store is small so there are never more than a few people inside at a time. Those who are concerned about coming inside can call and order beforehand and their food will be brought to the curb.

Village Prime Meats
475 Main Street
Armonk, NY
(914) 273-5222
villageprimemeats.net

Photos by Jon Thaler

JoanneWallensteinOn Tuesday night I got several calls to alert me that Mayra Kirkendall-Rodriguez was at the mic at Village Hall quoting me. Curious to find out why my name was invoked – I tuned in to Channel 75 to find her quoting from an article I wrote about my experience on the Citizens Nominating Committee. She said I wrote the article in 2013 – but I actually wrote it in 2011 – and it referred to time I spent on the committee in 2007—8. That’s now 14 years ago, and in that time, the resolution has been amended, and the rules, the management and the make-up of the Citizen’s Nominating Committee has changed.

When I served on the CNC, the committee proceedings were run by the leadership of the Town and Village Civic Club which has since become the Scarsdale Forum. The people who presided over the nomination process were not elected by the nominators and at times they appeared to have their own agendas. I was often unable to understand who they were speaking about and why they kept bringing up matters that they then said could not be discussed. Many of the nominators served multiple terms and appeared to be quite partisan.

As a relative newcomer to Scarsdale, it was frustrating. But since that time, things have changed. The leadership of the committee is elected by the nominators and there is considerable turnover among the 30 elected committee members who represent a wide swath of the community. It is evident that the process is fair and democratic.

Ms. Kirkendall-Rodriguez never asked me to update my views on the CNC and repeatedly quotes from a 2011 article in order to justify her views about the nominating process. If she finds them unfair or biased, I hope she can ground that opinion in her own experiences rather than quote views I no longer hold.

And this leads me to the upcoming election – yet another year when our non-partisan system is being challenged.

If Mayra Kirkendall-Rodriguez or anyone else wants to know, I have full confidence in Scarsdale’s Non-Partisan system, the Citizen’s Nominating Committee and the candidates they vet and select. I know many of my neighbors have served on the CNC and they worked hard to find good candidates, present them to the committee and thoroughly vet their experience and credentials. The committee is comprised of 30 elected members from all of Scarsdale’s neighborhoods who in turn seek qualified Scarsdalians to serve.

We’re fortunate that these nominators volunteer their time to identify dedicated and talented leaders to run Scarsdale. Winning the confidence and approval of the CNC is a real accomplishment – and I will give the candidates who passed muster with the committee my vote in the general election on Wednesday March 18.

Justin Arest and Lena Crandall, two Scarsdale Non-Partisan Party candidates who have been re-nominated for a second term, have both served well during their first terms. They have unique perspectives and opinions which they are never reluctant to share -- but know how to work together with their fellow Board members when it’s time to reach consensus. I am impressed by their commitment to their roles, the many hours they serve, their passion for the Village and willingness to engage with neighbors. Randy Whitestone, who is running for his first term has already done considerable volunteer work in the Village and his financial acumen and communication skills will be assets to the Board of Trustees.

Their challengers from the Voter’s Choice Party contend that Scarsdale’s voters need a choice. In my view, the CNC made some good choices, and I’ll support them. I am pleased with the management of the village, our excellent services, and the fact that they provide it all while keeping our tax increase under 2%.

In short, I am going to vote Row B for Justin Arest, Lena Crandall and Randy Whitestone for Village Trustee at the Scarsdale Congregational Church at 1 Heathcote Road on Wednesday March 18 from 6 am – 9 pm. Since it’s a contested election and our non-partisan system is being tested, I urge you to vote Row B as well. If you’re concerned about voting due to the virus, go to Village Hall on Monday before 5 pm and get your absentee ballot there.

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