Wednesday, Apr 08th

Last updateTue, 07 Apr 2020 5pm

You are here: Home Section Table Good Work

baer1Despite the orders to practice social distancing, residents are finding ways to get out of the house. Here are some photos and observations from this weekend:

Nine year-old Rowan spent the day creating this magnificent chalk image on her driveway in Edgewood. Chalking is a great safe outdoor activity for the kids. Send us photos of the work at your house.



In West Harrison the Verzillo family made a carnival in their yard. Today they are painting Easter signs:



Others decided to venture out to the drive-through window at the Starburks at the Golden Horseshoe. On Sunday, the line-up snaked out to Wilmot Road!

A Heathcote resident send us the following reminder:













Slow Down!

“There are many children riding their bikes, some with or without helmets and some with or without parental supervision. Please remind your readers to DRIVE SLOWLY and CAREFULLY! Thank you!

P.S. -- truly liked you reminding people to help pick up random bits of trash and gloves around the streets ... Scarsdale Sanitation is overwhelmed with corrugated box pick up and cannot be expected to pick up after neighbors. Thanks for keeping the community informed during these times. “

Another asked us to post the following:

Discard Gloves and Masks

“One thing I am noticing is discarded gloves and masks on the ground. I live near Balducci's and its parking lot is littered with them. But I see then even along the residential streets around Heathcote Elementary. Not sure if you can use your platform to urge people to dispose of their gloves and masks properly.”

Shine a light: Also, remember to go outside Monday night at 8 pm to shine a flashlight to demonstrate our collective solidarity.

How are you staying busy? Send us photos of your activities – inside and out-- to

no mulch volcanoes by StofkoAs the weather warms and we all get ready to enjoy our yards and neighborhood landscape, here are some ways to improve the sustainability of your surroundings:

Go Organic: Organic yard care gives us a beautiful, healthy, thriving landscape, and it’s also beneficial to us, our pets, wildlife, and the environment. Many organic products, such as fertilizer and weed control, are readily available. Organic landscaping can be accomplished whether you do your own yard work or hire a landscaper. Read the CAC’s previous article about organic landscaping. 

Plant Trees: Trees enhance the beauty of our community, provide shade, soak up water, and help wildlife. Trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, further helping the environment. Whenever possible, plant native trees and plants --those that grow naturally in our area--as they are better suited to our climate and terrain. Once established, native trees can thrive with less water and fertilizer (and no pesticides), saving time and money.

Plant Perennials that Attract Pollinators: Butterflies, bees, and birds play an important role in our environment. Plants that attract these pollinators add beauty to our landscape while helping make our world healthy. Replacing part of your lawn with native plants is an inexpensive, simple way to support a healthy environment and to reduce costly lawn maintenance. Some plants to consider include coreopsis, Joe-pye weed, butterfly weed, aster, purple coneflower, salvia, and sedum.

Spare the Mulch: Placing mulch in garden beds and around trees can help keep moisture in and weeds out. However, too much mulch or improperly placed mulch can seriously harm trees and shrubs. Never pile mulch (or soil) against the trunk of a tree because the mulch will eventually rot the trunk as well as cause roots to grow in the wrong direction. Keep mulch approximately 6” away from tree trunks and about 3” deep in plant beds and around trees.

Water Wisely: To encourage stronger and more drought-resistant plants--and therefore, healthier lawns--water your lawn 2 times per week for a total of 1’’ of water, usually around 30 minutes per watering. Watering should be done in the early morning when the most absorption takes place. Use drip hoses to water trees and shrubs. Experts estimate that as much as 50 percent of water used for home irrigation is wasted due to overwatering and evaporation. Although Scarsdale requires all home irrigation systems to have a rain sensor--which shuts down the system when it’s raining—an even better way to go would be to add a smart water controller, which uses a WiFi connection to access weather data from the internet to automatically adjust watering schedules. Help save water and reduce your water bill.

Properly Care for Your Lawn: Keep grass about 3” high to promote deeper roots and a healthier, more drought-tolerant lawn. Taller grass is also less susceptible to weeds. Leave grass clippings on your lawn as they provide a natural fertilizer and help the soil retain water. Leaving lawn clippings also reduces the use of gas-powered blowers--a leading contributor to air and noise pollution--which are banned by the Village from June 1st through September 30th. Using high-powered electric or battery-operated blowers to clean driveways and walkways is a viable alternative.

Talk with Your Landscaper: Sometimes old habits are not easy to break, so it’s important to share information and to let your landscaper know that you want an organic, healthy, sustainable yard.

If you have any questions or comments, contact the Scarsdale Conservation Advisory Council

BRPSundayMany are enjoying the Bronx River Path and other county trails.This week brought even more dramatic changes to Scarsdale. Just when it felt like our entire world had closed in, it narrowed even further. School was originally cancelled for two weeks and now we don’t know if and when they will re-open. The Scarsdale Bowl, scheduled for April, has been moved to September. Many in the Village were focused on the election of three members of the Village Board on March 18, until we learned that even an election had to be postponed until the end of April.

On a personal level, birthday parties, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, showers and weddings are all being put off. Airline and hotel reservations have been cancelled. Spring sports and after school activities are on hold. Children are discouraged from playing on playgrounds. Will high school seniors be able to travel for spring break? The chances look dimmer each day. Some are deeply concerned about their jobs, the long-term health of their companies and the effects of the steep downturn in the economy.

At home, we’re plundering the freezer and the pantry unsure if food deliveries will continue and if we will we be able to get what we need. We’re buying what we can find and keeping an eye on consumption.

Reading so much about signs of the virus, friends report they are experiencing psychosomatic symptoms like dripping noses, dry throats and coughs. Anxiety is running high and thermometer batteries are running low as we continually check for fever. Plastic gloves, face masks and scarves are in fashion. Everyone is being extra cautious for fear of spreading the virus to someone else.

But it’s not all bad. Each day brings some encouraging surprises.glovesPlastic gloves are de rigeur.

Children are now doing their schoolwork online, an amazing accomplishment by the schools, given the sudden onset of the crisis. The Scarsdale School Board has scheduled a meeting using ZOOM, and the community is invited to participate online, Wednesday night at 6:30.

The Village is maintaining essential services with police and firefighters on duty and sanitation on a regular schedule. We are fortunate that our Village leadership had the foresight to begin preparing for this crisis and started ordering supplies in early February.

Many are doing their work from home, networking with colleagues, holding conference calls and online meetings. Homes have been converted into virtual offices, a trend that may grow after the crisis abates.

We can no longer make plans so we’re learning to greet each day and make the most of our time at home. Many are outside enjoying the beautiful path along the Bronx River Parkway and county trails and parks. Packs of kids are out on their bikes. Those strolling the neighborhood stop and compare notes with people they usually pass on the street. Danny’s Cycles on Central Avenue had a flood of business as people bought bicycles.

In the Village, we found Michelle and Chuck Anderson from La Dentelliere keeping their store open on Sunday. Michelle reported that she was pleased that people were coming in and calling up to order items to freshen their homes. She invited anyone to give her a call to order for themselves or a gift for a homebound friend which she can deliver.

LaDentelleireMichelle and Chuck Anderson outside La Dentelleire.Local restaurants are also offering takeout, pick up and curbside delivery for anyone who needs to practice social distancing. Take a look at our list of where to order and help to keep our local businesses afloat. Local residents have organized a campaign to raise funds for food delivery to the emergency medical workers who are battling the virus on the frontline at White Plains Hospital.

For now, the community is demonstrating resilience and finding the silver lining to perhaps the biggest challenge we will encounter in our lifetimes. Families are enjoying their time together. College kids and young adults have returned home and generations are learning how to live together under one roof again. In our house we’re lucky to be sheltering in place with my eight-week old granddaughter who doesn’t seem to realize how unusual a time it is.

Residents are checking in on the elderly and others are volunteering to shop for the homebound. Stores have set up special hours for senior citizens and the immuno-compromised to shop and avoid the crowds. We’re all doing what we can to support our local businesses, and everyone is respecting rules around social distancing to keep the virus at bay.

Given that Scarsdale shares a border with the scene of the largest outbreak of the virus in NY State, at least so far, Village residents are doing a great job of staying healthy. Most I have spoken to are fully cognizant of how serious the consequences of infection can be and are doing everything they can to protect themselves and their neighbors.zachysMichael Chayes makes a necessary trip to Zachys.

We don’t know how long this will last or how dire it will be. But we do know that we can count on our neighbors, our community government, our school district, the county and the state to do everything possible to keep us safe.

This letter was submitted by Jennifer Hong in response to a request from 10583 to learn more about the Scarsdale Chinese Association’s efforts to help in the fight again COVID-19.

I am a member of the Scarsdale Chinese Association (SCA). I am not writing this on behalf of the SCA but as a volunteer who has helped in this donation effort. This is not an official SCA statement but rather what has taken place from my perspective. Thank you to Scarsdale 10583 for your willingness to highlight our effort.

A team of volunteers from the Scarsdale Chinese Association collaborated and, with a concerted effort, were able to purchase and have 5000 masks shipped directly from China. 3000 masks were donated to the first responders and essential workers in Scarsdale Village. Thanks to Dara Gruenberg for helping coordinate with the Village and distribute the masks. The remaining 2000 masks were donated to White Plains Hospital, Westchester Medical Center, and two New York City hospitals. I, along with many members of the SCA, volunteered in this effort. Biggest thanks goes to Kiki Hong, Dr. Jun Xu, Dr. Ru-Liang Xu and Dr. Hong Su.

surgicalmasksSCA also turned to our members for donations of their own masks to help alleviate the hospitals’ urgent needs. As you may be aware, China has a problem with smog and air pollution due to rapid industrial growth. Many families in Scarsdale buy masks to wear when they or their relatives go back to China. Ever since COVID-19 first broke out in Wu Han, we have been monitoring the development closely, and some residents bought masks as a precaution. We know how grim the situation has been in China and how contagious the virus is. SCA was able to collect 1000+ different kinds of masks from its members and has delivered all of them to nearby hospitals. Although some of these mask are anti-fog, not up to the stringent medical standards, the hospitals took them with great appreciation. Local families here have exhausted the supplies we have in our homes. Lauren Yang, SCA President, Lisa Tan and other volunteers spearheaded this effort.

What inspired SCA to initiate this effort was that Dara Gruenberg sent some of our members an email asking for donations to provide funding for meals to the Emergency Department staff at White Plains Hospital (WPH). SCA immediately stepped up to donate, and Han Zhou volunteered to lead this effort. SCA members, who are doctors at Westchester Medical Center (WMC), after hearing about the contributions to White Plains Hospital, reached out to us about the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) at WMC. We learned that many hospitals were in the same dire situation. This gave the SCA the idea to expand our efforts to help, in addition to the meal donation initiative. SCA quickly started a campaign to assist hospitals on many fronts: Lisa Tan made a portal page for SCA members to donate money directly to WPH and WMC; to donate masks; and to donate towards a fund for purchasing PPEs for hospitals.

Many in SCA are pursuing leads of PPE donations or trying to help hospitals purchase directly from China. Ailun Yang and I are working with a charity foundation in China to donate masks and gowns directly to hospitals here.

Besides those mentioned above, Judy Yang, Ellen Sun, Yin Lao, Leon Xin, as well as so many others, are helping. Several SCA members are asking friends and family back in China to send PPEs to us directly. I feel so proud of my fellow Chinese Americans and Chinese.

We, Chinese Americans, are standing together with every Scarsdale resident in unity and solidarity. Many of us are US citizens. We are firstly Americans with Chinese heritage. This is our country too. When we see our neighbors and friends at the frontlines combating the potentially lethal virus without enough protection, our hearts sink at the risks they are taking so we are doing everything we can to help. We hear the battle cry from Governor Cuomo and are joining the fight against this vicious disease.

MoorjaniOn Tuesday March 10, Scarsdale Village officials hosted a special work session to update residents on their work to address COVID-19 and to provide commentary from an infectious disease expert – all in an effort to inform and reassure the community.

Well, you know what they say about “best-laid plans.” While the village’s plan was commendable, its invited speaker, Dr. Harish Moorjani, made a number of remarks that offended Scarsdale residents – in particular, members of the Chinese community – and undermined much of what he had to say.

The meeting started well, with Mayor Marc Samwick stating, “While the village relies on the state and county health departments for assistance with widespread health issues, we have also enacted measures to ensure that our first responders have the resources and training required to protect themselves and our community.” He then explained that village staff have implemented a variety of steps to ensure continued delivery of essential government services while maintaining public health and containing the spread of COVID-19.

As part of its efforts, the village has implemented “social distancing” procedures in its interactions among staff and with residents. Social distancing, essentially, is a coordinated effort to keep people away from each other by limiting close contact. For instance, at Tuesday’s meeting, all participants were seated considerable distances from each other. The village will work to record/live stream all future meetings to reach those who feel uncomfortable attending public sessions. (Recordings generally are available via the village website the following day.)

Who are you, man?
Samwick then introduced Dr. Moorjani, a Westchester-based infectious disease specialist, to discuss his take on the coronavirus, including its genesis, global spread, and future outlook. In beginning his presentation – reassuring to some and insulting to others – the doctor said, “The more infectious disease doctors who get involved in this rapidly evolving epidemiological situation… the better off the community is.” He continued, “It’s all evidence-based medicine…and how we can implement lessons learned into our communities… Knowledge is going to keep us functioning without any major hinderance.”

Moorjani, who recently spoke to residents in New Castle, stated that it was important to address fear and misinformation among members of the public. He also called out other doctors who have appeared in the media, sounding doomsday warnings about what lies ahead. Asking, ‘Who are you, man?” he claimed that some are “falling prey to panic because they have no knowledge” and urged people to listen to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

Some takeaways from his presentation include:

• Coronaviruses are common among animals; COVID-19, like the coronaviruses SARS and MERS, has spread to humans.

• The virus attacks the respiratory system by attaching to receptors in the throat and lungs. It is spread person-to-person, between people who are in close contact (about six feet), through coughing and sneezing.

• People with underlying diseases – cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes, and compromised immune systems – are at risk. Smoking or vaping can also increase your risk of  contracting the virus.

• Approximately 81% of reported cases are mild; 14% are severe and require some medical assistance; and 5% are critical, marked by respiratory failure/septic shock/organ failure.

• Moorjani believes that flying is very safe as airplanes re-circulate and filter air, preventing the spread of the virus between passengers. He had advice about avoiding infection while going through security and boarding the plane, but believes, in general, that it is safe to fly.

• Total fatality rate is about 2.3% and dropping; by comparison, MERS had a 34% mortality rate and SARS had a 9.7% mortality rate.

• One treatment - Remdesivir - is in clinical trials, with results due in three months. Compassionate use of the drug is now available for those with severe disease.

Unintended uproar
However, some residents who were present and/or saw Moorjani's presentation also asked, “Who are YOU, man?” and took exception to the doctor’s commentary that was critical of the Chinese government and culture. Specifically, he referred to the disease as the "Wuhan virus,” blamed conditions in Chinese meat markets for fostering the evolution of COVID-19 and other outbreaks, and asserted that the Chinese government has refused to share medical information/research with other countries, and routinely steals research from U.S. companies working on treatments.

Some felt that his comments fed into existing suspicions and stereotypes faced by the Chinese community, rather than promoting unity in the face of the current crisis. Others accused him of spreading his own brand of misinformation and bad advice. Unfortunately, rather than focusing on potentially useful data in Moorjani’s talk, much of the following discussion focused on his insensitive comments, discrimination in Scarsdale, and what would be done to disavow his statements.

Of course, no one expected the Medical Director of the Infectious Disease Clinic at Westchester Medical Center to delve into stereotypes, prejudice, and political incorrectness. Samwick immediately disavowed Moorjani’s comments at the regular BOT meeting a bit later in the evening. He said, “I, personally, spoke with the doctor on more than one occasion, was very clear… for everything to be scientific, fact-based, and consistent with the CDC, and the state and county departments of health.” He went on, “What we witnessed this evening was outside of those bounds and I apologize from the bottom of my heart. It was not acceptable; it is not who this community is. We are better than that; we are inclusive; we are welcoming, and we are very happy that you are part of this community.”

Samwick’s comments clearly were heartfelt, appreciated by residents, and shared by his fellow trustees. The question is whether people will glean useful information from Moorjani’s talk or discard it altogether.

Getting back on track
On the flip side, Scarsdale residents can be assured that the village is doing everything it can to protect the public and staff from the spread of COVID-19. The Village Manager, Police and Fire chiefs, village department heads, and the head of Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps detailed their efforts to address and contain the virus, while maintaining a consistent, high level of service to the community.

Village Manager Steve Pappalardo said, “The coronavirus has been a 24/7 operation for the village (and) the emergency management team and public works have been working around the clock. The situation evolves on a daily basis, it changes frequently, and we need to be on top of that and pivot as necessary while we’re trying to get other things done.” He continued, "There are lots of government, health, and other agencies and elected officials involved in this."

Village staff are continually meeting to assess preventative measures at village hall and other facilities, while keeping Scarsdale online. Staff are cleaning and sanitizing high contact areas, and have made contingency plans should village hall close. Specifically, village officials have set up remote access systems, made provisions for payroll and bill payments, and will curtail justice court and other activities as needed/practical.

In addition to enacting similar sanitation precautions and contingency plans, the police and fire departments are operating at 100% and have emergency response procedures in place to ensure continuity of operations. The Police Department also has reached out to older residents who may be vulnerable to coronavirus and is in communication with The Ambassador assisted living facility on Saxon Woods Road. Should one or members of the department fall ill, causing a reduction in staffing, the village would rely on its mutual aid agreements with neighboring areas that would ensure no disruption in safety and security.

Of particular importance is the preparedness of the public works department, responsible for the village’s sanitation and water operations. Officials assured residents that staff actively are working to prevent the spread of the virus with increased cleaning and sanitizing of public areas in downtown Scarsdale, including the parking garage; are cleaning sanitation trucks and carts more frequently; and practicing social distancing. Residents also have no need to worry about the water supply – the village’s water comes from the Kensico Reservoir and is treated with ultraviolet light to kill all viruses. In addition, the village has additional pump station workers on standby should any staff members become sick or quarantined.

Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps also is well prepared with supplies, sanitation equipment, and up-to-date training on how to deal with patients who may be infected. Noting that the corps is staffed with both career, paid paramedics and volunteers, David Raizen, SVAC president, said, “We are well staffed, in good shape, and have everything we need at this time.”

What about the election?
In light of the new social distancing policy, village officials are concerned about next Wednesday’s village election, during which many residents will be expected to come to small space to cast votes. Distribution of absentee ballots appears to be a viable solution but, by law, the ballots cannot be used by healthy voters who are in the village on election day. So, staff are asking for advice from the state board of elections and the county health department on how best to proceed while keeping residents safe.

Should the election proceed as planned, village staff will continually sanitize the area during the 15 hours that the polls will be open.

For more information, Scarsdale residents are urged to continually check for important updates.

Leave a Comment

Share on Myspace