Category Archives: Columns

BELMONT1

Column: A board vacancy and holiday news

As a result of the recent local election, there will be a vacancy on the town board as of Jan. 1, 2016. The town board is required to fill this vacancy. If anyone is interested in being considered for this vacancy, they are urged to submit a letter of interest and a resume to: The Town Board, c/o Town of Harrison, Supervisor Ron Belmont, 1 Heineman Place, Harrison, NY 10528, or via email to rbelmont@harrison-ny.gov. Submissions must be received by Monday, Nov. 30.

I would like to take this time to recognize the Interfaith Congregational Laymen’s Committee, ICLC, of Harrison. Every year, the committee extends a townwide invitation to an important celebration. This year, the Jewish Community Center of Harrison hosted an assembly that underscores the theme “Praying for Greater Unity: Different Faith Traditions.” It was a wonderful event and provided an opportunity for all attendees to recognize the richness and value in each other’s faiths. The ICLC is an interfaith fellowship of lay representatives from local congregations. For more information on ICLC, please call Lola Geiger at 939-7066.

On a related note, last week, the Senior Citizen Thanksgiving luncheons were held in both downtown and West Harrison. More than 100 guests were served turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, vegetables and several selections of delicious pies. Many of the guests have been enjoying this annual banquet for a number of years, and look forward to it with great anticipation. Thanks to the Recreation Department for organizing the event. This feast is truly one of the highlights of my holiday season and it was wonderful to be included.

Congratulations to Keio Academy on their recent 25th anniversary celebration. It was an honor to be included as members of the Keio community, their families and friends gathered together to recognize the school’s exceptional education, which has been provided to many students over the years. The school has always been a premier establishment in our area, adding to our town slogan, “Its Great to Live in Harrison.”

The holidays are a magical time with festive occasions and memorable traditions. This year, the Town/Village of Harrison is brightening the season with a fantastic holiday event. It’s a perfect way to share the excitement of the season with family and friends.

The Holiday Happening will kick off in Ma Riis Park (across from Town Hall) at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5 with a host of fun activities for the kids. Star Kidz and our elementary school choral groups will be regaling visitors with holiday music and songs. Children will be able to write a letter to Santa, decorate their own ornament, play the dreidel game and enjoy hot chocolate and baked goods. Santa will be making a special appearance and will visit with children, young and old alike. This wonderful affair will culminate with a Christmas tree and menorah lighting in the park. So, embrace the holiday by bringing your kids, your cameras and your holiday spirit because the Holiday Happening is the must-attend event of the season. It’s open to all and is free of charge. Thank you to all who participated for their generosity and hard work.

Once again, we are very fortunate to have benefited from a generous organization in our community. Every year, St. Gregory’s distributes grocery bags to their parishioners to fill in support of the Harrison Food Pantry. Recently, the Harrison Food Pantry received hundreds of bags from the St. Gregory’s food drive. Anthony Marinaccio and our Department of Public Works personnel were a big help with picking up the donation from the church. The town depends entirely on these types of donations to support the Harrison Food Pantry. This example is just one of many that demonstrate the importance of community support. Thank you to Ron and Andrea Bakay and to the St. Gregory the Great parish for their continued support.

The next “Lunch with the Mayor” is on Friday, Dec. 11 and I will be at Michelangelo’s Pizza, Pasta & Things, located at 208 Underhill Ave. in West Harrison. I will be meeting with representatives from the Harrison Youth Council. If you have any questions for me or for the youth council, we will be at this location from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and look forward to talking about issues facing our community.

Marvin-Mary

Column: More on property reassessment

Last week’s column on reassessment sparked even more conversation on the subject, worthy of a second column explaining additional intricacies of the process.

Though New York state agencies strongly urge every municipality to reassess, this is another of the many unfunded mandates. Cities and towns receive pennies on the dollar and villages are ineligible for any state aid. Leaving 100 percent of the costs to communities sends a very contradictory message.

Thankfully, since our post-2007 property valuations were so accurate, our certioraris, grievances and small claims proceedings dropped exponentially, resulting in a recouping of our outlay for the revaluation in only three years—a great return on investment. In contrast, other Westchester communities commonly bond for tax settlements as their successful grievance awards are in the hundreds.

Our numbers were so accurate and thus fair only because our residents cooperated and opened their doors to the valuators. More than 90 percent of our residents—a record—allowed interior inspections.

We did something that I believe was key to our success. Our inspectors were instructed to view the property for value and not simultaneously look for unpermitted improvements or missing Certificates of Occupancy. Undocumented improvements were uncoupled with the valuation process because the goal of revaluation is to achieve accurate valuation and with it tax equity, and not be a punitive tool.

Our only regret was something we thought of post-revaluation. In retrospect, we should have also declared the valuation period as one of amnesty for all unpermitted work and offered residents overdue permits at the regular price structure. As it stands, when unpermitted work and missing C of O’s are discovered at the time one chooses to sell, permit costs are doubled and tripled because of the post facto review.

A problem in other communities that we thankfully did not encounter was the discovery of illegal subdivisions of houses. In these cases, a municipality cannot turn a blind eye to possible safety and fire violations.

There is no mathematical formula that an assessor uses to arrive at valuations; fireplaces are not numerically worth “X,” bathrooms “X x 2,” etc.

It is a valuation of the whole with some subjectivity in the equation. Is the house in good condition? Roof? Brick work? Is the kitchen outdated? Does the basement have water marks? Is the property level usable? Do the bathrooms need remodeling? Some features can also be a plus or a minus. Swimming pools and corner lots come to mind. If a pool is too close to doors, or not properly fenced, it can be a negative. If a corner house has two beautiful “front” facades that is a plus; if it’s on a noisy congested corner, it is a negative.

It is also important to note that sales price is a major indicator of value, but it does not always translate into market value. For example, a family estate may want a quick sale of a home that was purchased decades ago and will accept a low value since the profit margin is so high anyway. A corporation may own a home and want to divest quickly when an executive is transferred. Conversely, bidding wars on unique houses may result in the final buyer overpaying.

Making an improvement, large or small, to one’s home is not a legal loophole for an assessor to raise a home to full market value.

For example, if an assessor believes a home is under-assessed by say $200,000 and no townwide reassessment is contemplated, he or she cannot use the value of a new bathroom to raise the assessment to market value. Only the value of the bathroom itself may be added. In essence, a building permit is not an opening to revalue an entire home.

Even though single-family homeowners pay the lion’s share of property taxes in almost every Westchester community, it is not wise to try to offload taxes on the commercial businesses when the businesses are not large corporate entities, but rather mom and pop operations.

Since merchants, landlords and building owners cannot avail themselves of the public school system because the rule for school eligibility in New York state is domicile, not taxable property, they will never add to the school population.

Since increased taxes are part of the cost of doing business, they have to be absorbed in some way, most often in product cost.

If merchants can’t stay competitive, stores close, our share of the county sales tax revenue decreases and empty store fronts contribute to the diminution of property values.

All tax grievances in Bronxville come before an impartial nonpartisan board of village residents, who often have an expertise in finance, real estate or property valuation. Elected officials have no role in property valuation.

Since almost all village homes have received interior inspections, visits are only made by the assessor to value building improvements.

Our tax roll stays current by constant update of values based on real estate sales coupled with computer modeling and exterior inspections. This plan was approved by the appropriate state agencies and valuation professionals.

BELMONT1

Column: The spirit of giving and sanitation schedule notice

Once again, the Harrison Fire Department successfully hosted a wonderful pancake breakfast at the downtown firehouse. This year’s event was held in support of the Harrison Girl Scouts. The pancake breakfast is a great opportunity to come out and meet the Harrison firefighters. Congratulations to all involved for making this event a very special community get-together.

Each year, Harrison’s three municipal fire departments host an annual inspection and dinner. Department members and their guests get together at their respective firehouses for the event. Leading up to this important occasion, department personnel provide hours of hard work, examining and cleaning firefighting apparatus, specifically the firetrucks and tools. I had the pleasure of attending all three inspections. The condition of each department’s equipment is unparalleled and department personnel should be applauded for their commitment and dedication. This attention to detail ensures that our fire departments will operate competently and with great efficiency, when needed.

Recently, the Louis M. Klein Middle School Service Club held a food drive for our local food pantry and collected canned goods and nonperishable items for the area’s families in need. The club consists of sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students and this year, they collected more than 2,000 items. For many families, a sudden downturn in economic stability could mean hunger. All communities have those who face financial challenges during tough times, and the good will of the LMK Service Club will help reduce hunger in the Town/Village of Harrison. Their donation will supply the basic nourishment that some of our senior citizens, children and working families need. I would like to take this time to thank the LMK Service Club for this very meaningful contribution. For more information on our food pantry, please contact Nina Marraccini at 670-3025.

Please make note of the following sanitation schedule change for the Thanksgiving holiday week. Garbage and recycling normally collected on Thursday, Nov. 26 will be collected on Wednesday, Nov. 25. There will be no bulk trash collected on Nov. 25.

Thanksgiving is about gathering with family and friends and celebrating the spirit of giving. It is a time for all of us to reflect and give thanks for the blessings of the past and look forward to future prospects with faith and optimism. On behalf of the Harrison town board, I wish all of you and your loved ones a safe, festive and happy Thanksgiving holiday.

CAREY

Column: Tom, Dick and Harry on combatting ISIS

Tom, Dick and Harry are imaginary Westchester residents. Tom and Dick are combat veterans of at least one of our 20th century wars. The three of them have differing views on how we should deal with ISIS.

Tom, who served in the Marines at Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima, recalls the huge sign he saw at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1944 saying “Kill Them, Kill more of Them, Kill All of Them.” Instead of “Them,” the sign specified a certain nationality. Tom now feels we should kill all members of ISIS or of any related organization that we can target before they kill us. He did not feel this way until the attacks in Paris on Friday, Nov. 13.

Dick says he personally killed a number of North Koreans in the early 1950s, but does not want any more nightmares of victims on their knees pleading for their lives. Dick also says he has found religion and now believes we should forgive our enemies and bless those that curse or revile us.

Harry was too young to have fought in any of our 20th century wars, but has studied their legal aspects. He believes we should capture as many ISIS-types as possible and prosecute them as war criminals, charging them with crimes against humanity as at Nuremberg. There, three types of offenses were charged: crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

On the question of admitting into the U.S. persons from Syria or deporting those already here, Tom, Dick and Harry all believe we have done enough for the Syrians and that we should carefully screen those who are already here, deporting any about whom there is serious suspicion. “This is a matter of life or death, and we can’t be too careful,” Tom, Dick and Harry all agree.

How do you feel? Drop a line to the editor, who would like to know your views.

CONTACT: j_pcarey@verizon.net

 
Forliano

Column: Anne Hutchinson’s story comes to an end

A depiction of the death of Anne Hutchinson and some of her family. Photo courtesy Richard Forliano

A depiction of the death of Anne Hutchinson and some of her family. Photo courtesy Richard Forliano

With George Pietarinen, author of “Anne Hutchinson,  A Puritan Woman of Courage.”
This is the fourth in a series of articles on the Colonial and Revolutionary History of Eastchester.

The dominance of religious belief in 17th century America is very difficult for people today to comprehend. Patricia Bonomi, a prominent historian of that period, stresses that at this time, “In city, village and countryside, the idiom of religion penetrated all discourse, underlay all thought, marked all observances, and gave meaning to every public and private crisis.” A person’s faith “gave a tone to everything they did in their collective and communal capacity.”

Especially in colonial New England, religion ruled. From its very inception, the Massachusetts Bay Colony was torn apart by the disarray within the Puritan establishment. Individuals like Anne Hutchinson, Thomas Hooker and Roger Williams gained their followings because of the lack of trained ministers, leading to intense debate and dissension.

Anne Hutchinson was only a resident in Puritan Boston for four years when she was put on trial for heresy. After a disruptive trial, Hutchinson and some members of her family were banished from the Massachusetts Bay into the Puritan wilderness. Anne had been excommunicated from the church, and was cast into eternal damnation. During a six-day-long April snowstorm, Anne and her children made the long and arduous journey to join her husband in Rhode Island.

In Rhode Island, Roger Williams established a colony that served as a refuge for people persecuted for their religious beliefs. There was a saying that if a person was too good for Massachusetts, he went to Connecticut; if he was too bad, he went to Rhode Island. Thus, Rhode Island was referred to as the Isle of Errors.

Initially, her stay in Rhode Island starting in 1638 added to her sadness. Ten months after her banishment, she suffered a terrible miscarriage. The governor of Massachusetts Bay, John Winthrop, saw this tragedy as divine retribution, validating her exile. But Winthrop still wanted Anne to recant and sent three emissaries to Rhode Island to exact a confession. Anne’s reply was swift and decisive. She referred to the church of Boston as “the whore and strumpet of Boston, but no church of Christ.”

It is said that Anne preached more in Rhode Island than she had in Boston. And then, tragedy struck again. The great love of her life, her husband Will Hutchinson, passed away. Will, who always stood by his wife, declared, “I do think of her as dear saint and servant of God.”

Anne was now in a precarious position. She feared that Massachusetts would take over Rhode Island and persecute her anew. Her last recorded revelation was that the Lord had prepared a city of refuge in what is today the Bronx in New York City, then called New Amsterdam. Within eight years, she had left England, then Boston, and now without her beloved husband to support her, Anne and her family were on the move again.

William Kieft, the Dutch governor of New Netherland whose jurisdiction she fell under, had a contentious relationship with the Native Americans in this area. He orchestrated vicious attacks on local tribes that precipitated Kieft’s War that raged from 1643 to 1645. When Hutchinson and her party showed up in Kieft’s domain, he placed them in a no man’s land at the height of the troubles. Less than a year after her arrival, the 52-year-old woman, six of her children and nine others perished in a Native American attack.

After the burning of her house, only her 9-year-old daughter, Susanna, survived. She lived as a prisoner of the Lenape Native American tribe for a number of years. The Dutch government negotiated for her release and she reluctantly agreed to return to her family. Susanna had forgotten her own language and all her friends. Later, Susanna married John Cole, moved to Rhode Island, had 11 children, and lived to the age of 80. In addition to Susanna, Anne Hutchinson was survived by five children who had remained behind. Eventually there were more than 30 grandchildren.

One of the sons who remained in Boston sired a line of powerful political figures including Thomas Hutchinson, royal governor of Massachusetts, during the outbreak of the American Revolution. Presidents across the political spectrum can trace their lineage back to Anne: FDR was a sixth-great grandson. George H. Bush is a ninth great grand-grandson, and George W. Bush a 10th great-grandson.

The exact location of Anne’s settlement is in dispute. Based on the records of the Town of Eastchester and other historical accounts, Anne lived on the west side of the Hutchinson River in the vicinity of Co-op City. And her legacy lives on.

Her memory survives not simply because a river, parkway and three elementary schools bear her name, or because Eastchester was settled at the site of her house. Her courageous resistance to unjust authority and unmatched brilliance in defending her beliefs despite dire consequences place Anne Hutchinson at the forefront of great women in American history.

 

Please contact us at historian@eastchester-historicalsociety.org aboutany
comments or questions  
you might have about this column.

 
Marvin-Mary

Column: On property values and local control

Property revaluation, completed in our village in 2007, has been recently undertaken by nearby communities including Mamaroneck and Scarsdale. It is also on the drawing board in Yonkers for the upcoming fiscal year and was the deciding issue in the recent Ossining election. Residents there voted in the slate committed to continuing the revaluation that was already underway. Our neighbors in Eastchester have not revalued in more than 50 years, and Mount Vernon holds the record for a revaluation last done in 1898.

The above municipal initiatives are required because New York state leaves the process in local control. Not even our county will commit to a Westchesterwide property revaluation, and legislation at the state level to do the same has died many times. It reached the governor’s desk once but was vetoed by then-Gov. Pataki.

By contrast, Connecticut requires revaluation every five years and Massachusetts every three years regardless of which party is in office, taking it completely out of the political realm. Florida has a very interesting valuation law, nicknamed “Welcome Stranger,” as the property assessment is immediately tagged at whatever the latest buyer was willing to pay at the time of closing.

Traditionally, New York politicians have shied away from undertaking the process because it has always been considered a career-killer.

The reason why is that statistically the process most often results in one-third of the property values increasing and thus taxes going up; another third staying flat and the remaining third receiving a decrease. So after an arduous and often contentious process, potentially 66 percent of the voting public may be unhappy with the outcome, certainly not a career-enhancer.

The process is nuanced, esoteric and more an art than a science, and therefore, many misconceptions still exist around valuation methods and the role of government and the property owner.

The following topics are issues that frequently cause misunderstanding or need explanation:

Local governments have no control over the taxation formula for co-ops. It is governed by state law. Co-ops are valued on a stream of income or comparable rental approach versus the market value formula used for single-family homes. The genesis for this hybrid method grew out of the depressed housing market in New York City in the early ‘70s, causing lawmakers to fear entire buildings would be abandoned by their owners due to unprofitability. To encourage conversion from apartment units to homeownership, the co-op “discount” proved the incentive.

In his former job, our Village Assessor Gerry Iagallo actually brought an early lawsuit in the mid-1980s challenging the co-op law’s ambiguity and equity, but was unsuccessful as have all judicial and legislative attempts that have followed. In essence, the co-op method of taxation has been with us almost 50 years.

Under-assessed homes cannot have their values increased unless a full revaluation is undertaken so they often remain undervalued for decades. The grievance process can only serve to lower assessments. In a village, by state law, there is only one opportunity to “grieve” a perceived inaccurate assessment. This occurs on the third Tuesday of February, with applications for grievance available by Feb. 1.

A revaluation is only a snapshot at one moment in time and will become “old” or stale almost immediately, unless constantly readjusted to reflect market changes, which the village does assiduously.

Historically speaking, at the time of the village’s last reassessment in 1962, the homes on the Hilltop were in disrepair and true “white elephants” in terms of resale value, versus the brand new split-level homes with new appliances and family rooms. Hence, Hilltop homes were considered under-assessed and 1960s homes over-assessed in the prism of the 2007 value determinations.

Re-assessment never generates additional income due to value changes. It simply changes the size of the slices in the community “pie” to reflect equity. School boards and village boards set taxes based on operating expenses divided equally by the net worth of all real estate taxes. The assessor has no role in setting or collecting taxes.

In Bronxville, the total amount exempted from taxation due to all forms of partially-exempt property, together with fully-exempt property represent 19.9 percent of all taxable value. The impact on a single-family home worth approximately $2 million is: village and school taxes with exempt property fully taxable: $27,676; village and school taxes with exempt property not fully taxable: $33,563, creating a difference of $5,887.

By law, due to their education and experience, assessors receive the legal presumption that his or her valuation number is correct until proven inaccurate. It is a shifting of the traditional burden of proof. That being said, the process is not designed to be adversarial; rather, the parties should compromise or litigate if necessary with equity as the only goal and residents are entitled to a full explanation by an assessor for the reasons behind a valuation.

Property taxes ae not based on the highest and best use of the property (the use representing the greatest return of the real estate). Rather, property tax is based on the actual use (even though the property is not being used to its full potential) as of the appropriate legal Valuation Date in a given community.

Ultimately, fairness dictates that the process be undertaken to address the inequities in antiquated tax rolls. Property values are the only drivers of local taxes and if this unpinning is inherently unfair, it affects the entire integrity of a government.

CAREY

Column: Bush 41 up close

History must have just been made in the field of American biography. Jon Meacham’s “Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush” is an 800-plus page-long, lavishly-illustrated volume on the life of an ex-president that has appeared while he is still able to comment on its contents. Not that he has done so yet, but he may.

The career of George Herbert Walker Bush, Bush 41, has always fascinated me because we were born only one day apart. Our lives were quite similar until we turned 18 in 1942. He then signed up for active duty in Navy aviation. Like many of our classmates at Yale, I chose the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps, and was not sent to sea until early 1944. I hunted enemy subs in the Atlantic, European and Pacific theaters of operations.

According to a college friend who had known Bush 41 at Andover, Mass., the two of them tried to enlist the day after Pearl Harbor but were told to come back six months after graduating from school. I look forward to finding out from the book why Bush 41 was in such a hurry. My own stepfather, who had fought for four years as a British soldier right out of high school, told my brothers and me that it would be a long war and we would be called upon when the time was right.

I look forward to learning from the book what it was like flying a TBF torpedo bomber, getting off a flight deck with that heavy bomb hanging under the plane. I had watched a TBF slip beneath the surface of the Atlantic while trying to approach the flight deck of a carrier. No one survived. Nothing was left on the surface except one wheel broken off from the plane.

I can hardly wait to read about Bush’s feelings on hearing enemy bullets rip into his plane and how he was able to struggle out of it in time to get his parachute up before it was too late. What was it like to know that his crew could not escape? And what was it like to sit on a tiny rubber raft until, miraculously, a friendly sub broke the surface nearby?

I want to read about how Bush 41 made the decision to go from Yale to Texas instead of, for example, following his father to Wall Street and the U.S. Senate. I want to know how he was able to launch an oil business with sufficient success to branch out from there into a political career. I want to know how he viewed the U.N.—where he was the chief U.S. representative and was highly respected—according to personnel I talked to at the U.S. Mission across First Avenue from U.N. headquarters.

Why did Bush 41 choose to celebrate his 90th birthday by jumping out of an airplane, while I was happy to enjoy a luncheon with family and friends? The answer to that question may hold clues to other questions this splendid book raises about a splendid American.

CONTACT: j_pcarey@verizon.net

 
BELMONT1

Column:Thank you for your support

I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the tremendous support I received on Election Day. Thank you for allowing me to serve the residents of Harrison, for another term, as mayor/supervisor on Harrison’s town board. It has been an honor to represent you and I will do my best to make your concerns my concerns.

There have been many successes over the last several years but we still have work to do. As we look to the future and face the challenges that lie ahead, I would like to encourage all of our residents to get involved. The town board and I will continue to do everything we can to serve the interests of the Town/Village of Harrison, so please come out and support the many exciting events that will take place over the coming years.

ArtsWestchester, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to ensure the availability and accessibility of the arts for all Westchester residents, has announced that it will be honoring two of our residents at their upcoming 50th anniversary gala on Friday, Nov. 20. Purchase resident Froma Benerofe and Harrison resident Jacqueline Walker, both former presidents of the arts council, will be recognized for their efforts in bringing attention to the organization as it grew into a nationally known private arts council. Congratulations to both Ms. Benerofe and Ms. Walker for this very important distinction.

The Harrison Youth Council, HYC, is participating in Lord & Taylor’s fundraising shopping event, “Shop Smart, Do Good,” on Friday, Nov. 13 at Lord & Taylor in Eastchester. For a $5 donation, you receive a ticket with three savings passes, with a value up to 25 percent off regular or sale priced items. HYC receives 100 percent of your $5 donation. You can purchase a ticket at the youth council office at 84 Calvert St. in Harrison between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays. For further information, please contact Debra Salerno at dsal725@optonline.net or the Harrison Youth Council Office at 835-7500.

Now that flu season is upon us, it’s not too late to get a flu shot. You can visit the Westchester County health department immunization clinics on alternating Fridays in White Plains and Yonkers. Call 995-5800 for White Plains or 231-2500 for Yonkers to set up an appointment. For more information, visit westchestergov.com/health.

In closing, “Praying for Greater Unity: Different Faith Traditions” will be the theme of the 2015 annual Thanksgiving service sponsored by the Interfaith Congregational Laymen’s Committee of Harrison, ICLC, to be held on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the JCC Harrison, 130 Union Ave. All are welcome. For additional information, please call Lola Geiger at 939-7066.

Marvin-Mary

Column: Mayor, what’s going on?

The level of activity in the village—construction, paving, striping, and beautification—is currently at an unprecedented level. The stars all seemed to have aligned, creating a great deal of simultaneous activity. Ideally, we would have orderly staggered the projects to minimize congestion, but most of the work is determined by the schedule of the providers.

Con Edison is the most representative example. As you may recall, this summer we waited a considerably long time to have the gas line installed on Kraft Avenue so the proposed diner could begin remodeling. When Con Ed returned to repair a gas line on Tanglewylde Avenue near Midland Gardens and repave the work they had done on Ridge Road, we had no choice but to make the necessary accommodations. As point of fact, Con Ed no longer has an in-house construction division, so projects to return streets back to pre-excavation conditions are bundled and then subbed out to independent contractors. Hence the often long-term presence and proliferation of metal road plates throughout Westchester County.

Continuing on the Con Ed front, many of you kindly report lamp post outages only to become frustrated when the lights stay dark. If it is a bulb issue, we do replace immediately. Our night police patrols actually have a formalized procedure for reporting the outages to our Department of Public Works, DPW. If the outage continues, it is a Con Ed issue that often relates to conduit connections that have been reported.

After quite literally requesting new fiber optic cabling in our downtown for years now, Cablevision has sought to undertake the project. The needed trenching extends all along Kraft Avenue and Park Place, from Cedar Street to the People’s Bank. The new service will make second floor offices more attractive to rent to professionals, and as an added benefit, if anyone is an Optimum/Cablevision customer, the Wi-Fi signal will extend to the train platforms.

The Con Ed and Cablevision projects are two of the biggest in scope, but something is happening in virtually every quadrant of the village.

This is just a sampling:

New trees are being planted in the pits in the business district and grates are being repaired or removed to provide easier passage.

Bids were received at the end of October for the purchase of new street lights and are currently being evaluated and we are now requesting bids for their installation.

Leaf season is in full swing for our DPW staff. We asked that you keep the leaves out of the roadways as they further narrow our streets as well as clog the storm drains.

Our outside contractor is currently televising and cleaning the sewer pipes in the business district. Much of the work will be done at night to minimize disruption. We are finding tree root obstructions, crumbling pipes, dozens of water bottles and, even hard to imagine, a bowling ball. We will be investing in sewer grates that block the ability to toss refuse into our water system because the labor intensive work to remove the volume of debris is time-consuming and expensive.

The front walk at Village Hall is in a redesign stage as the synthetic materials used several decades ago did not stand up to the test of time and weather.

After months of searching for proper bricks to resurface the yellow brick road after almost 100 years of use, compatible bricks have now been delivered and are being installed as I write.

Our historical decorative street signs, which have been damaged by weather and accidents over the years, are also being recast. Since so many are missing, we will be replacing them in stages. The village owes a great debt of thanks to the Bronxville Historical Conservancy for their generous funding of both the yellow bricks and the template to fabricate the replacement street signs.

Striping of crosswalks and lane lines is in progress throughout the village, with the largest expanse covering the length of Kensington Road.  Also on Kensington Road, the tattered construction fence will be replaced with a more attractive alternative.

The village has made a commitment to rejuvenate the paddle tennis program and has hired Jessica Watts, a seasoned professional, to oversee the operation. She comes to Bronxville with more than a decade of sports management experience, having served most recently as director of recreational programs for Park City, Utah. New programs are already in place for players of all ages and skill sets. By going to the village’s Paddle Tennis page under the Recreation Department heading on the village website, a resident  can purchase a permit, sign up for a court, receive information about upcoming events or email Jessica at jwatts@vobny.com with individual inquiries. We are so hoping to see our students and new residents embrace the program.

We at Village Hall genuinely appreciate your patience as we make progress on these many fronts throughout the village.

MikeSmith

Column: Divided allegiances

Scarsdale quarterback Michael Rolfe tries to elude New Rochelle’s Tyler Cohen on Oct. 31. For Sports Editor Mike Smith, a former Scarsdale football player, covering a game between the Huguenots and Raiders was a task that was both a welcome and a challenge. Photo/Mike Smith

Scarsdale quarterback Michael Rolfe tries to elude New Rochelle’s Tyler Cohen on Oct. 31. For Sports Editor Mike Smith, a former Scarsdale football player, covering a game between the Huguenots and Raiders was a task that was both a welcome and a challenge. Photo/Mike Smith

This past weekend, I was forced to stand by and watch as a team I swore my allegiance to in my youth fell to a superior squad in a postseason elimination game, thus ending a spirited playoff run.

Amazingly, I don’t mean the Mets.

On Saturday, Oct. 31, despite several intriguing sectional matchups, I headed to McKenna Field to cover the Huguenots’ Class AA semifinal game. The reason I chose to cover this game over the others on the schedule is simple: I used to play for Scarsdale.

I know that there’s no rooting in the press box, or on the sidelines where I can often be found taking photos. And when it comes down to it, when I do have a rooting interest, I’m usually throwing my support to our local teams. But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to watch my Raiders compete in a semifinal game, something that seemed like a fairy tale, at least back when I donned the maroon and white.

See, the Raider teams of my year were not exactly what you would call “good.” We weren’t pushovers by any stretch of the imagination, but we weren’t world-beaters either. We were a middle-of-the-road team with a stingy defense and a lot of pride in what we did on the field.

We were convinced back then that we were building something, a bridge of sorts between the program’s glory days of the late 1980s and a bright future where battling for a section title wouldn’t seem like such an impossibility.

Sure, it took a little longer than we had hoped—11 to 12 years to be exact—but I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride as the No. 3-seeded Raiders took to the field last Saturday, ready to take on the top dog in Section I.

And then, the game started.

If there were any questions about New Rochelle being as good as advertised, they were quickly put to bed as the Huguenots outran, outhit and outplayed the Raiders from start to finish, beating them 33-7. And as much as I had hoped that Scarsdale would make it a game, I couldn’t help feel ecstatic for New Rochelle’s players, who have approached this season with truly refreshing enthusiasm.

New Rochelle deserved to win; they deserved to make the Class AA title game, and, bias aside, I think they deserve to beat John Jay on Saturday, Nov. 7.

But as happy as I am for the Huguenots and their fans, I was equally as happy for the Raiders. It was a great year for the kids, a great year for the program, and hopefully, a sign of things to come.

Maybe in another 12 years or so, some of those Scarsdale seniors from Saturday’s game will come back to watch the Raiders celebrating a section title.

Hopefully, though, it won’t take quite that long.

 

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