Category Archives: News

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The North Pole comes to life in Eastchester

On Dec. 5, in a celebration to kick off Winterfest 2015, Tuckahoe Mayor Steve Ecklond switched on the official Christmas tree lights promptly at 6 p.m. The crowd of approximately 100 people cheered and members of the Asbury Summer Theatre company, dressed in costumes suitable for “A Christmas Carol,” sang carols.

As is the custom, Santa arrived shortly after on an Eastchester fire engine ladder truck, with lights blazing and sirens blaring. In his remarks, the mayor thanked the Tuckahoe Department of Public Works for setting up the synthetic ice rink for revelers to enjoy.

-Reporting by Sarah Varney

CONTACT: sarah@hometwn.com

 

 
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Huskies shine at Rye

 

Dennis Brecani goes for his opponent’s legs. Photos/Bobby Begun

Dennis Brecani goes for his opponent’s legs. Photos/Bobby Begun

By MIKE SMITH
Despite having only one senior wrestler, Harrison has gotten off to a quick start in 2015 with a strong showing at Rye’s Bernie Miller Invitational Dual Meet Tournament on Dec. 5. Finishing third in the field of eight, the Huskies seem eager to make some noise within Section I this year. 

Three Huskies grapplers took home individual honors on Saturday, as Andrew Hollander, Jay Martins and Rob Donohue won recognition for their excellence in the 145, 120 and 195-pound brackets, respectively. Martins was also named the tournament’s most outstanding junior.

Overall, head coach Vin Nicita was pleased with his team’s performance in the dual meet tourney.

“It was a good tournament and we performed well,” Nicita said. “Especially having only one senior wrestling for us, I was very happy.”

From left, Andrew Hollander, Jay Martins and Rob Donohue celebrate their individual titles at the Bernie Miller Invitational on Dec. 5. Harrison took third place overall. Contributed photo

From left, Andrew Hollander, Jay Martins and Rob Donohue celebrate their individual titles at the Bernie Miller Invitational on Dec. 5. Harrison took third place overall. Contributed photo

After a pre-season injury to Jake Ullerick, which will keep him out for the year, co-captain TJ DiNota came into the year as Harrison’s lone senior on the roster. But with DiNota and Ullerick working alongside a talented crop of juniors, Nicita said there is plenty of veteran leadership on the squad.

“TJ has been great and Jake has been to all the practices and kind of stepped into an assistant coach’s role,” he said. “And the junior class is full of great kids like Martins, Donohue and Daniel Choe, who have all stepped up as well.”

Harrison had a grueling first week of the season, with a quad meet at home on Dec. 4 and the Bernie Miller Invitational the following day. The Huskies came out with a 6-4 record, but more importantly, they are being tested early on, according to the head coach. In particular, the coach was impressed with the performance of Choe, who wrestled All-State 99-pounder Justin Lopez of Yonkers to a hard-fought two-point loss.

“The kids are getting a lot of mat time, a lot of experience,” Nicita said. “I just feel like they’re really getting where they need to be, and even in our losses, I love the way they’ve competed.”

TJ DiNota tangles with an opponent at Rye High School on Dec. 5.

TJ DiNota tangles with an opponent at Rye High School on Dec. 5.

The Huskies will be back in action this weekend when they travel to East Fishkill for the annual John Jay tournament and will be competing in the Tony Carlucci Meet at Port Chester later this month. Come January, Harrison’s schedule will feature more individual dual-meets as the team gets primed for the postseason.

“Our No. 1 goal this year is to defend our league title, and we just want to keep on getting better every day,” Nicita said. “By the end of the year, I fully expect us to have some wrestlers who are all-section caliber.”

CONTACt: sports@hometwn.com 

Rye’s Miles Giordano takes down a grappler from Scarsdale at the Bernie Miller Invitational.

Rye’s Miles Giordano takes down a grappler from Scarsdale at the Bernie Miller Invitational.

 

MamaroneckAveBusinessDistri

Parking committee set to give recommendations

 

 

Outdated meters on Mamaroneck Avenue have created a host of parking problems for residents and merchants alike. New recommendations from the village’s parking committee aim to fix them. File photos

Outdated meters on Mamaroneck Avenue have created a host of parking problems for residents and merchants alike. New recommendations from the village’s parking committee aim to fix them. File photos

By James Pero
According to the Village of Mamaroneck’s Parking Committee chairwoman, the group is expected to recommend the implementation of single-space meters on Mamaroneck Avenue. 

This decision is expected to come after the committee receives responses from a commissioned survey that weighed input from more than 500 residents, giving the committee insight into residents’ parking habits and public preference of which meters residents they want installed.

“We’re recommending the single-space meters because that’s what the residents, merchants and visitors of the Village of Mamaroneck want,” said Maria DeRose, the committee chairwoman. “We’re trying to attract more people to the friendly village.”

According to DeRose, the single-space meters would cost approximately $400 per unit and there would need to be 240 of them installed on Mamaroneck Avenue.

Additionally, according to DeRose, the proposed meters would also come with sensors that determine whether or not a car is still in a parking spot. Once a car moves outside of the sensor, the meter would reset and any remaining balance left over would be erased. This function, DeRose said, would promote turnover on the avenue and help merchants accrue more customers throughout the day.

Whether or not the meters will be purchased, however, remains to be seen, as the recommendation must still be approved by the village’s board of trustees.

Cars-Parked-on-Mamaroneck-A

Currently, coin-operated meters are in place along Mamaroneck Avenue, but according to village officials, they are costing money due to continual repairs and maintenance.

So far, according to Trustee Illissa Miller, a Democrat, the board has yet to mull over any changes to Mamaroneck Avenue parking prior to the parking committee’s recommendations.

“This board has not discussed anything on [Mamaroneck Avenue],” she said. “We don’t want to step on [the parking committee’s] toes.”

The parking committee’s recommendation will come after months of deliberation over how to best update an outdated parking system on Mamaroneck Avenue, which currently still uses coin-operated meters.

Although the village was hoping to have solved Mamaroneck’s parking woes last year, $115,000 worth of multi-space meters, which were originally intended to be installed on Mamaroneck Avenue, still remain unimplemented and housed in one of the village’s firehouses. Due to public backlash over the multi-space meters’ use of automatic license plate reading technology—which generated privacy concerns among the potential storage of residents’ personal information—they were set aside and have remained in their original boxes.

The multi-space meters were purchased following the commission of a $50,000 Walker Parking Study which recommended the meters to the village board.

DeRose said those meters can still be used, albeit not in their originally-intended location. According to her, the committee is set to recommend that the multi-space meters be used in various parking lots throughout the village, including near Spencer Place, Hunter Street and Phillips Park Road. These areas are for long-term parking, according to DeRose.

Currently, according to Miller, the outdated coin-operated meters are costing the village a substantial sum of money to fix, due to various malfunctions.

According to Village Manager Richard Slingerland, there is currently $65,000 allocated in the village’s budget for meter repairs, among other maintenance on streets and in parking lots as well as for the salaries of three part-time workers responsible for maintaining the meters.

Of the current total of 240 coin meters on the avenue, the village estimates that 10 to 15 percent of them are inoperable at any given time. As a result, the village has also hired a part-time attendant in charge of upkeep.

According to DeRose, the parking committee will likely give their recommendation to the board sometime in February where it will then be assessed and voted on.

Trustee Leon Potok could not be reached for comment as of press time.

CONTACT: james@hometwn.com

 
This snowflake was created by young artists during the two-day event, “A Dickens of A Weekend,” at The Wainwright House in Rye.

‘A Dickens of a Weekend’

At Wainwright House, the festivities included a marionette performance by Kim Profaci and her class of puppeteers who have worked diligently with writer Maureen Amaturo to create the story for this show. The weekend events also included an opportunity to learn Victorian folk dancing with live music. And on Saturday, Dec. 5, Wainwright received the students from The Mannes College The New School for Music with artistic director Pavlina Dokovska. (Submitted)

 
A crowd gathers around for the official lighting of the 25-foot tree in Larchmont’s Constitution Park. Photos/Andrew Dapolite

Larchmont lights up for the holidays

The Larchmont Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 895 and the Larchmont Police Benevolent Association joined forces for the second annual Light Up Larchmont event that took place on the evening of Saturday, Dec. 5 at Constitution Park. Revelers headed over to the Larchmont Fire House at 120 Larchmont Ave. to get into the Christmas and holiday spirit.

The free event returned outdoors in Constitution Park, back-dropped on a colorful holiday scene scape. Some patrons had their photos taken by professional photographers to capture the feeling of the season.

Also at the event were local choirs and bands performing seasonal tunes. All of the musical performances were coordinated by the Larchmont Music Academy featuring the Larchmont Chorale and the French-American School Choir.

Patrons warmed up with hot cocoa and pastries, got creative with arts and crafts, and all children who attended were entered to win various gift certificates to local businesses. In addition, the French-American School across the street from the park hosted their annual holiday fair.

To end the celebration, revelers counted down to light up the 20-plus-foot Christmas tree which featured hundreds of spectacular lights. (Submitted)

 

Various Westchester school district officials who were able to meet with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, included school board members, superintendents and representatives from Board of Cooperative Education Services and the Lower Hudson Education Coalition. Photo courtesy Judy Weiner

Area school supts. upbeat on 2016-17 budget

 

 

Various Westchester school district officials who were able to meet with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, included school board members, superintendents and representatives from Board of Cooperative Education Services and the Lower Hudson Education Coalition. Photo courtesy Judy Weiner

Various Westchester school district officials who were able to meet with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, included school board members, superintendents and representatives from Board of Cooperative Education Services and the Lower Hudson Education Coalition. Photo courtesy Judy Weiner

By Sarah Varney
An impromptu Nov. 19 meeting of assorted Westchester school superintendents, board of education members and New York State Speaker of the House Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, left the 21 attendees hopeful on several fronts, including the possible increase in state aid for school funding for the 2016-2017 school year. 

The meeting was organized by Assemblyman Steven Otis, a Rye Democrat, who said that the goal of the meeting was to provide a forum for a thoughtful discussion. “Education issues are so important to all of the areas that I represent,” said Otis, who lauded Heastie for taking 90 minutes to meet with the group.

During the meeting, Heastie told attendees that the Gap Elimination Adjustment, GEA, that first took effect during the 2010-2011 school year would possibly be eradicated for the 2018-2019 school year. The GEA was a last-minute mandate to close a state budget shortfall by proportionally decreasing state aid to schools. Positioned originally as a one-year emergency measure, the annual reductions have remained in place. Several Westchester school districts are owed as much as $3 million.

During the meeting, Heastie also addressed decreasing the percentage by which standardized test scores for the yearly statewide English Language Arts and Math Concepts exams influence teacher evaluations and salaries.

The weighing percentage had been set at 40 since 2010, but last January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, announced his desire to raise it to 50 percent. Adoption of the Annual Professional Performance Review and the Common Core standards was required for states to qualify for Race to the Top, RTTT, funding. RTTT grew out of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law, but was funded in 2009 with $97.4 billion doled out by the U.S. Department of Education. The education department received those funds as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that President Obama signed in 2009.

Now Heastie and other Albany-elected officials indicate that Cuomo’s previously-expressed views have changed, and some state representatives have even discussed abolishing the weighted percentage altogether.

Cuomo has largely left the percentage level up to the state Board of Regents to determine. A Common Core Task Force the governor called together in February should release its report soon, Otis said.

Still Cuomo’s turnabout is unexpected.

“I was surprised that [Cuomo] has taken such a radically opposite position. He went from 50 to zero,” Superintendent of Rye City Schools Dr. Frank Alvarez said. Alvarez added that he was very pleased with the meeting.

Judith Weiner, legislative director of the Lower Hudson Education Coalition in Elmsford, echoed Alvarez’s cautious optimism.

“[Heastie] was very careful not to promise us anything, but he did say that he thought we would be very pleased with this year’s budget and that there would be major changes in testing that would work in our
favor,” Weiner said.

CONTACT: sarah@hometown.com

 
From left, Rachel Mascia dressed as a reindeer; Toni Braiotta dressed as an elf; Sydney Braiotta dressed as a Christmas tree; and Cally Bayer as Santa Claus.

Harrison gets into the holiday spirit

On Sunday December 6 the second day of Winterfest, parents took advantage of a “Photos with Santa” event. It’s doubtful this little one asked for much of anything besides whirled peas. Contributed photo

Santa Claus is coming to town

 

On Sunday December 6 the second day of Winterfest, parents took advantage of a “Photos with Santa” event. It’s doubtful this little one asked for much of anything besides whirled peas. Contributed photo

On Sunday December 6 the second day of Winterfest, parents took advantage of a “Photos with Santa” event. It’s doubtful this little one asked for much of anything besides whirled peas. Contributed photo

On Dec. 5, in a celebration to kick off Winterfest 2015, Tuckahoe Mayor Steve Ecklond switched on the official Christmas tree lights promptly at 6 p.m. The crowd of approximately 100 people cheered and members of the Asbury Summer Theatre company, dressed in costumes suitable for “A Christmas Carol,” sang carols.

As is the custom, Santa arrived shortly after on an Eastchester fire engine ladder truck, with lights blazing and sirens blaring. In his remarks, the mayor thanked the Tuckahoe Department of Public Works for setting up the synthetic ice rink for revelers to enjoy.

-Reporting by Sarah Varney

CONTACT: sarah@hometwn.com

 
A village ad hoc parking committee is attempting to hash out parking issues on Mamaroneck Avenue.

Village begins textile recycling initiative

 

 

textile-chartBy KILEY STEVENS
The Village of Mamaroneck has kicked off a new initiative in an effort to reduce the amount of waste they dispose of each year. Spearheaded by the Mamaroneck Committee for the Environment, the village will have a central location where residents can donate their used textiles to be recycled.

For fabrics that cannot be donated—like stained T-shirts, ripped sheets or pants with broken zippers—textile recycling turns them into something useful like carpet padding or stuffing for insulation. Instead of throwing the materials into an incinerator, this recycling initiative will not only prove to be environmentally friendly, but will also save the village approximately $20,000 each year in garbage disposal costs, according to Village Manager Rich Slingerland. Currently, the village pays $27 per ton to dump waste.

Because the recycling center in the village has limited space, the committee and village officials had to seek out a location for their textile donation bin. Steve Josephson, president of the Mamaroneck Chamber of Commerce and owner of the Toy Box toy store in Mamaroneck, stepped up to the plate by offering his parking lot as a home for the textile bin.

Josephson, who said he tries to be as involved in the community as possible, joked that the parking lot is a good location because donors don’t have to worry about parking tickets.

“I think it’s wonderful that [the bin] is at a place that a lot of young people and children will go,” Slingerland said. “It’s teaching the kids at a young age that this is important.”

According to an estimate by the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, more than 85 percent of the 13 million tons of discarded textiles end up in the trash every year, making textile waste account for 5 percent of landfill accumulation. For the Village of Mamaroneck, that amounts to about 772 tons of garbage per year in total waste.

Joan Heilman, a member of the Committee for the Environment who has been working on recycling initiatives for the last 30 years, decided it was time to make a change.

Heilman said that this type of recycling had been in the planning stages for the last six months. Currently, Mamaroneck is one of about five towns in Westchester County that have introduced textile recycling. In 2014, White Plains teamed up with Trans-America recycling, a textile recycling company based in New Jersey, to put two of these recycling bins in its Gedney Recycling Center. Other towns that are participating in this type of initiative include Scarsdale, Yorktown, Lewisboro and Greenburgh.

The village will also use Trans-America recycling to remove the materials from the bin and process them.

Mamaroneck currently recycles the usual materials: plastic, paper, glass and aluminum, along with electronics, also known as E-waste.

Mamaroneck’s new textile recycling program will not only save the village money, but will be of no additional cost to the taxpayers.

“We pay nothing for this program,” Heilman said. “The recycler covers all the costs and pays money per ton for the fabric.”

The money made from the donated textiles will be given to Toy Box, since it has volunteered its property to be the home of the donation bin.

“It has only just begun,” Heilman said. “The Committee for the Environment, we’ll do anything we can to promote what’s good for the environment.”

Contact: kiley@hometwn.com

 
Miller’s toy store in Mamaroneck utilizes a human feel to its service that keeps customers coming back, according to its owner Taka Andrews. Photos/Andrew Dapolite

Small businesses fight for relevance

Miller’s toy store in Mamaroneck utilizes a human feel to its service that keeps customers coming back, according to its owner Taka Andrews. Photos/Andrew Dapolite

Miller’s toy store in Mamaroneck utilizes a human feel to its service that keeps customers coming back, according to its owner Taka Andrews. Photos/Andrew Dapolite

Arcade Booksellers, one of several small businesses located on Purchase Street in Rye, has been in business for 33 years but has seen the consumer market shrink with the continual surge of online retail.

Arcade Booksellers, one of several small businesses located on Purchase Street in Rye, has been in business for 33 years but has seen the consumer market shrink with the continual surge of online retail.

By KILEY STEVENS
As holiday consumers increasingly turn to online shopping, local businesses are doubling down on what they do best: customer service, unique offerings and a sense of community in an attempt to stay relevant in the marketplace. 

In a recent survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, NRF, the average consumer says that nearly half of their shopping for this holiday season will be conducted on the Internet. And with the continuing strength of Black Friday and the emergence of Cyber Monday, the online buying spree, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, small businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to keep pace.

Taka Andrews, owner of Miller’s toy store in Mamaroneck, gives his customers what the online market can’t: that touch of personalized service. The family-operated toy store, which has been in Mamaroneck since 1948, doesn’t sell its products online and Andrews said there’s much more than just profits at stake.

“It’s important because local businesses support the local communities, and are integral in creating communities,” the business owner said. “To have a true sense of community, you need places to shop and retailers that support those communities to create a pleasant circle.”

Evidence suggests, however, that local communities are instead turning more and more to the Internet for conducting their shopping, instead of shopping locally.

According to another NRF survey, nearly 102 million people said they shopped in stores over the Thanksgiving weekend, while more than 103 million say they shopped online.

Such numbers threaten any small business, especially those that can’t seem to compete with online retail prices.

Patrick Corcoran, owner of Arcade Books in Rye, says websites like Amazon have made selling books a much harder task than it used to be. Corcoran’s bookstore, which has been in Rye for 33 years, offers 20 percent off all hardcover New York Times bestseller books. “Even that is not competing with Amazon,” Corcoran said.
In an age where online giants, like Amazon, have managed to push chain bookstores like Borders out of business, it’s a small miracle that independent bookstores like Arcade can stay afloat.

To be successful, Corcoran says he must stay relevant. “You need to have what the people want, or be able to get it,” Corcoran said. “So if somebody comes in for something that I should have, I can usually have it for them the next day.” Even Amazon’s Prime program, which offers two-day free shipping on most items with membership, can’t compete with that.

Andrews, too, recognizes that a large factor in decreased local patronage may be that consumers have become increasingly comfortable with shopping online, more at ease with technology and less afraid of fraud or identity theft.

“There’s a younger generation of customers who perhaps were raised with the Internet,” he said. “That sense of loyalty to local businesses has waned.”

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican, tried to lend a hand with a press conference on Nov. 25 to implore county residents to shop locally at Value Drugs, a family-owned and operated store in Eastchester, among other locations. Astorino encouraged shoppers to get out and take a photo of their favorite store in Westchester, and then post it to social media, using #ShopLocal, to inspire other residents to shop locally.

Though Will Humphries, managing partner of Value Drugs, admits that staying competitive each year becomes increasingly difficult, he believes customers are trying more and more to shop local and that all six of the Value Drugs stores in Westchester, Long Island and New York City will have a positive holiday season.

“Especially in a community like Eastchester, where people feel a community and home spirit, they do their best,” Humphries said.

As far as the future of small businesses is concerned, Andrews believes it’s up to the consumer.

“We’ll eventually all be shopping only online if consumers don’t see the value of their communities,” Andrews said. Included in those communities, he adds, are families, schools, merchants and more. “Saving a few dollars online on everything you buy will certainly spell the end of that,” he said.

Contact: kiley@hometwn.com