Column: Emerging from our long, cruel winter

Mayor-MarvinAs spring weather will hopefully grace the village soon, it is time to put the shovels away and think about plants and lawns and green.

On the municipal level, the village continues to care for all lawns and open spaces by mulching in place, leaving grass clippings as fertilizer and keeping all of our properties pesticide and chemical-free so children can sit on the grass and dogs may roam.

Many of the lawn chemicals used by local landscapers and first popularized in the 1960s are just byproducts of chemicals produced for use in the war and are now only being tested for their true toxicity and duration of potency. Pesticides remain on lawns long after the little yellow flags are removed. The toxic time period on those signs is simply a legislative compromise between the regulatory agencies and the chemical companies and is not based on scientific studies of the life of the particular chemicals.

If you choose not to use grass clippings for mulching or composting, we ask that you bag them for disposal. We can remove bags much more frequently and cheaply as well as eliminating the pungent smells that emanate from the decomposing grass piles that fill the streets, leading to slippery road conditions.

Of even greater importance, after rainstorms, these piles clog our sewers, severely impeding needed drainage runoff. As a benefit, if grass clippings are bagged, twigs and other yard waste may be comingled in the same bag.

As soon as the weather warms up, hundreds of lawn sprinkler systems will be reactivated. Given the almost obscenely high cost of water in our area, it is incumbent that we find ways to conserve both our wallets and a diminishing natural resource.

Environmental experts recommend watering lawns only once a day and in the early morning when evaporation is at its lowest, thus maximizing the effectiveness of the water. Sprinklers should also be carefully calibrated to ensure water is never directed onto sidewalks or driveways. Any other property runoff from gutters or sump pumps needs to be directed to grassy areas and not onto the roads or into storm sewers. Pet waste must also never be placed in our sewers as it is a major contaminant to our entire water system due to the growth of a dangerous bacteria.

Spring also brings out more residents as cabin fever finally ends. The proper maintenance of sidewalks is the first step to making the village more pedestrian friendly. Homeowners are responsible for the maintenance, repair and replacement of the sidewalks adjacent to their homes. If in disrepair and not remediated, our Public Works Department will issue a “duty to repair” notice. In turn, the village is responsible for all curbing throughout the village.

The incredibly inclement weather kept so many of us home and the traffic in our village stores suffered in consequence. As the weather improves, please use our sidewalks to head to our business district.

Keeping purchases local keeps needed monies local, contributes to our sales tax revenue, saves on fuel and ancillary transportation costs, encourages a walking environment, fosters a human connection between merchant and customer, reduces local property taxes and increases home values.

As illustration, for every $100 spent in one of our locally owned, independent businesses, $68 returns to our village. The same amount spent at an out-of-town mall returns $48 home and if purchased on the Internet, nothing is returned to Bronxville. With equal importance, it is plain to see none of the Internet merchants are donating to our schools and churches.

In the same spirit of local conservation and stewardship, Westchester County now allows us to recycle cereal boxes, phone books, pizza cartons, corrugated cardboard, glossy magazines and inserts, aluminum foil and trays, egg cartons and detergent bottles in addition to the obvious materials.

Similarly to shopping locally, this village stewardship practice translates into significant tax savings. Our cost of dumping non-recycled garbage into landfills or burn facilities costs upwards of $180,000 and rising yearly.

In contrast, there is no removal or tipping fee for recyclables, rather we receive money from the county’s material recovery facility based on the amount of goods we deliver to be then sold to
manufacturers.

Ending on the same theme, the village’s Green Committee will have a take back day on May 10, which is also the opening day of our outdoor farmers’ market.