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From the Mayor: Many Broxvillians Lend a Helping Hand PDF Print Email

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By Mary C. Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville


Jun. 27, 2018: Many a day I rush home to catch my favorite TV show, Jeopardy, and manage to get there often with just minutes to spare. As a result, I frequently catch the very last segment of ABC Nightly News called "Made in America." It features a company/individuals helping out their fellow mankind often in ways that are profoundly inspiring.

Just in the past month, initiatives that have crossed my desk have truly qualified as Bronxville's version of "Made in America."

As an example, Ms. Vise's pre-K class at the Reformed Church Nursery School heard about our Giving Garden and the plight of hunger of children just their age in Westchester. They decided to have a bake sale and donate all the proceeds (over $500!) to buy plants and supplies so other youngsters would receive fresh vegetables.

Mr. Justin Chao's third grade at The Bronxville School became very concerned about fair trade, particularly as it affects the production of cocoa/chocolate with the attenuating use of child labor. Designed to create sustainable incomes for farmers and their families, the practice of fair trade commits farmers, buyers, and manufacturers to not grow or purchase cocoa that was harvested via child and slave labor. The third-graders did extensive research. As an example, in the Ivory Coast, 109,000 children are engaged in child labor for the production of cocoa.

The third-grade class forwarded me a petition and their impressive research and asked me to share it with our local merchants, who may not be aware of what kind of chocolate they are purchasing to sell. The effort, clarity, concern for their fellow youngsters who literally live continents away, and their advocacy were beyond impressive.

Students in both the Bronxville Middle and High Schools gave a presentation about a science initiative based on studying the water quality of the nearby Bronx River. Varying in complexity based on age, the students presented very persuasive data sadly proving how unhealthy our river is for fish, plants, and any recreational use. I know their hope is that projects like theirs will shine the light on the need for an environmental clean-up. I took copies of some of their reports so I could be a partner in advocacy. Again, a very professional and analytical evaluation voicing their concern about the sustainability of the environs in which they live.

On the same theme of environmental stewardship, Bronxville High School students Barrett Dollar and Sophia Sulimirski presented their research on the long-term environmental effects of the continued use of plastic bags in our stores. They circulated a petition, gathering over three percent of the adult villagers to support their cause, just on a first try. Their research was very extensive and persuasive. As an example, the United States alone generates approximately 380 billion plastic bags each year. Extrapolating down to our village level, Bronxville residents use two-and-a-half million bags per year, with only one percent of the bags recycled nationally each year. In Washington, D.C., a five-cent-per-plastic-bag tax has contributed $10 million to cleaning up the Anacostia River, and in California, which enacted a total ban, beach pollution was halved. The village board of trustees will be working with these young women going forward to determine what is best suited for our village.

The Boulder Ledge Garden Club, too, wanted to make a difference that would benefit all villagers. Noticing the empty tree pits in the business districts due to storms or tree disease, they donated $5,000 of their own funds and canvassed villagers, receiving an additional $5,000-plus. So when you see beautiful new trees replacing unsightly stumps in our downtown, it will be thanks to the foresight and concern of Boulder Ledge.

Our Bronxville Giving Garden will also be looking for local donations to increase our yearly output of fresh vegetables from an impressive 250 pounds of vegetables in just our first season of growing. The produce goes to serve all our neighbors hungry and in need. One resident saw the effort being made at the garden firsthand and immediately dropped off an unsolicited check.

On a monthly basis, our Bronxville Senior Citizens members contribute cereal, soup, socks, and even pajamas when they learn of a need in one of our neighboring communities.

Every age group in our village is generous and philanthropic. Our village, though small in size, is big in heart, and it is beyond gratifying and reassuring that the spirit of giving and environmental awareness is learned so early and then sustained through a lifetime.

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes press releases, statements, and articles from local institutions, officeholders, candidates, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.

 
From the Mayor: Timely Issues Affecting Villagers as We Enter Summer PDF Print Email

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By Mary C. Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville


Jun. 13, 2018:  The following is a compilation of timely issues affecting villagers as we enter the summer season.

Police Activity

Eight suspects have been arrested and several others being actively sought for mail theft and bank fraud in connection with the recent spate of mail tampering and check “washing.” The police chief still cautions against placing mail in the new boxes in the village and even at the main post office. There is evidence to believe that this is an internal crime with jurisdiction solely in the hands of the Inspector General’s Office. They have not acted with the same swiftness and level of seriousness as our local department.

There have also been a few instances of counterfeit money passed in village shops. Two suspects have been arrested and three more have been identified. The two crimes are unconnected.

In light of the increase in opioid use and fatalities, the police departments of Bronxville, Eastchester, Scarsdale, and Tuckahoe have renewed a mutual aid and enforcement agreement (BESTAID) to conduct investigations, hopefully leading to drug suppliers.

Tax Payments

Based on the above ongoing mail fraud activity, we urge you to deliver your check to village hall by hand. If the office is closed, checks can be dropped off at the police department. Alternatively, if you use the USPS system, write the check out with a Sharpie or gel pen, as they cannot be “washed.”

The first-half property taxes are due by July 2, 2018, without penalty. A mandatory penalty of 5% will be charged against payments received after July 2, 2018, and an additional 1% will be charged for each month unpaid thereafter.

New York State Charitable Deduction Mechanism to Mitigate the Effects of the Federal SALT Tax Law

As an overview, New York State is the largest “donor” in the nation, contributing $48 billion more than we receive back in benefits from the federal government. The impact of SALT would increase this imbalance by an additional $14.3 billion, with 52 of 62 New York State counties adversely affected.

Village Administrator James Palmer, Bronxville School Assistant Superintendent for Business Dan Carlin, and I spent an afternoon at a symposium given by the crafters of the charitable contribution provision. Though quite admirable in its effort to help the New York State taxpayer, those at the meeting, almost to a person, had little confidence it would meet accounting, IRS, or judicial muster.

Chief among the defects is a provision that school districts and municipalities must certify that no goods or services were given in exchange for the donation, something no one could sign truthfully. Also, should the provision fail at any level of review, taxpayers would have to then pay taxes in the regular way with the non-discretionary late fees of 5% and upwards attaching to their bill.

Sagamore Park

Redesigned not so long ago, the park is in need of refurbishing due to the constant high-volume use. New sand, mulch, and minor repairs and stop-gap measures are being made this week, but a major capital expenditure is needed to bring the park to 2018 standards. The trustees, in consultation with park users, will be reviewing the needs at the park going forward.

Commuter Parking Migrating to Residential Streets

Commuters from all over have taken to parking all day on residential streets within walking distance of the train, most currently on Avon Road. We will be surveying the affected homeowners to ascertain and accommodate their street parking needs while crafting legislation that forbids 7-to-7 parking in front of people’s homes.

Bronxville Giving Garden

A huge success last year, producing over 250 pounds of fresh vegetables that were donated to area soup kitchens, the garden is back in full swing in no small part due to some of our community’s youngest philanthropists. Ms. Vise’s Junior Kindergarten students at the Reformed Church Nursery School decided to hold a bake sale and donated the $506 in profits to the giving garden. Before getting a gardening lesson with hands-on work from resident Farmer Dave Phillips, the students stopped by village hall for a visit complete with a tour of the police department – a village favorite. I remain in awe of the young students’ generosity and social concern.

Comprehensive Plan

As a corollary to last week’s column, our review will also include an assessment of Building Department procedures especially the permitting process and building performance measurements which impact quality of life for nearby neighbors; an evaluation of needed neighborhood enhancements such as trees, sidewalks, street lights and other infrastructure improvements; and the measurement of resident participation in the village’s existing recreational facilities to determine if current uses are appropriate or if alternative programs/facilities could generate stronger interests and better serve the village.

Midland Avenue

The current gas line installation is an entirely Con Edison initiative run by the utility and its subs. It involves the placement of a 16-inch steel line that requires above- and below-ground hand welding that has proven to take an extraordinary amount of time and labor. When completed, Con Edison will repave the road and replace all the plantings.

Coals Restaurant

Westchester food lovers descended on Kensico Dam over the weekend and crowned the winner of this year’s Best Burger in Westchester. Bronxville’s very own Coals Restaurant took first place with a flame-grilled mini short rib chuck blend patty, smothered in buffalo sauce and topped with Vermont cheddar, red onion, and a creamy guacamole. Head over to Parkway Road and try the best burger in the county served in your own backyard.


Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes press releases, statements, and articles from local institutions, officeholders, candidates, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.

 
From the Mayor: Professional Planning Consultant Hired to Update Comprehensive Plan for Village PDF Print Email

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By Mary C. Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville


Jun. 6, 2018:  At the board of trustees April meeting, the trustees engaged the services of a professional planning consultant to prepare an updated municipal comprehensive plan for the village.

The village’s first plan was created in 1971 and with a few minor revisions has remained largely a static document. Given the changed residential, commercial, and economic climate in 2018, it was prudent to revisit our community’s visions, goals, and policies as they relate to commercial vitality, residential and mixed-use development, open space, community facilities and services, and infrastructure.

After careful review, our plan is to then adopt a comprehensive plan in compliance with all applicable New York State and village laws. We task the planners to anticipate and respond to changing conditions and utilize sustainable practices that will balance social, economic, and environmental considerations to prepare for smart growth while preserving the historical and architectural significance of the village.

Upon acceptance, the comprehensive plan will become an official policy document for the village. It will serve as a guide for evaluating proposed projects and programs and for considering amendments to Bronxville’s policies, regulations, and the village code itself.

The plan will further be used by federal, New York State, and Westchester County agencies when determining the funding of any local projects, bond agencies to evaluate our rating, landlords, and merchants in their business decisions, residents to evaluate property projects, and Bronxville municipal boards, commissions, and administration to have coordinated and uniform responses.

The trustees determined key areas of focus based on current conditions:

  • A thorough review of the village's residential zoning. At a minimum, this needs to include a precise definition of terms, property setbacks, height and floor restrictions, lot coverage, floor area ratios, historic character of neighborhoods, teardowns and rebuilds, and the importance of natural landscape with an emphasis on our tree stock.

  • The same level of review of the village’s commercial business district rules and the commercial zoning code to ensure a vibrant, walkable downtown with provisions adaptable to changes in economic, social, and environmental decisions.

  • The understanding of the growth and/or changing character of our major institutions, chief among them The Bronxville School, NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital, and Concordia College. A thorough review of the impacts of their needs to the surrounding neighborhoods, be it offices, parking, or drop-off sites, including recommendations for mitigating impacts, will be undertaken.

  • Special focus needs to be given to the impacts of the Metro-North rail system bisecting our east- and west-side residential and business districts and the improvements that can be made to make the village a more unified village.

  • In essence, the plan should set forth what Bronxville looks like now and what the community should look like in the future with agreed-upon goals, objectives, and guiding principles, many of which will be codified.

To reach these objectives, we must be prepared, if needed, to implement changes to our current system by amending land use regulations, developing design guidelines, and budgeting for additional improvements.

Though the comprehensive plan will be led by a professional consulting team, public comment, suggestions, and buy-in are critical to a well-designed and well-thought-out plan. To that end, we anticipate holding public hearings early in the process and then allowing ample time for review of the draft document. The trustees will do whatever is necessary to ensure full opportunity for citizen participation in the plan for our village.

We anticipate important contributions from our chamber of commerce, garden clubs, and historical conservancy.

The process should take approximately one year, with periodic reviews along the way.

At the completion, we hope to have a blueprint model for our village’s sustainability and future enhancements. It promises to be a fascinating and thought-provoking endeavor.



Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes press releases, statements, and articles from local institutions, officeholders, candidates, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.

 
From the Mayor: History of Memorial Day in Bronxville PDF Print Email

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By Mary C. Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville


May 16, 2018:  As Memorial Day approaches, I decided to dig a little deeper into Bronxville’s history of observing the day. Our village historian, Ray Geselbracht, was enormously helpful in searching the archives for our local history.

As I mentioned in last week’s column, Decoration Day began in 1868 to commemorate the sacrifices of the Civil War dead. Following World War I, Memorial Day was expanded to include those who had died in all the United States wars.

Bronxville, as a village, did not participate in a serious way in Memorial Day until 1920. On May 30, 1919, The Bronxville Review and The Scarsdale Inquirer reported that “Decoration Day will pass with but little excitement in Bronxville, probably because few or no Civil War veterans are buried here.” With a newly established Leonard Morange Post of the American Legion in 1920, the village enlisted their help to plan a village celebration going forward.

Our first official village celebration was a small parade, populated mostly by Post members, that marched down Kraft Avenue to the “picture house.” A commemorative program began at 8:00 pm with prayers, hymns, taps, and the reading of the names of the villagers killed in World War I.

In a very prescient speech, the Post commander emphasized the importance of giving new solemnity to the holiday celebration in his welcoming remarks. “You and I from childhood,” he said, “have observed this day in the pursuit of recreation and pleasure, giving little thought, perhaps, to the true purpose for which it is set aside. Tonight we realize for the first time the meaning of the celebration which for nearly 60 years the veterans of the Civil War have observed in memory of those who gave their lives that the Union be preserved.”

In 1921, the Memorial Day parade added an important new stop to its route. After parading up Pondfield Road, everyone stopped at the village cemetery, where the graves of eight soldiers were decorated with flowers and flags. The parade then went on to another evening commemoration at the “picture house.”

By 1926, so many different groups wanted to join the ceremonies that it had to move from the movie theater to a midafternoon outdoor event. In 1927, and all years to the present, the event was then scheduled for 9:00 am and included a stop at the World War I memorial at The Bronxville School. 

The events became more elaborate, especially after the renaming of the westside park to Leonard Morange Square, where a wreath would be laid on small memorials.

To the present day, the parade route has changed only slightly, with assembly at Leonard Morange Park and a procession along Pondfield Road to the school and the cemetery. By the late 1940s, a festive reviewing stand was erected on the front steps of village hall.

By the mid-'70s, most of the local newspaper coverage focused on the festivities--games, concerts, pony rides, raffles, and chicken barbeque.

The year 1980 marked an important change, as two new memorials to those who served in the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War were erected in Leonard Morange Park, and those veterans were so honored.

However, the press coverage over the next 30 years continued to concentrate on the local fun and festivities.

On May 26, 2005, the Bronxville Review Press Reporter carried an editorial titled "Memorial Day has Serious Meaning" and "encouraged residents to come out and attend the parade and pay respects to those who gave their lives for their country."

The village has continued to stress the focus of the parade on our veterans, and this year, for the first time ever, we will have a distinguished female veteran, Col. Mary Westmoreland, as our grand marshal.

Mary retired from the Army as a colonel with her last posting as the national chairwoman of the Advisory Committee on Women Veterans under the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

A decorated combat veteran with 31 years of distinguished service, Mary is the recipient of a Bronze Star, Two Legions of Merit, and five Meritorious Service Medals, to name just a few of her career honors.

A graduate of the Army War College, she is an active volunteer in the village she has called home for 15 years. A dedicated Rotarian, Mary is also an officer of The Bronxville Women’s Club and a very active member of the village’s Green Committee with her husband, Gene, also a decorated veteran.

We welcome all of our village and town veterans to allow us to honor them by walking in the front of the parade on Memorial Day. Let Mary Ann at village hall know you will be joining; call 914-337-6500 or email  CLOAKING .

Also, if you have a veteran family member or friend who passed away since last Memorial Day, we would like to know so we can add them to our Roll of Honor and recognize them during the post parade ceremonies.


Editor's note:  As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes press releases, statements, and articles from local institutions, officeholders, candidates, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.

 
From the Mayor: Efforts to Mitigate Deleterious Effects of Federal Tax Cuts; Public Works Projects; and Restoration of Bacon Woods PDF Print Email

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By Mary C. Marvin, Mayor of Bronxville


May 2, 2018:  I wanted to update you as to a variety of topics taking center stage for village government as we enter May.

Efforts to Mitigate Deleterious Effects of Federal Tax Cuts:  Of potential great consequence is Governor Cuomo’s efforts, with the support of the legislature, to mitigate the deleterious effects of the federal tax cuts and Jobs Act on the taxpayers of New York State.

As background, New York taxpayers send $48 billion more to the federal government annually than we receive back, ranking us as the No. 1 state in disproportional giveback in the country. Under the new federal tax law, we stand to lose another $14.3 billion in lost deductibility because of the $10,000 cap.

In an effort to blunt the effects, Governor Cuomo has launched a three-pronged program:

  1. New York will be the first state in the nation to decouple rules on deductibility from mirroring the federal law. On the 2018 state tax returns, New Yorkers will be allowed to take their full deductions.

  2. Governor Cuomo has initiated a multistate lawsuit together with New Jersey and Connecticut to challenge the federal law on two counts:  that it preempts a state’s ability to provide for its own citizens and it unfairly targets New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey and other similarly situated states in violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

  3. As part of the 2018-2019 state budget, a new law was adopted that allows communities, at local option, to establish a charitable gifts reserve fund by local law. The law would allow municipalities and school districts to issue tax credits for “gifts” made to the charitable fund per the IRS code determination of the meaning of charitable entities (Section 501(c)(3)).

As a government, we are trying to get out in front of this rather complicated provision and have attended every available training on the subject as we await the publication of a guidance document from the governor’s office. In the interim, we are meeting with our fellow school officials to share information as we know it and discuss options.

As an added overlay/complication, since the federal law was enacted with such speed, it will most certainly give rise to a plethora of tax avoidance strategies, a consequence unforeseen by Congress. We will keep residents posted as we continue to educate ourselves on all of the above concepts. As the governor has rightly said, “New York has no future as the tax capital of the nation.”

Public Works Projects:  On the very local level, the public works department has submitted its proposed list for road and curb repavement and replacement for the coming spring and summer months. They include:

  1. Pondfield Road – from Westside Circle (Pondfield Road West) to just above underpass – intersection with Kraft Avenue.

  2. Pondfield Road – from Cedar to 30 feet southeast of Midland Avenue intersection.

  3. Park Place – in its entirety from Kraft to Pondfield.

  4. Sagamore Road – from intersection with Kensington and Kraft north to Prescott Square.

  5. Kensington Road – from Sagamore Road intersection to Beechtree Lane.

  6. Parkway Road – from 300 feet north of Paxton Road to Upper Milburn Road.

  7. New Rochelle Road – from Pondfield to village line with Town of Eastchester.

  8. Elm Rock Road – Oriole Avenue to Masterton Road.

  9. Tanglewylde Avenue – Willow Road to Park Ave. 

  10. Forest Lane – North Road to Grove Lane.

  11. Middle Road – Dead End to Forest.

  12. Orchard Place – Oriole to Summit.

As you may know, Con Ed is installing a new gas line down Northway and Northwest Way and this will need to be paved. We may pave and Con Ed will reimburse. Midland Avenue is having a new gas line installed and will need to be repaved as well.

We continue an aggressive program of infrastructure repair, spending almost half a million dollars annually on roads alone. If your road does not appear on this list, reach out to us to add it for future consideration. We know the list is not to be exhaustive but is rather in priority form.

Restoration of Bacon Woods:  Another village project on the horizon is the restoration of Bacon Woods.

Bacon Woods is a 1.6-acre space that is owned by the Village of Bronxville and straddles an area between Kensington and Sagamore Roads. It is largely an unimproved mixture of plateau, hillside, and mixed woodland with areas of rock outcrop. There are a few important hardwood trees, including oak and beech, that must be protected. There is a significant erosion due to an area of steep grade combined with exposed tree roots and lack of groundcover vegetation.

Our current goal is to create an improved landscape that offers passive enjoyment for the local neighborhood by incorporating a combination of improved native woodland, some open lawn areas defined by understory shrubbery, and native flowering trees, and reconfiguration of the existing connector pathway. Installation of strategically placed retaining walls will be required to eliminate erosion, to provide more level plateau areas for lawn, and to create a landscape that blends into the existing site.

Given the scarcity of open space in our village, it is incumbent that we preserve and protect these oases of calm.

Editor's note:  As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes press releases, statements, and articles from local institutions, officeholders, candidates, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.

 
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