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From the Mayor: Parking: Searching for Solutions While Taking into Account So Many Variables PDF Print Email


By Mary C. Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville

Jul. 11, 2018: Village Administrator Jim Palmer and I recently attended a parking seminar sponsored by the Urban Land Institute. Given the parking needs/constraints/potential opportunities in our village, we thought it well worth our time and we weren’t disappointed.


The United States has 260 million cars and currently 800 million spots, so the inventory is not scarce, rather, location is the issue. Not surprisingly, all the compiled data reaffirm that driverless cars are coming and ride sharing is gaining ground. With them come the anticipated problems of even more gridlocked streets as cars are programmed to head home after drop-off or continue on to a new destination. Cyber hacking is also definitely in the mix. All the experts thought that even with the burgeoning popularity of Uber and Lyft, combined with new technology, parking needs for the next 10 to 15 years would not change appreciably. Data confirm car-sharing services are replacing taxies, rental cars, and bus transportation, not car ownership and rail service.

Americans still have a unique love affair with cars. We are, unlike our peers in Asia and Europe, in fact very slow to embrace technology that takes our cars away from us in the form of automated or stackable parking. Many unique reasons account for this.

It starts with an abundance of land to personally park vehicles that our counterparts in Asia and Europe never had. Psychologically, we also don’t like to give over a prized possession, and we certainly cannot tolerate wait time as a vehicle is retrieved. (Almost 20 years ago, a fully automated state-of-the-art parking garage was opened in Hoboken. Not long after its debut, cars fell from upper decks, setting the industry back decades, according to experts.)

So looking at a parking paradigm that is not going to change a great deal in the foreseeable future, the solution is to manage what we have in the most efficient way possible and/or build so that the structures can be retrofitted if another use comes to light. This requires municipalities to first turn inward and look at local codes, 24/7 patterns, overnight parking, meter timing, fee structures, shuttles, valets, and traffic patterns. We are doing all of the above in the context of our recently launched village comprehensive plan.

On the building front, the trend is for open-air garages to be zoned for much higher first floors and narrower ramps so mixed-use is an option. 

Even meters must be looked at as a performance measurer–are they helping abutting businesses to move traffic/customers–and much less as a revenue generator.

In a very interesting experiment, Summit, NJ, just decided to forgo any new parking lots/structures and has contracted with Uber, at a cost of $175,000 per year, to ferry the overflow residents to the train station. It is too early to tell if it is a success.

The great news is that Bronxville is so in style–if we were ever out!–as a model TOD (Transit-Oriented Development). Data clearly validate that all age groups, with a particular emphasis on millennials, want to be within walking distance of public transportation, stores, schools, and medical services. The benefits are enormous both environmentally and socially. Dependence on the automobile is reduced, as is gas consumption, and roads are less congested, decreasing the carbon footprint. A walkable community has healthier residents who interact more often with their neighbors on a direct, more satisfying level.

Ancillary to the ideal of an entirely safe walkable existence is a discussion of the need for charging stations, numerous drop-off and pick-up areas for ride sharing, and the use of bikes. (As an aside, the LimeBike program in Yonkers has left the village with abandoned bikes in numerous unauthorized return locations.)  No one in the suburbs has embraced the Citi Bike concept of numerous “stalls” in front of their homes or businesses, so the solution remains vexing.

In an amusing/befuddling aside, Bronxville residents mirror their Westchester neighbors in that though so many have migrated from Brooklyn, Queens, or Manhattan, where a parking space within two or three blocks of one’s destination is a find, if a spot is not available on the street where their dining or shopping is located in the suburbs, this is considered inadequate parking.

The takeaway is that, as a community and a government, we must be flexible, be it public-private partnerships to effectuate more space or using the same space multiple times in a 24-hour cycle.

The buzzword seems to be “context” parking–i.e., the relation of the space nearest to the desired use intended. Is it best for a Manhattan-bound commuter, a reverse commuter, a weekend-only traveler, a merchant who needs to drive to his place of business, a shopkeeper who desires speedy turnover in front of his store, or a diner who desires a leisurely meal? All somehow must be balanced optimally with a little creative thinking.

The board of trustees and I are working on a variety of parking solutions, all at various stages of effectuation, reinforcing how important it is to take into consideration the current variables and future needs to make the most judicious and visionary decisions. 

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, 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: The 2018 NYS Legislative Session 'Ended with a Whimper' PDF Print Email


By Mary C. Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville

Jul. 4, 2018:  New York’s 213 legislators closed up shop last week in Albany and headed home to gear up for the next election.

Surprisingly, it ended with a whimper, devoid of the usual end-of-the-session deal-making.

The session will probably be most notable for what didn’t get done rather than what did. A deadlocked senate, resulting from a Republican lawmaker going back on active naval duty, contributed to the vote deadlock.

Bills that both houses could agree on now await the governor’s signature to be enacted into law:

  • Prosecutorial Misconduct. A long-stalled bill to create a panel to investigate prosecutorial misconduct was finally passed. An eleven-member panel will now have broad authority to investigate prosecutors accused of wrongdoing.

  • Ticket Scalping. StubHub and SeatGeek will now have to clearly post that they are second-hand sellers, not connected directly to the venues. In addition, if they are selling speculatively for tickets they don’t actually possess, a 100% refund must be given if tickets are not forthcoming.

  • Restorative Justice. Truly copying our own village’s groundbreaking restorative justice program, the state would dedicate asset forfeiture revenues for programs that aid those in the criminal justice system with substance abuse and mental health issues to be placed in diversion programs as opposed to being combined with the general prison population.

  • Cashless Tolls. The state can no longer suspend one’s vehicle registration for the failure to pay cashless tolls in a timely manner.

  • Water Use Rate. This particular bill was personally championed by our board of trustees in coalition with neighboring communities. It would require water works corporations (SUEZ) to provide water use data by property address to municipalities for purposes related to “use” consumption as opposed to only property tax funding for clean, storm, or drinking water infrastructure improvements and services.

A vast majority of initiatives this legislative season never made it out of committee. The following would have impacted the village for good and for ill and will be monitored as they will most likely be up for continued discussion in the 2019 legislative term.

Condominiums and Cooperatives. The proposed bill would have amended real property law so that market value, rather than the rental income-producing stream, would become the valuation method for condos and coops.

Cellular Services. Legislation would have authorized cities and villages to join New York City in imposing a gross receipts tax on mobile telecommunication services to augment the current taxation on landlines only.

Employment. Language would have prohibited employers statewide from being able to ask prospective hires about their salary history.

Prevailing Wage. Bill would have subjected all projects financed, in whole or in part, by local governments to prevailing wage.

Teacher Evaluation. Bill would have decoupled annual teacher evaluations from state-mandated test scores.

Economic Development. Legislation would have required more oversight on the billions of dollars that the state spends to try to boost its economy including the creation of a “database of deals” that would publicly display how much the state was sending to private companies for job-creation programs.

Gun Control. Legislation would have allowed family members, school officials, and teachers to initiate court proceedings to try to remove guns from one’s home if they are found to be a danger to themselves or others.

Interest Rates. Law would have eliminated the current fixed-interest rate of 9% on any judgments against a municipality vs tying it to market rate, thus removing the incentive for plaintiffs to delay proceedings and also putting New York in conformity with other states.

Plastic Bags. Initiative would have prohibited the use of carryout plastic bags for sale to customers and impose fees designed to reduce the use of single-use plastic bags.

This was a good year for Mark Twain based on his beliefs (reputedly expressed by him) that “no man’s life, liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session.”

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, 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: Many Broxvillians Lend a Helping Hand PDF Print Email


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


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


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.

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