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


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


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.

From the Mayor: Arbor Day Signals Start of Tree Plantings in Village PDF Print Email


By Mary C. Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville

Apr. 25, 2018:  On Friday, April 27, the entire nation celebrates Arbor Day. Though nothing ceremonially is planned in Bronxville, it will signal the start of our street tree plantings throughout the village.

As point of history, the first Arbor Day originated in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on April 10, 1872, when an estimated one million trees were planted in one day. The brainchild behind it was J. Sterling Morton, a westward pioneer born in Detroit.

Morton was a journalist and soon became editor of Nebraska’s premier newspaper, which he used to advocate for families and civic organizations to plant the trees they so missed from home. He recognized even more than the aesthetic; trees were needed as windbreaks to keep the soil in place, for fuel and building materials, and for shade from the hot sun.

According to accounts, Nebraska City celebrated Arbor Day with grand parades and school children planting and then specially caring for the trees they planted.

In 1885, it became a legal holiday in Nebraska and other states soon followed. It is now a national observance on the last Friday in April, complete with presidential proclamations.

In the spirit of Arbor Day, the village has redoubled efforts to plant trees lost in the past decade in storms as well as trimming and feeding those able to survive, as we recognize they are our most valuable natural resource. The benefits of trees make them the best bang for the buck in preserving the character–and health–of our village.

Trees absorb carbon dioxide while releasing oxygen back into the air. In just a year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the same amount of CO2 produced by 26,000 car miles and produces enough oxygen for 18 people! They also absorb odors and pollutant gases and filter dirty particulates out of the air.

In the energy realm, just three trees placed strategically around a single family home can cut summer air conditioning needs by 50%. Trees placed in commercial areas can lower temperatures of parking lots and break up blacktopped “heat islands.” Shade from the trees also slows water evaporation from thirsty lawns and parks.

Trees reduce runoff by breaking rainfall, thus allowing the water to flow down the trunk and into the earth below the tree. The slow runoff also prevents erosion by holding soil in place. 

They also mask concrete walls, parking lots, and unattractive views while absorbing dust and wind and reducing glare. Planted strategically, they also muffle sound from streets, trains, and highways.

Of great importance is the role they play on school properties and playgrounds. They reduce UV-B exposure by almost 50%, providing protection to children playing outdoors.      

Trees on private property produce great monetary value  Studies have demonstrated that from 10 to 23 percent of the value of a residence is based on its tree stock.

More intangible, but so important nonetheless, is the value of trees in marking the seasons, calming a stark landscape, and acting as neighborhood landmarks and points of identity. They serve as symbolic links with our past when other connections have long since gone.

The village does not have a tree ordinance, as we have historically relied on the foresight and stewardship of our residents to value this intrinsic asset, and despite a few, but glaring, exceptions, residents have been great caretakers.

The board of trustees is undertaking a comprehensive review of all of our village codes and regulations and this topic will clearly be revisited.

In the words of our Arbor Day founder, J. Sterling Morton, “Each generation of humanity takes the Earth as trustees.” 

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: Uphold the Spirit of Community that Makes Bronxville Special PDF Print Email


By Mary C. Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville

Apr. 18, 2018:  Over the weekend, I reread my favorite op-ed piece, “The Structure of Gratitude” by David Brooks. Given the current national climate, it resonated more than ever.

Mr. Brooks describes gratitude as a form of "social glue" that produced "the institutions our ancestors gave us ... which shape us to be better than we'd otherwise be." Brooks believes that "appreciation becomes the first political virtue and the need to perfect the gifts of others is the first political task."

I immediately thought of the gift of all the villagers who have come before us and shaped our community into the truly special place it is. I am so grateful for their example.

Many of us moved to the village for the excellent school system, the close proximity to New York City, and the natural beauty, but we stayed because of the friendships made and the community spirit.

Our forbearers set the standard of decency, tolerance, and grace under pressure--a high bar indeed. Citizens have always been well informed and passionate about causes, admiring of a worthy opponent and a well-reasoned argument, and respectful of contrary intelligent views.

There are many beautiful suburbs of New York City and environs to call home. Most of them more favorably stretch your real estate dollars and offer more property, parks, and recreational facilities, and you can even get a parking space!!

Bronxville has the intangibles that are hard to quantify but exert an indefinable draw, a friendly embrace.

In my 30-plus years as a resident, I have found villagers to be the most thoughtful, caring, generous, and compassionate people I have been privileged to meet. When a family experiences a sadness or misfortune, neighbors rally and express their love and concern in the form of casseroles with enough to feed the Fifth Army.

From my other perspective, having been privileged to be involved in village government, I have found our citizens to be intelligent, well informed, and so respectful of civil discourse. I have sought to emulate many of them.

As a shining example, I think of our two-year-long property revaluation effort. This process has served to fracture some communities with lawsuits and residual neighbor-to-neighbor bad feelings. Our community serves as the model for others in our county for how to conduct a process that causes great upheaval with courtesy, civility, and understanding.

At this juncture in our nation, where some are using the adjective "mean" to describe the discourse, we need to hold fast to what we value as a village.

Fissures appear so quickly when a foundation is not preserved. If I have fallen short in my duty to preserve more than buildings and roads, I am truly sorry. In the spirit of gratitude, I have recommitted myself and humbly ask you to think about doing the same to uphold the spirit of community that makes our village home.

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: Out and About in the Village: Refresher on Safety and Responsibility PDF Print Email


By Mary C. Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville

Apr. 11, 2018:  I spent a good part of Saturday doing errands in town and the merchants convinced me spring is really here to stay.

As the days get longer, residents are out and about much more, enjoying the sunshine. Several have approached me about safe bike riding in the village and possible designated bike lanes.

Unfortunately, none of the village streets are wide enough for regulation bike lanes. Our wide streets, Pondfield Road and Midland Avenue, have continuous parking areas and/or a hedge divide. Even if the streets were wide enough, Police Chief Satriale is not a proponent because bike lanes sometimes complicate bicycle and car turning movements at crowded intersections.

One only has to see the bike lane designations on Palmer Avenue that are placed in turning lanes and the middle of the road in some areas to be cognizant of the dangers of misplaced markings.

As a point of information, as per village code, bicycles may be ridden on residential sidewalks if the rider is under the age of 11. However, no one can ride bicycles or skateboards on the sidewalks in our two business districts.

With the warmer weather comes increased pedestrian traffic, especially as our youngsters are out and about. With that in mind, our police department, in the interest of safety, will be stepping up enforcement of the texting-and-cell-phone-use-while-driving laws as well as speed laws and the crossing of double yellow lines. As a reminder, the areas adjacent to all of the schools in the village, including our nursery schools, are school zones with a 20 mph speed limit.

Several residents have sent me ordinances recently adopted throughout the country that also fine inattentive texters and cell phone users crossing on foot in intersections, as their inattention also poses a risk.

Should a pedestrian leave the sidewalk and enter a designated crosswalk, New York State law requires not only the car in the adjacent lane to stop but also the cars traveling in the opposite direction. As an illustration, at the intersection near the Soccer & Rugby Imports store and Houlihan Lawrence, the law requires all four lanes to stop when an individual first steps in the crosswalk. 

When walking a dog, please pick up after your pet. Pet waste not only damages plants and lawns but has become a major contaminant of our water systems. Waste placed in plastic bags and then dropped in storm sewers causes the growth of very dangerous bacteria and clogs the free flow of runoff.

If contemplating seasonal outdoor renovations or landscaping improvements, please consider using porous surfaces such as brick or gravel in lieu of asphalt and using design landscaping plans that facilitate water retention and soil infiltration.

The nice weather also signals the opening of two wonderful village institutions, our village tennis program and the farmers' market. Spring is already in full swing at our village tennis courts. Tennis open play and programming starts officially on April 16. For questions on permits or programs, please contact the sports director, Jessica Watts, at  CLOAKING .

Our farmers' market, one of the most customer-popular and sought-after venues, will be opening the season on May 12 from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm at the traditional location on Stone Place near the paddle courts.

Spring in the village also brings more events and entertaining and with that an uptick in trash. Approximately $180,000 of your tax dollars were spent collecting trash last year. The more we recycle, the less we spend. In lieu of paying a “tipping fee” to landfills and burn facilities for non-recycled garbage, we actually receive money on the sale of our recyclables.

As a refresher, the following items may now be recycled in Westchester County in addition to the obvious ones such as newspapers, beverage bottles, and aluminum cans: cereal boxes, phone books, pizza cartons, corrugated cardboard, glossy magazines and inserts, aluminum foil and trays, egg cartons, and detergent bottles; and now even the caps and lids to any tin or plastic item can be recycled.

The following items still cannot be accepted for recycling: paint and oil cans, plastic and Styrofoam packing materials, waxed cardboard such as milk cartons, cardboard containing any traces of food products, paperback and hardcover books, clothes hangers, and uncoded plastics such as found in large toys and plastic tableware. Only glass that has been used for packaging food or beverages may be recycled. Light bulbs, mirrors, and ceramic and kitchen cookware must be placed in the regular garbage.

As you travel the village, let us know if you see anything that needs repair, replacement, or just general sprucing up. We so count on you to be our eyes and ears.

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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