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Bronxville Government and History

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Outsize Plans for Masterton Road Property Concern Neighbors and Residents PDF Print Email

Written by Carol P. Bartold

Feb. 12, 2014:  The removal of several mature trees at 50 Masterton Road, located at the corner of Pondfield Road and Masterton, drew first notice and then ire from Bronxville residents. 

Then, when neighbors of the property received notification of a zoning variance hearing, several decided to attend the January 28 Bronxville Zoning Board of Appeals meeting to learn about plans for the property.

The owners of the property, James and Tracy Murray, intend to demolish the existing one-family dwelling and build a new three-story residence. In a letter from Vincent Pici, superintendent of buildings, to the Murrays dated November 20, 2013, he states that the plans for the property are out of compliance with three sections of the village code.

First, the proposed three stories for the new structure exceed the maximum permitted height of two and a half stories, or a maximum height of 35 feet.

Second, the proposed 6,419-square-foot residence that would replace the existing 4,679-square-foot dwelling would exceed the code's allowable floor area ratio for the parcel at 50 Masterton Road. Floor area ratio, designed to control development density, is calculated by dividing a building's total square footage by the total square footage of the lot it occupies.

Third, the addition of a front yard parking area, designed to compensate for reducing a two-car garage to a one-and-a-half-car garage, would be out of compliance with the village code. According to Pici's analysis of the plan, the parking area would sit within four feet of the front lot line.

Several village residents who attended the zoning board of appeals meeting not only expressed concern about the loss of trees, but they also took issue with the architect's characterization of the proposed gravel lot where the trees stood as a "Zen garden."  

One resident stated that the parking area looked large enough to hold four cars. All architectural drawings refer to the area as a Zen garden and make no reference to parking, although the space would be at the head of the driveway and adjacent to the garage.

Also at issue for the property's neighbors were the size and scale of the proposed dwelling in light of the slope of the parcel and a large granite shelf within the slope, which would require partial removal by chipping or drilling to make room for the new structure. The project's architect proposed increasing the lot's depth to 155 feet to accommodate the new dwelling.

The Murrays and their architect will address the concerns of the zoning board of appeals and appear at a future meeting to further discuss their plans.

When asked for comment, zoning board chairman Bill Fredericks said, "This application is being treated in the ordinary course in accordance with our regular procedures for reviewing requests. The matter is still before the board."

The Bronxville Zoning Board of Appeals will meet on Tuesday, February 25, at 7:30 pm in the Trustees Room at Bronxville Village Hall.

Pictured here: 50 Masterton Road viewed from Pondfield Road.

Photo by A. Warner

 
Village Trustees Approve First Step Toward Upgrading Outdated DPW Facility PDF Print Email

Feb. 12, 2014:  The Bronxville Board of Trustees took a first, tangible step toward upgrading the village's department of public works (DPW) facility on Palumbo Place. At its regular meeting on February 10, the board approved a resolution to hire Calgi Construction Management of White Plains to determine whether modifying the current DPW facility is feasible or whether a new complex should be built.

The current facility, built in 1942, is not large enough to house expensive trucks and equipment or provide adequate space for DPW employees to perform repairs.

Trustee Anne W. Poorman noted that restriction of Palumbo Place to one-way traffic grew from concern that DPW employees were "literally lying in the busy two-way 'cut-through' street repairing vehicles."

Trucks and equipment, which sit outside in all types of weather, suffer from the extremes and tend to have shorter useful lives. "We shoot ourselves in the foot," Poorman said, "because we buy really expensive equipment." She stated that although the DPW facility upgrade has been a topic of board discussion for approximately five years, budget realities have led to its deferment.

Calgi Construction Management, as part of its $23,550 contract, will meet with the appropriate DPW staff to prepare a detailed analysis of space and equipment needs; review existing space for possible modification to meet current and future needs; develop alternative site designs; and prepare schematic plans showing overall layout and room sizes for village review. Calgi will engage the services of an architect as well as electrical and mechanical engineers in developing a comprehensive plan for the site.

Harold Porr, village administrator, pointed out that since DPW operations cannot shut down during a renovation, Calgi will explore upgrading one area while the other stays in operation and will then overhaul the second. The DPW complex houses a salt barn.

Porr pointed out that the village has a positive track record with Calgi, as the company served the construction manager for the village hall renovation.

Deputy Mayor Robert Underhill stated that a key goal of the evaluation is to determine possibilities for the DPW facility given the magnitude of capital expenditure involved in the upgrade alternatives. He added that long-term financing for the duration of the project would be favorable in the current economic environment.

"I think we've seen in the last couple of months how important DPW is to the safety, well-being, and ambience of Bronxville," Poorman stated. "They do a fabulous job."

Pictured here:  Current DPW facility.

Photo by Carol P. Bartold

 
Richard Dresdale to Be Honoree at Gramatan Village’s May Magic Benefit on May 4 PDF Print Email

Feb. 5, 2014:  Richard Dresdale, a longtime resident of Bronxville, has been chosen by Gramatan Village to be honored at the fifth annual May Magic Benefit on Sunday, May 4. The wine and hors d'oeuvres reception will be held at Siwanoy Country Club from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

Richard was chosen to receive the J. Rockhill Gray Award for his outstanding service to the Bronxville community. The award was established by Warren Ilchman, a director of the board of Gramatan Village, to honor Judge Gray, who was a founding member of the organization. The previous honorees are John Corry, Sarah Underhill, Mary Behrens, and Jim Hudson.

Richard's extraordinary commitment to service has benefited organizations within the local Bronxville community and many beyond it, as well. Richard is currently chairman of the board of governors of Lawrence Hospital Center in Bronxville. He served as a member of the Bronxville Board of Education from 2002 to 2008.

Outside the Bronxville community, Richard serves on the President's Leadership Council of Brown University, of which he is a graduate. Additionally, he is a member of the board of directors of the Brown University Sports Foundation. He is also a member of the Westchester Community College Foundation.

Richard is a managing director and co-founder of Fenway Partners, a middle-market private equity firm based in New York. Prior to co-founding the firm in 1994, he was a principal at Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, Inc. (CD&R) from 1985 to 1994. Before joining CD&R, he worked as an investment officer with Manufacturers Hanover Venture Capital Corporation.

Richard and his wife, Marcella, have three children, all of whom attended The Bronxville School.

The co-chairs of May Magic, Carol Godfrey and Tracy Lilly, invite the entire community to join Gramatan Village in honoring Richard Dresdale. Attendees will enjoy a performance by Magical Nights' Entertainment.

Admission to the event is $100 per person, all but $25 of which is tax deductible and goes to support Gramatan Village programs and services.

Gramatan Village is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to offer support and information to Bronxville-area seniors to enable them to live safely and comfortably in their homes as they age. For additional information or to make a reservation, call the office at 914-337-1338.

Pictured here:  Richard Dresdale.

Photo courtesy Carol Godfrey, Co-Chair, May Magic Benefit, Gramatan Village

 
Teddy Bears Come Alive at Bronxville Library PDF Print Email



Feb. 5, 2014:  Some nights, something magical happens at the Bronxville Public Library. Teddy bears brought to the library by "their kids" for an overnight stay appear to have been coming to life, causing all kinds of mischief!

Last month, children who participated in the library’s Teddy Bear Story-time Sleepover witnessed evidence of their teddy bears at play. Photographs recorded teddy bears looting the children’s room prize bin, climbing the Christmas tree, and making long distance phone calls! 

The librarians said, "We couldn't believe our eyes! They were roasting marshmallows, too; who knew teddy bears liked marshmallows?"

Next month, children are invited to join another Teddy Bear Story-time Sleepover on Wednesday, February 26, at 4:00 pm in the Children's Room. There will be stories and songs for children ages three and older. 

All attendees are encouraged to bring a teddy bear or a toy to sleep over at the library. Children may return the following day to pick up their bear or toy as well as a photograph of its shenanigans.

For details about this free library program, please call 914-337-7680, ext. 34, or visit the library website at www.bronxvillelibrary.org

Pictured here:  A naughty animal at the Bronxville Public Library.

Photo courtesy Erin Schirota, Head of Youth Services, Bronxville Public Library

 
Focusing on Immigrant Legacies, Eastchester Kicks Off 350th Anniversary Celebration January 26 PDF Print Email

Feb. 5, 2014:  On January 26, approximately 300 people gathered on Concordia College's campus on a snowy afternoon to hear Jane Ziegelman, author of 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement, launch a yearlong series of programs to celebrate the 350th anniversary year of the town's founding in 1664. 

The book had been chosen by the directors of the town's three libraries as the first-ever selection for a One Book/One Community Reading Program, with this lecture one of several outcomes.

With an event that highlighted common immigrant roots and the role of the three local libraries in the community's enrichment, the audience was enlightened and entertained by Ms. Ziegelman's talk. She focused on the strength and tenacity of the early immigrant forebears in bringing their various culinary tastes to America. 

Chuckles from all greeted her illustration of the steadfastness of one group in particular, a group of Italians who refused to allow the Settlement House "food educators" to keep their children from enjoying their traditional Mediterranean diet. 

Ms. Ziegelman drew from her background as a culinary researcher for the Lower East Side Tenement Museum to cover topics ranging from the beneficial effects of the lowly pickle to the well-meaning activities of the New York City Police Department's sanitary commission.

Prior to her talk, Concordia College's president, Viji George, welcomed the audience and commented on the theme for the 350th anniversary year, Keeping the Covenant. He noted that one year after settling in the town, its residents pledged to each other in writing to "help and counsel each other, keep and maintain . . . civil honesty and deal plainly with each other." 

Dr. George acknowledged Concordia's lengthy history within the town as indicative of efforts to "keep the covenant" and expressed his delight that the college was hosting this inaugural event.

Patty Dohrenwend, who as a member of the steering committee chaired the One Book/One Community Reading Program, commented afterward that the libraries will be following up Ms. Ziegelman's talk with programs of their own. Eastchester Library will host the author, again, for a pasta-making course; the Tuckahoe Library plans a program of Irish step dancers during March; and the Bronxville Library will focus its annual poetry reading in April and a poetry contest for students on the topic of legacy. Ms. Dohrenwend noted that "the libraries have even inspired our local chamber of commerce to initiate not one but two restaurant weeks in April and May of 2014, our 350th year!"

As Bob Riggs, co-chair of Eastchester 350th Anniversary, Inc., expressed, "The steering committee hopes to focus the community on its roots and sponsor events and programs that are open to all residents. That the first one focused on our libraries and our immigrant legacies is fitting. We encourage everyone to participate as we celebrate the town's unique history and to follow the calendar of festivities that are planned by using our website at www.eastchester350.org."

For those who may have missed the kickoff, local cable television will feature the event throughout February. Check local listings for Cablevision's government access channels 19, 74, and 75 and FiOS channels 40, 47, and 26.

Pictured here: Jane Ziegelman (lower left), author of 97 Orchard, is joined (counterclockwise) by library directors Swadesh Pachnanda (Tuckahoe), Tracy Wright (Eastchester), Gabriella Radujko (Bronxville), and program chair Patty Dohrenwend.

Photo courtesy Linda Doherty, Co-Chair, Steering Committee, Eastchester 350th Anniversary, Inc. 

 
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