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Bronxville Government and History

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From the Mayor: Enjoy Garden Tour on June 11 Sponsored by Bronxville Beautification Council PDF Print Email


June 8, 2011: Even though spring seemed to turn into summer so quickly this year, the Village plantings still managed to look beautiful thanks to the volunteer efforts of our residents.

Chief among the groups helping to improve our streetscape is one of our most long-standing garden groups, the Bronxville Beautification Council (BBC).

Members of the BBC care so deeply about the Village that they worked tirelessly all last week so that our triangles and planting beds would look beautiful for our Memorial Day Parade and weekend festivities.

The genesis of the BBC is a wonderful story of the will of the human spirit to accomplish a goal.  As Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Over the years, our Village has been changed into a garden paradise thanks in no small part to the vision of one couple who formed the genesis of the BBC.

In 1982, a pair of Village apartment dwellers, Dr. Burton and Alice Pollin, looked out their windows and were disappointed at the lack of greenery, flowers, and pretty open spaces in the downtown Village.  Properties including Leonard Morange Park, adjacent to the train station, were overgrown with weeds, and benches were nonexistent.  The Pollins decided to act, and they committed their hearts, minds, and lower backs to digging, weeding, planting, and ultimately raising funds to beautify our public spaces.

As time passed, Leonard Morange Square would be transformed into a bucolic park replete with benches, shrubs, trees, and a new sidewalk.  The traffic circle in front of the hospital was graced with a tasteful fountain and fresh landscaping, and the macadam traffic triangles were replaced with flowering shrubs and bulbs.

The Pollins and their group of dedicated gardeners formally incorporated into the Bronxville Beautification Council in 1993 and embarked on many larger-scale Village projects.  The vision of the BBC, combined with the dedication of the Village's Department of Public Works, became a reality.  As the story goes, Dr. Pollin worked so closely with the Department of Public Works and was so exacting in his suggestions that his calls to Village Hall were eventually carefully screened by the Mayor's Office.

In recent history, an active BBC member, Cathy Rodriguez, suggested to BBC president, George McKinnis, that the group take on an additional role and sponsor an annual garden tour.  The idea was not only to raise the profile of the BBC and highlight their work but also to raise the kinds of funds needed for large-scale Village improvements.  Chief among those projects is the continuing renovation of the west banks of the Bronxville train station.  This will be a three-year effort to remove choking vines and to free signature plantings and to allow the station's historical Moorish architecture to shine while enhancing the west-side entrance to our Village.

Saturday, June 11, will mark the fourth anniversary of the Garden Tour, which commences, rain or shine, at 10:00 am at Village Hall.  Despite the challenges of a seemingly endless winter, event chair Meg Sunier and her committee will open the doors to an all-new array of "green rooms."  Gardens will range from natural woodland styles to stately, manicured spaces.

Gardeners, by nature, are external optimists, and this year's group of Garden Tour homeowners is exceptionally so.  One of the gardens featured in this year's tour is on the grounds of a 1905 home that had to be moved to accommodate construction of the Bronx River Parkway.  Today it is one of three adjacent homes on Gard Avenue that had to carve their green oases literally out from under the ravages of government bulldozers.  That intrepid spirit continues with the current homeowners, who defy the limits of suburban gardening.  And you thought installing that sprinkler was a hassle!

This unique garden as well as many others may be visited from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on June 11 with the tour concluding with a wine-and-cheese reception in one of the featured gardens.

Tickets may be purchased ($20 each) at participating Bronxville retailers and will also be available at Village Hall on the day of the tour.

Maps and parking instructions will be provided and tour guides will be present at each of the homes.

So come celebrate the conclusion of the endless winter and the dawn of good weather.  You will be supporting the BBC and future landscape projects as you enjoy the unique beauty of our special Village.

Max McGrath on Dad's Day: No Absentee Father--My Dad PDF Print Email


June 8, 2011:  Weekly in the media it seems there's always a comparison story between females and males.  Editorial writers qualify their agenda using the latest scientific research to credit one gender over the other as the primary cause of the species' four-million-year survival.

Indulge me with this scenario.  Fifty thousand years ago in a cave in southern France:  Wife to husband: "Lugnut dear, I know you're busy painting the cave, but the carrots and cabbages that the gals gathered last fall are almost gone.  How about you and your useless friends go hunt a water buffalo or a mammoth.  The kids are hungry."

The point of my offbeat example is that it took both genders working together as a team to get mankind to the point that we could purchase the Christmas roast at the A & P in a new BMW.

In my opinion it seems the media through news stories or product commercials currently paint males and husbands as bubbling nincompoops that their wives must watch at all times as irresponsible big kids.  The examples of these commercials are many--the grill blowing up in the backyard, snoring that breaks the bedroom windows, watching football while the wife mows the lawn.  You've seen them.

The raising of children was and is the innate primary focus of our human group.  It is the mission to ensure that mankind's footprint lasts in perpetuity.  We would not have gotten this far without the solid teamwork of a mom and dad equally sharing that very difficult job.  Their job then is a full-time one for the rest of their lives.

It is completely understandable that we as a nation set aside two days a year to honor our moms and dads for guiding us to adulthood and beyond.

My dad was a tough and loving man and, believe me, the old guy had his hands full with me.  I disliked the silly rules of authority and detested being lectured to, especially when told my opinion is not welcome in a discussion, even to this day.

Fred O. McGrath (my dad), being street-smart, knew how to work around my avoidance of authority and "stubbornness."  I was going to do it my way from the B'ville ball fields, to dating, to attending BHS, to being on my own.  After trying to guide me in the life-dilemma of the week, he'd say to me, "Do it your way; we'll see the outcome, Baby."  I hate to admit this Fred, but most of the time you were right!

The guidance lessons, plus his patient tutelage of the rules encompassing the social contract, can never be repaid to him.

Fred had a big heart and no matter how angry we were with one another I always knew he loved me and if need be would die in the street protecting me even though I had pulled a brain-dead move.  Of course, for all my dumb moves I received what he called a "tongue-lashing."  I endured several, not undeserved.

While at BHS I had several collisions with teachers.  Fred was always just in his rulings after hearing the arguments on both sides.  If I was wrong, I was set straight; if they were wrong, I was lectured on how to avoid future confrontations.

My dad was like most of the dads in B'ville in the day.  Growing up, there were hours of ball catching, coaching, teaching me sports, and hanging out when he was not busy shepherding the funeral home or engaging in his many civic responsibilities.  When I got hurt playing ball he'd say, "Rub some dirt on it."  I tried that and it still hurt.

I look back now and feel bad for all the bonehead stunts I involved him in.  Fred and Betty showed me the right road to a good life in a village that nurtured its youth.

Like most kids, I drove down my road most of the time always being surprised at finding an expensive toll because I refused to read the map or listen to the directions.

Most fathers are not as commercials portray them--painting them with a haphazard brush at their expense for product memory.  My father certainly wasn't, and I doubt yours was either.

Funny, in adulthood when hurting myself working around the house, I still hear Fred whisper, "Rub some dirt on it."  See Fred, I still hear you.


Memorial Day Brings Out Families and Friends to Honor Veterans and Enjoy Community Events: See More than 100 Photos of Weekend Celebration by N. Bower PDF Print Email


June 1, 2011:  At 8:30 am on Memorial Day, May 30, the rain was pouring so hard that no one in his or her right mind would have ventured forth to watch the parade, let alone march in it.  Meanwhile, Mayor Mary Marvin and Village Administrator Harry Porr were deciding what to do:  call it off, delay it, or go on with the show.  The mayor called it right and ordered the parade to begin as planned.

A few minutes after 9:00 am, as if the mayor had given the command, the rain stopped, the clouds parted, and the sun shone as those who had lined up on the west side of town under umbrellas to march in the parade began to move into position.  The 91st annual Memorial Day parade was under way.

Leading the parade were vintage Model A's and Model T's, followed by Arthur Miller, the parade's grand marshal.  Marching with him down Pondfield Road from Leonard Morange Square to The Bronxville School were Mayor Mary Marvin, the village's trustees, and judges and other officials, followed by bagpipers and a drum corps providing the music and beat to keep the marchers in step.

Representatives of various civic organizations and agencies, including the Bronxville Beautification Council, Lawrence Hospital Center, Daughters of the American Revolution, Bronxville Women's Club, and Senior Citizens Council, as well as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, and Brownies, were not far behind.  The colorful grand finale was provided by kids on bicycles and tricycles decked out in red, white, and blue.

At a bandstand in front of The Bronxville School, the mayor addressed the crowd.  "I want to dedicate this year's Memorial Day commemoration to Arthur Miller, the grand marshal," she said, "and to all his fellow World War II veterans who served so bravely and who are leaving us much too quickly."

"Sixteen million Americans answered the call to serve in World War II," she continued, "and a staggering 400,000 gave their lives.  It was the defining moment of the 20th century and the ultimate symbol of moral strength and national unity. ... They were not warriors by nature, just lovers of freedom and their country."

Arthur Miller then read out the names of dozens of local veterans and service members who passed away since last Memorial Day.

Representatives from various community groups and agencies laid wreaths at the base of the flagpole, assisted by members of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, followed by one last sounding of taps for the fallen soldiers.  Father Herbert DeGaris from St. Joseph's Church gave the benediction and Dale Walker sang a stirring "America the Beautiful."

Afterwards, as local dignitaries headed toward Bronxville's cemetery for a brief ceremony, many families walked to the elementary school playground and school football field to enjoy carnival games and hamburgers and hot dogs sponsored by the Bronxville PTA.  Others went into the elementary school to see the Bronxville Veterans Memorial Exhibit, which, with photos, letters, and written accounts, documented Bronxville residents who served in previous wars from WWI to the present.

To see over 100 photos of the parade and weekend events, hit the link below and go to the Gala and Gatherings page.

Pictured here:  Mayor Mary Marvin near the podium with speech in hand on Memorial Day with Arthur Miller, the grand marshal, beside her.

Photos by N. Bower

One of Bronxville's Least Attractive Locations to Get Face-Lift PDF Print Email


June 1, 2011:  The Paxton Avenue parking lot area, arguably one of the least attractive areas in Bronxville, is it about to get a face-lift.

In a neighborhood that suggests a "gasoline alley" due to the number of garages and repair shops located there and around the corner on Milburn Avenue, the owner of the parking lot, Paxton Avenue Partners, L.P., and his representatives came before the Planning Board and Design Review Committee on May 11 to win approval for new landscaping.

Bronxville resident and landscape architect Maureen Hackett was commissioned to design the landscape plan, which incorporates the planting of nine deciduous hardwood trees and masses of evergreen shrubbery to provide a green canopy overhead as one walks along the Paxton Avenue sidewalk, as well as a screening of hedges on the pedestrian level of the parking lot.

The trees proposed are red maple, American elm, and fall-blooming cherry.  Yew bushes, fountain grass, and juniper will be used around the parking lot to screen the view and provide ground cover.  Liriope muscari also will be used as a ground cover where needed.

"Although the lot is on the outskirts of town," noted Hackett, "it is often the first thing visitors and residents view when approaching from the Bronx River Parkway."  She explained, "Being a parking lot with many square feet of asphalt, it is the type of site that creates a heat island effect and also puts a strain on the storm water system.  Increasing green areas reduces heat, increases oxygen, and reduces the amount of runoff going into our overburdened storm water catchments."  Hence, in addition to aesthetics, the new landscaping will have a positive environmental impact on the area.

The property is currently being leased for 10 years by Lawrence Hospital Center to provide 150 parking spaces for hospital employees for which it pays $1 a day.  From 1936 to 1997 the property served as the showroom and garage for the Smith Cairns Ford auto dealership.  The site and adjoining property owned by the partnership is valued at about $2 million for tax purposes, and the partnership continues to pay property taxes to the village.

After completion of the presentation and after some clarifying questions asked by members of the planning board, a vote to approve the projected was taken and passed.

Pictured here:  Paxton Avenue parking lot, where new landscaping will be installed.

Photo by A. Warner

From the Mayor: Memorial Day Speech 2011 PDF Print Email


Editor's Note:  In lieu of Mayor Marvin's weekly column, below is the Memorial Day address she gave on Monday morning, May 30, to the community gathered 'round the flagpole in front of the Bronxville School.

Good morning and God Bless America!

Today is the 89th Village Memorial Day parade and commemoration and I am so pleased on behalf of the entire Village to honor Arthur Miller, World War II veteran and lifelong Village resident, as our grand marshal.

I want to tell you a little about Art.

Art interrupted his education at Duke University to serve our country as a bombardier on the B-17 so-called American Flying Fortress.

Assigned to the Eighth Air Force 486th Wing, Art flew 30 combat missions over Germany targeting factories and fuel deposits. Art's plane always encountered resistance and on one mission, a piece of flak landed in Art's lap, a souvenir he owns proudly to this day.

There were always holes in the fuselage of his plane on their return to base and Art credits the power above with keeping him safe.

By war's end, Art's decorations and citations included the Air Medal with Four Oak Leaf Clusters, European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two Bronze Stars, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the World War II Victory Medal. And, at a USO show in Hollywood, he even got to meet Bette Davis and was in Times Square to celebrate VE Day.

Post service, Art graduated from Duke and came home to Bronxville for good raising his three daughters here with his late wife, Nancy Van Wyck Miller. Just as Art Miller served his country with distinction, he has given years of valuable service to our Village serving on the Board of the Chamber of Commerce, the Community Fund, his church--The Reformed Church--and as president of our Rotary Club.

Thank you Art for serving our country and our village with valor, humility, and dedication. Art, you truly are a hero among us.

To learn more about Art's service and the other heroes among us, I encourage you to visit the special Bronxville Veterans Memorial display which is exhibited just behind me inside the school until 2 o'clock today. Thanks to the efforts of Village residents Jane Staunton and Cindi Callahan, this moving tribute honors local men and women who have served our country, recounts many of their stories of heroism, and recognizes the over 1,500 Villagers on the Scroll of Honor who have proudly served our country.

I want to dedicate this year's Memorial Day commemoration to Art and to all his fellow World War II veterans who served so bravely and who are leaving us much too quickly.

Sixteen million Americans answered the call to serve in World War II and a staggering 400,000 gave their lives. It was the defining moment of the 20th century and the ultimate symbol of moral strength and national unity.

We tend to forget that when this country entered World War II, our nation was suffering from a decade of economic depression, we were not a rich country, and our military was only the 17th largest in the world. Yet our country was never more united, and at the height of the war, we had ships in every ocean and armies on five continents.

As was said about the men and women of World War II--the Greatest Generation--uncommon valor was a common virtue. They were not warriors by nature, just lovers of freedom and their country.

Most of them were modest sons of a great country and many of us are very proud to call them dad.

Yet they truly saved our country and quite literally the freedom of mankind and then came home and rebuilt the United States into the superpower it is today. Thank you, thank you World War II veterans. Thanks to your example, the rest of us are quite aware that to be born free is an accident, to live free is a privilege, and to die free is a responsibility.

Thank you all for being here today and may God continue to shower down his love and blessings on our great nature.


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