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Bronxville Government and History

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Bronxville Environmental Forum Explores Sustainable Energy Initiatives PDF Print Email

By Bill Gaston, Member, Bronxville Democratic Committee

Jul. 3, 2019:  Confronting the challenge of global climate change will require no small amount of courage and imagination. At the national level, the challenge is immense, and efforts to combat its consequences can be frustrating. In towns and villages, however, grassroots activism and outreach are already making a difference in providing pragmatic responses.  

The Village of Bronxville is no exception.

On June 18at the Bronxville Library, village residents were treated to an absorbing and wide-ranging discussion of local environmental issues ranging from a new food scrap recycling program to county green power generation and energy conservation Initiatives. The forum, organized by the Bronxville Democratic Committee, concluded with a sobering presentation by three Bronxville High School seniors on Bronx River water quality. 

Michelle Sterling, a co-chair of the Scarsdale Forum Sustainability Committee, spoke of the many benefits of her town’s food scrap recycling/composting initiative. The first of its kind in the county, it started in 2017 and has since spread to 16 towns in Westchester. She urged Bronxville to sign up, arguing its small size would make it an ideal candidate for food scrap recycling: “You’re teeny-tiny, just one square mile. One drop-spot for food scraps would be enough,” said Ms. Sterling. “Write your mayor to adopt it. It would be a game-changer." Over 2,000 tons of municipal solid waste, including food scraps, are burned each day in county incinerators. Nationwide, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), food scraps account for approximately 22% of waste in landfills and incinerators.

Ms. Sterling acknowledged that for many residents, participation in food recycling requires “a mental shift," a change in habits that takes some effort. However, in the long run, she added, “It doesn’t make sense to burn food in incinerators.” She also explained how the minimal start-up costs and operating expenses of food scrap recycling--she brought with her for display a green food scrap bucket and a storage bin--make it a cost-effective alternative to traditional waste disposal methods.

Peter McCartt, director of energy and conservation for Westchester County, told the audience that under the leadership of county executive George Latimer, the county has made several significant strides toward promoting energy savings and green power sustainability. 

Mr. McCartt said that County Executive George Latimer has authorized a $200,000 study to look into a cost-effective county-wide food scrap recycling plan. He commented that removing food scraps from the incineration mix would be a “huge” accomplishment. Mr. McCartt also said the “Recycle Right” program (launched in April) has made a big difference in educating citizens about the benefits of recycling, even as efforts on the national stage have dimmed. Additionally, he pointed to other countywide green energy initiatives: expanding the electrification program for the county’s fleet of public buses (including the purchase of more hybrid buses), increased land resource management, and the development of solar energy for the county by 2020.

Next to speak were Bronxville High School juniors Sunday Ladas, Hailey Mullen, and Charlotte Cagliostro, whose Bronx River water quality presentation got the attention of the audience. The students tested water samples at several riverside locations for enterococcus bacteria (EB), a bacterium associated with human sewage in water. The concentrations they discovered were alarming. Efforts by the students to identify the source of the contamination have been in part frustrated by the inability of the village government to locate relevant maps of sewer and storm drain lines that would help to identify where the leaks are coming from. Until those maps resurface and/or the village utilizes dye tests to identify the source of the pollution, the cause of the high EB count in the Bronx River will remain a mystery.

In another grassroots initiative, village resident Ruth Walter, proprietor of Dobbs & Bishop Fine Cheese and a 2019 candidate for the Westchester County Legislature, announced one of her own: a proposal to install fast-fill water fountains in municipal buildings so residents can fill their reusable bottles and water containers, thus cutting down on the use of plastic water bottles. It is estimated that Americans buy 29 billion water bottles a year. For every six bottles people buy, only one is recycled. Walter’s plan would be to install these fountains in libraries, town halls, etc., and eventually outside in parks. Said Ms. Walter, “Go green, and leave the plastic behind.”

Pictured here: Bronxville Library.

Photo by A. Warner


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: Bronxville's Many Green Efforts of the Last Decade; Mary Liz Mulligan, Chair of Green Committee, Passes the Reins PDF Print Email

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By Mary C. Marvin, Mayor of Bronxville

Jun. 26, 2019:  Mary Liz Mulligan has stepped down after ten years of exemplary leadership and tireless effort as chair of our Village Green Committee and passed the reins to committee member Ellen Edwards.

The changing of the guard prompted me to pause and recap what we have accomplished on the environmental front and where we as a village need to be headed.

In the last decade, the village began new green efforts by refurbishing village hall with a geothermal cooling and heating system that has proven successful on the economic as well as environmental level and functions virtually maintenance free.

We were also one of Westchester’s first communities to institute a seasonal ban on gas-powered leaf blowers and early on joined Hastings in a campaign to mulch leaves in place, saving thousands of dollars on costly vacuum truck removal.

We added many more trash receptacles throughout the village and have more on order to replenish the stock. In addition, we placed solar “Bigbellys” in strategic locations that can handle four times the trash thanks to solar decomposition.

The village also discontinued the use of all chemically laden fertilizer and pesticides on all village property, and the Bronxville School followed suit.

We were awarded a state grant to refurbish the Garden Avenue parking lot to install French drains to catch water cascading down the tennis court hill directly into the school zone.

In addition, we added trees in the lot to further absorb water and lower the blacktop surface temperature.

We are essentially doing the same things on the former Avalon lot that we purchased as well as adding a state-funded charging station, increasing the Vespa parking area and providing safer, stronger bike racks. We will also be adding charging stations in the enclosed Villa BXV parking lot by year’s end. 

The road surface blacktop we now purchase is not 100% petroleum-based; rather, it is an amalgam of recycled blacktop.

Mary Liz Mulligan initiated a take-back day ten years ago and it gets more successful as the years progress. In addition to the Westchester County shredder, we collect all electronic devices – if it has a plug, we’ll recycle it – as well as bedding for dog shelters and even furniture.

We also applied for and won a state grant for a filtering system at our DPW site so oil from the trucks can no longer seep into nearby catch basins.

Our very active and generous garden clubs, the Bronxville Beautification Council and Boulder Ledge Garden Club, have partnered with the village to plant new street trees throughout the business district and shore up the banks near the rail station with plantings to prevent erosion.

Our Giving Garden, an offshoot of the Green Committee, is in the process of growing 500 pounds of chemical-free vegetables to be donated to neighboring soup kitchens.

We have also partnered with the Bronxville School on their research of the health of the Bronx River, which is rightfully of great concern to the next generation.

On the continuum, the village has been proactive in embracing environmental measures, but there is clearly more that we can do.

To that end, we are in discussions with Waste Zero, a national company that assists in local recycling of textiles.

Our Green Committee has also brought forth a proposal to start composting food waste, a model program started in Scarsdale and now replicated in 15 other Westchester Communities.

The plans for the new public works facility envision a much greener building in all aspects, including solar roof panels.

On the individual front, especially as it relates to the cleanliness of the Bronx River, small changes in habits will aid the effort. Chief among them is the tossing of dog waste bags into catch basins, which eventually reach the river and raise the toxicity exponentially. Just putting them in a trash receptacle would be an enormous environmental improvement. We also ask that you check your water hookups, as we are finding residential plumbing systems that are comingling sanitary and water conveyances, further adding to the pollution of the Bronx River.

We welcome any other thoughts as to ideas/initiatives to advance our green footprint.

Pictured here:  Mayor Mary Marvin.

Photo by N. Bower

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.

 
Bronxville Village Trustees Approve Funding for Variety of Capital Projects and Improvements Including Equipment for Police, DPW, and Playground PDF Print Email

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By Carol Bartold, Senior Reporter

Jun. 19, 2019:  Village capital projects took center stage at the Bronxville Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, June 10. Moving into the 2019-2020 fiscal year, the board approved a round of resolutions to fund various classes of planned purchases and improvements.

Village Administrator Jim Palmer stated that, while the village has earmarked $750,000 for improvements to the Pondfield Avenue underpass, issues of jurisdiction between MetroNorth Railroad and the village have not been clearly delineated. “I have reviewed the deed from 1914,” Palmer said, “and haven’t seen anything that specifically states that the village is responsible for the sidewalks or railings.” Bid documents are ready to be sent out for some of the aesthetic improvements. If necessary, Palmer will ask village attorney James Staudt to assist in producing a statement to indicate that the village, in moving forward with that work, in no way means it will assume that responsibility in the future.

The board approved funding of $348,588 for items with a useful life of three to five years, including a new copier, body cameras for police officers, pay stations for the new parking lot, a license plate reader for parking enforcement officers, and a new fingerprinting machine.

For projects with a 15-year useful life, the board approved $212,949 in funding. Plans to purchase a new dump truck, a new sanitation truck body, and a new electrical panel for the paddle tennis courts and to replace some of the Sagamore Park playground equipment fall within this category.

Improvements to village hall, primarily painting and interior improvements to offices, are expected to have a 25-year useful life, received $197,168 in funding approval.

Looking toward the future, Bronxville resident Betsy Harding urged the trustees to “really get it right and cover all the bases” in analyzing the needs for a new department of public works garage and building a facility to meet those needs.

Jim Palmer reported that, despite recent rains, construction at the former Avalon parking lot on Parkway Road is proceeding on schedule and the lot should open July 1. The new sidewalk along Parkway Road and the walkway to the Metro-North Railroad platform both opened this month.

Mayor Mary Marvin announced the death of former Bronxville mayor William J. Murphy. Murphy served as mayor in the mid-1980s and then became the village’s volunteer parking commissioner. “Bill was the definition of a volunteer,” Marvin noted. “He lent his time, talents, and financial generosity to this village. Everyone here at village hall will miss him.”

The board of trustees will meet on Monday, July 8, at 8:00 pm in the trustees room at village hall. A 7:00 pm work session will precede the public meeting.

 
From the Mayor: Impact of Millennial Generation Is Growing PDF Print Email

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By Mary C. Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville

Jun. 19, 2019:  Everyone in retail, industry, government, and urban planning is discussing the impact of the millennial generation on communities going forward. By definition, millennials are the 92 million Americans born between 1977 and 2000 accounting for approximately 25% of our population and 21% of consumer purchasing power. Roughly one in every four millennials is a parent and 53% of millennial households have children. As a group, they differ from Gen Xers and baby boomers in many ways – when they plan to marry, their financial situation, and how they consume products and media.

Because of their distinctive characteristics, future planning on every level has to adjust accordingly.

As illustration, millennials have grown up in a world that emphasized the value of convenience. Between takeout food, video streaming, personalized social media feeds, and the ability to Google any question in real time, they have been conditioned to think in terms of how fast, efficient, and available a service or product can reach them.

As a direct response to this phenomenon, Walmart is currently expanding its same-day online grocery delivery service to 100 metro areas, covering roughly 40% of U.S. households by the end of this year.

Millennials have also aged in a world of choices; be it Netflix options, online product comparisons, and then nearly a dozen ways to pay when an item or service is chosen. Cost is a big factor, given they saddle more debt than any other generation. The average millennial debt – mostly due to college loans – is $40,000 per person, while the corresponding average salary is $35,000.

Unlike past generations who were hyper-focused on acquiring “things,” millennials spend much of their disposable income to buy “experiences.” As “millennial entrepreneur” Taylor Smith said on NBC, “We aren’t spending our money on cars, TVs, and watches. We’re renting scooters and touring Vietnam, rocking out at music festivals or hiking Machu Picchu.”

In the current market, if you sell a physical product, the item needs to tell a story or paint an experience to a millennial. (I harken back to the J. Peterman catalogue.) Tom’s Shoes is a perfect example of a brand that was able to tap into this desire. Their one-for-one purchase and giveaway has become a new category of socially conscious marketing, cementing a connection with people and causes that millennials value.

As far as purchases, millennials have little interest in owning big-ticket items such as houses, televisions, and cars. Only one in three thinks a TV is a needed purchase, as they have Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon – all with the ability to binge watch on demand.

What millennials do want is to eat right and be healthy. Along with this has come a major uptick in the sales of athletic apparel and footwear.

Tastes and interests in every life sector are changing thanks to the power and numbers of millennials, and unless society keeps up, products, even neighborhoods, could become obsolete.

Some small but cautionary tales include companies manufacturing fabric softener, napkins, and bar soap. Thinking it unnecessary and chemically laden, millennials don’t buy fabric softener. As a result, Downy’s sales dropped 26% in just eight years. Six in ten households purchased napkins 15 years ago; now it is less than four, while the sales of paper towels are skyrocketing and only 33% of millennials use bar soap to shower vs 60% of those 65 and over.

Beyond these small blips on the screen, huge institutions such as McDonald’s, national and state lotteries, and even the stock market have felt the pinch because of millennial choices. McDonald’s is reviewing its business model as millennials are preferring fresher, healthier organic and ethically sourced food such as is served at Panera, as opposed to the McDonald’s offerings.

In the 50 to 64 age cohort, 61% of Americans played a lottery last year vs only 33% of millennials. Only 13% purchased stocks vs keeping their savings in Real Estate (30%), cash (30%), and even gold (17%).

Since most millennials do not have the car to transport the 24-roll pack of paper towels, rather opting to have it delivered, bulk grocers such as Costco and BJ’s are feeling the loss.

And in a true shot to “Americana,” the sales of brand-name beer and Harleys are declining. If the millennial taste preferences for craft beer, wine, and liquor continue, by 2030, beer will no longer have the largest share of the alcohol market.

Do-rags, sidecars, and patch-laden leather jackets do not resonate with millennials. Harley Davidson, so feeling the pinch, has been re-tooling factories to manufacture scooters and attract a new market retailing at half the price of a basic Harley.

Net-net, the influence millennials have in every aspect of life is growing daily. As a society, we need to understand and engage this segment of society on their terms. 

Pictured here:  Mayor Mary Marvin.

Photo by N. Bower 


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.

 
 
Bronxville Non-Partisan Committee Announces New Members PDF Print Email

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By Susan Meaney, Member, Bronxville Non-Partisan Committee for the Nomination and Election of School Trustees

Jun. 19, 2019:  The Bronxville Non-Partisan Committee for the Nomination and Election of School Trustees (NPC) announced the individuals who will join the committee, following the village-wide election that ended on June 11. This year, one representative from each of Bronxville’s seven voting districts was elected to serve a three-year term. In two of those districts, a representative won re-election after being elected in 2018 to serve out the remaining year of a retiring member’s term.

The new members are Dean Vanderwarker (District 16); Ed Reilly (District 17); Nick Willoughby (District 19); Beata Gocyk-Farber (District 20); and Anthony Mercando (District 22). The re-elected members are Jeff Hine (District 18) and Lee Huang (District 21).

The NPC thanks the five members of the committee who rolled off the committee effective June 12: Larry Bettino, Andrew Harwood, Jim Purdy, Lindy Devereux, and Don Bringle. These individuals have generously donated their time and energy to ensuring that the candidates for school board trustee are recruited, properly vetted, and nominated each year. Their service to the NPC is very much appreciated. 

The NPC will resume activity in September when the committee will reconvene to begin soliciting applications for school trustee candidates to run in the school district election in May of 2020.

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

 
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