Task forces mull ECC role for incorporation

The Edgemont Community Council has been in existence for more than 70 years and, as incorporation becomes more of a possibility, the community organization will have to decide its role going forward.

According to ECC President Robert Bernstein, the civic group created two task forces within the past several months charged with researching what the ECC’s role in Edgemont could be both leading up to and after incorporation.

One of the task forces is researching how best the ECC could participate in the pre-referendum process. Should incorporation go to a vote, said Bernstein, the task force is looking for the best way to create a forum in which both anti-incorporation and pro-incorporation residents can get their points of view across to Edgemont residents who may be undecided.

Bernstein’s comments may come as a surprise to some as the ECC Board of Directors is comprised of multiple pro-incorporation residents. In fact, Bernstein led the previous Edgemont incorporation effort in the mid-2000s.

“While there are a lot of people that support incorporation,” Bernstein said, “not everyone does.”

He continued, “We wanted to be sure the ECC maintained its neutrality regardless of how individuals might feel.”

Bernstein said he hopes the forum will be one where opposing views can be accurately disseminated and aired without “yelling matches” occurring between both sides.

Currently, the only place for both sides of the incorporation debate to discuss the topic is on social media — either Facebook or Next Door — or in letters to the editor. However, using those platforms leads to long threads of arguing back and forth with neither side seeing the other’s point of view.

The last time Edgemont residents gathered to discuss incorporation was at the 2017 public forum hosted by the Greenburgh chapter of the NAACP.

The ECC’s second task force is researching how the village of Edgemont would elect officials and how the ECC may be a part of that process.

Bernstein said the ECC has been looking at governments such as Scarsdale and Rye Brook as both villages are similar to Edgemont.

Currently, Edgemont and Scarsdale share the same method for electing members to their respective boards of education. Both villages use school board nominating committees elected by neighborhood associations to vet potential candidates, and to nominate a number of candidates equal to the number of empty seats.

Scarsdale does something similar for its village elections. The Scarsdale Citizens Nominating Committee selects its nominees each year for the open mayoral and trustee seats.

The Scarsdale system has caused some controversy in recent years, in part leading to the emergence of the Voters’ Choice Party. VCP members, such as Tisdale Road resident Robert Berg, have challenged CNC nominees in the previous two elections, but a VCP candidate has yet to be elected to office.

The SBNC and CNC methods are designed to avoid contentious, contested elections.

Bernstein said the ECC’s quest to see how Edgemont could govern itself, or where the ECC could fit in after incorporation, contains no ulterior motives.

“There’s no agenda,” said Bernstein.

The ECC’s research will come into play if Edgemont is permitted to vote on incorporation.

As of now, the Edgemont Incorporation Committee, which is leading the charge, has two chances for that to happen. After filing papers to appear before the Court of Appeals — the last stop in the state appeals process — the EIC must now wait to see if the court will hear their case.

While they wait, a second EIC incorporation petition waits in the wings in case the EIC loses the battle.

Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, who denied the first EIC petition, is on record numerous times stating he believes the second petition will lead to a referendum on Edgemont incorporation.

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