Trustee Candidates Slate

Candidates Justin Arest, Bob Berg, Sean Cohen, Lena Crandall, Bob Selvaggio and Randy Whitestone

Before COVID-19 shut down New York, Scarsdale residents and candidates were gearing up for a contested village election on March 18. But then, two days before the election, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order to postpone elections throughout the state and to allow local elected officials holding positions to remain in office.

The governor eventually rescheduled elections for Sept. 15, with changes made to allow voting by absentee mail-in ballots due to the COVID-19 health emergency. For those who prefer in-person voting, polls will be open Sept. 15 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Scarsdale Congregational Church, 1 Heathcote Road.   

The words coronavirus and pandemic were not even in the candidates’ lexicon prior to March, and candidates are now facing new questions amid cultural, economic and political shifts related to the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Inquirer asked Scarsdale Citizens’ Non-Partisan Party (SCNPP) candidates Randy Whitestone and incumbents Lena Crandall and Justin Arest, as well as Voters Choice Party (VCP) candidates Bob Berg, Sean Cohen and Bob Selvaggio to share their views on Scarsdale’s future, response to the pandemic and issues of social justice. Below are excerpts from the conversations held via Zoom on Aug. 25; a shortened version of this article appeared in the Sept. 4 print edition of the Inquirer.

CORONAVIRUS

As COVID-19 cases began to spike, Gov. Cuomo issued executive orders that closed nonessential businesses and shifted employees to work from home. Municipalities were expected to continue to provide essential services.

Thinking back on that time, Crandall, a 28-year resident of Scarsdale who is vying for her second term, said that village staff was “incredible” and that Village Manager Steve Pappalardo took charge to ensure workers were able to keep up with delivering essential services.

“What I’m most happy about is that everyone stayed calm, focused on the facts and we all worked together as a team to find solutions,” said Crandall. “No one was ringing their own bell. Everyone was trying to pull together, be supportive, help troubleshoot to make sure that essential services were delivered to our residents, that people stayed safe … and I think that in retrospect we did remarkably well and I’m proud of our village.”

Crandall also helped to contact representatives supporting Scarsdale’s elderly community to make sure food and essential items were being delivered.

Berg, a longtime resident who has previously run for mayor and trustee, complimented Scarsdale’s first responders, but said that although he thought the village’s did an “OK job” in responding to the pandemic, much of the village’s tech functionality which allowed for cloud-based remote work wasn’t performing properly.

“You couldn’t remotely access most of the village files. So I’m sure most of the village staff that was working remotely was not really working very effectively because of our technology gap,” said Berg. “The wheels of government slowed down and the excuse was the COVID [pandemic].”

Arest, vying for a second term on the board, said that most residents were unaware of the governor’s restrictions on village staffing as essential services were still being delivered.

“Without that proper planning we could’ve been left without very important services for health and safety,” said Arest.

With the restriction on government employees working in village hall, Arest said the village implemented a cohorting system in the department of public works to ensure the safety of employees while continuing to deliver essential services.

Cohen, who lived in Scarsdale in the late 1970s and moved back to the village in 2000, also complimented first responders in their reaction to the pandemic, but said the board “seemed somewhat paralyzed in action” as the pandemic was ramping up.

“They’re always waiting for, ‘let’s wait and see, let’s wait and see, let’s wait and see’,” said Cohen. “You can start planning for things in contingencies.”

Whitestone, a longtime volunteer in the village who previously told the Inquirer he had a “black belt in crisis communications,” said he attended all the public meetings and was impressed with the village’s performance since March. He said he didn’t agree with all the steps the village took during the pandemic; when asked for examples he said there wasn’t anything “substantive,” but he said in public comment sessions he would’ve liked to have some fiscal scenarios developed earlier.

“I don’t have any issue in the way it was done. I would’ve liked to see some of the scenarios developed a little earlier, that’s all,” he said, adding that he had tried to be “an interactive sounding board” for the village board.

Selvaggio, who ran for a trustee seat in 2017, said Scarsdale residents were “remarkable” in their response to the pandemic, but criticized the village board for not listening to outside opinions, especially those from the VCP whose candidates pushed for the village and school board to adopt a two-installment plan for school and village tax payments to ease the burden of paying taxes in one lump sum.

“We’re trying to bring some diversity to the board and some new voices,” said Selvaggio, adding that he thought the tax installment plan wasn’t considered because the board was not the group who came up with the idea. “I can’t think of any other reason that such a reasonable idea would be rejected.”

In a letter to the village board of trustees in May, the school board recommended implementing the two-installment tax payment plan and within a month the village set it up.

With many experts warning of a viral resurgence this fall, municipalities are gearing up for a potential economic impact if reopening efforts have to be curtailed.

Whitestone said the village staff and trustees were working behind the scenes to keep residents safe and that flexibility and innovative approach were imperative for the future.

“Should there be a resurgence, I don’t think we’ll be backfoot on it, but it’s a great unknown,” said Whitestone. “I do think that we’re starting from a solid place.”

Whitestone added that it was difficult to react to a crisis that completely upends how municipalities work and equally difficult to take a step back and have a strategic view.

Cohen said the village board needs to rethink and reimagine the downtown as a commercial and business hub, as commuting has declined since the work-from-home mandates went into effect.

“The world, in my opinion, has very much changed,” said Cohen. “A lot of things are going to change and we need to start envisioning that and thinking about that.”

He said he gave the village “good marks” on their handling of the COVID-19 crisis from a medical perspective.

Crandall said budget planning has been a major focus and at the village’s last budget work session she had asked for more frequent budget updates. Beyond also checking regularly on Scarsdale’s senior community, she also said noise would be a future issue, as the village’s leaf blower ban ordinance ends in October. She said the village needs to remind residents to try and mow their leaves in place to cut down on leaf blower noise as people continue to work from home.

“We have to be compassionate,” she said. “Everyone’s under stress.”

Selvaggio said the village didn’t take any missteps in precautionary guidance and did not think there was much the village needed to do to prepare for a potential second wave.

Arest said the Scarsdale Business Alliance had participated in multiple calls with board members during the pandemic and a plan is in place to help food service providers continue safely in the fall, which includes additional coverings and heating for open-air dining.

“We need to know now so that we can have our fire department, our fire inspector … our building department, our village engineer all look at these ideas and come up with concerns … so that when it comes time, we’re ready to just implement immediately,” he said. He also said he wanted to extend a provision in the village code to allow outdoor dining past Oct. 31.

Arest commended village employees’ ability to contend with the day-to-day operations of the village while dealing with the crisis, and that with additional and more efficient testing protocols the village was “very prepared” for any resurgence.

Berg said the village didn’t have a role in combating the virus on the medical front, but said the village needed to be better prepared for remote work, should another work-from-home order come from the governor’s office.

“We can’t shut down whole departments again for a month or two at a time,” said Berg. “We need to plan in advance for that knowing our bad technological capability and have some way of getting work to the people so that they’re not sitting around, just collecting their salaries while work needs to be done.”

DOWNTOWN AND FREIGHTWAY

Nonessential businesses were closed for two months after Gov. Cuomo released an executive order on March 20. After a regional, phased-in reopening plan was put in place, municipalities had to come up with new ways to help businesses as they gradually resumed. Working with the SBA, the village board closed off part of Spencer Place in the village center to set up a large tent for outdoor dining, and changed village code to allow for street-facing businesses to use public sidewalks for business activity.

With cold weather and the potential viral resurgence imminent, Arest said the board would do whatever it could to keep business flourishing downtown.

“We as trustees, as hard as we work behind the scenes, we get more out of this than anything as residents,” he said. “The amount of volunteer work that happens behind the scenes in this community is mind boggling.”

Arest said the village board is looking at other communities nationwide to find ways to reinvigorate the downtown, while also considering possibly extending the use of the tent on Spencer Place.

Selvaggio said closing down Spencer Place was “exactly the right thing to do” and commended the board for allowing businesses to use the village’s right of way for private enterprise.

Whitestone said that although he thought the tent on Spencer Place wasn’t the “100% perfect way of doing things,” the idea was executed well and was a great effort to help merchants in the downtown.

“I do think … that there will be some medium term, if not longer term, changes in the village and behaviors (could) shift in ways that you can’t anticipate,” he said.

Berg said the village took whatever limited steps they could take and that he disagreed with the village’s proposal to only allow street-facing businesses to take advantage of the village’s right of way. During the public hearing on June 9 to amend the sidewalk code, Berg spoke adamantly about allowing other village businesses to take advantage of the provision. The board of trustees amended the code, but only for street-facing businesses.

“There are so few stores left in town that are operating, there’s plenty of space in the village right of way for any businessperson in Scarsdale to utilize without blocking the streets,” said Berg. “I don’t think the village has done anything much, besides put a big tent up.”

Crandall said she had concerns about the practicality for outdoor dining in the winter, especially with outdoor heaters. After reaching out to the village manager, she said the fire department had regulations and would be inspecting outdoor heaters and that the downtown’s reopening committee was already worried about colder weather. Pedestrian safety was also important for Crandall, who said the village was always trying to improve pedestrian safety, especially as more people were walking outdoors.

“There’s certainly more we can do for safety in our streets,” she said.

Cohen said the board had done what they could over the last two months and there’s a “tremendous opportunity” for the village as people move out of the city and consider moving to suburbs. Cohen said the board should consider how to attract people to the downtown for office space as commuting declines.

“I don’t even hear a whisper of that critical thinking taking place,” he said.

After an explosive public meeting on Dec. 11, the board of trustees decided to put the controversial Freightway garage project on hold. Although commuting habits have changed during the pandemic, the candidates said their views on the project haven’t necessarily changed.

Whitestone said the village needed to think about what would work for the most people in the village and what kind of community they want to foster.

“Whether that’s more housing, I think there’s been some resistance to parking garages. I would look forward to having that conversation,” he said. “We have to be in a continuing conversation, whether it’s on the budget, whether it’s on what kind of services we want to deliver, whether it’s the shape of the downtown. So I don’t see any hard and fast definitive decisions or points of no return on any of these projects being made. So I would very much look forward to being part of that conversation.”

Cohen said the fact that the board ever considered the Freightway project was “ludicrous,” as the proposed projects were going to cost residents more in taxes.

“Unless it’s a benefit for residents in terms of taxes, in terms of being good for the schools and it’s not going to create pressure on village life, why would we do it? What’s pressing … What’s the panic in doing those things?” he said.

Crandall said the pandemic had completely changed how people live and work and said she wants more information on these habits before even considering Freightway.

“What is our community going to be like? How do we want it to be when the virus is over? Will people move back to the city? Will there still be a need for additional housing here in Scarsdale? Are there other needs?” she said. “It’s really complicated and it’s important that when and if the Freightway process starts up again that we have good communication with our residents.”

Crandall said residents should understand that the village was having Freightway discussions in executive session to protect the village’s negotiating power. She said should the project discussions resume, there should be more public meetings and brainstorming together.

“Whatever we do, if we embark on that, we have to work closely with the community, we need good consultants who can help us navigate these uncharted waters,” she said. “It’s a great village asset and it’s certainly worth studying but in a way that brings people in [and] isn’t divisive as it was last winter. That was a painful part of Scarsdale history.”

Selvaggio said his views on Freightway haven’t changed and there is no reason that any specific type of development needs to take place.

“Our (VCP) platform is any development at all has to have positive fiscal impact, no additional crowding in our schools, and no additional crowding on our Metro-North platforms,” said Selvaggio, referencing his party’s platform. “That was our platform before the pandemic and it really hasn’t changed.”

Arest said he believes New York City will rebound and commuting will resume at some point. Arest added that the village board was “never moving forward on a project” for Freightway, especially if they thought the project would be detrimental to the schools.

“We understand the brand of Scarsdale. We are a community that is known for excellence in many different ways. It’s our municipal services and our schooling,” said Arest. “To negatively impact that would be beyond unwise and unacceptable, because we want to prop up property values, we want to keep ourselves being the popular place that we are for people to move and raise their families.”

Berg said the board wasn’t handling the Freightway redevelopment project well from the beginning, and he called out the trustees for discussing it in multiple executive sessions.

“It would be crazy to go forward in any major way with this project. We should stabilize Freightway … do basic repairs and maintenance, which the village deferred for years and years which is why it’s going to cost $2.5 million to get it stable for the next 20 years,” said Berg, who reiterated his commitment to being completely transparent if elected.

BUDGET

The pandemic hit as municipalities were finalizing their 2020-21 budgets. And now, with unanticipated expenses piling up and revenues in a steep decline, villages and towns need to assess the damage and figure out how to handle raising or lowering taxes in an environment with mass unemployment.

After residents pushed back, the board — minus Trustee Jonathan Lewis who dissented — passed a $59M budget, which included a 1.46% tax hike. In April, the village projected a $2.4 to $3.7 million shortfall and most recently revised the projection to $3.1 million. To offset the potential revenue shortfall due to the pandemic, the trustees set up a COVID-19 reserve fund with $3,485,000 from 2019-20 expenditures, 2020-21 tentative budget adjustments and fund balance assigned for transfer to capital.

Arest, who took a leadership role on the latest budget, said the trustees had gone through a long budget season to “trim fat” and that lowering taxes at this point in time, with limited information, was “so unwise” in “the face of such uncertainty.”

“We have stayed steady since the beginning. As we get more information we will come to the community and have conversations. Some of them may be tough conversations,” he said.

He added that the deadline for adopting the budget was imminent and the board was only allowed to make changes after a public hearing. Even though there is a revenue shortfall, the village is in very good shape, Arest said, and any potential for a long-term shortfall in revenue “needs to be addressed.”

“One of the things that’s so great about our board and previous boards … is we don’t agree on a lot of things, but we do agree that we want to make Scarsdale the best it can be, and we work collaboratively as a team to accomplish that,” said Arest.

Berg said he thought the board “acted terribly” during the budget period and ignored VCP candidates’ proposals for expenditure cuts.

“We could’ve cut the budget by a couple hundred thousand dollars at least without reducing any services and instead they raised the budget. … People were losing their jobs, businesses were failing and they raised the budget when they didn’t have to,” said Berg.

Berg took issue with the board not allowing for public comment during work sessions, including as an example a recent budget work session in which the village announced new revenue shortfall projections.

Crandall harkened back to 2008 when the village and trustees had to deal with the financial crisis. That experience, she said, helped them act responsibly and quickly with data during the pandemic. She also agreed with Arest’s point that the village was under a strict time constraint in March, which limited the time available for budget discussion sessions.

“There just wasn’t enough time to hold more meetings,” she said. “Could we have arranged a couple more? Most likely. But it was a high stress time and we really worked together as a team with village staff.”

Cohen said the VCP pressed the board to discuss and implement the VCP’s proposed budget reductions, but that an “institutional inertia” kept the board from reducing the budget further.

“You’ve got an organization that’s running down a 109-year-old railroad track, efficiently doing what they do, where’s the imagination [in] leadership?” said Cohen. “What’s unfortunate is that the board and the party that the board represents wants to paint us or perceive us as some outside, hostile force. The reality is, we are residents. We’re not looking to be on the board to be disruptive to the board, we’re actually looking to work with the board and just bring some different ideas … and a way of moving things forward on behalf of residents.”

Whitestone said more meetings about the budget were always better but the discussions needed to be respectful and would provide productive outcomes. He said he sat through 11 hours of work sessions and observed the village staff’s and trustees’ line-by-line consideration of everything in the budget.

Selvaggio echoed sentiments similar to Cohen’s and said he believed the board initially declined the two-tax installment plan because it didn’t come from within.

BLACK LIVES MATTER

In the midst of the pandemic, millions across the country took to the streets to protest the killing of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody in May.

Scarsdale High School graduates took charge in June and organized a vigil in Chase Park to honor Floyd and allow current black and brown high school students at Scarsdale to share their views and invigorate a conversation about racial disparity and systemic racism in the community. After the vigil, Mayor Marc Samwick and the trustees established an ad hoc council to combat racism and bias.

The board of trustees currently has six white candidates running for three seats.

In order to expand minority representation on the village’s boards and councils, Crandall said she has personally tried reaching out to people with different backgrounds and citizenship status to get them involved in the community.

“I know that when I first arrived here I felt that it wasn’t my place to speak up and fortunately there were people, mostly on the PTA, who didn’t mind some of my ideas and invited me to take on some leadership roles and that’s how I got started,” she said. “I certainly want everyone to feel like this is their hometown. That’s so important.”

She commended the mayor’s formation of the ad hoc council and believes the council’s future plans to conduct public work sessions will make it easier for people to feel welcome and get more involved.

“Personally, I’ve given a lot of thought to how I might have some unconscious bias and that’s actually been helpful. I think that it’s good for everyone to stop and think about what are their stereotypes of people. No one likes to be put into a box, no one likes to be stereotyped,” she said.

Asked whether she has ever formed a diverse cohort of individuals to solve a problem, Crandall recalled her days in student government where she helped form coalitions among her Native American classmates.

Berg said that although he thought the formation of the committee was “a good thing,” the lack of an open call for residents to show interest in joining wasn’t proper.

“This is how the village board acts, they appoint whoever they want — their friends, their connections — and they don’t do an open call to community members who want to participate,” he said.

Berg also said the board was “always too little too late,” referencing an incident in March when a medical director of the Infectious Disease Clinic at Westchester Medical Center made offensive remarks about China and the Chinese people during a presentation about corornavirus at village hall.

Asked whether he ever formed a diverse cohort of individuals to solve a problem, Berg said he traveled extensively during his high school and college days, visiting more than 100 countries and has since dealt with people from all backgrounds.

“You deal with people as human beings and that’s all you do,” he said. “I look at people as people and race does not enter into my calculus at all.”

Whitestone said that Scarsdale was changing and that everyone has to be open to that change.

“We have to listen and I think that’s the only way that we can learn about other lives … and acting upon what you hear is the only way to really embrace that change,” he said, building upon what Crandall had mentioned. “It’s a learning moment certainly for me and I think for many of the people that have lived here for a long time. We’re trying to embrace that change and not be resistant to it, but really be open to it and listen and hopefully build upon it to improve the diversity and understanding of different groups.”

The key for Whitestone is continuing to reach out to people and remind them that the community is open to different perspectives.

Asked whether he has ever formed a diverse cohort of individuals to solve a problem, Whitestone said that he has always been “attuned to social issues and social justice” and mentioned that he was on the board of the Arthur Manor Neighborhood Association, which included a diverse group of Edgewood residents.

Cohen said he wanted to reach out to people living in the Scarsdale community to find out why some minority groups weren’t properly represented in the area.

“If it’s purely economic then that’s one answer, but I don’t think it’s purely economic. There is a certain environment here and people need to feel comfortable and welcomed, and maybe they don’t and it would be a good idea to know what those reasons are,” he said. “There [are] people who feel … like it’s not really their place, so yes, there is much that could be done in that regard. I don’t think Scarsdale’s purposely keeping anybody out, but I also think that if you come to Scarsdale as a minority, it may just not feel like your neighborhood, and that’s something that should be addressed.”

Cohen said he worked extensively in Botswana and South Africa and started multiple companies with people from all types of backgrounds.

“A lot of people have a lot of input to give and a lot of valuable input to give,” he said.

Arest said his takeaway from the vigil was about being more than an inclusive person, but rather an anti-racist person.

“If you want to volunteer in this community you’re welcome. Your ideas are welcome, your hard work is welcome,” he said.

Arest said he helped coordinate the vigil with the high school alumni and that he had a hand in helping form the ad hoc committee.

“I think there will be actions taken, not just words in this regard,” he said. “We have to be cognizant that it’s not always easy. We all have jobs, we all have other responsibilities. It may not be the right time for some now, it might be later.”

Arest said he works every day with a group of diverse individuals and that race and religion play no role in whom he hires.

Selvaggio said one of the reasons he loves Scarsdale is its diversity.

“I think that we do Scarsdale a disservice by talking about a lack of diversity when you use the word in the true sense of the meaning,” he said.

Selvaggio added that he was interested in finding out how minorities were represented in similar municipalities to see if it’s truly the case that Scarsdale is the odd one out.

If Scarsdale were to be underrepresented compared to other villages, Selvaggio said that it would “require some education, some publicity and some shaming.”

Selvaggio also said his financial consulting firm hires people from all different backgrounds.

“Race has absolutely no place [and] nothing to do with what I do,” he said.

In recent months, protestors across the country have called for diverting police department funds to community-based organizations. None of the trustee candidates supported defunding the local police department.

Crandall said that Scarsdale was already funding alternative programs to help with underlying issues, such as Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling, and she said the village needed to continue doing what they were doing while looking for more opportunities.

“Let’s not forget what we have in place already,” she said. “We’re very fortunate that those before us had the foresight to set up these structures.”

Berg said the police in Scarsdale are already community-oriented and “exceptionally professional” from his experience.

“I would not defund our police force at all,” said Berg, who added that the department was well trained and properly accredited.

Arest said the police force in Scarsdale was “inclusive” and “always willing to take a hard look at itself.”

“I think we face a different situation here in Scarsdale. We have police that … look at their job as being partners,” he said mentioning the department’s CALEA accreditation. “We need the right policing in all cases. It’s not that we don’t need policing.”

Cohen said he didn’t agree with the idea of defunding the local police department and what lacked in other police departments across the country was community engagement. Cohen said the Scarsdale police did “a great job” and that residents felt comfortable calling for help.

Whitestone said the Scarsdale police force is “unique” and said community policing was already in full force in the village.

“We can build on that and make sure that we continue that model and that it’s sensitive [and] thoughtful. We don’t have some of the problems that some of the communities nearby have,” he said. “I think we have the great opportunity to build on what is already a pretty solid model and maybe tweak it … But I think it generally is the kind of police force we want going forward.”

Selvaggio said he thought the “defund police” movements across the country were “a huge mistake” and that one of the key advantages to living in Scarsdale was the police department and how safe his family felt in the village.

“That’s one of the factors that keeps us paying these taxes,” he said.

EXPANSION OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Affordability resurfaced in discussions in Scarsdale when a Scarsdale High School student started a petition for more affordable housing that garnered 3,500 signatures.

Selvaggio said there already was affordable housing legislation in Scarsdale and any consideration to expand it would require a referendum. If a referendum passed, he said, the affordable housing expansion would need to be dispersed across all areas in Scarsdale.

“If the people of Scarsdale desire low income housing in the village and they’re willing to have low income housing in their immediate neighborhoods, fine,” he said.

Crandall said she grew up in a place that had economic diversity and that if it were done thoughtfully then she “would certainly support it.”

“The more people that can live together and work together much closer than they were before, I’m definitely quite interested, but it has to be done in a way that’s smart [and] makes sure whatever structures are built are well maintained and are a vibrant part of our community,” she said, noting the needs of village employees and teachers who might prefer to live here rather than commute long distances to work in Scarsdale.

Berg said although he would support an expansion of affordable housing if Scarsdale residents supported it in a public referendum, he didn’t see it happening and didn’t see a way for multifamily housing to be built.

“Scarsdale is a fully built-out residential community of single family homes, so where are you going to build it?” he said. “I mean, why do we need multifamily housing in this village? There’s multifamily housing in … White Plains, in Greenburgh, [in] every other place. What’s the necessity of transforming a village that historically has been for the last 100-plus years a single family house village that’s completely built out now and just bringing in apartment buildings?”

Arest said he was interested in looking at the village’s code making sure it’s working to ensure that affordable units are in Scarsdale, and improving upon it.

Cohen echoed a similar sentiment to Berg, mentioning there was no place in Scarsdale to build affordable housing units and that his focus was on keeping Scarsdale affordable for people already living in the community. Although not opposed to the idea, he said he didn’t want to squeeze families who are already struggling financially out of the village.

TROPICAL STORM ISAIAS

In August, local leaders blasted Con Edison’s response to Tropical Storm Isaias, which unleashed 70 mph winds that tore up multiple trees and power lines, leaving half of Con Ed’s 6,400 customers in Scarsdale without power, many for an entire week.

Arest said the village has gone through multiple storms with unacceptable responses and village employees have worked hard with local elected representatives to “ensure that Con Ed’s plan going forward would be better” — and he said a small part of the plan worked well for the village, in terms of having a reliable contact at Con Ed.

He said Con Ed’s current system was heavily weighted toward mutual aid and when storms occur in different areas, the pool of supply dwindles. Arest added that the village needed to take a larger role in informing residents on how to contact Con Ed for a potentially dangerous tree limb.

“As local representatives we need to represent this community and ensure that something changes and that’s exactly what we’re going to do,” he said.

Berg said he’s been through five or six extended power outages while living in Scarsdale and the village needs to take a more proactive approach in managing tree limbs.

Whitestone said the village needs to do a better job of informing the community on where its responsibilities lie as compared to Con Edison’s in response to a storm.

“I think the village can communicate very clearly going forward where it can be helpful and where it can’t be helpful and where Con Ed needs to step up,” he said.

Cohen said tree maintenance in Scarsdale reflects the institutionalization of volunteers in the community, which causes a lack of foresight and imagination.

“In the village we have two competing forces. People get angry and upset when the power is out and they also get angry and upset when trees are cut down or trimmed,” he said.

Cohen recommended that the village “show leadership” and take a more proactive role in trimming trees while also planting new ones.

Crandall said the village needs to add the use of low-tech options, such as the community bulletin board near Chase Park, to make sure information gets out to everyone. She said the village had spent a lot of money pruning and removing potentially hazardous trees and requested at the last budget session that all departments consider what they may need for the next storm.

Selvaggio said the village needs to take a more active role in tree trimming and if proper steps had been taken prior to the storm, there wouldn’t have been any power issues.

All election districts (Nos. 1 through 19) will be voting Tuesday, Sept. 15, at Scarsdale Congregational Church, 1 Heathcote Road, in Dyckman Hall. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. with social distancing and sanitization protocols in place. Absentee ballots must be received by the village clerk’s office no later than 5 p.m. on Election Day, whether delivered by mail or in person, but may be delivered to poll workers at the church by 9 p.m. that day.

Absentee ballots previously submitted by voters for the March 18 election are still valid.

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