I commend the Inquirer for the incisive editorial of May 31 opposing a state Senate proposal to infringe Edgemont’s right to self-determination.

The editorial hit all the critical points as to why the Senate should not even consider allowing all residents of the town of Greenburgh to vote on Edgemont’s petition to become a seventh village within the town. It is absolutely none of the other six villages’ business.

Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Elmsford, Irvington, Hastings-on-Hudson and Tarrytown already wield lopsided power in town government. Each of these villages has its own town board, police, library, court, public works and sanitation departments, and village residents pay taxes to their respective local governments to fund these services. The amount they pay to Greenburgh for the very minimal services the town provides them is a tiny percentage of their municipal tax bills.

Yet in the election for the Greenburgh Town Council and supervisor, the votes of village residents count as much as the votes of residents of Unincorporated Greenburgh, including Edgemont and Hartsdale, who receive all of their municipal services from the town and thus pay magnitudes more in taxes to it.

This fiscal imbalance is exacerbated by a gross political imbalance. None of the town council members (who by the way, are paid, unlike Scarsdale village trustees) live in Edgemont. While there is a primary election this month due to the death of Kevin Morgan, most of the town council members hold their positions in perpetuity — the longest serving member, Diana Juettner of Ardsley, has been in office 27 years. This may explain why attempts to challenge the Supervisor Paul Feiner (28 years) always fail. Village residents have no reason to want to change a town board skewed in their favor. To the extent that they care who runs the town, they like Feiner’s responsiveness to the complaints of his most valued voters. Development issues on Central Avenue, of paramount importance to Edgemont, do not concern the villages.

It’s understandable why Feiner wants to keep Edgemont, Greenburgh’s crown jewel, under his control and its tax money in his coffers. But if Edgemont wants to enjoy the same status as the six villages and provide or contract out most of its municipal services, it should be free to do so. The incorporated villages, supervisor, town council and state Senate should butt out.

LINDA LEAVITT

Former Editor of The Scarsdale Inquirer

(5) comments

hhirsch

OK Hal you got me. I'll try to be succinct, but I am only going one round, and will make few points, and then I'll give you the last word. I will concede that everyone within Unincorporated Greenburgh has a vested interest in Edgemont's Incorporation and anyone who has taken a side is not about to change it. It's probably safe to assume that the politicians would prefer to keep things as they are, after all they have the power and they have Edgemont's dollars, but Linda alluded to that point by talking about the Villagers vote. What I can't concede is that Edgemont’s Incorporation will ultimately be bad for Unincorporated Greenburgh. It instead could be a catalyst for change and finally make things better than they ever were. If Edgemont’s 8% of the vote is ineffective today then how in the world will it win the right to self govern with that same vote. Isn't that what the current Incorporation laws are all about? To enable a smaller population the opportunity to self-govern and do things better for themselves? Edgemont residents will be taking that chance so Edgemont residents should decide (vote) on their own destiny (for or against). Having others make that decision while thinking that they will lose something they currently think they have or to protect Edgemont residents from making a possible mistake is a little too politically correct for me, especially when the current laws say otherwise. Last point; as stated above, we don't really know if Edgemont's Incorporation will be bad for the rest of Greenburgh, but here is what I am certain of. If Edgemont is stripped of its right to decide the issue, things will stay exactly as they are. There will be NO motivation or reason for the town government to act any differently in fact they can now stay as complacent as they already are with some approaching 30 years in the same position. It's not broke for them, so why should they attempt to fix it? For the record, when someone starts off with "and we're off to the races" it usually means they welcome the opportunity to debate the issue and any point made during the discussion. The last word is yours....

hhirsch

Brava and thank you! How ironic how those in power want to change the law to have non residents of a newly incorporated villages share in the decision for a law designed specifically to allow people to self-govern. It's almost the same as someone like me voting on Scarsdale issues just because my zip code happens to be 10583.

halmarc

And we're off to the races. Hello Howard and Linda (I'll be adding "magnitudes" to my lexicon). Now hear/read/learn from the other side. I join both of you and current editor Valerie in concluding that the villages should not have any voice in incorporation. But that's logic merely reaching for the low-hanging fruit. The hard part is coming to grips with the results that those not living in villages (aka unincorporated) will have to face: a societal and economic outcome that "Edgemont" (a School District used here as inclusive of those magnitudes seeking incorporation, i.e. the EIC and ECC) blithely ignores. I'm even ok with that. But what I find noxious is what "Edgemont" is really reaching for is to take one step over the line: doing so by crying "wolf" and pointing at proposed legislation as though its sole intent were to deprive "Edgemont" of their right to vote, even if their goal in doing so is predatory. If Cotswold were really olde England, I would be writing "Bullocks" here. The reality is that if anyone was seeking to curtail voting rights, it is the EIC. While wining over friends and neighbors by preaching "manifest destiny", "Edgemont" *behind all their bluster) is really seeking to disenfranchise unincorporated. Or, isn't "Edgemont" seeking to be untimely ripped from Greenburgh's womb using only those in "Edgemont" can vote as a sterilized dagger. As of this writing "Edgemont" is merely one section within unincorporated, like Hartsdale, like Fairview, like North Elmsford...Were "Edgemont" to leave the fold, there would be repercussions felt in the sections left behind. So why shouldn't those unincorporated sections. that could suffer harm were "Edgemont" to leave them in dire straits, have an equal say in their future. This incorporation issue, while perhaps justified by those born to "Edgemont persuasion" is not a meaningless quest but it is not akin to independent School or Fire District voting rules where only those living within the District are eligible to vote. "Edgemont" may rightfully claim that it is a wholly contained District using those categories albeit they are defined as Special Purpose Districts addressing a singular purpose. Other sections of unincorporated have School and Fire Districts but these often overlap borders. Nor is incorporation akin to electing a Co-Op Board with voting powers limited to share owners yet not extended to those living down the block. However, there's no escaping the fact that "Edgemont" exists wholly within the borders of a higher power, unincorporated Greenburgh. If "Edgemont" doth protest that fact, then the EIC missed the boat to file that claim decades back and by doing so (if valid) could have saved "Edgemont" residents the burden of paying their property taxes into unincorporated coffers. Taxes which provided programs and services throughout unincorporated; programs and services which "Edgemont" enjoyed. Indeed, one could argue that paying for, using them and oftentimes referring to services such as the Town Pool as "unincorporated assets" in repelling village entreaties to make use of. Still "Edgemont" denies that "happiness runs in a circular motion and everyone is a part of everyone..." Even were I to empathize with "Edgemont" tales of woe, "I am as constant as the northern star whose true fixed quality is known throughout the firmament" by my holding to one simple truth: given that "Edgemont is a part of unincorporated and any action that affects the good and welfare of unincorporated need be voted upon by all affected parties or sections. While that may run contrary to existing case law, at least one of the proposed acts in Albany seeks to address that thinking and correct it by new legislation. If such is not the case, then why all the fervor from "Edgemont" to block their passage. Let me muddy the waters further with two quotes: one from John Donne and the other from A. Lincoln. 1) "No man is an island entire of itself, every man is a piece of the Content, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." 2) "A house divided against it self cannot stand." 'nuff said?

hhirsch

halmarc, everyone is entitled to their opinion and I can certainly appreciate and welcome one different from my own but I still don't have to agree with it. I am not sure if the Scarsdale Inquirer intended this area for one to share their opinion or to elicit debate, either way I have chosen to thank you for your comment instead of countering it with more dialogue.

halmarc

Huh? "Everyone is entitled to share their opinion" is right up there with "All cows eat grass" but above both is "All unincorporated residents are entitled to vote, when voting exists, on all matters that affect all unincorporated residents". Thus my thanks to you too and "goodnight noises everywhere".

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