I came away from Wednesday’s Freightway meeting better informed, but also alarmed by the lack of civility. The level of vitriol hurled at our board of trustees by community speakers was shameful. Opinions were expressed angrily, the board treated like an enemy. At one point, I overheard a woman in line hissing loudly that the trustees were liars, without evidence. Almost no one offered a “thank you” for the trustees’ clearly extensive work.

This board of trustees is highly qualified with a wealth of financial, legal, business and real estate expertise. An informed group, they commit hours to village business, so we don’t have to. It is worth noting that one seasoned presenter commented that in his decades of municipal work, he had never seen a process more inclusive. Our board asked the community to engage, so berating them for it is embarrassing.

I was also alarmed by the way people discussed possible rental apartments. It was said several times that Scarsdale was built as a community of single-family homes, but that might not be a past to laude. Historically, limiting apartments was a technique employed by affluent communities to restrict access and remain exclusive enclaves. Even if built as luxury spaces, there is a current of ugliness about apartments that I hope will evaporate — we are better than that.

Scarsdale is neither a transient community nor is it a lifelong entitlement, but I can imagine ways that apartments could serve us, both as entry homes to new families and retirement pads, with tremendous conveniences. As stated repeatedly, impact studies must include schools to understand demographics, tax burdens and educational needs, and ways to equitably welcome kids. And, if the decline in recent enrollment is a trend, we might need them. Our schools can only offer rich and varied curricula with a critical mass.

With a literal cost to doing nothing looming (i.e., fixing the garage), why not engage a partner who can pay for needed studies? No doubt a developer will be incentivized by an upside for itself, which seems to universally be apartments, but the programs have room for creativity and public amenities, which experience proves hard to fund. The board stated repeatedly, if a design is not a good fit, we walk — but we walk better informed. Agree or not, this is reasonable and I will remain open minded.

So, why such fury?

It is clear to anyone paying attention that a small, vocal group is at the ready to criticize everything our village leaders do, using terms like “fiasco” and “failure” to promote outrage. Hyperbole about idyllic Scarsdale should be treated with skepticism; it masks the truth about reasonable outcomes and positive progress. False narratives and insulting innuendo are really meant to undermine trust in Scarsdale’s nonpartisan system that has long placed qualified volunteers into office, without party politics.

Let’s not allow an open dialogue about Freightway’s potential and concerns to be used as fuel for an explosive agenda. And let’s keep civility in our civic efforts. 

 

DIANE GREENWALD

Oak Lane

(4) comments

Mayra

It is important that readers realize that the writer and her husband are both active members of the nominating commitees of the Scarsdale Non-Partisan Party. These nominatings are prohibited from asking candidates any questions of the friends whom they select for office. Hence, it is no surprise that she never critiques the many shortcomings at Village Hall. Absent in this letter is the fact that numerous residents, including my husband and me, have written the Village repeatedly with advice on how to improve governance at Village Hall. Numerous residents who are in the labor force in fields with relevant expertise have dedicated substantial time writing to the former and current Boards with suggestions to improve the very opaque and exclusionary Freightway process. Unfortunately, the trustees listen only to their supporters and ignore those who do not agree with them. I am surprised that the writer, who is a member of the League of Women Voters, was not happy that so many people showed up to express their views. Isn't the League always encouraging civic participation? As to her lectures about civility, I would take them seripusly if they were not coming from someone who has repeatedly spoken ill about residents whom she does not like before, during, and after school board nominating committee meetings. Rather than contributing her views about Freightway during the public forum on December 11, she sat in the backrow exchanging rude comments with her mean girl gang. I urge any interested residents to help this letter's writer uncover this alleged plot of residents who want to destabilize her beloved non-partisan political system. She is absolutely welcome to defend her over 100-year old political party. This is a party created before women had the right to vote and which excluded Jews and Catholics from serving in political office. The Citizens Nominating Committe has not once ever even nominated a person of color to at least present before it, not to mention to be selected. It is almost 2020!! Isn't it high time to have a diverse and inclusionary Village Board and Village Committees in Scarsdale, a town where 25% of us are foreign born and/ or members of ethic and racial minorities? And if indeed thete is a group which has a 'hidden agenda,' how has she seen it?

ashleytang

The petition got 500+ signature in 24 hours which is not small number or hidden agendas of a small group of people, especially considering majority busy residents still does not have time to follow this project.

Petition Halt Freightway Redevelopment To Protect Our Schools And Taxpayers

https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/halt-freightway-redevelopment?fbclid=IwAR1hIWVPT_MiRXiDCkSwjFHqnwJy2G4dPpdAXLcx

ashleytang

I totally agree anger won't solve problem.

MOtten

Agreed that anger is not the right response to the Trustees deliberations and declaration of how early we are in the process. Not being clear how choosing a development partner, with so many design parameters uncertain, limits our options, I can understand the concerns. It is strange that survey responses were so limited, while the turnout last week was so strong. There does seem to be a weakness in our communications processes that I hope is treated as a priority as well. Can the Village Community Communications Committee help?

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