By Mayor Mary Marvin
April 9, 2018
I spent a good part of Saturday doing errands in town and the merchants convinced me spring is really here to stay.
As the days get longer, residents are much more out and about enjoying the sunshine. Several have approached me about safe bike riding in the Village and possible designated bike lanes.
Unfortunately, none of the Village streets are wide enough for regulation bike lanes. Our wide streets - Pondfield Road and Midland Avenue - either have continuous parking areas and/or a hedge divide. Even if wide enough, Police Chief Satriale is not a proponent because bike lanes sometimes complicate bicycle and car turning movements at crowded intersections.
One only has to see the bike lane designations on Palmer Avenue that are placed in turning lanes and the middle of the road in some areas to be cognizant of the dangers of misplaced markings.
As point of information, as per Village code, bicycles may be ridden on residential sidewalks if the rider is under the age of 11. However, no one can ride bicycles or skateboards on the sidewalks in our two business districts.
With the warmer weather comes increased pedestrian traffic, especially our youngsters out and about. With that in mind, our police department, in the interest of safety, will be stepping up enforcement of the texting and cell phone use while driving laws as well as speed laws and the crossing of double yellow lines. As a reminder, the areas adjacent to all of the schools in the Village, including our nursery schools, are school zones with a 20 mph speed limit.
Several residents have sent me ordinances recently adopted throughout the country that also fine inattentive texters and cell phone users crossing on foot in intersections as their inattention also poses a risk.
Should a pedestrian leave the sidewalk and enter a designated crosswalk, New York State Law requires not only the car in the adjacent lane to stop, but also the cars traveling in the opposite direction. As illustration, at the intersection near the Soccer and Rugby Imports store and Houlihan Lawrence, the law requires all four lanes to stop when an individual first steps in the crosswalk.
When walking a dog, please pick up after your pet. Pet waste not only damages plants and lawns, but has become a major contaminant of our water systems. Waste placed in plastic bags and then dropped in storm sewers causes the growth of very dangerous bacteria and clogs the free flow of runoff.
If contemplating seasonal outdoor renovations or landscaping improvements, please consider using porous surfaces such as brick or gravel in lieu of asphalt and design landscaping plans to facilitate water retention and soil infiltration.
The nice weather also signals the opening of two wonderful Village institutions, our Village tennis program and the Farmers Market. Spring is already in full swing at our Village tennis courts. Tennis open play and programming starts officially on April, 16. For questions on permits or programs, please contact Sports Director, Jessica Watts at JWatts@vobny.com.
Our Farmers Market, one of the most customer popular and sought after as a vendor, will be opening May 12 from 8:30am to 1pm at the traditional location on Stone Place near the paddle courts.
Spring in the Village also brings more events and entertaining and with that an uptick in trash. Approximately $180,000 of your tax dollars were spent collecting trash last year. The more we recycle, the less we spend. In lieu of paying a “tipping fee” to landfills and burn facilities for non-recycled garbage, we actually receive money on the sale of our recyclables.
As a refresher, the following items may now be recycled in Westchester County in addition to the obvious ones such as newspapers, beverage bottles and aluminum cans. Cereal boxes, phone books, pizza cartons, corrugated cardboard, glossy magazines and inserts, aluminum foil and trays, egg cartons and detergent bottles and now even the caps and lids to any tin or plastic item can be recycled.
The following items still cannot be accepted for recycling: paint or oil cans, plastic and Styrofoam packing materials, waxed cardboard such as milk cartons, cardboard containing any traces of food products, paperback and hardcover books, clothes hangers and uncoded plastics such as found in large toys and plastic tableware. Only glass that has been used for packaging food or beverages may be recycled. Light bulbs, mirrors and ceramic and kitchen cookware must be placed in the regular garbage.
As you travel the Village, let us know if you see anything that needs repair, replacement or just general sprucing up. We so count on you to be our eyes and ears.
April 23, 2018
On Friday, April 27, the entire nation celebrates Arbor Day. Though nothing ceremonially planned in Bronxville, it will signal the start of our street tree plantings throughout the Village.
As point of history, the first Arbor Day originated in Nebraska City, Nebraska on April 10, 1872 when an estimated one million trees were planted in one day. The brainchild behind it was J. Sterling Morton, a westward pioneer born in Detroit.
Morton was a journalist and soon became editor of Nebraska’s premier newspaper which he used to advocate for families and civic organizations to plant the trees they so missed from home. He recognized even more than the aesthetic; trees were needed as windbreaks to keep the soil in place, for fuel and building materials and for shade from the hot sun.
According to accounts, Nebraska City celebrated Arbor Day with grand parades and school children planting and then specially caring for the trees they planted.
In 1885, it became a legal holiday in Nebraska and other states soon followed. It is now a national observance on the last Friday in April, complete with Presidential Proclamations.
In the spirit of Arbor Day, the Village has redoubled efforts in the to plant trees lost in the past decade of storms as well as trimming and feeding those able to survive, as we recognize they are our most valuable natural resource. The benefits of trees make them the best bang for the buck in preserving the character – and health of our Village.
Trees absorb carbon dioxide while releasing oxygen back in the air. In just a year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the same amount of CO2 produced by 26,000 car miles and produce enough oxygen for 18 people! They also absorb odors and pollutant gases and filter dirty particulates out of the air.
In the energy realm, just three trees placed strategically around a single family home can cut summer air conditioning needs by 50%. Trees placed in commercial areas can lower temperatures of parking lots and break up black topped “heat islands.” Shade from the trees also slows water evaporation from thirsty lawns and parks.
Trees reduce runoff by breaking rainfall thus allowing the water to flow down the trunk and into the earth below the tree. The slow runoff also prevents erosion by holding soil in place.
They also mask concrete walls, parking lots and unattractive views while absorbing dust and wind and reducing glare. Planted strategically, they also muffle sound from streets, trains and highways.
Of great importance is the role they play on school properties and playgrounds. They reduce UV-B exposure by almost 50% providing protection to children playing outdoors.
Trees on private property produce great monetary value. Studies have demonstrated that from 10 to 23 percent of the value of a residence is based on its tree stock.
More intangible, but so important nonetheless, is the value of trees in marking the seasons, calming a stark landscape, act as neighborhood landmarks and points of identity. They serve as symbolic links with our past when other connections have long since gone.
The Village does not have a tree ordinance as we have historically relied on the foresight and stewardship of our residents to value this intrinsic asset and despite a few, but glaring exceptions, residents have been great caretakers.
The Board of Trustees is undertaking a comprehensive review of all of our Village codes and regulations and this topic will clearly be revisited.
In the words of our Arbor Day founder, J. Sterling Morton, “Each generation only takes the earth as Trustees.”