Pango parking app takes off in Bronxville

Although nearly all of Bronxville’s 1,200 parking meters now bear the Pango logo, but a brief survey of passers-by indicates that many residents are not aware of the mobile app. Photo/Sarah Varney

Although nearly all of Bronxville’s 1,200 parking meters now bear the Pango logo, but a brief survey of passers-by indicates that many residents are not aware of the mobile app. Photo/Sarah Varney

By Sarah Varney
The move by Bronxville residents to use Pango, the mobile app to pay for parking, is steadily gaining ground with nearly 500 transactions logged since Dec. 18. Village Administrator James Palmer dubbed the period between then and Jan. 1 as a “soft implementation” that gave the village and Pango time to troubleshoot software or user problems.

“It’s absolutely gaining traction every day especially when you consider the holidays,” Palmer said.

Currently, nearly all of the village’s 1,200 coin-operated meters are now tagged with the Pango emblem that informs parkers that a meter’s code is part of the company’s database. The app was created to give users an alternative way to pay, Palmer said.

The plan to implement Pango was first announced in Octo-
ber 2015.

The Israel-based app is free for Android and Apple smartphone users. Area residents can use it to pay for parking or add more time to a space they’re already using. By creating an account with a credit or debit card link, the Pango app handles the transaction automatically.

But the app won’t enable meter feeding. “It only allows you to go up to [the] limit on that particular meter,” Palmer explained.

The history of parking enforcement in Bronxville is surprisingly colorful.

“It’s militant here,” Mary Anne Healey said. Healey, a Bronxville resident who was born and raised in the village, recalled a particularly notorious meter maid who was tough to avoid. “Around the holidays, the local merchants used to hire people dressed up as elves to feed the meters and avoid tickets,” she said. “I think [Pango] could be really useful.”

Patrons of Pondfield Road will now have the luxury of parking with a pay-by-phone app. File photo

Patrons of Pondfield Road will now have the luxury of parking with a pay-by-phone app. File photo

Several other bystanders said they heard of the app but had not yet downloaded it.

“I will try it. I’m not good at downloading apps, but I’ll try,” said one shopper who declined to give her name to the Review.

Palmer said the village will be doing more outreach with the Bronxville Chamber of Commerce to help spread the word about Pango. Also, starting Jan. 1, all on-street parking meters will require payment from
8 a.m. until 9 p.m. Parking lot spaces will continue to be free after 6 p.m.

However, enforcement of the new hours of operation has been tabled until the chamber and village officials hash out the expanded meter hours, Palmer said.

Although excited about Pango, the chamber is opposed to the new evening meter enforcement and has requested that the policy be reconsidered by the village.

“Fortunately, our village officials are highly dedicated to the business district and are never reluctant to reverse a decision if convinced to do so,” Susan Miele, director of the chamber, wrote in an email to the Review.

The pay-by-app system is currently in use in several municipalities in Pennsylvania, including Harrisburg and Scranton. Similar app-based parking systems are currently in use in New Rochelle, parts of Yonkers and Mount Vernon.[Palmer added that parking kiosks are probably the next step in Bronxville’s parking plans.  Parking kiosks with pay stations are probably the next step in Bronxville’s parking plans, Palmer said.

CONTACT: sarah@hometwn.com

 

Mamaroneck to draft local pet store law

 

Pet store owner Richard Doyle has been arrested for animal cruelty, selling a diseased animal, and, most recently, witness tampering. Doyle owns several stores including Best Breeds Puppies and Kittens in the village of Mamaroneck. Photo courtesy Danbury Police Department

Pet store owner Richard Doyle has been arrested for animal cruelty, selling a diseased animal, and, most recently, witness tampering. Doyle owns several stores including Best Breeds Puppies and Kittens in the village of Mamaroneck. Photo courtesy Danbury Police Department

By KILEY STEVENS
The village of Mamaroneck has begun drafting a local law to regulate pet stores, loosely based on the regulatory laws of Suffolk County.

This recent push for legislation surfaced in August when residents began protesting a village pet store, Best Breeds Puppies and Kittens on Mamaroneck Avenue. Residents claimed that the animals at the shop were not properly cared for, and that their breeding origin was questionable, with some protestors believing the dogs came from puppy mills, establishments that breed puppies under inhumane conditions.

The owner of the shop, Richard Doyle of Mahopac, N.Y., has had a series of run-ins with the law, including being charged with three misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty and one count of selling a diseased animal. One of the storefronts, located in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., has since closed. One of the counts for animal cruelty involved Doyle performing unlicensed eye surgery on a dog.

In December 2015, he was arrested at one of his other storefronts, American Breeders in Danbury, Conn., on two felony counts of witness tampering following an investigation conducted by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture’s Animal Control Division and the Danbury Police Department, according to Danbury Police Lt. Chris Carroccio. Carroccio said that while the Department of Agriculture was interviewing two witnesses in the animal cruelty case, they became suspicious when both witnesses gave identical written statements. Danbury police were able to determine that Doyle had instructed both witnesses how to write their statements, Carrocio said.

Now that New York state allows local governments to enact a local code, village Mayor Norman Rosenblum, a Republican, believes it is up to Mamaroneck to ensure that pet stores are operating ethically, which will be a major part of the proposed legislation. Another part of the proposed law will include protecting the consumer in the event that a diseased or unhealthy animal is purchased.

Donna Dickerson organized two rallies which took place on Aug. 2 and Aug. 9, 2015, at the Best Breeds storefront on Mamaroneck Avenue.

Donna Dickerson organized two rallies which took place on Aug. 2 and Aug. 9, 2015, at the Best Breeds storefront on Mamaroneck Avenue.

“I think it is the business of this village to protect the animals that are here,” the mayor said at a recent Board of Trustees work session.

Local municipalities were previously not allowed to enact local laws regarding pet stores and puppy mills.

Rosenblum said the proposed law would be used to open a public hearing for residents to make suggestions, and that the village’s Board of Trustees would amend the law as they saw fit.

Rosenblum added that the draft of the law should be ready to be discussed at the village board’s next regular meeting scheduled for Monday, Jan. 11.

Rosenblum also wants to ensure that part of the law states that under no circumstance may someone who has been convicted of animal cruelty or anything of the like open a pet shop in the village of Mamaroneck.

CONTACT: kiley@hometwn.com

Protesters stand on Mamaroneck Avenue to rally against the owner of a local pet store last August. File photos

Protesters stand on Mamaroneck Avenue to rally against the owner of a local pet store last August. File photos

 

Broncos sharp in decisive win

Natalie Kister goes 19 points in Bronxville’s 73-39 win.

Natalie Kister goes 19 points in Bronxville’s 73-39 win.

Ellie Walsh dribbles through traffic on Jan. 5. Bronxville is now 7-2 on the season.

Ellie Walsh dribbles through traffic on Jan. 5. Bronxville is now 7-2 on the season.

Alyson Schultz brings the ball upcourt against Edgemont. Photos/Mike Smith

Alyson Schultz brings the ball upcourt against Edgemont. Photos/Mike Smith

By MIKE SMITH
After a long layoff, the Bronxville girls basketball team took the court on Jan. 5, hosting the Edgemont Panthers in both teams’ first contest of 2016. Although Broncos’ head coach Donny Lucas expected his team to be a bit rusty, it didn’t take long for the Broncos to find their rhythm, as they dominated the Panthers en route to a 73-39 win.

Natalie Kister led Bronxville with 19 points and Maggie O’Reilly netted 15 as the Broncos pulled away in the second half, overcoming a slow start that saw the Panthers keep pace through the first 10 minutes of regulation. By halftime, the Broncos had built a 35-26 lead that continued to grow as all but one active Bronxville player recorded a point in the second half.

Prior to Tuesday’s game, Bronxville had not played since Dec. 22.

“Early on, Edgemont hit some of their open shots and our defense wasn’t there, maybe because we were off for two weeks,” Lucas said. “But as the game went on, we woke up at some point.”

Bronxville exploited Edgemont’s defensive pressure throughout the game, turning the Panthers’ full-court press into several fast-break points. According to Lucas, the ability to run the floor has been a strength of the Broncos all season long.

“We’re very athletic; we’ve got a bunch of soccer players and bunch of lacrosse players and a few basketball players,” he said. “But unlike today, where we scored a lot, sometimes we can have a bit of trouble executing in half-court.”

At 7-2 on the season, however, the Broncos haven’t seemed to suffer too much when the tempo slows down.

“When you have just two losses, to Irvington and Valhalla, that’s not bad,” Lucas said. “We hoped to be right where we are.”

Lucas is confident that his team can build upon its quick start in January, and the Broncos seem poised to do that, especially once they get healthy.

“We still have some injuries to a few guards, but we’re hoping to get them back soon,” Lucas said. “But in the meantime, we’re getting good experience; we have 11 players on the roster and we go 11 deep.”

The Broncos will need all hands on deck on Jan. 8, when they host Putnam Valley and Cornell-bound center Reena Olsen in what will be Bronxville’s first real test of the new year.

“They have a 6-foot-3 center, they’re committed, they’re disciplined,” Lucas said. “They can cause some havoc, but hopefully, in our gym, we can handle it.”

CONTACT: sports@hometwn.com

 

Column: Misery loves company

On Jan. 3, Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills dashed the Jets’ playoff hopes with a 22-17 win over Gang Green. For a Giants fan like Sports Editor Mike Smith, the Jets’ loss was a bright spot in an otherwise terrible NFL season. Photos courtesy Wikipedia.com

On Jan. 3, Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills dashed the Jets’ playoff hopes with a 22-17 win over Gang Green. For a Giants fan like Sports Editor Mike Smith, the Jets’ loss was a bright spot in an otherwise terrible NFL season. Photos courtesy Wikipedia.com

I swear that I’m not a spiteful person, but when it comes to sports, it seems like a healthy dose of “schadenfreude” is sometimes unavoidable.

Last Sunday, while watching my New York Giants put the finishing touches on a dreadful 6-10 season—and Tom Coughlin’s coaching career—the only thing that gave me any sort of comfort was seeing the Jets’ season come to an equally disastrous end.

I know. I’m a bad person.

The truth is, even for a Giants fan, this wasn’t a hard Jets team to root for. After jettisoning swagger-y blowhard Rex Ryan in the offseason, Gang Green was under new management in the form of Todd Bowles, a coach cut from the same cloth as the no-nonsense Coughlin. They played hard-nosed defense, had the franchise’s most explosive offense in more than a decade and had a likeable—if not imperfect—signal caller under center in Ryan Fitzpatrick. What’s not to like?

But jealousy is a strange emotion. I came into Week 17 with every intention of rooting for the Jets to beat the Bills—now helmed by Ryan—and clinch a playoff spot. But as the two 1 p.m. games unfolded, I found myself almost subconsciously cheering each Buffalo third-down conversion, delighting in the growing despair of the Jets fans around me.

I guess part of it is the residual resentment built up from the Rex Ryan regime. I never had strong feelings one way or the other about the franchise before Rex took over, but his tenure was marked by the kind of bravado and boastfulness that doesn’t engender a lot of goodwill from opposing fan bases.

But mostly, it had to do with the Giants’ failures. If I had to watch my team blow chance after chance and miss yet another postseason, why should anyone else—let alone people I have to see every day—have the right to be happy?

Am I being juvenile? You bet. But at least I’m not alone.

Throughout the course of the game, I was communicating with some friends in a group chat, the majority of whom were Giants or Eagles fans, and had no real stakes in the Bills-Jets game. Only my friend Mike, a season ticket-holder for years, swears allegiance to New York’s other team. But as Fitzpatrick’s interceptions doomed the Jets, you would have thought the rest of us were members of the so-called “Bills Mafia.”

Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin lost his job after another bad season for Big Blue. For Sports Editor Mike Smith, the only silver lining is that the Jets aren’t in the playoffs either.

Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin lost his job after another bad season for Big Blue. For Sports Editor Mike Smith, the only silver lining is that the Jets aren’t in the playoffs either.

GIFS of plane crashes, butt-fumbles and jubilant Rex Ryan celebrations flooded the chain, as we did our best to pile on to our buddy’s already crummy day.

I may not be proud of myself, but if I can’t be proud of the Giants, watching someone else suffer might just be the next best thing.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a Tyrod Taylor jersey to order.

 

Follow Mike on Twitter
@LiveMike_Sports

 

 

Column: Hopes for 2016

New Year’s resolutions are fine for matters within our own power to control such as what we do to others and to ourselves. But for what is beyond our reach we can only hope and pray for, according to our beliefs. Here are some yearnings that fall now into the category of mere hopes.

I hope that in 2016, we Americans will gain a president-elect with the brains and stamina for this hugely demanding responsibility. Considering the broad range of our present and foreseeable problems, the person we need may not seem to be able to beat the present in our sight. But candidates can sometimes rise above their prospects.

I hope that our organs of government will function successfully in 2016, bringing about lawful and practical solutions that have been thoroughly discussed among the interested parties.

I hope that age-old religious schisms and hatred of other humans, regardless of race, color, creed or beliefs may be defeated by love and kindness and, if that fails, by either a national or international criminal court where the eyes of world might be “the jury of their peers.”

I hope to see a new Rye City Council that swears off the sloppy habit of holding private meetings to discuss the public’s business. Even in the infrequent situations where allowed by state law, private meetings are a blot on our civic reputation.

And I also hope to see a City Council where differences of opinion are welcomed and aired in a spirit of respectful debate, rather than being shunned as some sort of juvenile behavior. Let friendly smiles and good will prevail in City Hall.

And I hope to see continued support for architectural and environmental preservation in our city of Rye and that the only rock-splitting sounds that we hear this year will come from the traditional suburban “garage band” of a guitar, bass and drums and not from any destructive earth-shattering chipping machine.

And I hope to see all members of our community, Republicans and Democrats, white collar and blue collar professionals, women and men, young and old, continue to volunteer their time and expertise on our many boards and committees, our firefighting companies, nonprofit organizations and houses of worship in order to preserve the unique character of this place that we call home.

CONTACT: j_pcarey@verizon.net

 

Column: Honoring Sgt. Lemm and My Community Alert

As many of you know, our community suffered a loss with the tragic death of West Harrison resident Staff Sgt. Joseph Lemm, who was recently killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. Sgt. Lemm was cherished by his family and was greatly admired by our community. Through these dark days, I have been deeply moved by the outpouring of love, friendship and faith I’ve witnessed, especially by our residents. I hope that this show of support will encourage those who knew and loved Sgt. Lemm to draw strength from the sense of community we have in Harrison. Thank you to those involved in honoring his memory. I hope we can all find solace in celebrating Sgt. Lemm’s short but meaningful life and remembering better times.

I would like to extend my warmest wishes for a prosperous and healthy new year. I hope you and your family had a happy and festive holiday. I want to thank you for all your support over the last year. The town board has achieved incredible things so far, and I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in 2016.

As we begin the new year, I am happy to report that Harrison continues to build on the success of the last few years while keeping tax increases in check, sustaining a healthy reserve and maintaining all our basic municipal services. In addition to our improved bond rating from Moody’s, Harrison’s 2016 budget was adopted and remains under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s mandated tax cap. Advancing this positive trend is a priority and I look forward to the challenges and opportunities in the year ahead.

I would like to bring your attention to My Community Alert. This valuable system allows Harrison police officers and other town officials to notify residents in the event of an ongoing emergency. Text messages and emails are sent to registered residents if the Harrison Police Department believes that the community should be informed of a local incident or event. Recently, our Police Department has sent out alerts pertaining to road closures and weather updates, and has warned our community that fraudulent phone solicitations had been reported in our area. Residents can register with My Community Alert at mycommunityalert.net. I encourage all to take advantage of this very useful tool.

Please be aware of the following sanitation notice: Christmas trees may be placed curbside for pickup through Sunday, Jan. 31. Please do not place trees in plastic bags. No holiday wreaths or roping will be collected. Visit harrison-ny.gov for more information.

The library is continuing to offer great programs. I encourage all interested movie buffs to attend our library’s Brown Bag Cinema. Enjoy the new large screen at the recently-renovated Halperin building of the Harrison Public Library. This event is free of charge and is held on one Thursday each month at 1 p.m. Bring your lunch, sit back and enjoy a screening of a film newly released on DVD. Upcoming films include “The Walk” on Jan. 21 and “The Intern” on Feb. 18. Refreshments are provided by The Friends of the Harrison Library.

Column: New York state villages face added burdens

The New York state comptroller’s office recently announced that beginning with the June 2016 budget cycle, the 2 percent tax cap law will translate into only a 0.12 percent tax ceiling for villages in compliance.

This unrealistic limit was extrapolated from a signature piece of legislation for the governor, which limits spending growth to either 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower.

In contrast, state spending is not limited in this way, nor are the projected increases in the more than 200 unfunded mandates annually delivered to villages from Albany.

Clearly, the tax cap operates in a politically expedient vacuum devoid of economic realities.

Although it is rhetorically brilliant, the long-term detriment of the tax cap cannot be overestimated.

As illustrated, if Bronxville were to come in under the cap in this budget cycle, we would have to forfeit $5 million-plus in FEMA flood mitigation monies because our 12.5 percent matching share would exceed the tax cap limit.

Unlike the exception made for school districts, capital improvements and infrastructure repairs undertaken by a municipality are not exempt from the tax cap spending calculation. This prohibition creates the most powerful disincentive for communities to repair one of the nation’s most aging infrastructures.

In an effort to counter the unrealistic 0.12 percent spending increase ceiling, many of our neighboring villages, including Tuckahoe, Irvington, Dobbs Ferry, Ardsley and Hastings, petitioned for a 3 percent hotel tax on each rented room; the logic being that the revenue would be a user tax, rather than a property tax, and the increased funds would at least keep local services flat.

Even though the governor signed an almost identical bill allowing the city of Yonkers to generate this revenue, he vetoed it for local villages after most of Westchester’s elected officials and the bipartisan Westchester Municipal Officials Association objected to it.

Why are there disproportionate burdens on villages, including the unrealistic 0.12 percent tax cap, the lack of an exemption for capital/infrastructure repairs and the continuation of the Metro-North tax for municipalities only, which cost our village a half percent tax point yearly?

As a close follower of the governor’s statements, I have concluded that the tax cap legislation and the recent veto are rooted in the governor’s overarching goal of municipal consolidations.

When he was our attorney general, Andrew Cuomo’s office submitted a bill allowing any citizen of New York state to start the process of the dissolution of a village, regardless of whether they lived in that village, by garnering the support of only 10 percent of the residents who voted in the last mayoral election. To put the governor’s bill into context, a non-resident would need to find only eight Bronxville residents to force a villagewide referendum or vote on dissolution. The incredibly flawed bill was amended several times, but the new bill passed has provisions that require communities to vote on their own dissolution before a consolidation plan and financial impact statement are produced. The village of Seneca Falls went this route and is now mired in years of litigation between cost sharing and financial obligations with its merged town.

On the subject of consolidation, Cuomo states that there are 10,500 government units in New York state, which are far too many in his estimation. Refuting this, the state comptroller’s office sets the number at 4,200. Included in both calculations are all of the Off Track Betting operations and Industrial Development Authorities, which have no taxing authority, so both numbers are misnomers.

In his stump speeches, the governor states, “I support consolidations. I think if you said to the taxpayers of most districts in this state, I know you like to have your name and identity. Is it worth $2,000 a year—the supposed, though undocumented, savings from consolidation—to have your name and identity, they would say, ‘Change my name.’”

The statistics don’t bare this out.

Since the most recent revision of the Consolidation Law was enacted in 2007, thanks to the governor’s efforts as attorney general, one community in the state, Altmar, with a population of 407, has consolidated with its neighbor.

Based on the federal census of local governments per capita, there is also no correlation between the number of governmental layers and a person’s relative tax burden.

Two of the most intensely-governed states are New Hampshire and Oklahoma, yet they are two of the least taxed.

New York and New Jersey are near the bottom in governmental units, but are near the top in tax burden. This is the result of New York’s “trickle down” policy of making local governments shoulder tax burdens shifted from Albany.

In Westchester County alone, $225 million collected annually at the local level is remitted to Albany for the state Medicaid program. Westchester County taxpayers could see this $225 million in local tax relief immediately if the governor and the state legislature would only do what 49 other states have done already and fund Medicaid
at the state level.

The consolidation theme mirrors the tax cap mantra in its political appeal and simplicity of message, but again does not address the true underlying issues. Eliminating a few positions in a police or public works department does not ameliorate the underlying unsustainable pension system. Rather, consolidation puts an added distance between the taxpayer and their government. I would also argue that elected officials closest to the impact of their decisions, and personally sharing the financial consequences thereof, make the more efficient decisions and are directly answerable to their constituents, be it at Village Hall or in the aisles of Value Drugs.

Consolidation decisions should be made on factors unrelated to the vicissitudes of the current Albany agenda, rather on the benefits to the most important special interest group, the New York state taxpayers.

Letter: Rosenblum is the arrogant one

 

 

To the Editor,

Mayor Norman Rosenblum’s letter to the editor on Jan. 1, “Political arrogance in the ‘friendly village,”’  disturbed me.

As a resident, I have attended numerous village of Mamaroneck meetings where the mayor is arrogant, completely controls the agenda, limits the ability for attendees to speak, and is rude to the public. This is disrespectful and not particularly friendly nor accommodating behavior from an elected official.

Rosenblum is disturbed that he cannot manipulate the three intelligent trustees who will certainly come up with a reasonable solution to the parking meter dilemma if trusted to do so. The democratic process is working in the “friendly village.” I suggest we support the three competent trustees, Leon Potok, Illissa Miller and David Finch, to make an educated decision that will be economically feasible and acceptable to the public.

 

Gloria Goldstein,

Mamaroneck 

 

Letter: Give PE in our schools a chance

To the Editor,

It’s a new year, and with it often comes New Year’s resolutions. Many adults resolve to exercise more, be healthier, and really commit to it this time!

What about our kids? I hope they also want to exercise more, focus on healthier habits, and be motivated to continue it into adulthood. PE in school and youth athletics are critical, and we have some phenomenal PE teachers in our school district with an engaging curriculum. However, the PE instructional spaces at Mamaroneck High School are nowhere near on par and haven’t been updated as far as anyone can remember.

Locker rooms go unused because the lockers are rusted and won’t secure belongings. Plumbing and electrical installations are antiquated and ventilation is poor. Not where I imagine my kids getting hooked on lifelong fitness. And not particularly safe, either.

Our town prioritizes youth sports, which I think is a positive thing. We have improved fields, worked to expand field space, and schedule teams so as to maximize the number of kids who can play. However, when those young athletes grow up and want to compete at the high school level, we offer them a weight room with exposed pipes that leak. We have them leave their sports bags and equipment in the hallways, because nothing fits into the existing (broken, rusty) lockers. There are no showers available (or even running water) and no changing or meeting space for female athletic teams.

The plan that the district has proposed reconfigures unused space so that PE instruction can expand. Infrastructure is replaced so that our kids are safe and so is their gear. Health and wellness becomes the focus and the facilities will reflect how we feel about supporting our young athletes.

Please educate yourself on this issue, and then vote YES to the bond vote on Tuesday, Jan. 12 at your local elementary school. Your kids will thank you.

 

Lisa Sommer,

Larchmont

Rye High School senior dies

 

 

Henry “Hank” McWilliam, a Rye High School senior, died unexpectedly on Dec. 21 at the age of 18, marking the latest loss in a string of recent Rye High graduates.

McWilliam was an avid hockey player who played for the Garnets as well as various other teams in Florida, Utah
and Connecticut.

He is survived by his parents, Dr. James R. McWilliam and Catherine S. McWilliam, as well as his sister, Cate McWilliam.

According to those who knew him, McWilliam will be missed for his larger than life personality and his love of both animals and children.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Westchester County SPCA.

Police could not provide any further details as of press time.

Rye City Schools Superintendent Dr. Frank Alvarez could not be reached for comment as of press time.

-Reporting by James Pero