EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – Bronxville Mayor Mary Marvin writes a weekly column to the village. It is being reprinted by The Bronxville Daily Voice.
It is that time of year again when we begin fall leaf collection and again ask residents to mulch the leaves in place on lawns. The annual fall ritual of disposing leaves curbside is actually wasteful, expensive and unnecessary.
Leaf pick-up costs regularly top $100,000 per season and that does not include the additional cost of repairing clogged drains as rainstorms send the leaves directly into our storm sewer system.
Mulching in place will also greatly eliminate the need for leaf blowers, which may be used again in the village starting on Oct. 1. Leaf blowers not only generate significant noise and particulate matter, but the power of the engine at 150 mph to 200 mph is akin to a jet plane and will systematically remove layers of soil, leaving yards pristine but extremely unhealthy.
If you choose not to participate in the mulch in place initiative, leaves must remain at curb’s edge but on private property so our vacuum truck can easily collect them. Yard waste, such as branches and shrub trimmings, cannot be co-mingled with the leaves as they will clog the leaf truck. They should be placed curbside in biodegradable bags.
One of the village’s newest initiatives for fall is our “Salute to Seniors Day,” a joint tribute recognizing the loyalty and contributions that our senior citizens make to the village on a daily basis. The Bronxville senior citizens organization, Gramatan Village, village government and the Chamber of Commerce have collaborated to honor our seniors on Sept. 28 with a ceremony at 9 a.m. at Village Hall, followed by a day of activities and “Senior Specials” throughout our business district. This formal thank you is long overdue and hopefully will become a yearly event.
The fall also signals the return of all the children to our village for school and play. In order to increase the safety of all those now walking about the village, our village-wide speed limit is 30 mph, the lowest allowed by New York State. The only exemption is the 20 mph permitted in marked school zones. Any further speed reduction requires New York State legislation, which must be predicated on documented evidence of accident rates, speeding data and traffic volume, something the village cannot demonstrate.
In addition, the village cannot install “Children at Play” or “Slow Children” signs because state and federal standards reject their use as they openly suggest that playing in the street is acceptable and give children a false sense of security. On the other hand, signs that alert drivers to playgrounds are encouraged because the parks are often located in places where a reasonable driver would not expect a large group of children. Sagamore Park is a prime example.
In the same vein of safety concerns, bicycles may only be ridden on village sidewalks if the rider is under 11 years of age. No one is allowed to ride bicycles or skateboards on the sidewalks in our two village business districts.
In addition, per New York State law, when a pedestrian is in any of the village’s crosswalks, cars must yield in both directions. However, when crossing in mid-street, pedestrians must yield the right of way to all vehicles on the roadway.
The village is also very concerned about the safety of our teenagers in all aspects of their lives. They bring great joy to the village with all their academic, musical, dramatic and athletic talents.
Unfortunately, as in many other communities, Bronxville is experiencing an earlier onset of teenage drinking, and laws relating to underage drinking in Westchester County are strict and punitive. For example, Westchester County has a “Social Host Law” that states, in essence, any adult that becomes aware that minors are drinking on their premises and fails to take action can be punished by fine or imprisonment. In addition, if someone who drank on your property subsequently injures someone while drinking, civil and criminal liabilities can attach.
Bronxville, like most communities, also has an “open container law,” with violators subject to fines and community service. However, in addition, under the state’s beverage control law, there is no requirement that the container be open or even physically in one’s hand. As a consequence, everyone under the age of 21 who is at a party or in a car where alcohol is present can be deemed violating the law. This is a classic example of guilt by association.
It is also important to note that New York State has a zero tolerance policy for drivers under 21 impaired by alcohol. Any level of impairment subjects the driver to a formal DMV hearing and possible license revocation.
Please know that our police department can be a valuable resource to any child or parent. Officers frequently conduct roundtable discussions with families when any kind of substance abuse is suspected. Our youth officers have special training and are extremely qualified to assist families in any way.