VOL Board Hears Request to Expand Soccer Program
Input Sought on Amending Site Plan Requirments
by Judy Silberstein
(November 20, 2008) The Larchmont Village Board’s November 17 meeting was taken over by a younger than usual crowd, including ten-year-old Jimmy Quinn serving as “mayor for the day,” and a group of high school freshman advocating for an expansion of the recreational soccer program.
Mayor Liz Feld helps "Mayor for the Day" Jimmy Quinn adjust his microphone. Jimmy's parents got him the job by bidding at a Chatsworth Avenue School fundraiser.
Adding to a “youth theme” was the board’s vote in favor of $20 per week pay raises for Flint Park’s Day Camp staff, mostly high school and college kids on summer break. There was also some attention to the senior generation, with the announcement that Trustee Marlene Kolbert was being inducted into Westchester County’s Senior Hall of Fame in recognition of her 40 years of community leadership and service.
The demand for sports teams and sports fields is continuing to grow in Larchmont and Mamaroneck – judging at least from the pleas of ninth grade girls who are about to “age out” of the recreational soccer programs now operating for children in kindergarten through ninth grade. It was only three years ago that the Larchmont Junior Soccer League added ninth graders to its major divisions, due to popular demand.
Mamaroneck High School runs its own teams for boys and girls soccer, but many students don’t make the cut. There are additional options for elite athletes, but few opportunities past the ninth grade for those who lack the time or talent to compete at these levels. In recreational soccer, “you don’t have to be the best,” ninth grader Lily Roberts told the board.
“We’ve been talking about how upset we are that this will be the last year,“ said Lily, serving as spokesperson for a group of 5 girls, including Margo Schneider, Emma Badner, Stacy Rozansky and Rebecca Ward. It was Rebecca’s father, Larchmont Trustee Richard Ward, who had suggested the group raise the issue and “see what happens,” explained Lily after the meeting.
Soccer has been “a good way to exercise, come out and meet people,” she said. She wasn’t sure of the exact number who would want to continue, but thought “there’s a lot more girls.”
This was the group’s first foray into advocacy, and they came away from the encounter with a list of people to contact in their effort to continue playing soccer. Mayor Liz Feld suggested they speak with Sid Ings, president of the Larchmont soccer league, and Joyce Callahan, recreation director for the Village of Larchmont. She also directed a message to parents listening to the board meeting from home, suggesting they get involved in helping organize or coach.
Contacted for comment, Mr. Ings said, “If there is a strong demand [from tenth graders], we would certainly consider it,” but he also listed a number of potential difficulties, chief among them was gauging actual demand and commitment. Currently there are 166 girls in the minors (grades 3-4); 114 at intermediate level (grades 5-6) and only 103 majors (grades 7-8-9). “No way” could you add 10th graders to the majors, said Mr. Ings, due to safety concerns for those 7th graders who are “quite small.” Splitting off the ninth graders (around 30-35 players) would leave barely enough girls to squeeze out 4 teams in the majors, he said. And, would 60-70 older girls commit to the new division? Beyond the numbers, “field availability is always an issue,” he added.
Judging from Mr. Ings’ response, there is some hope for Lily and her teammates, but they will have to find at least 25 other committed players (and overcome additional hurdles) to get rec soccer expanded to tenth grade by next season.
Larchmont Chamber Of Commerce Re-Energizing
The kids weren’t the only visitors at the board. (Adult) representatives of the newly re-constituted Larchmont Chamber of Commerce were present to report on recent progress in revitalizing the business organization that has been largely dormant in recent years. Jeff Rosenberg, from the Palmer Avenue CitiBank branch, is serving as president and is facilitating communication, he said. But it will be up to the local merchants to fill the top leadership roles and serve on various committees, including one to give the board feedback on its plans to renovate the Palmer Avenue streetscape. Co-presidents Judy Gramm, of Pink on Palmer, and Jackie McVicker, of Write On, have stepped up to the plate, and around 50 other merchants have paid their dues.
With business owners frantically preparing for the holidays ahead, the Chamber’s activities will be relatively modest until after January, suggested Mr. Rosenberg. They have already found office space and a part-time administrative assistant, and they are developing a website. These and future plans will gain further traction at their second meeting for curent and prospective members on December 4 (6 pm at Plates Restaurant).
Site Plan Rule Too Strict?
The board is hoping to hear from other adults - specificially those with opinions about Larchmont's requirement that any homeowner planning an addition of 125 square feet or more get site plan approval from the Planning Board. The 125 square feet rule was enacted in 2005, largely in response to residents who wanted greater notification of demolitions, renovations and other construction that might impact their neighborhoods. (See: Stricter Zoning Code Passes.)
Now the board is wondering if they should relax the rule. They haven't settled on a number, but they are concerned that the current low threshold may be flooding the Planning Board and causing inordinate expense and inconvenience.
Anyone with an opinion or experience with the rule - either positive, negative or otherwise - is encouraged to email comments to the Larchmont Clerk, firstname.lastname@example.org