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A first crack at a School Closure bibliography

Screenshot 2024-03-11 at 8.07.45 AMI have spent a few days researching the effects of school closures on small rural communities, and this is my first crack at a bibliography.

The most important reference I found was Mara Casey Tieken's Why Rural Schools Matter (University of North Carolina Press 2014).

(NOTE: Bibliography updated March 11, 9 PM.)

  1. Arbetter, S. (2024, January 12). Two rural New York school superintendents discuss financial challenges. Spectrum News 1. https://spectrumlocalnews.com/nys/central-ny/politics/2024/01/12/rural-n-y--school-superintendents-on-financial-challenges
  2. Autti, O., & Hyry-Beihammer, E. K. (2014). School Closures in Rural Finnish Communities. Journal of Research in Rural Education. https://jrre.psu.edu/sites/default/files/2019-08/29-1.pdf
  3. Bartl, W., & Sackmann, R. (2017). Governance Indicators and Responsiveness to Population Decline: School Closures in Practice and Discourse in Saxony-Anhalt. Comparative Population Studies, 41(3–4). https://doi.org/10.12765/CPoS-2016-09
  4. Basu, R. (2007). Negotiating Acts of Citizenship in an Era of Neoliberal Reform: The Game of School Closures. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 31(1), 109–127. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2427.2007.00709.x
  5. Bayer, P., Ferreira, F., & McMillan, R. (2007). A Unified Framework for Measuring Preferences for Schools and Neighborhoods. Journal of Political Economy, 115(4), 588–638. https://doi.org/10.1086/522381
  6. Beuchert, L., Humlum, M. K., Nielsen, H. S., & Smith, N. (2018). The short-term effects of school consolidation on student achievement: Evidence of disruption? Economics of Education Review, 65, 31–47. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econedurev.2018.05.004
  7. Bogart, W. T., & Cromwell, B. A. (2000). How Much Is a Neighborhood School Worth? Journal of Urban Economics, 47(2), 280–305. https://doi.org/10.1006/juec.1999.2142
  8. Bondi, L. (1987). School closures and local politics: The negotiation of primary school rationalization in Manchester. Political Geography Quarterly, 6(3), 203–224. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0260-9827(87)80001-0
  9. Brasington, D. M. (2004). House Prices and the Structure of Local Government: An Application of Spatial Statistics. The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, 29(2), 211–231. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:REAL.0000035311.59920.74
  10. Brummet, Q. (2014). The effect of school closings on student achievement. Journal of Public Economics, 119, 108–124. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpubeco.2014.06.010
  11. Brundin, J. (2023, November 13). What’s happening with all the closed school buildings around the state?https://www.cpr.org/2023/11/13/whats-happening-with-closed-school-buildings/
  12. Butler, J., Kane, R., & Cooligan, F. (2019). The closure of Rideau High School: A case study in the political economy of urban education in Ontario. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy. https://scholar.google.com/scholar_lookup?hl=en&volume=191%2C+83–105&publication_year=2019&journal=Canadian+Journal+of+Educational+Administration+and+Policy&author=J.+K.+Butler&author=R.+G.+Kane&author=F.+R.+Cooligan&title=The+Closure+of+Rideau+High+School%3A+A+Case+Study+in+the+Political+Economy+of+Urban+Education+in+Ontario
  13. Chin, H. C., & Foong, K. W. (2006). Influence of School Accessibility on Housing Values. Journal of Urban Planning and Development, 132(3), 120–129. https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9488(2006)132:3(120)
  14. Cortés, Y., & Iturra, V. (2019). Market versus public provision of local goods: An analysis of amenity capitalization within the Metropolitan Region of Santiago de Chile. Cities, 89, 92–104. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2019.01.015
  15. De la Torre, M., & Gwynne, J. (2009). When Schools Close: Effects on Displaced Students in Chicago Public Schools. Research Report. Consortium on Chicago School Research. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED510792.pdf
  16. De Witte, K., & Van Klaveren, C. (2014). The influence of closing poor performing primary schools on the educational attainment of students. Educational Research and Evaluation, 20(4), 290–307. https://doi.org/10.1080/13803611.2014.940979
  17. DeYoung, A. J., & Howley, C. B. (1992). The Political Economy of Rural School Consolidation. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED347018
  18. Downes, T. A., & Zabel, J. E. (2002). The impact of school characteristics on house prices: Chicago 1987–1991. Journal of Urban Economics, 52(1), 1–25. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0094-1190(02)00010-4
  19. Duncan-Shippy, E. M. (2019). Shuttered schools: Race, community, and school closures in American cities. Information Age Publishing, Inc.
  20. Duncombe, W., & Yinger, J. (2001). Does School District Consolidation Cut Costs? Center for Policy Research Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs Syracuse University. https://surface.syr.edu/cpr/122/
  21. Engberg, J., Gill, B., Zamarro, G., & Zimmer, R. (2012). Closing schools in a shrinking district: Do student outcomes depend on which schools are closed? Journal of Urban Economics, 71(2), 189–203. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jue.2011.10.001
  22. Erickson, A. (2013, April 8). After the School Closings, the Real Estate Mess. Bloomberg. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-04-08/after-the-school-closings-the-real-estate-mess?embedded-checkout=true
  23. Finnigan, K. S., & Lavner, M. (2012). A Political Analysis of Community Influence over School Closure. The Urban Review, 44(1), 133–151. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-011-0179-9
  24. Gibbs, S. (2024, February 2). Guest Viewpoint: BVCS new school proposal one-sided. https://suncommunitynews.com/news/107544/guest-viewpoint-bvcs-new-school-proposal-one-sided/
  25. Good, R. M. (2017). Histories that root us: Neighborhood, place, and the protest of school closures in Philadelphia. Urban Geography, 38(6), 861–883. https://doi.org/10.1080/02723638.2016.1182286
  26. Greenough, R., & Nelson, S. R. (2015). Recognizing the Variety of Rural Schools. Peabody Journal of Education, 90(2), 322–332. https://doi.org/10.1080/0161956X.2015.1022393
  27. Hu, Y., & Yinger, J. (2008). The Impact of School District Consolidation on Housing Prices. National Tax Journal, 61(4.1), 609–633. https://doi.org/10.17310/ntj.2008.4.03
  28. Innes-LeRoux, M. (2023, September 26). Location, location, location: Study finds the value of living close to a school. Brighter World (McMaster University). https://brighterworld.mcmaster.ca/articles/location-location-location-study-finds-the-value-of-living-close-to-a-school/
  29. Irwin, B., & Seasons, M. (2012). School closure decision-making processes: Problems and prospects. Canadian Journal of Urban Research. https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/26193912.pdf?casa_token=yyeWO8VJLxoAAAAA:xm6e5eR0XEhXJqIjV-wSQskMa8ewAvbuTniU89TlK99A-9imlPUnQJOS3TPXY-m9u7Q2bluZzrsiUp1FovsDpYOoltvjuqzyVeZBXG9RVXDjjxzlLUk
  30. Isaksson, Z. (2023). The political effects of rural school closures – Evidence from Sweden. Journal of Rural Studies, 100, 103009. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2023.103009
  31. Johns, C., & MacLellan, D. (2020). Public administration in the cross‐hairs of evidence‐based policy and authentic engagement: School closures in Ontario. Canadian Public Administration, 63(1), 117–139. https://doi.org/10.1111/capa.12360
  32. Karanxha, Z., Agosto, V., Black, W. R., & Effiom, C. B. (2013). School Consolidation and the Politics of School Closure Across Communities. Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership, 16(3), 31–46. https://doi.org/10.1177/1555458913498477
  33. Kearns, R. A., Lewis, N., McCreanor, T., & Witten, K. (2009). ‘The status quo is not an option’: Community impacts of school closure in South Taranaki, New Zealand. Journal of Rural Studies, 25(1), 131–140. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2008.08.002
  34. Kennedy, M. (2020, July 12). Newly merged district in New York selects architect for consolidated school. American School & University. https://www.asumag.com/facility-planning/article/21136464/newly-merged-district-in-new-york-selectes-architect-for-consolidated-school
  35. Lykke Sørensen, J. F., Haase Svendsen, G. L., Jensen, P. S., & Schmidt, T. D. (2021). Do rural school closures lead to local population decline? Journal of Rural Studies, 87, 226–235. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2021.09.016
  36. McCullum, A., & Merrefield, C. (2019, July 25). What happens to a community when a rural school closes? JournalistResources.Org. https://journalistsresource.org/politics-and-government/what-happens-when-a-rural-school-closes/
  37. Merrall, J., Higgins, C. D., & Paez, A. (2023). What’s a School Worth to a Neighborhood? A Spatial Hedonic Analysis of Property Prices in the Context of Accommodation Reviews in Ontario. Geographical Analysis, gean.12377. https://doi.org/10.1111/gean.12377
  38. Owusu-Edusei, K., Espey, M., Lin, H., Owusu-Edusei, K., Espey, M., & Lin, H. (2007). Does Close Count? School Proximity, School Quality, and Residential Property Values. https://doi.org/10.22004/AG.ECON.6609
  39. Preston, J., & Barnes, K. E. R. (2018). Successful Leadership in Rural Schools: Cultivating Collaboration. The Rural Educator, 38(1). https://doi.org/10.35608/ruraled.v38i1.231
  40. Rosburg, A., Isakson, H., Ecker, M., & Strauss, T. (2020). Beyond Standardized Test Scores:The Impact of a Public School Closure on House Prices. JOURNAL OF HOUSING RESEARCH, 26(2). https://friendsoffontanaschool.org/wp-content/uploads/Rosberg2017.pdf
  41. Sah, V., Conroy, S. J., & Narwold, A. (2016). Estimating School Proximity Effects on Housing Prices: The Importance of Robust Spatial Controls in Hedonic Estimations. The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, 53(1), 50–76. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11146-015-9520-5
  42. Schafft, K. A. (2016). Rural Education As Rural Development: Understanding the Rural School–Community Well-Being Linkage in a 21st-Century Policy Context. Peabody Journal of Education, 91(2), 137–154. https://doi.org/10.1080/0161956X.2016.1151734
  43. Sipple, J. W., Francis, J. D., & Fiduccia, P. C. (2019). Exploring the gradient: The economic benefits of ‘nearby’ schools on rural communities. Journal of Rural Studies, 68, 251–263. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2019.02.018
  44. Taghizadeh, J. L. (2020). Effects of school closures on displaced students and future cohorts. Labour Economics, 67, 101910. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.labeco.2020.101910
  45. Tieken, M. C. (2014). Why rural schools matter. University of North Carolina Press.
  46. Tieken, M. C. (2017, August 14). Close a Rural School, Hurt a Rural Community. The Daily Yonder. https://dailyyonder.com/close-rural-school-hurt-rural-community/2017/08/14/
  47. Tieken, M. C. (2020, January 13). Analysis: The Real Cost of Closing Rural Schools. Daily Yonder. https://dailyyonder.com/analysis-the-real-cost-of-closing-rural-schools/2020/01/13/
  48. Tieken, M. C., & Auldridge-Reveles, T. R. (2019). Rethinking the School Closure Research: School Closure as Spatial Injustice. Review of Educational Research, 89(6), 917–953. https://doi.org/10.3102/0034654319877151
  49. Tieken, M. C., & San Antonio, D. M. (2016). Rural Aspirations, Rural Futures: From “Problem” to Possibility. Peabody Journal of Education, 91(2), 131–136. https://doi.org/10.1080/0161956X.2016.1151733
  50. Wen, H., Zhang, Y., & Zhang, L. (2014). Do educational facilities affect housing price? An empirical study in Hangzhou, China. Habitat International, 42, 155–163. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.habitatint.2013.12.004
  51. Williams, S., & Tieken, M. C. (2021). Commentary: Times Article on Rural School Misses Half the Story—Educational Success. The Rural Educator, 42(3), 72–73. https://doi.org/10.35608/ruraled.v42i3.1289
  52. Witten, K., Kearns, R., Lewis, N., Coster, H., & McCreanor, T. (2003). Educational Restructuring from a Community Viewpoint: A Case Study of School Closure from Invercargill, New Zealand. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 21(2), 203–223. https://doi.org/10.1068/c05r

Stones Left Unturned in the BVCSD Futuring Process

Regarding the matter of the future of the Boquet Valley Central School District, I think I have found a serious methodological problem. Section 6 in the Environmental Impact Statement superficially seemed to address the impact on the towns of Westport and Elizabethtown, but seemed like early draft or placeholder text. I have asked a few people about that, and the answer to what's wrong there seems to be that they only attempted to describe the impacts on the actual sites of the existing schools, not the communities of Westport and Elizabethtown. The plan BVCSD put up for a vote is a redesign of three communities, not just a facilities plan for educating the children of the newly formed district, since adding and subtracting schools can significantly change towns. The answer to my question about the missing Impact analysis appears to be that they did not study the impacts on the towns.

I did a brief literature search last night to see if I could get a sense of what the academic literature on closing rural schools has to say. Three possible effects seem to emerge from my quick skim:

  1. Closing the last school in a community is known to depress real estate values.
  2. Closing rural schools is known to cause families with children to move away (potentially leading to declining enrollment).
  3. Closing schools is also known to decrease trust in leadership and elected officials. I think we saw this in action.

Never mind the ethical question of whether the Board of Education needs to take into consideration the health of communities, I think this means that the numbers put forward to the voters are wrong because they failed to study the effects of school closures on factors that affect tax revenues.

Also, modelling the effects of disrupting three towns simultaneously is mathematically difficult, and involves the kind of math that you don’t ever want to see in something involving accounting.

I am beginning to compose a bibliography of the literature for this problem area and would like to form a discussion group to see what we can understand about the stones left unturned in the five year process that led to the recent vote.

I have written to Josh Meyer asking for whatever they have on impacts on towns. But it appears that they mostly didn’t go there.

I'm running for Boquet Valley Central School District Board of Education

Announcement: I'm running for Boquet Valley Central School District Board of Education. I picked up my paperwork and nominating petitions in Elizabethtown, NY this morning. Here is concept art for my forthcoming campaign signs.
If you would like to sign my petition, host a campaign sign, or endorse me as a candidate please get in touch.
KC sign concept art

Notes on a Meeting of the Boquet Valley Central School Board Convened to Discuss Voter Opinions: Why the Proposal to Build a New School Will Never Pass

Screenshot 2024-03-01 at 4.13.52 AMI attended this evening’s Boquet Valley Central School Board meeting in which they went over the results of the exit survey of voters. It was primarily a meeting of the school board with the committee on facilities.

The School Board seemed to be divided into two factions: those who cared whether members of the public had a place to sit and those who did not. And this is a key element of the core theme that emerged: real vs. imaginary regional identities.

My impression is from the demeanor of some of the school board members that it was only grudgingly an open meeting, and that Dina Garvey, President of the School Board—in particular—would have much preferred this to be a private meeting and seemed unhappy that the room was full of people. The room was too small for the audience it attracted. (My general impression of Garvey at this meeting is that she is too burned out to function as a public official and should resign. She radiated Weltschmerz.)

There was not much useful information to be had from the district’s voter exit survey because of how it was structured: it told the school board basically what they already knew before the proposal for a new school went before the voters, which is that people had significant issues with the location and the cost. Having filled out the survey, I suspected that the structure of the questions would hamper its utility but was open-minded enough about the possibility that they had gotten interesting feedback to attend the meeting. The survey results turned out not to be what was interesting about the meeting.

My touchstone moment of the meeting, where things got interesting, was when Evan George made reference to concern in Westport that losing the school as an “anchor” for the town and opined that this “can’t be our concern as a school board.” My note in the moment: Question: have they started from the wrong problem definition? The lack of interest in aligning the process and goals of the communities whose votes they need.

I still can’t quite believe he said it. What he meant by it was something like that the interests of the kids come before the interests of the towns. But if the School Board starts from the premise that they have no interest in the wellbeing of the towns in the district, no wonder they can’t get voter support. But also, what he articulated is a lack of understanding of how neighborhood schools function in a community. The educational system is not something you can just rip out of the town and neighborhood and operate separately without damage to the system you are trying to save. In that one statement, George explained to me why he should not be on a school board.

If we were to do a wordcloud of what was said in the meeting, the words “misinformation” and “social media” would be in big type. The contention was that the new school construction proposal was voted down because of unspecified misinformation on social media. If that was indeed the case, in a room packed with voters who cared enough to show up at a standing-room-only meeting, one would assume that someone at the table at the front of the room would have bothered to explain how voters had been misled. The fact that no one was willing to articulate to the many voters in the room how they had allegedly been led astray seems to me to reveal that “misinformation on social media” was pretext for ignoring feedback and pushback that the school board didn’t want to hear. If we are misinformed, this was your chance to correct the record.

One board member went so far as to suggest that we should all be writing our concerns to the school board and to the district rather than posting on social media, implying that opposition to school board proposals was illegitimate if not articulated first to them. This is a customer service perspective, which seems oddly out of place here.

But also, these are small towns. This is a small district. I don’t contact Josh Meyer with concerns because when I did that as a parent in the Westport district when he was our principal, his responses were at best feckless. In my experience, addressing concerns and problem solving are not the kinds of things Josh Meyer does. That’s just not who he is. You write to him and he might write back in two weeks with a response that does not address the problem you raised. (I was mystified when he was promoted to Superintendent.)

And under the best of circumstances, conveying my concerns to the school board had a small effect. The school board has limited authority to deal with individual concerns. School Board: Your voters are not statistics. We are people with particular experiences and may have good reasons for not privately relaying concerns before expressing them on social media.

This school board will never ever be able to get any of the range of proposals past its voters except maybe fixing the two existing schools because they need people to vote out of regional identity, and while Westport and Elizabethtown are regional identities that real people have allegiance to, the “Boquet Valley” as regional identity is almost entirely a fiction of Josh Meyer & School District merger politics. You can’t get the votes to pass school budgets over the objections of tax rebel without regional identity allegiance, and the “Boquet Valley” identity isn’t real.

(My younger child was in the cohort that was the first group to graduate under the new district and school name, although we were out of the country by that point. So our exposure to "Boquet Valley" as a concept is that it is usually sarcastic and in implied scare quotes.)

Under the influence of Josh Meyer, the Board wants the community to invent and invest in a regional identity that does not exist and are denying the validity of the regional identities that do exist. They are pitting the interests of the students against existing regional identities rather than leveraging existing regional identity to support students.

Towards the end, it seemed briefly like Evan George was going to pivot: He began a sentence with “I want to thank…” and for a moment it seemed like he was going to thank us for coming to potentially discuss the results of the survey, which discussion was not possible because it was not on the meeting agenda. But then he only thanked the facilities committee (appropriately) but spoke as though in a meeting without an audience.

What the meeting in the end conveyed is not that the school board wants dialog on how to move forward, but rather that the board contingent that doesn’t care if the audience has a place to sit wants monologue in which they propose Things and then we vote for them without there being any expectation that they as a school board have responsibility for the health of communities within this imagined Boquet Valley community.

The minutes of this meeting should be an interesting document representing a very pure form of cognitive dissonance: a public meeting is convened to discuss voter opinions in which none of said voters who attend are allowed a voice even though about 50 of us were in the room; sublime.


For context, I used to run a website supporting the Westport School budget and used to have get-out-the-vote lists of likely voters and their known or inferred stance on funding education. Those are long out of date, but the underlying factions represented in those notes haven't changed. There is a contingent that will always vote against school budgets regardless of what is on offer, and to pass a budget you need a coalition of the rest.

My original unedited notes are HERE.

My new Patreon

Patreon header (2)

ANNOUNCEMENT: I now have a Patreon to support my project Family Farm to Food Forest. (Also, if you think other people would be in treated in following my progress, share this post.)

Become a Patron!

Between now and April I will be writing fairly steadily on my Major Research Project (MRP) towards my Master of Design degree at OCADU in Toronto. The working title is FAMILY FARM TO FOOD FOREST. And in it I will explore ways to transform our farm in Westport, NY to promote a better future. I am going to be writing up a lot of fascinating stuff, and doing cool graphics to go with it. I thought some of your might like to come along for the ride.

I am using this opportunity to do four things:

  • Come up with a better plan for our farm in Westport, NY.
  • Reconcile Design Thinking with Computational Thinking by arriving at a Pattern Language to describe the farm transformation I envision.
  • Post photos of the farm and my cute animals.
  • Make use of my skills as a science fiction writer & editor to imagine future possibilities for the farm and farms in general.

What you can expect to see:

  • Blog posts with interesting things I have discovered during my research.
  • Visual work, such as collages or sketches which I use while trying to figure it all out.
  • Drafts: extended pieces of prose written for this project
  • Book recommendations: things I've read along the way that I think you should read, too.
  • Maybe some fiction. I think I'm going to write some short stories to help me engage. But I don't promise.

This should be fun!

Carlos Perez-Olivo found guilty of the murder of his wife, Peggy Perez-Olivo

Peggy Perez-Olivo in 2007 elementary school yearbookI was just informed by a TV reporter who just interviewed me on my front porch that at long last Carlos Perez-Olivo has been convicted of murdering his wife, Peggy Perez-Olivo. Mrs. Perez-Olivo was a teaching assistant at my son's elementary school.

I did not find Mr. Perez-Olivo's account of how his wife came to have a bullet in her head (described in my November 2006 post) at all believable. Apparently, the jury felt the same way. The verdict was unanimous. It is a shame that it took so long for him to be arrested, tried, and convicted. But I am relieved that he's finally been found guilty. I wonder why it took the cops more than a year to arrest him.

Peggy Perez-Olivo
Peggy Perez-Olivo, murdered November 2006, as portrayed in my son's 3rd grade school year book. He knew her and says she was a nice lady.

2007 elementary school year book dedication
2007 Grafflin Elementary School year book dedication. Top right photo from the 2007 yearbook staff photo.

Press Swarm Forming over at Hillary's in Chappaqua

On my way back from buying some rock garden plants in Mt. Kisco, I passed by Old House Lane in Chappaqua where there is currently a press swarm forming outside the Clinton's house. Presumably they are awaiting some word from Hillary Clinton about the status of her candidacy, or perhaps they are hoping to chat with Bill.

I haven't seen this kind of press swarm over there since Bill Clinton left office.

The Torn-Down House Tour

Within the past week or so, three houses within a two block range of our Pleasantville, NY house have been torn down. I took the kids on a tour of them this evening. Driving by, I remarked, "Look: there's nothing left but the shrubbery!" Elizabeth asked what shrubbery was and I explained that shrubbery was bushes.

I presume they were bought by the same builder who previously bought three houses in this area as tear-downs and replaced them with two-million dollar McMansions.

Magnificent Stone & Clapboard Center Hall Colonial in construction NOW in the prestigious Byram Hills School District. Offering "State of the Art" granite Kitchen and Baths, High-Tech wiring for computers and cable. stereo and TV., central vacuum, alarm, landscaping, fireplaces, etc. 1-acre of park-like property. All the amenities an upscale home should offer.

Interestingly, the real estate advertisement for the house on Cecilia Lane claims that it is "near schools" when in fact the Byram Hills schools are in Armonk and the school where they house the Kindergarten is seven miles away. (Our property is on the district line between Byram Hills and Chappaqua and that very issue is why our kids attend the Chappaqua schools which are much closer.)

Two of the houses just torn down were, like ours, built in the 1950s as part of the Old Farm Hill development. This real estate listing appears to be what will become of one of the new holes in the ground.

This Magnificent 4,500 sf brand new home is in one of Westchester's most sought after neighborhoods boasting Armonk schools. Beautiful, One-of-a-Kind luxury colonial on a level 1 acre of lush property. This exquisite home is currently under construction, so you can customize your selections to your personal taste. The home will feature 4 bedrooms, 3 ½ baths, 3-car garage, custom detailed woodwork, and much more including the top-rated Byram Hills school system. This home will feature all the amenities imaginable. Gourment Kitchen, luxurious baths, custom woodwork, granite tops, professional appliances, professionally landscaped grounds, automatic sprinkler system, central vacuum system, 3-car garage, Walk-Out Basement, Alarm System, Grand 2-story Entry, 10' Ceililngs, and so much more...This is an absolute TREASURE of a home!!!!

Asking price: $2,150,000. There seems to be an issue with verb tenses, since as I write there is no house on that lot at all. Presumably "lush" refers to the shrubbery. Or perhaps the listing refers to the yellow house they built, but I'd heard that had been sold. It doesn't have a lawn yet, as I recall, so how would that be "lush"? [5/30/08 UPDATE: The yellow house is the one in the ad and is next door to the new hole in the ground at the beginning of Old Farm S. where they just tore down a house. The yellow house does indeed have a lawn, but the sod was recently rolled out since I remember very recently the front yard had no grass. there are some small shrubs recently planted along the front of t he yellow house.]

One of the houses torn down was a proto-McMansion built in the 1980s as part of the Heritage Court development. Though I've never been in the houses in question, I doubt they were torn down because of defects but rather because of the commercial potential for a big new house on that spot. I wonder how this makes the immediate neighbors feel. None of the vanished houses were in any way eyesores, and the new ones -- probably 5,000 square feet replacing a house that was 3,000 square feet -- will probably be much closer to the property lines and occupy a much larger footprint on the one acre lots.

As I have remarked previously, the area where I live is one of the places the suburbs were invented. The Old Farm Hill development is a decade older than nearby Usonia, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and friends. When I give a neighborhood tour, I point out the elements in our neighborhood imitated from Usonia: what the builders of Old Farm Hill emulated; and also what they didn't. Usonia is a community of individually designed houses carefully set into large lots. In Old Farm Hill, there are about 6 house plans, endlessly repeated, but the houses are carefully placed on the lot, as with Usonia. When I give my tour for visiting friends I present Usonia as "what the suburbs were supposed to be like" and I end with a nearby area of excessively large houses built in the 80s smacked down in the middle of lots which have been leveled with all the big old oaks felled, presenting that as "what the suburbs are actually like."

But now a 1980s McMansion has been razed for a 21st century McMansion. I do wonder what this place will look like when most of the houses are like that, offering "all the amenities an upscale home should offer," but I doubt we'll stick around long enough to find out.

Chappaqua Tales #2: It's not every day that one is mistaken for a former Miss America

I was driving home from the grocery store this afternoon with the windows open and my hair blowing freely in the wind. As I turned the corner onto Old Farm Road North, a teenage boy driving the other direction leaned out the window of his car and yelled to me, "Vanessa! We love your music!"

He had mistaken me for Vanessa Williams: I was driving on the street that leads to her house.

I never expected at age 46 to be mistaken for a former Miss America!

Chappaqua Tales #1

Yesterday, when picking my son up in Chappaqua, NY at middle school, I saw a girl about twelve drop an iPhone on a stone floor. Afterwards, she and a friend were marvelling, "It's even more cracked than before." So I asked my son if he'd seen many people with iPhones at school. He said he wasn't sure which cell phones were iPhones but reported that lots of kids had cell phones.

He did however volunteer that he'd seen an iPod Nano, complete with headphones, floating in a school toilet recently. I do wonder how many (hundreds of?) thousands of dollars of electronics are circulating in  that school on an average day. Should your iPod fall in a toilet, here is some helpful advice.

(My daughter made the Kindergarten newsletter for taking her big brother's iPod to school. We do not own an iPhone.)

Where to see the Geoff Hartwell Experience this weekend

IMG_0239.JPGFriday, April 27th, 2007
Kittle House 8pm
11 Kittle Rd, Chappaqua NY
Price: FREE!
Geoff and Rich Acoustic Duo!

Saturday, April 28th, 2007
*GEOFF HARTWELL BAND* @ Katonah Grill 10pm
128 Bedford Road Katonah NY
Price: $5
The Geoff Hartwell Band's first gig at this local hot spot. Come on out and have a ball with us!

Last weekend they played our house for my birthday! It was great.

The New Castle Town Board Has Recommended Disbanding the Recreation & Parks Commission

An interlude of local politics regarding the Town Council of New Castle (aka Chappaqua), which I pass along for my local readers. (We live in a sliver of the Town of Mt. Pleasant that is in the Chappaqua school district, which is why I got this, I suspect.)

The Town Board Has Recommended Disbanding the Recreation & Parks Commission! And they WILL vote to disband it this coming Tuesday night, March 27th, unless we, as a community, quickly and loudly say "No!" In our Town Government structure, the "commissions" represent the "voice of the people."  Members of the commissions are neither paid employees, nor elected politicians.  They are regular citizens like you and me.  They volunteer their time and expertise to help make sure the needs and ideals of the community are being met by our town employees and officials. It is not extreme to say that this new "recommendation" is anathema to the democratic process.  They are essentially suggesting that there is no need for public participation in issues and discussions regarding recreation and parks programming and that our non-resident town administrators can make these decisions, for us, all by themselves!    As much as we truly appreciate the efforts of our town employees and politicians, we also must remember that they are there to serve us.  Just as we have checks and balances in our federal government, the boards and commission structure of our Town Government was designed to make sure that many voices would partake in decision-making processes. Disbanding the "commissions" is akin to dissolving, um, the House of Representatives! (OK, the analogy may be exaggerated, but it is no exaggeration to say that this recommendation disables the process of public participation and collaboration.) ! They have already disbanded the Beautification Commission ! ...and w e won't take the time here to itemize the many small ways we are already regretting its loss! (Just think about the unplanted flowerbeds at various intersections, etc. etc.)  This latest recommendation to disband the Rec&Parks Commission would have far greater impact — to our children, our seniors, our arts and athletic programs — and even includes similar ramifications for the Conservation Commission, with a plan that would combine the two commissions into a single, and disempowered,  "advisory" council!!  This kind of centralization of power is a disturbing trend indeed. If you want your voice to be heard in future decisions about Rec&Parks programs in the Town of New Castle, then please let your voice be heard now! At the very least, we all need to attend this meeting and ask WHY they think they don't need a Recreation & Parks Commission!  They are about to make a decision about our government ! structure that could have long term ramifications on our town, our property values, and our quality of life — without even asking us!! PLEASE COME TO THE TOWN BOARD MEETING ON TUESDAY MARCH 27th.

Geoff Hartwell's scheduled gigs for this week


From my stepson, Geoff Hartwell:

Howdy folks!

We got some great music coming up this week, with a SPECIAL ELECTRIC performance in New York City on Friday February 9th! (And some good news about Radio Play!)

Friday Feb 2nd 8pm
Geoff and Rich Acoustic at the Kittle House
(914)666-8044 www.kittlehouse.com
This is an awesome place!!! Really great food and atmosphere. CRAZY extensive wine list and reasonable drinks.

Sat Feb 3rd 9pm
Geoff Hartwell with Richie Castellano (from Blue Oyster Cult)
Opus 465 465 Main St Armonk, NY 10504
465 Main Street, Armonk, NY 10504
Phone (914) 273-4676

The Tuesday Blues Jam at Jackson & Wheeler, of course!


317 E. Houston St. btw Ave B & C
Price: $5
Never seen the Band in New York City? HERE'S YOUR CHANCE!
This is our FAVORITE place to play in NYC. We'll be doing an EXTRA-LONG EXPLOSIVE ELECTRIC performance of new and old! A Funky east side hang that starts at 8 SHARP (get there early and have a drink!) and we're done by 10 and out on the town!



Be there or be square!

Peggy Perez-Olivo

Peggy Perez-Olivo

A teaching assistant at my son's school was murdered. Because she was a neighbor of the Clintons' and her husband's dramatic account of the event, it is all over the national news. My son knew her and says she was a nice lady who sometimes helped him at school a couple of years ago.

I knew her by sight. She knew me by name. I found her picture in my son's school yearbook from last year. She was shot on Saturday and I think died some time in the past 24 hours.

Here is the New York Times article about it: As Victim Dies, a Mystery Grows in Westchester

The scope of the investigation is certain to include a report by Mr. Perez-Olivo, who was listed in stable condition, that said “an unknown male” with a handgun cut him off on Saw Mill River Road and opened fire. But a law enforcement official, who was granted anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the case, said investigators were considering a range of possibilities, including one that the attacker knew his target or that the man with the gun was Mr. Perez-Olivo himself.

Mr. Perez-Olivo was disbarred from the practice of law in August: From the NY Law Journal, N.Y. Panel Disbars Defense Lawyer for 14 Actions.

UPDATE: for those Googling in hopes of a recognizable photo of her, try HERE.

11/24/06 UPDATE: From The Journal News: Disbarred Chappaqua lawyer hits TV reporter in slay case

CHAPPAQUA - The investigation into the mysterious late-night shooting that wounded a disbarred lawyer and killed his teaching assistant wife turned ugly yesterday, as disgraced attorney Carlos Perez-Olivo furiously punched a television news reporter who asked him if he had killed his wife.

The tumultuous encounter took place after Perez-Olivo, 58, spent two hours with investigators at Westchester County police headquarters in Hawthorne, and nearly three hours after state police divers scoured Echo Lake in Millwood for the weapon used in the Saturday night shooting.

. . . Perez-Olivo said nothing to reporters as he left police headquarters shortly after 5 p.m., waving his hands to indicate he had no comment as he walked to Simmons' car. But when reporters asked him if he had killed his wife, Perez-Olivo, showing no ill effects of the shooting, turned and rushed the pack, struck Fox-TV reporter Charles Leaf and shouted an expletive before another detective got him into the car.

Also, the NYT reports that as of Tuesday the 21st, "a family member" had already called Club Fit and cancelled her gym membership. Mrs. Perez-Olivio died on the afternoon of the 20th.

December 2007 UPDATE: Mr. Perez-Olivo was finally arrested and charged with his wife's murder a month after getting into a dispute a month earlier with an Hartford insurance over whether he would be allowed to collect about half a million dollars in life insurance payments on his wife death.

See NYT: Westchester Lawyer Charged in Wife’s 2006 Shooting Death.

October 2008 UPDATECarlos Perez-Olivo was found guilty October 4th, 2008.

Tornado pictures

The other day, a tornado cut through this area during rush hour. I've heard that the worst damage was in Tarrytown, though I haven't been over there. David called from North White Plains station and asked to be picked up. He had parked his car at Hawthorne, but the train couldn't get him there because there were trees down in the track. So I set out to get him, and the round trip to the train station took an hour and a half because there were trees down everywhere the tornado had been. It was a long difficult drive to the train station because I kept having to try new routes, looking for one that wasn't blocked.

Last night, we took the kids out for ice cream and on the way we stopped in Mt. Pleasant to take some photos of the tornado damage near the Mt. Pleasant Town Hall. Here are a few pix plus an ice cream shot after we toured the damage.

downed trees & bent guardrail

tornado damage to office buiding

downed trees


Suspicious Incident in Chappaqua

This notice was just sent me by the Chappaqua school district:

We were just alerted to an incident in Chappaqua. An 11- year old boy was approached on Hamilton Road by a white, male, approximately 40-45 years of age with some grey, cut short (not crew cut) hair, no facial hair, wearing blue, button-down, collared shirt. The suspect drove a Red Ford Explorer who offered the boy a ride. The male subject then stated that he had candy. The boy declined his offers and walked away.

New Castle Police Department is aware of similar incidents occurring throughout Westchester County and this subject / vehicle description appears similar to a recent incident in Harrison, New York. Please contact New Castle Police Detective Division if you have any information. (238-4422)