Community Assessment About Scarsdale NY Research Paper

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Neighborhood as Community: Scarsdale, New York

With a per capita income of $113,000, a median household income of $230,750, a median sales price of a single-family home of $1.34 million and one of the leading school districts in the state, the Village of Scarsdale is a relatively exclusive suburb of New York City that has a poverty level that even other affluent communities envy. Using an ecosystems perspective, this paper provides a review of the literature as well as online government resources to describe the demographics, available social networks, income and wealth distribution, an assessment of the educational resources, housing, health and welfare issues, as well as formal and informal control systems. An ecosystems perspective merges general systems theory and ecology to provide insights concerning the interactions between individuals and various aspects of their social environment (Tangenberg, 2009) to determine adaptations of the neighborhood over time, the interface of the neighborhood with the adjoining areas, the demographics of current residents and the capacity of the neighborhood to meet the changing needs of the population. A summary of the research and important findings concerning these issues and Scarsdale are presented in the conclusion.

Review and Analysis

Demographics

In 2006, Scarsdale's population stood at 17,886 (Brenner, 2008); by 2010, the population had dropped slightly to 17,166 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2013). The Village of Scarsdale has White Plains to the northeast, Greenburgh to the northwest, Mamaroneck to the southeast, and New Rochelle and Eastchester to the south/southwest (see political map at Appendix A) (Brenner, 2008). A breakdown of Scarsdale's most recent demographic estimates is provided in Table 1 below.

Table 1

Demographic breakdown of Scarsdale, New York

Category

Scarsdale

New York State

Population, 2010

17,166

19,378,102

Persons under 5 years, percent, 2010

5.7%

6.0%

Persons under 18 years, percent, 2010

33.7%

22.3%

Persons 65 years and over, percent, 2010

13.9%

13.5%

Female persons, percent, 2010

51.3%

51.6%

White alone, percent, 2010 (a)

82.7%

65.7%

Black or African-American alone, percent, 2010 (a)

1.5%

15.9%

American Indian and Alaska Native alone, percent, 2010 (a)

Z

0.6%

Asian alone, percent, 2010 (a)

13.0%

7.3%

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone, percent, 2010 (a)

Z

0.0%

Two or More Races, percent, 2010

1.9%

3.0%

Hispanic or Latino, percent, 2010 (b)

3.9%

17.6%

White alone, not Hispanic or Latino, percent, 2010

79.5%

58.3%

Living in same house 1 year & over, percent, 2007-2011

92.0%

88.5%

Foreign born persons, percent, 2007-2011

21.4%

21.8%

(a)

Includes persons reporting only one race.

(b)

Hispanics may be of any race, so also are included in applicable race categories.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 at http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/36/3665431.html

As can be seen from the demographic breakdown in Table 1 above and depicted graphically in Figure 1 below, Scarsdale is a predominately white (but with a sizable Asian population), middle-aged, upper middle-class community.

Figure 1. Racial breakdown of Scarsdale, New York

Source: Scarsdale, New York (2013) at http://www.city-data.com/city/Scarsdale-New-York.html

Available social networks within the neighborhood

Formally established as a municipality in 1788 (Scarsdale history, 2013), the Village of Scarsdale has a long history of social networks. For instance, Scarsdale's first neighborhood association, the Heathcote Association, was established in 1904 as well as the Neighborhood Association and the Town Club (the predecessor of the Town and Village Civic Club) that year (Scarsdale history, 2013). Following the end of World War I, the Scarsdale Woman's Club was organized and a year later, in 1919, this social network began publishing the prizing-winning newspaper, The Scarsdale Inquirer which remained in publication for 40 years (Scarsdale history, 2013). Two years later, a Scarsdale chapter of the League of Women Voters was established and collaboration on a regular basis with the Public Affairs committee of the Scarsdale Woman's Club (History of Scarsdale, 2013).

Today, other social networks exist for parents with children and a wide range of recreational and extracurricular educational and avocational programs are offered in the community (Brenner, 2008). In addition, according to the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale, "Many residents have given and continue to give their time and talents to serve Scarsdale by accepting positions as Mayor, Village and School Board members and as leaders of over 80 organizations" (History of Scarsdale, 2013, para. 4). There are also formal social networks in place for senior citizens in Scarsdale sponsored by the Department of Parks and Recreation, including "Terrific Tuesdays -- a Scarsdale Senior program of trips, lectures, and 'get-togethers' on Tuesday mornings" (Senior adult programs, 2013, para. 2).

Income and wealth distribution as well as disparities within the community

As shown in Table 2 below, Scarsdale is an affluent community where residents earn fully four times the New York state average. Not surprisingly, the low poverty rate and relatively small population mean that there are fewer than 400 people in Scarsdale who live below the poverty level. The per capita money income, median household income and persons living below the poverty level for Scarsdale are presented in Table 2 below.

Table 2

Income and wealth distribution

Category

Scarsdale

New York State

Per capita money income in the past 12 months (2011 dollars), 2007-2011

$112,964

$31,796

Median household income, 2007-2011

$230,750

$56,951

Persons below poverty level, percent, 2007-2011

2.3%

14.5%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 at http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/36/3665431.html

The foregoing per capita money income, median household income and persons living below the poverty level for Scarsdale presented in Table 2 above are depicted graphically in Figures 2 through 4 below.

Figure 2. Per Capita Income -- Past 12 Months (2001-2007): Scarsdale vs. New York State

Figure 3. Median Household Income Past 12 Months: Scarsdale vs. New York State

Figure 4. Percentage of Persons Below Poverty Level -- Scarsdale vs. New York State

Given these impressive statistics, it is reasonable to suggest that social workers in Scarsdale are hard-pressed to find clients, and even harder pressed to find young people lacking for educational opportunities, and these issues are discussed further below.

Assessment of educational facilities as well as the quality of the education

With a solid tax base, the quality of the educational facilities in Scarsdale is top-notch and is among the state's leading districts (Brenner, 2008) and one of the best school districts in the country (Pascopella, 2007). In this regard, Brenner emphasizes that, "The school system remains tough to beat and is clearly doing all it can to stay that way. SAT averages run more than 100 points higher than the nation's" (2008, para. 3). Moreover, Scarsdale's school district was one of the first school districts in the country to gradually replace advanced placement classes with its own, more rigorous curricular requirements that stress critical thinking skills in addition to factual content (Brennor, 2008). Each of Scarsdale's five neighborhoods has an eponymous elementary school (Brenner, 2008).

Some indication of the quality of the educational system in Scarsdale can be discerned from the village's recent high school performance levels. In 2008, almost all (97%) of the 364 high school graduates went on to attend 4-year colleges (Brenner, 2008). Furthermore, Scarsdale's scores on the SAT are equally impressive, with a 617 score on the reading section, 639 on the math and 636 on the writing, versus 491, 505 and 494 statewide, respectively, in 2007 (Brenner, 2008). The Scarsdale Public Schools participate in the Tri-State Consortium, which is comprised of high-achieving school districts in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey (Pascopella, 2007).

There are divergent views concerning Scarsdale's top-performing but rigorous educational system. On the one hand, many Scarsdale parents applaud and support their school's efforts, and the high quality reputation of the village's schools are one of the main reasons some parents live there in the first place, but on the other hand, the curriculum is tough. In this regard, Brenner advises that, "From a child's point-of-view, Scarsdale can seem like a lot of pressure and very competitive. But from a parent's perspective, it's a good education for your kids [that matters most]" (2008, para. 3). These observations are congruent with the account provided by one Scarsdale high school graduate who went on to become a successful writer who said of her experience, "I have always written [...] as far back as Scarsdale High School, where I was in an honors class. In Scarsdale, I had to work hard just to stay there" (Weil, 2011, p. 16).

Housing

The 6.64-square mile Village of Scarsdale has 5,200 residential lots and few vacant lots (Brenner, 2008). Because land is at a premium, the majority of construction activity in recent years has involved refurbishments and renovations (Brenner, 2008). At $1.34 million, the median sales price of a single-family home in Scarsdale is more than twice the Westchester County median of $622,500 (Brenner, 2008). A report from Scarsdale's building inspector, Nunzio Pietrosanti, indicates that, "The majority of new construction has taken place on estate land that is subdivided, or on oversized lots, where the original house is torn down and two are built in its place" (cited in Brenner, 2008, para. 4). In 2007, 12 houses were demolished to make way for…[continue]

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