By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong

A $1,000 argument broke out Nov. 3 at the Cold Spring Village Board meeting. Trustees Airinhos Serradas, in person, and Charles Hustis, in absentia, continued their sharp criticism of Mayor Seth Gallagher over issues involving the Special Board for a Comprehensive Plan-Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan.  And again the mayor continued to respond forcefully.
       At stake this time: A budget supplement for the Special Board, whose fiscal 2010-11 budget is $11,000. The Special Board was seeking $1,000 more to allow Green Plan, the Comprehensive Plan consultant firm, to attend a Nov. 16th forum being held to brief the Village Board and the standing boards (Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), and Historic District Review Board (HDRB), and Recreation Commission). As he presented the request for the $1000, Gallagher said that Special Board members “have been good at spending the money. They’ve been diligent about not wasting it and really saving us as much money as possible.”
       “For $1,000 at this critical time to make sure all the questions are answered properly — I don’t think it should be a problem at all,” Trustee Bruce Campbell agreed.
       The resolution under consideration proposed taking the $1,000 from extra funds in the recycling program. The Village Board routinely approves such transfers from one account with a surplus to another with an unexpected need. At its October monthly meeting, it unanimously authorized 10 such transfers. However, the Special Board proposal drew fire from Serradas at the meeting. Hustis, who did not attend the meeting, wrote a notarized letter in protest.
       Serradas announced that he had a list of questions regarding the Special Board and began with criticism of the $1,000 supplement.  “I’m a bit confused as to why the Comprehensive Plan is coming to the taxpayers, quite frankly, and the village for additional monies,” he said. “The Comprehensive Plan does have money right now.” He recommended using funds designated for the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act analysis, or SEQRA, which would be conducted to gauge whether the Comprehensive Plan would have an adverse impact on the environment.  “I think setting money aside for SEQRA is premature,” Serradas said. “The money is already there. Why not use it?”
      Hustis made a similar argument in his letter. “Asking for an additional $1,000 when you have remaining funds that can surely fund a SEQRA review, as well as having a consultant there for the 11/16 meeting, is just ridiculous and a waste of the Village Board’s time and efforts,” he stated. “Use what you have left in the Special Board budget right now, meaning spend smartly and not foolishly.” In his letter, read aloud by Serradas, Hustis also asserted that “the Special Board answers to the Village Board of Trustees and they are not above the law.”
      Gallagher said that the SEQRA money “is spoken for. We have a contract. It cannot be used for that” Nov. 16 meeting instead of its ascribed purpose, he said. “It’s something that has to be in there” in the Special Board account, reserved for the SEQRA analysis. After several minutes of increasingly contentious debate, Gallagher urged they move on. “I’d like to cake care of this as quickly as possible,” he said.  

“Can I finish what I was saying?” Serradas asked.

“You can go on to the next point,” Gallagher said.

“No, I can’t,” Serradas replied.

“Yes, you can. You have to ask,” the mayor said.

“You’re kidding me, right?” Serradas asked. “I was not done.”

“I have not recognized you,” Gallagher shot back. “If you cannot behave, this is not going to work.”

By then they were shouting at each other and when Serradas continued talking, Gallagher informed the trustee he would be instructed to leave if he did not follow meeting protocol. As Serradas persisted, Gallagher told him to “please leave.” Serradas did not comply and Gallagher called a five-minute recess.
       “I’m just looking for an amicable resolution,” Trustee J. Ralph Falloon said as the session got back underway. Serradas resumed his objections to the $1,000 allocation. In the Special Board budget, “every dollar is pretty much spoken for,” Campbell reiterated. “This is [for] work that wasn’t anticipated.”  Serradas cited the $4,914 in the Special Board coffers. “I think that just tweaking this for giggles is ridiculous,” he said — provoking more outcries. They finally voted several minutes later, approving the $1,000 supplement 3 to 1, with Serradas as the lone “no” voice.
       The Special Board released its draft Comprehensive Plan on Sept. 29 and held two subsequent public information sessions as well as a two-part official public hearing to obtain feedback from residents. (Since fall 2006, there have been about 25 special public meetings on the Comprehensive Plan initiative.)
       Audience member Stephanie Hawkins subsequently chastised Serradas for his attitude toward the Special Board, saying his conduct could make residents unwilling to volunteer for village committees. “You’re tone has been very accusing and insulting,” she said. “You are addressing these very small things in a way that suggests you don’t have a perspective of what the important things are here. Be a little more resident-friendly, please.”

“I assume that goes for the rest of the board, right?” Serradas answered.

Again Gallagher urged them to move on. The board subsequently approved payment of bills, 3 to 1, with Serradas dissenting. However, on a resolution of support for a grant application by Scenic Hudson, which owns the West Point Foundry site in the village, the board displayed unanimity. The resolution passed with all four board members voting “yes.”

Editor’s Note: Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong, who covers village governmental affairs, served on the Special Board for a Comprehensive Plan for two years and her husband now chairs that board.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Armstrong was the founding news editor of The Current (then known as in 2010 and later a senior correspondent and contributing editor for the paper. She worked earlier in Washington as a White House correspondent and national affairs reporter and assistant news editor for daily international news services. Location: Cold Spring. Languages: English. Areas of expertise: Politics and government

9 replies on “Serradas, Hustis Attack Mayor and Special Board Funding”

  1. Go Airinhos!!!!…Airinhos is a smart and very ethical guy and I don’t care what side of the aisle he is on. Airinhos is a guy who should be in politics…a guy who serves for the right reasons

    Seth Gallagher, in my opinion, is a liar and an idiot. He abuses the little power he thinks he has, lots more on that to come (I’m proudly sueing the village of Cold Spring, because of Mr. Gallagher!) History has prover time and time again, you give a little man a little bit of power…the little man abuses the power…prior to running for mayor, Gallagher accused Mayor Phillips, of stealing fuel from the village…remember that, Ya’ll? What ever came of that accusation…is Phillips a thief? Here’s another question for you all….Did Seth Claim his campaign contributions on his taxes last April? Or did he claim the taxes after I recently filled out a freedom of information request, for all filings of all candidates for the last 5 yrs…..Hey Seth…Hope you’re enjoying the CS tap water…we all know…it’s your preferred choice over bottled water…Uh…wait…what’s up with the Deer Park Water at the Village Hall and Police Station on the 2nd floor? So, the Village pays for “treated” water….you know…Quality on tap! and you all use village tax dollars to purchase deer park water…hey Seth, I think you’re not only a hypocrite..I think you’re dangerous to all who reside in Cold Spring and Nelsonville.

  2. In response to that incredible rant by Mr. Cusick above I have a few points to make:

    I have attended many board meetings where I have never seen Mr. Cusick in attendance. If he considers Mr. Serradas such an “ethical guy” who “serves for the right reasons”, what exactly is he basing these judgements on? 

    I am not calling Mr. Serradas integrity into question, but I will question his reason or motives for serving on the Village Board. I have witnessed numerous examples of Mr. Serradas hampering the Board from serving it’s purpose. Whether passing legislation or enacting it, much of Mr. Serradas obstructionism seem to be without reasonable cause or serve the residents of the village.

    Also, if you are going to assert such ridiculous allegations Mr. Cusick, at least participate in a positive manner. “Proud to sue the Village” means you are proud to take resident’s tax dollars away from paying for services for those residents. The next time someone wants to complain about taxation issues, remember, lawsuits cost money.

    And as far as your tirade regarding the Mayor as “dangerous to all who reside in Cold Spring and Nelsonville”, really? The guy who brought a balanced budget to the Village resulting in essentially no tax increase during a struggling economy is a danger? A balanced budget while the infrastructure of the village is be addressed and improved, rather than languishing as it did for so many years. Dangerous? Someone who has increased the transparency of the village government while encouraging civic participation, dangerous?

  3. Dear Mr. Ambrose:

    Hey there Tommy Boy…You Rock!!!thanks for the comments, you sound like a real winner!

    Best regards,

  4. I stand completely with Tom Ambrose’s comments regarding Russell Cusick’s rant…Tom hits the nail right on the head.

    While I don’t agree with Serradas’, and for that matter Hustis’ stands/positions on most Village issues before them, I don’t for one minute believe their motive are anything other than promoting what they think is in the best interests of the Village….

    As Mayor, Seth Gallagher has moved the Village forward. From what I see, Gallagher, Campbell and Falloon have taken a pragmatic approach to the village’s problems and have got things done…I’m quite sure they disagree on lots of things, but they seem to find common ground to move forward…as a resident of the village I really appreciate it…

  5. As for Donnie Mackey D’s comments on my rant…I couldn’t be happier that you took the time to comment…hopefully this discussion will peak the interest and or curiousity of your fellow Villagers, you know the ignorant and the apathetic, bedroom community dwellers who like ostriches, are very comfortable with their heads in the sand…those who are stupid enough to pay for water that is “treated” up on Fishkill road….and then piped through antiquated, failing water pipes (that co-mingle with failing and cracked sewer pipes)….I cannot tell you fools how many “Villagers” stopped by my dinky little art gallery in CS over the last year of so, and discussed with me the fact that their water was discolored and brown…(and not only when Greg Phillips and his peeps choose to sporadically “Flush” the pipes.)I actually did video interviews with several on the subject…youtube vido is forthcoming

    The truth of the matter is this….you folks in the Village of Cold Spring, are literally paying to drink your own feces, urine and whatever else lies below Cold Springs highly and historically toxic soil..toxins that remain from Maraton…Foundry….the coal Tar at the waterfront…Impelletieres old gas station….the list goes on and on and on….yep, you all know it…and with all you know….you continue to allow the kids at haldane to drink the villages putrid tap water. So there you have it, while the children at Haldane drink the Village’s “Quality on Tap” tap water….the village’s elected and appointed officals, at village hall and police, are using Villager’s hared earned tax dollars to pay for “Deer Park” water…or have you not noticed, Donnie Boy? Here is what is going to happen to all you good “Springers” in the next several….I for one would never drink the tap water in Cold Spring…nor, would I give Cold Spring’s tap water to my pets…nor would I wish Cold Spring’s tap water on anyone I care about….Seth
    Gallagher says that Cold Spring’s Tap water is SAFE…and goes on to say publicly that it’s his preferred choice over bottled water…..All I can say, is DRINK UP, SETH….And as far as Donnie Boy and Tommy Boy…I hope you both do the same….Now this I find curious….in both your rants…neither of you address your good bagpipe playin’ friend’s declaration of Campaign contributions….not only for his last mayoral run…but for his previous campaigns…..what up with that? Anyhoo, it’s like this…Cold Spring’s infrastructure is a COMPLETE mess…the sidewalks are extremely dangerous…not handicapped accessible…business’ continue to fail (as for me…I actually had to turn business away…and I’m not joking about that!) I chose to move to another location to do business, because I didn’t want to remain in a place where I didn’t feel comfortable drinking the tap water at local restaurants. Anyhoo, I hope you good, smart, responsible adults in the Village of Cold Spring, do the right thing…and that is to continue to pay for putrid water…so it doesn’t appear that there is a problem….and your property values do not plummet…(which they no doubt, will…bad water is already the BUZZ…about CS and for good and obvious reasons.) When it comes to the water situation…all those local greedy realtors, are more than happy to perpetuate the “quality on tap” lies….just do the responsible thing and keep the children and pets from being exposed to cold Spring’s tap water…I honestly believe that long term exposure could potentially put good people, their children and their pets at risk. Lets keep this discussion going, gentlemen…it helps me to get my message out regarding the Village of CS’s dire water situation…and in the long term…and perhaps even garner positive results, by doing so. God bless you all, and God Bless America!


    The day to day testing, maintenance and operation of the Water Department is in the hands of Greg Phillips, who does an excellent job providing safe, clean water to the Cold Spring/Nelsonville area. NY State sets the water guidelines, the State Department of Health enforces them, and municipalities must monitor and meet them. The result is water that is both safe and good tasting, and my preferred choice over bottled water. Seth Gallagher, as reported in the PCN&R, on 1-06-2010.

    Village Responds to State Audit of Water Department 6-03-2009

    The water and sewer section of the report identifies an estimated cost of “unaccounted water of $155,000,” based upon industry standards and conventions. The report also states that sewer billing, “based on water meter readings, thereby compounds .. . the lost water revenues with lost sewer revenues.”

    In commenting on the report, however, Mayor Gallagher wrote, “The village only began charging sewer customers using a charge based upon water readings in April of 2008. Of the nine billings that occurred during the period of the audit only two of those were billed using the water readings. Our calculation would lower the estimated loss in rents at closer to $17,600, or 2/9ths of the $79,000 estimate in the audit report.”

    Water Superintendent Greg Phillips told the PCN&R that as Cold Spring’s water supply runs through a “100 year old cast iron system,” leaks will happen from time to time. He said that as a result of the report, his department will be “randomly changing out a dozen meters in the system. In changing them out we get two things, we get brand new meters that we know are certified to work and we also take the ones that we’ve removed d put them on the bench test to see how they calibrate.”

    Phillips stressed that the village does make periodic checks for leaks. The last major examination was two years ago, but his department is always keeping an eye on potential leakage. He also noted that the village’s old system, coupled with the particularly high water pressure in the pipes near the river, makes even the small leaks, which are not as easy to detect as the large ones that cause sink holes, a serious matter.

    “A 1/8″ leak under just 40 pounds of pressure, can waste up to 2500 gallons per day or 912,500 in a year,” he told the PCN&R. “Our distribution system has about 60 lbs as an average and upwards of 100+ down near the river.”

    “As the metering is done, [the village clerk] plugs this stuff into the computer,” Phillips said. “We generally check into the low readings and it turns out that this person goes away for the winter and that’s why every year it’s typical like that. We generally look at the high reads and the low reads to make sure they’re accurate.”

    Phillips was surprised by the comptroller’s audit, which he said had not been conducted in the 12 years he has been with the water department. “I have no idea why they were here, whether we just came up out of a lottery,” he said.

    Here is a link to the recent NYS comptroller audit: (those dadgum water meters!)

    Board Examines Trailer Park, Butterfield, Aging Water Lines
    by Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong from PCN&R 6-23-2010

    “To open the meeting, the board took a video tour of a sewer line running down Main St. from Garden St/ to the river side of the railroad tracks. The camera revealed cracks, leaking groundwater, faulty workmanship from past decades, and clogs in the pipe, more than 100 years old.”

    But, hey….Gallagher says the water is SAFE…AND HIS PREFERRED CHOICE OVER BOTTLED WATER….again, Drink up Mr. Mayor….Just keep the innocent children and pets and seniors from doing the same!

    Thanks a bunch!

    Russ Cusick

  7. “K”,

    Run for village office, hey, why not? why don’t you, Katie? If you are one of the many in the Village, smart enough to pay for, but NOT drink the village’s tap water….you just might live long enough to do GREAT THINGS for your fellow Villagers.

    Are you the “K” from another earlier post? Are you perhaps becoming a tad less apprehensive about letting’s extremely small readership know your true identity? do you have a last name,? Or are you just plain Kate, or is it Katie?…OMG this is reminiscent of a scene I did in High School, from the taming of the shrew.

    I hope to see Airinhos win another term…how about you, Katie? Or Would would you rather see you pal Sloth continue to run CS into an environmental and economic abyss?

    Russell Victorious Cusick
    ps-to whom it may concern: my SS number is 530 75 8994

  8. Don’t mind Rus, he’s just defending his status as “Village Idiot.” Oh wait, he’s now competing for that honor in Beacon.

  9. Mr. McAndrew, “K”, Katie” and anyone else who happens have stumbled across this bloggy conversation…It’s me, Russ Cusick…the Village Idiot (former Village Idiot…uh, oh well, whatever..I suppose, I’m now going to have to according to Mr. McAndrew…strive for the mantle of “City” idiot…..Anyhoo, I’ve been having an ongoing discussion with Mr. Ambrose, at the link below…I think the information below might ultimately be helpful…or not, but at least, I put it out there.

    While at breakfast, this a.m. I came across this short article in the Po’keepsie Journal: It discusses NY State and infrastructure.

    here is the article…and if the Village of CS is smart…they’ll be the first to diligently go after funding…if, in fact there is any available.

    Russell Cusick says:
    November 19, 2010 at 12:38 am

    Don’t look at the glass as half empty!.Don’t look at the glass as half full!.Just shut up and drink what is in the dang glass!

    Mr. Ambrose;

    Au contraire mon ami!.Where did you get your information about Beacon and Fishkill’s poisonous water? Allow me to share with you, my new and much treasured friend!.If you happen to look at water quality data taken from the 5 yr. testing period 2004-9, you’ll surmise, as have I, that of all the “treated” water systems in both Westchester and Putnam!THE VILLAGE OF COLD SPRING, NY had the highest number different contaminants that the EPA considers to be “Above the Legal Limit”!yes, that is to say that of 198 different “treated” water systems in both Putnam and Westchester!the Village of CS came in at NUMERO UNO!with it’s seven different contaminants (including radiolgicals) above the legal limit (reported at the NY Times Website, as of 11-18-2010)

    Furthermore, the Village of Cold Spring on Hudson came in at second highest for contaminants above the legal limit, for all Of 359 Water systems tested between 2004-2009, in Putnam County (102 water systems) Dutchess County (161 water systems) and Westchester County (96 water systems,) One very small water system in Dutchess Co. tested for more contaminants above the legal limit than the Village of Cold Spring. I’ve spent countless hours on this, because contrary to popular belief, it matters to me.

    Beacon, NY zero contaminants above the EPA legal limit for said testing period

    Fishkill, NY zero contaminants above the EPA legal limit for said testing period

    Peekskill, NY zero contaminants above the EPA legal limit for said testing period

    Tom!I just spent the last year doing business in the toxic Village of CS and my partner and I own property in Cold Spring!Obviously, if you were paying any attention whatsoever, you’re aware that I was raising concerns about the Water Quality in CS, while I was renting business space, and doing business there!unlike many others, I will always put my safety and the safety of others, over commerce!or property values!ALWAYS!

    So,although I do not owe you or anyone else for that matter an explanation, as to what motivates, me!.your comment that I have no direct connection to CS, is absurd!My God, when it comes to water, especially!do you really think that the contaminants found in the soil of the Toxic Village of CS are confined to the small village!if you do, you’re wrong! Again, as far as your argument that I have no connection to CS!perhaps you should just let that one go! Let me ask you!has your water in the Village of CS ever been EXTREMELY BROWN?

    Well, that is a shame, it really is!in fact it is heartbreaking. Here are some statistics that just might keep some of you up at night!thinking about this data, and why the numbers are so high in Putnam, have on occasion kept me up at night:

    The most recently published “by County,” Cancer Statistics/Data provided by the New York State Department of Health shows that out of the 22 different cancers documented over a recent 5 year period, Putnam County had 7, yes, count them!..7 cancers above the State Average Rate, by 30% or more.

    Did you know that Putnam’s neighboring Dutchess and Westchester Counties had ZERO occurrences of any of the 22 cancers documented higher than 30% above the State Average Rate, during the same testing period?

    Did you know that according to the New York State Department of Health, that Putnam County during said testing period had the HIGHEST rate of female thyroid cancer? Did you know that according to the New York State Department of Health, Putnam County during said testing period had per capita, the HIGHEST rate of female breast cancer for in the entire state?

    Did you know that Putnam County has much higher per capita cancer rates than either county on Long Island? Did you know that that the most recently “by County,” data published by the NYS Dept of Health reveals that neither neighboring Westchester County to our south, nor Dutchess County to our North, had a single occurance of being above NY State’s average rate by 30% or more for any of the 22 cancers tested. However, in Putnam County,data from the New York State Department of Health shows that we are 30% higher than the State average for 7 out of 22 Cancers tested! This data is the most current, and what is available at the NYS Dept. of Health’s website. Published Data was gathered separately for both females and males.

    Below are some of the statistics I was, after several hours or research, able to compile from the NY State Department of Health’s study. I’ve also included a link to the pdf document that contains the data from the New York State Dept of Health’s most recent data:

    Dutchess County-above State rate by 30% or more=0 instances

    Westchester County-above State rate by 30% or more=0 instances

    Putnam County-above State rate by 30% or more=7 instances out of 22 cancers studied

    Nassau County, Long Island-above State rate by 30% or more=0 instances

    Suffolk County, Long Island-above State rate by 30% or more=1 instance

    Maps of Cancer Incidences by New York State County

    Below are test results for different water systems in our region:

    The Village of Cold Spring’s Water Carriage was designed and put in the ground in the 19th Century!we’re talking well over 100 yrs. old. Said pipes are cracked and leaky, they are in the vicinity of sewer pipes that are not sound!and again, they leak!this is a disaster not waiting to happen!it is a disaster that is happening as I write!
    Continuing to claim as your current Mayor has publicly, that the water is safe (and his preferred choice over bottled water) is in my opinion, irresponsible, and will certainly not work towards getting the Village the much needed funding it needs to fix the problem!If there is not a pressing need!then why would federal or state funding be granted? I know we’re talking a lot of money!but without new pipes, how can the village survive? Band-aids are not going to get it!when an infrastructure as antiquated as that in the village starts to fail!it is a very rapid decline. I think that you all have to be brutally honest about the situation!Personally, I think that in large part, the villagers have been in denial about just how big of a problem you’re all faced with. Time to get real folks, no matter how difficult or insurmountable the situation might seem!if you all do the right thing!you’re on the right side of history, and future generations will thank you for having done so.

    Russ Cusick

    Russell Cusick says:
    November 19, 2010 at 1:04 am

    Mr. Ambrose;

    Here is a link I first read back in January of this yr!shortly after water quality data was published by the NY Times and the EWG (Environmental Working Group)

    Russell Cusick says:
    November 19, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Mr. Ambrose;
    Furthermore, in response to you assertion that (readers can find Mr. Ambrose’s comment below) “I am sure that there is a cause for the tirades about our village and it’s “toxic waters”, but it seems odd to continue to spout hatred and distrust for a place of no direct connection.”

    I’d be more than happy to share with you or anyone else for that matter, the receipt from my last SCHOOL TAX BILL!

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