Village board sets Feb.8 hearing date
By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong
The Cold Spring Village Board Tuesday night reviewed a draft law to allow docking of boats at the municipal pier and picked Feb. 8 as the date for a public hearing on the issue, which involves a change to the village legal code. Permitting commercial boats to pay a fee and moor for “a day or days” at a time, the law would replace a current provision that only authorizes unique vessels, such as historic educational boats, to dock for short periods. The proposed law would apply to all river-going craft, from kayaks and canoes to barges, ships and any “other contrivance used on or capable of being used as a means of transportation in water.” It would cover boats that tie up at the wharf as well as those that anchor within 100 feet, with the permits granted by the Village Board. When determining whether to grant a permit, the board would have to consider the availability of docking space, number of other vessels docked on the same dates, and whether the applicant boat “presents any hazards to health, safety, and welfare or would otherwise be detrimental to use and enjoyment of the Waterfront Park.” The proposed law also would prohibit cleaning of boats below the waterline; sandblasting, power sanding and painting; and dumping of garbage, sewage, oil, or other refuse into the Hudson River. The law would exact a fine of $250 a day for violations.
However, the draft does not set the fee for the permit, a matter left to the Village Board to define separately so as not to enshrine a dollar amount in village code. “We’re putting that off down the road,” Village Attorney Stephen Gaba explained. He briefed the mayor and trustees in a special session that preceded the board’s regular monthly meeting, Jan 11. As part of the preliminaries Cub Scout Pack 137, the Raven Den, presented the flag for the Pledge of Allegiance and then retired to listen attentively as the discussion of the draft law began. The proposed change follows the request by the captain of a former Coast Guard buoy tender to moor it at the waterfront and offer tours from Cold Spring. Until 2009, the village code forbade any docking, even temporarily for historic vessels, at the waterfront, although ships and ferries had been part of the community from the village’s early days in the 19th century, before the zoning code existed.
The revision to the code drew both endorsements and reservations. Trustee Airinhos Serradas, who has already called for extensive review of the tour boat venture, expressed support for the law change, as long as boats moor at Dockside Park, not the Waterfront Park pier. “I like the idea, I have no problems with it,” he said. “I’d like to see us move toward doing something like this, but at Dockside. It doesn’t impinge our view, it doesn’t impinge our site, and it takes advantage of the Dockside property.” The State of New York owns Dockside. He also questioned whether the change in law comports with the draft Comprehensive Plan and called for reaction from the village’s subsidiary panels and residents.
“I agree,” Mayor Seth Gallagher replied, citing the need to announce a public hearing date, to give the public a month to mull over the proposal and then “come and talk to us.” As to the Planning, Zoning, Historic District Review, and Comprehensive Plan boards and Recreation Commission, he said, “we’ve already sent notice requesting their comments.”
Greg Phillips, speaking as a resident and not in his capacity as water and sewer superintendent, said he would favor allowing a boat to pick up and discharge passengers in Cold Spring, but not moor at the dock. “I wouldn’t want to see something that gets the luxury of being based there,” he said. “Basing businesses on our dock – I don’t like that, as a resident.”
“You have to keep in mind the residents, because a lot of times you don’t,” a second villager, Catharine Square, told the Village Board.
A third resident, Depot Restaurant proprietor Tom Rolston, enthusiastically backed the proposed change in law.“The Comprehensive Plan, as I read it, is specifically geared to having something at the dock,” he said. “This is a way to bring business into the village without affecting infrastructure of the village,” he said, stating that it would also help the economic climate. “Businesses are hurting. Prices are going up and businesses down. It is one of many solutions that this village is going to have to take into account in order to be viable in the future.” Rolston termed Cold Spring one of the few municipalities along the Hudson that do not allow boats to dock “and we have the most beautiful spot for it.” He urged the Village Board to consider Dockside as a second possible docking site, not as a replacement for mooring at the pier, “which is built for it.”
Dealing with other items on its agenda, the Village Board approved a series of transfers of funds between budget lines, including $2,960 to the board’s own account for Comprehensive Plan activity, with $1,500 coming from an account for unemployment insurance and $1,460 from the village clerk’s account for work of the Special Board for a Comprehensive Plan, which turned over the draft plan to the Village Board in December. (The Special Board moved on to its parallel mission, developing a Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan, or LWRP.)
Serradas questioned the transfer. “Why are we still using village resources when there’s a grant sitting out there?” he asked. Gallagher said the village must have money immediately available to pay the Comprehensive Plan consultant and promotional costs of informing citizens. The board began going over the document last week. New York State only pays the village back after the expenses are incurred, the mayor explained. “Once we spend the money, we can get reimbursement.”
The state awarded the village a $50,000 grant to assist with the LWRP. Of that amount, the village anticipates receiving $12,000 as compensation for Comprehensive Plan activities already carried out and coincidentally called for under the LWRP contract. Many elements of the Comprehensive Plan and LWRP efforts overlap. The board approved the list of fund transfers, including the one for the Comprehensive Plan work, by a vote of 4 to 1, with Serradas voting “no” and Gallagher and Trustees Charles Hustis, J. Ralph Falloon, and Bruce Campbell, voting “yes.”
On a separate vote, the board likewise approved a transfer of $25,000 to the sewer repairs and improvements fund from the contingent account to cover expenditures for correction of water inflow and infiltration (I and I) in the collection-system pipes. During heavy “rain events” storms – the inflow and infiltration of storm water into the sewer system can lead to hydraulic overloading at the treatment plant, triggering aberrant discharges into the Hudson River. As Water and Sewer Superintendent Phillips told the board, the village is under obligation to begin fixing the I and I problems by March 1. Bids received for the work so far come to $19,000 and $20,450, he said. Allocating $25,000 would cover any variances in expected costs as the work proceeds. Making repairs “is going to be an ongoing process. It’s going to take years and it’s going to cost us some money,” Phillips predicted. “It’s particularly relevant, because we do have these rain events,” the mayor responded. “The quicker we can get moving on this, the better.” The board set aside time later in the month to go over the details of the water and sewer needs more thoroughly with Phillips.
In a written report, Police Department Officer in Charge George Kane reminded residents “not to leave vehicles parked on village streets during inclement weather, so that the village Highway Department can clear snow and/or salt the roads. Residents must call the highway garage before and after snow/ice storms to check and see whether parking is allowed.” The winter parking information is also available on WHUD 100.7 FM radio,” Kane said. To date this season, he reported, the police had issued about 100 tickets for winter parking violations. The highway garage hone number is 845-265-4883.
Photo by Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong