By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong
On a wintry night when much of Cold Spring ground to an icy halt, the Village Board Tuesday continued its line by-line review of the draft Comprehensive Plan, perusing — and sometimes refusing — the various provisions. Short one member, the board spent more than three hours on the document, whose main text fills 73 pages, followed by a 28-page appendix. The four board members present, Mayor Seth Gallagher and Trustees Bruce Campbell, J. Ralph Falloon, and Charles Hustis, displayed no hesitancy to periodically disagree with each other. Whatever the topic, though, the back-and-forth remained amiable and polite.In part, the board focused on waterfront concerns, including issues involving the Cold Spring Boat Club.
One measure under scrutiny and ultimately scuttled stated that “if permits and fees are required for sail or powerboats at Dockside or the Boat Club, also have permits and fees for kayaks and canoes wherever they may launch.” A corollary called on the village to “establish a system of seasonal permits and fees for the year for kayaks and canoes similar to the system at state parks.”
Gallagher attacked the notion, stating that kayaks and canoes differ from large powerboats. “I’m not for ‘permitting’ [issuing permits] for any of these things,” he said. “This is the river. What about freedom?”
Campbell maintained that kayaks and canoes would proliferate at Dockside, perhaps to the detriment of village residents. “You need some controls,” he said.
“I don’t want to control that,” Gallagher replied.
Falloon proposed they either issue permits for all vessels or delete the provision. They chose the latter.
Boat Club Coal Tar Clean-up
The board revised a draft provision regarding the Cold Spring Boat Club and the coal tar pollution in its vicinity, a left-over from a 19th-century gaslight factory. As changed, the new language recommends “that the Village Board work with the DEC to remediate the Manufactured Gas Plant (MPG) contamination.” The board struck a clause that had called for removing the pollution “from below the structure as well as other parts of the site.” The exact nature of the clean-up, a project of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, remains unfinalized. Gallagher objected to the original wording because “it determines what our decision is. This is like us deciding to push for one” of various approaches to the clean-up. “To come to this conclusion is a big deal,” one that should not be specified in the Comprehensive Plan, he said. Falloon proposed modifying the language. “I just think this thing is large enough that people need to know “¦ that we’re looking to remove the contamination,” Falloon said. His colleagues agreed and addend the text.
The mayor and three trustees also tweaked a provision regarding the Boat Club. As altered, the provision now reads: “Consider making the structure available for both the Boat Club and village residents, with opportunities for private use and use by outside organizations on a fee basis.” They struck an additional sentence on divvying-up the space between Boat Club use and village use for such purposes as storage, supplies, and refrigeration. “It just stirs so much up” to include that sort of measure, Campbell observed.
But Marie Early, a member of the Special Board for a Comprehensive Plan, suggested a more cooperative arrangement between village and Boat Club is overdue. The village owns the Boat Club parcel. The club is “used by less than 100 families in the village” with a large portion of its membership coming from outside Cold Spring, she said. “Why do we cater to more people outside the village than inside the village?” The public cries out for good meeting space, she added. “Why not try to take that building and convert it to some kind of meeting space,” at least in part, she proposed.
Dealing with a question of village government operations, the board deleted a proposal seeking term limits for members of the village’s appointed advisory panels, such as the Planning and Historic District Review Boards and Zoning Board of Appeals. Gallagher mentioned the current ability of mayors and trustees to re-appoint someone when they deem it appropriate. “It almost seems like this is a way to get around that,” he complained. The board deleted the provision. However, the mayor and trustees retained another provision affecting appointed boards, though they edited the wording a bit. The edited text thus measure recommends that the village “establish and publish procedural guides to make all village boards’, committees’, and commissions’ meetings more effective.”
Winter Parking Rules
Before the Comprehensive Plan mark-up, the board heard a plea from Shaun McGuire, of McGuire’s on Main, for moderation in setting or enforcing winter parking rules. He said that several customers of his pub received tickets after they left their vehicles parked on Main Street when the overnight snow rules were in effect. Snowy evenings often bring in a lot of customers, McGuire said. “Great nights like that make it for us. I understand the necessity of clearing the streets,” he said. He suggested the Village Board could “maybe create a rider” to allow business customers more leeway in complying with the regulations.
While expressing sympathy, the mayor said that “there does have to be some kind of a blanket rule.” Otherwise, if customers are exempt or allowed more time overnight to move their vehicles, residents will want the same privilege, he predicted. “You can’t make that kind of exception.” Likewise, giving everyone more leeway would thwart the snow removal process, he said. “You can never tell what a storm is going to be like” or when the highway department will begin clearing the snow, he said. The municipal lot on Fair Street offers free parking and the winter-parking area along Kemble Avenue is another possibility for drivers, he said. Nonetheless, he suggested the village and businesses collaborate to find solutions. “That’s something the village can work on, too.”