By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong
Cold Spring spent nearly $15,000 in personnel costs for snow removal in January alone, Mayor Seth Gallagher and Accountant Ellen Mageean told the village trustees and public on Tuesday (Feb. 8). And winter isn’t over yet. During the board’s formal monthly meeting, Mageean said that the village spent $14,892.82 on snow-related personal services last month. To get through the rest of the season, the board augmented the snow-needs budget by $14,000 in transfers from other village accounts, including one dedicated to snow-removal equipment. Specifically, it moved $8,000 into the budget category covering “snow removal-personal service” by drawing $4,000 from the “garbage-contractual” line and $4,000 from “street maintenance-personal service.” It also transferred $6,000 into the “snow removal-contractual” account in installments of $2,000 each from “snow removal-equipment,” “garbage-contractual,” and “storm drain-supplies.”
“It’s probably a record for the village for the amount of time we’ve spent doing snow removal and the resources we’re putting into it,” Gallagher explained. “You’ve probably noticed that the guys are out there quite a bit. They’re working, effectively, six-day weeks now doing snow removal,” carting off huge mounds of the icy white stuff. “Estimating how much? It’s hard to do,” he said. “But we’re thinking of tens of thousands of tons have been removed. The Town [of Philipstown] has been helping us” and the village just signed an inter-municipal agreement with the county, the mayor said. Putnam County crews “are going to be increasing the amount of removal on the roads they maintain in the villages of Cold Spring and Nelsonville, which is Route 9D and Main Street from the traffic light,” he said. The county was expected to take on its beefed-up role on Wednesday, he added.
In other action, on a resolution proposed by Trustee J. Ralph Falloon and seconded by Trustee Bruce Campbell, the board voted 4 to 1 to hold the legally-required public hearing on the draft Comprehensive Plan on Tuesday, March 1, at 7:30 p.m. in the parish hall of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. But it struck a provision to allow it to send the draft plan to the Putnam County Planning Department now. Prompt transmittal would have allowed the county to begin going through the proposed document, which the Village Board spent hours revising before deciding on Jan. 27 to make its draft available to the public.
Village Attorney Stephen Gaba explained that the board can send the draft to the county at any stage and may also send successive versions. However, Trustee Airinhos Serradas objected to transmitting anything other than the final text. But not sending the document immediately makes it unlikely the Village Board can vote on adopting— or rejecting — the Comprehensive Plan before the village elections on March 15. The village must allow the county 30 days reviewing the document. “We’re having a public hearing. It still hasn’t been finalized” and further changes in the text could be made, Serradas said. “That’s more tax dollars wasted.” He did not explain how allowing the county to begin looking at what the village has already prepared would waste tax money. Falloon then moved to strike the clause permitting the village to immediately refer the document to the county; the measure was removed. The board then proceeded with the rest of the resolution.
Even designating a location for the public hearing sparked dissent. “I have a problem with this public hearing being held in a parish hall of an Episcopal church. This should not be held in that venture,” Trustee Charles Hustis asserted, apparently mixing up venue and venture. Instead of occurring at St. Mary’s, the hearing “should be held in either the Village Hall or the VFW. It should be separation of church and state. And it’s a crime to have something like this being held up there. I’m going on record as saying that.” When the board chose to hold the hearing at the church site as planned, Hustis cast the lone “no” vote. He is a long-time parishioner of St. Mary’s. The village also plans to use the parish hall for a Feb. 15 public information forum on the Comprehensive Plan. For both occasions, the village will rent the facility.
Also during the meeting, the board got a report from Water and Sewer Superintendent Gregory Phillips, who is launching a campaign against dumping of grease into the waste-water system. “I am putting together a packet of information for all restaurants and food-service establishments regarding the requirements of the Village Code [on] use and maintenance of grease traps,” he wrote. “We are seeing more grease-related issues at the treatment facility and lift stations than ever before. I also plan to put together an information packet for homeowners to raise awareness” of the problem, he said. The initiative drew praise from an audience member, Stephanie Hawkins. “I think that’s a great idea,” she said.