Damaged firehouse floor also discussed
By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong
The Cold Spring Village Board Tuesday night (May 24) cleared another obstacle in the long road to major improvements for the Main Street corridor and reiterated its strong interest in moving the village police department to the old Butterfield Hospital property, if office space becomes available. On a third infrastructure-related issue, the board also endorsed a plan for fixing a sagging portion of the village firehouse floor.
Action on the street improvement project, on the horizon — if not the immediate agenda — for several years, came when the board agreed to finalize arrangements with Clough Harbor & Associates LLP, (CHA.) The firm will supply engineering assistance on the approximately $800,000 project, to be largely funded through federal grants channeled through the State of New York. Specifically, with four affirmative votes, the five-man board approved two resolutions, each less than a page long, which authorized Mayor Seth Gallagher to sign the CHA contract. Renewing a long-standing if temporarily dormant dispute over the proper time to dispatch meeting materials, Trustee Airinhos Serradas voted “abstain” on both resolutions, stating that he had received the relevant texts too late in the day.
Gallagher said that the board members received copies of the actual CHA contract four to six months ago but that the board delayed action pending final permission from the state. “It’s only recently we got the go-ahead.” Now, he added, signing the contract and getting work in motion “is extremely urgent. We need to be able to bill and if we don’t bill then we can lose the funding or the funding would be reduced. We’ve been urged by the state to `please get us a bill'” to get the money rolling. “It’s been probably seven years” since the village first proposed the project and in that time, he added, the village on its own fixed two or three side streets initially specified for inclusion in the grant-funded work.
In terms of CHA’s role “the contract hasn’t changed in any major degree” since the board members first got copies, he told Serradas.
“It has changed,” Serradas replied. “It’s incumbent on this board to do due diligence.”
Village Attorney Stephen Gaba concurred that some alterations, what he termed “wonky” language tweaking, had occurred, but nothing else. “The CHA contract hasn’t changed. The CHA contract matches the grant as the grant was changed” with any revisions reflecting such small items as a grant-number listing, he said. Serradas said he did not oppose the project per se. Instead, “I have complete objection to these documents arriving, one this afternoon at 12:15, the other at 2:31. Granted, some of this we’d had before,” he acknowledged. Nonetheless, “we need to spend our time reading what’s here. This is nothing new — if our agenda goes out on a Friday, everything we need to resolve and review should be coming out on a Friday as well.”
Burying power lines
Serradas also proposed that the project include burying the power lines along Main Street, just as Beacon and other towns have done along their old streets. “It would be a good opportunity to utilize those resources,” he said. If the village re-opens the street to bury the lines in the future, “it’s just duplicating our work.” He recommended that the village use anticipated savings to fund part of the utility burial and “float a bond” to cover the rest. Gallagher and Trustee Bruce Campbell, who has led much of the village effort on street improvements, replied that the village had tentatively explored the possibility of utility-line burial but found that that the costs would exceed the amount allocated for the grant-funded work.
“The amount of money wasn’t even close,” the mayor said. “It’s impossible to do it as part of this project. This project, with everything, is under a million dollars. You’re probably talking $7 million for that” power-line burial. Campbell suggested that the village use the coming street work as an opportunity to take any preliminary steps possible toward putting the lines underground in the future. Right now, “we know we have to stay within budget,” he said.
Shared government facility
The board also passed a resolution expressing its interest “in leasing or otherwise securing use of space in the proposed shared government services building, on the Butterfield Hospital property, for various municipal purposes including “¦ the village’s police station and justice court,” both now housed at the Village Hall, for $25,000 annually. Almost a year ago, the board approved a related resolution stating it wanted to pursue leasing of space at Butterfield for some functions, including police operations. The new resolution notes that Paul Guillaro of Butterfield Realty LLC, owner of the site, anticipates leasing space to local governments for $12.75 per square foot. According to the resolution, the village would seek about 2,000 square feet of space.
Mayor Gallagher cited the likelihood that the Town of Philipstown’s justice court could share the courtroom with Cold Spring’s court and that the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department might share space with the Cold Spring police department. He told his colleagues that Guillaro’s latest plan calls for demolishing the vacant hospital and replacing with two structures, the government services building and a separate senior-citizen complex of some type. “What he’s looking for now is a fairly real commitment from the village” and Town of Philipstown to take space in a shared government structure, Gallagher said.
Cautioning that “commitment is maybe too strong a term,” Gaba said that “I don’t think you can go so far as to say the village is bound to take 2,000 square feet,” in a legal sense. The resolution “doesn’t really bind the village [though] it does show interest. I think that should be enough.” The lawyer mentioned the relative uniqueness of governments sharing space in such a way. “This building could be a poster child for that sort of thing.” Campbell and Trustees J. Ralph Falloon and Charles Hustis joined Gallagher in approving the resolution, which directs the mayor to write to Guillaro “communicating the village’ board’s desire.” Serradas voted “abstain” on the resolution “because it arrived this afternoon.”
Fixing the firehouse floor
Falloon read a memo from Michael P. Carr, a consulting engineer, outlining two basic options for the firehouse floor. On a 5 to 0 vote, the board approved spending additional money for engineering if needed to pursue the first option, which Carr described as “the partial removal and replacement of the floor structure. This would entail saw-cutting the perimeter of the existing floor, leaving the bathrooms, wall partitions, and wall-mounted heat elements in place.” Carr’s second option would involve “the entire removal and replacement of the floor structure,” which would require taking out the bathrooms, ceiling, and other elements and cost $60,000 to $70,000.
Because the firehouse occupies a lot once used for a car-repair garage, questions arose about possible contamination under the floor, particularly in the old car-service pits. “If there’s contamination under there, it’s got to come out,” Falloon said. But he expressed confidence no such problems will emerge. “I’m an optimist.”
Finally, the board heard a comment from a resident who complained that a May 14 public forum on the old Marathon battery property, Dockside Park, and Village Garage involved undue confusion and hindrances to citizen participation. Convened by the village’s Special Board for a Comprehensive Plan-Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan, the meeting was held in the VFW hall on Kemble Avenue, across from the Marathon site. The hall “was too small to begin with,” the unidentified critic said. Moreover, he said, the format created problems. He advised that said such meetings focus on one topic at a time, not have three group discussions underway simultaneously, forcing attendees to choose which to join. The mayor said that participants in all three groups could comment on all three sites, but that each group focused in particular on its chosen area. Moreover, he said, the organizers explained the format in some detail at the beginning. However, he added, “your point is noted.” And he agreed about having better meeting facilities in Cold Spring: “There is a need for some good space.”