Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!

Conceptual plan for village garage

Three distinct visions for village truck yard

By Michael Turton 

Even after five years of extensive public input, new ideas continue to bubble up regarding the future of the Cold Spring waterfront.  At its June 23 meeting, the Special Board responsible for drafting the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP) was presented with three distinct visions for the property that now serves as the Village of Cold Spring truck yard and garage – a site that offers spectacular views of the Hudson River and the Highlands. A Brooklyn-based non-profit organization would like to see the site become the Hudson Music Center. A life-long resident favors it being used as a community center. A Main Street business owner wants to see it become the permanent home of the Cold Spring Farmers’ Market.
       JazzReach Performing Arts & Education Association, Inc. submitted an ambitious preliminary concept that includes a 150-seat performance space, a 20-25 room boutique hotel, a market, cafe and “chef’s table” that would offer gourmet foods. The  proposal also calls for 10-15 one and two bedroom residences, a fitness center, communal office space, a public riverfront space and optional public parking. JazzReach seeks to lease the property from the Village and then develop the site. When asked what the annual lease fee might be JazzReach spokesman Hans Schuman said, “Perhaps a dollar.”  Minimal leases such as that are not uncommon locally among non-profits that do not own their own property. No cost estimate for the project was given. JazzReach would be responsible for all capital development costs.  Special Board member Marie Early cautioned Schuman to not look to the village as a funding partner.      

JazzReach rep Hans Schuman envisions a multi-purpose music center

Schuman said that JazzReach was established 16 years ago and conducts programs across the country at “esteemed music venues.” He said that the former Marathon Battery site or Dockside Park could also be considered as potential sites for the proposed music center. Special Board member Karen Doyle said that based on comments from Fahnestock State Park manager Bill Baumann,  New York State would not allow such a development at Dockside. The site is owned by New York State Parks and is administered by Baumann along with other local State-owned properties such Little Stony Point. At a recent meeting Baumann said that a full sized restaurant at Dockside would not likely be approved because it would have a negative impact on the landscape. The village is negotiating an agreement to take over management of the Dockside and can develop it subject to State approval. Marathon property owner Ken Kearney has mentioned the possibility of creating a community space as part of redevelopment plans for that site. 
       Local resident David Birn enthusiastically supported the music center concept – although not necessarily the truck yard as the place to put it. “A performing arts center is a fantastic idea but I don’t know that this is the best site for it. A 100-150 seat [facility] would be an incredible asset to the community.” He said that a cultural center would have “a very positive long term economic impact” on the village. He also urged the Special Board to resist the temptation to recommend selling the truck yard to a developer – that while that might result in a large one-time payment to the village, the potential public benefits of the site would be lost to a few private individuals. Vice Chairperson Anne Impellizzeri put the idea of a music center in perspective. “This is a long way from doing anything. This is about planning recommendations.”      

Life long Cold Spring resident Janet Rust prefers a community center

Janet Rust has lived in Cold Spring her entire life and leaves no doubt that she does not want the truck yard turned over to a developer. She asked the Special Board to not even display one conceptual map showing the site being developed for housing. “I shudder when I see that,” she said. “I want it to benefit people in our own community.” Rust proposed that the existing village garage be converted to a multi-purpose community center. She listed numerous potential uses including making the revamped building local headquarters for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. “It’s time they had their own home,” she said. Other uses favored by Rust include meeting and performance spaces, facilities for the newly established film society, a hospitality centre for hikers and cyclists and a kitchen. 

Lynn Miller wants to se the farmers' market move to the village truck yard

Lynn Miller owns Go-Go Pops on Main Street and is a vendor at the Cold Spring Farmers’ Market. She wants to see the truck yard become the market’s year-round home. She said that vendors were left wondering until the last minute this spring before finally being notified that the outdoor market would again be located at the old Butterfield Hospital site. The winter market has been held indoors at the Philipstown Recreation Center. “This [the truck yard] would be a wonderful permanent home for the market,”  Miller said. She said that communities, such as Ithaca, New York, that have created permanent market facilities have enjoyed increased economic benefits. “Farmers’ markets also provide entrepreneurial opportunities.” Miller said that when the economy turned sour her husband lost his job and she found herself underemployed. They had an idea for creating their own business, but needed a testing ground. “We ‘got our feet wet’ at the farmers’ market,” she said. They tested their products and based on the success at the market opened their Main Street shop.
       Throughout the Comprehensive Plan process, and now during the drafting of the LWRP, there has been considerable support for connecting the redeveloped truck yard – in whatever form that may take – with Dockside.  Although it presents many challenges, a bridge has been suggested most often as the way to do that. Local resident and architect Jimmy Zuehl literally turned that idea upside down – suggesting instead that a tunnel be constructed under the Metro North tracks. He reminded board members that Cold Spring already has one such tunnel at Main Street. Zuehl said that the truck yard site is large enough to construct a gradually sloped, wheelchair accessible path to the tunnel entrance, an approach that he said was more desirable than having to install an elevator for handicapped users.
       While ideas continue to flow, Special Board members are becoming increasingly aware that it may be time to turn off the tap. During a discussion about whether to have additional public workshops and an information table at Community Day celebrations on July 3, Karen Doyle said, “At some point you have to analyze what information you have”¦ time is getting short.” Marie Early agreed.  “I’m with Karen” she said. “It’s time to move on. We have to work on conclusions. There’s not enough time to evaluate more workshops. August workshops will push us past September.”
       Meetings of the Special Board are open to the public and are posted on the Village website.
Photos by M. Turton


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15 thoughts on “Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!

  1. This is almost like our own small town version of the “Overton Window.” It’s like the Comp Board is tossing out all sorts of ideas (do I dare say crazy ideas) in order to shift the discussion so off kilter, that what seemed crazy a few years ago now seems run of the mill.

    How about the Village Board stops footing the bill for fantasy comp board meetings and starts constructively working towards a community center at the Butterfield site. One that’s not only viable, but has been offered.

    A.W.

  2. Ahh, more fantasy from the fantasy AW! It might be astonishing to realize that there is the capacity to address more than one issue simultaneously.

    The fact that one of the more precious village owned properties is being conceptualized for better uses in no way slows down Butterfield.

    It is preferable that the village attempt to move forward on more than one project at a time. That’s the way progress happens.

    Perhaps AW doesn’t feel that the residents of the village deserve something better at the Truck yard.

  3. Mr. Ambrose,

    You once wrote:

    “that perhaps the energy invested on research, letter writing, canvasing, petitions, attendance etc. could be put to a more productive purpose, benefiting all residence of the community regardless of how long they have or have not lived here. (p.info September 23, 2010 at 11:43 pm)

    Maybe it’s time to follow your own advice. I just find it amazing that you would write that in September, then sign a petition for the WVG so soon after.

    On the issue of the truck yard – if the Village wants to redevelop that parcel for the betterment of the residents, do it in a manner reflective of the democratic process. Let the ELECTED members of the Village Board do the work they were elected to do, rather than an appointed group of “experts”, hold what amounts to an interview process with potential developers. I’m sure we will see a “motion to sell the truck yard to JazzReach rep Hans Schuman” on a referendum vote sometime soon…

    A.W.

  4. BAD IDEA WHO WANTS the village to be filled with luxury music people, cookie cutter town houses. This will jam the village with way more people than our present infastructure can handle. How does this benifit local residents? Lets get back to the sprit of the orginal birthers of the plan with things such as Simple river access,bike paths,green space,sidewalks,parking and so on. I dont understand how the simple and sane has been twisted so much. Now it seems that the comp plan has turned into a money pit for the village and a huge machine courting developers who could not give a c$rap about local residents and are only interested in duping the small town rubes and extracting as much gain as possible. I aplogize to the people on the boards who spend so much time doing this work. At this time i think that the village needs really take a look at this process. Lets as residents STOP THIS MADNESS .

  5. The argument that we should ask the “ELECTED members of the village board” [emphasis from the original] to explore options on the truck yard, “in a manner reflective of the democratic process,” fails because it was elected officials who, in 2006, specifically appointed a Special Board to do this work, and because this is, in fact, how the democratic process works. Throughout all levels of government, elected officials appoint boards and hire consultants to assist them in the work of governing. To call an invitation to the public, issued by an all-volunteer board, to present ideas for the uses of the Truck site an “interview process with potential developers,” is insulting to the many residents who came forward with wonderful ideas. Ironically, one of those who spoke that night, a long time resident, later expressed some fear that bringing ideas to the Special Board would make them an object of ridicule by AW. Perhaps AW should take a few moments from his busy day to reflect on the words of the great Rabbi Hillel, “If I am for myself alone, who am I?”

    Michael Armstrong, chair, Special Board for a Comprehensive Plan/LWRP

  6. Mr. Armstrong,

    My intent isn’t to ridicule anyone.

    You write “Throughout all levels of government, elected officials appoint boards and hire consultants to assist them in the work of governing.”

    That is true, but usually there is oversight of those boards and committees by the elected officials that appoint them. In my opinion, I believe that five years is more than enough to accomplish the mission you were originally charged with.

    Also, in my opinion, you have made the Comprehensive Plan your full time job, much in the same way that our current Mayor has made that position a full time job.

    I believe it’s time to bring this entire process to a close. Right now it seems that it is open ended. Every time a deadline approaches, new meetings are held, public comment is reopened. You have said in the past that you don’t want to rush this plan and push it through…the statement has also been made that people were not invited back to the table because they were holding up the process. Well, now the obstructions have been cleared, yet still this process drags on.

    I have two simple questions for you Michael Armstrong, chair, Special Board for a Comprehensive Plan/LWRP:

    1) When will the Comp Plan be finished?

    2) When will the LWRP Plan be finished?

    Those should be very simple questions to answer, especially 5 years into them.

    A.W.

  7. For those in the community who have not been as close to the Comprehensive Plan/LWRP as “Arthur”, I should note that I have been chair of the Special Board only two years, not five. In fact, I have been a member of the Special Board only since January 2009 (before that I served on one of the working groups). The progress of the Special Board for this village, given the enormous hurdles posed by the delays in State funding, is nothing short of miraculous, and testifies to the hard work of the volunteer special board members and working groups, and the continuing support of the community.

    The Special Board finished its work on the Comprehensive Plan in December 2010, as “Arthur” is also fully aware. The Comp Plan is now in the hands of the Village Trustees, so I am the wrong person to ask about when it will be done.

    The Village has a contract with the State to complete an LWRS (Local Waterfront Revitalization Strategy) — the first phase of the LWRP (Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan) — by the end of November, 2011. We will meet that deadline. We do not know when and even if funding will be made available by the State for a second phase, to complete the full LWRP.

    Since July 2009, I have reported every month, in writing and in person, to the Village Board on the work of the Special Board, and answered any questions asked by the Trustees. All appointments to the Special Board are made by vote of the Trustees, and those appointments have one year terms, renewable only upon a majority vote of the trustees, as “Arthur” knows. As a matter of plain fact, the Special Board operates with the oversight of the Mayor and Trustees.

    Michael Armstrong, chair, Special Board for a Comprehensive Plan/LWRP

  8. Mr. Armstrong,

    Thank you for the clarification. You write:

    “The Village has a contract with the State to complete an LWRS (Local Waterfront Revitalization Strategy) — the first phase of the LWRP (Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan) — by the end of November, 2011. We will meet that deadline. We do not know when and even if funding will be made available by the State for a second phase, to complete the full LWRP”

    So as of right now, the first phase of the LWRP should be coming to a close by November 30, 2011 at the latest. And if funding is not forthcoming from the Cuomo administration, the LWRP could be put on hold indefinitely?

    Also, thank you for the clarification regarding the Comprehensive Board/Plan. So as of now, your work as chair of that committee has been completed? You write:

    “The Special Board finished its work on the Comprehensive Plan in December 2010, as “Arthur” is also fully aware. The Comp Plan is now in the hands of the Village Trustees, so I am the wrong person to ask about when it will be done.”

    If work was completed in December of last year, why does the Comp Board continue to “officially meet” under the name of “Comprehensive Plan/ Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP) Special Board” and you continue to refer to yourself as “Chairman of the Comp Board?”

    If the process is indeed “over” how about some closure? It would sure silence some critics who have pointed out that this seems to be an open ended, ongoing, dragging on process.

    A.W.

  9. Mr. Armstrong,
    Thank you for the clarification. You write:
    “The Village has a contract with the State to complete an LWRS (Local Waterfront Revitalization Strategy) — the first phase of the LWRP (Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan) — by the end of November, 2011. We will meet that deadline. We do not know when and even if funding will be made available by the State for a second phase, to complete the full LWRP”
    So as of right now, the first phase of the LWRP should be coming to a close by November 30, 2011 at the latest. And if funding is not forthcoming from the Cuomo administration, the LWRP could be put on hold indefinitely?
    ____
    Armstrong responds: Yes, that is a possibility. The village could also decide to fund the preparation of the LWRP on its own. The very rough estimated cost for that is $30,000 – $50,000.
    ___
    Also, thank you for the clarification regarding the Comprehensive Board/Plan. So as of now, your work as chair of that committee has been completed? You write:
    “The Special Board finished its work on the Comprehensive Plan in December 2010, as “Arthur” is also fully aware. The Comp Plan is now in the hands of the Village Trustees, so I am the wrong person to ask about when it will be done.”
    If work was completed in December of last year, why does the Comp Board continue to “officially meet” under the name of “Comprehensive Plan/ Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP) Special Board” and you continue to refer to yourself as “Chairman of the Comp Board?”
    ____
    Armstrong responds: You have artfully twisted my words. The Village established a Special Board to prepare both a Comprehensive Plan and a Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan, and that gives the Special Board its name. One of those tasks has been completed. It would be possible for the Village to revise the mission of the Special Board, but at this point that would be both a legal expense and a distraction that would yield very little value to the community. So, I continue as chair of the Special Board for a Comprehensive Plan/LWRP.
    ___
    If the process is indeed “over” how about some closure? It would sure silence some critics who have pointed out that this seems to be an open ended, ongoing, dragging on process.
    ___
    Armstrong responds: We have repeatedly said that the state contract for the first, LWRS, phase will end in November 2011. The Special Board has followed an aggressive and productive schedule that is the opposite of “dragging on,” while remaining open to public comment. I invite the critics, including “Arthur,” to come to our meetings and see for themselves.
    ____

  10. Mr. Armstrong,

    If moving forward with phase II of the LWRP may cost the Village $30,000 — $50,000, can you please tell us what the approximate cost of the Comprehensive Plan was/is? And how much has been footed by the Village taxpayer, and how much was covered by grant monies?

    A.W.

  11. Mr. Armstrong,

    The more I think about $30-50,000 dollars, I can’t stop wondering why that amount? I thought these committees were fueled by volunteers?

    A.W.

  12. The expenses for the Comprehensive Plan, apart from legal expenses, have almost all been, or will be, covered by the $50,000 State LWRP and $7,500 Greenway Grants from 2006. A smattering of expenses, some incurred before the LWRP contract was signed by the State in August 2009, and a few others, amounting in all to perhaps a few thousand dollars, have been paid by the Village. The Village is likely to incur some modest additional expense in the final adoption of the Comprehensive Plan by the Village Trustees, and the expense of updating the zoning code to conform to the Comprehensive Plan once it is adopted. In completing the LWRS this fall, the Special Board will spend some of the funds appropriated by the Village for the 2011/2012 fiscal year, to inform the public of the September 17 Community Workshop at which the draft LWRS Report will be presented.

    You ask why we need funding at all, given the immense effort by volunteers. The money is needed to pay for consultants, people expert in zoning, community planning, and Local Waterfront Revitalization Programs, and state and local law, to advise the volunteers so they can prepare a plan that will meet State standards and pass the required Agency review (dozens of agencies, from local, county, state and federal levels, are required to review community LWRPs before they can be adopted). The money is needed for the preparation of maps and illustrations, which are often beyond the skills of the community volunteers. The money is needed to get the word out, to print materials, to do mailings. Only those with a reflexive contempt for government could think this is something anyone can do, that the issues are never complex, the solutions are always obvious, the range of options narrow. I say that as a person who worked in private industry for 35 years.

    The Comprehensive Plan and the Local Waterfront Revitalization Strategy have been a huge bargain for the Village. For a modest expense, in the course of preparing the plan, many money-saving and revenue-generating ideas, big and small, surfaced, were discussed and then implemented. These include an overhauling of the way the Village recycles ($15 — 20K annual savings), the introduction of parking waivers (which yield fee revenues but also make it easier to adapt old buildings to new uses, a boon to many local businesses who have started and expanded on Main Street in recent months), and new fees for docking. Ideas for the future — like the introduction of parking meters to help hold the line on property taxes and new uses of the Village Garage site that boost revenues, could make a big difference in years to come. Any business would be proud to tout the payback on this investment to its shareholders.

    But the biggest benefit of all is the renewed sense of ownership residents are taking in the village. People feel they can make a difference, they can get things done that they want to be done, and they have a voice when things they oppose are brought before the public. That has made our lives better, and will endure.

    Michael Armstrong, chair, Special Board for a Comprehensive Plan/LWRP

  13. Mr. Armstrong,

    The “$50,000 State LWRP and $7,500 Greenway Grants from 2006” is taxpayer money, correct? It may not be direct from the Community of Cold Spring, but from all the residents of New York State.

    The list of accomplishments stemming from the Comp Board process is impressive – and I thank all the members of the boards for their volunteer time. I do find it interesting however, that all of those accomplishments are also ones that Mayor Seth Gallagher credited himself for during the last election cycle.

    I thank you for your candid disclosures here in this forum, and also for your assurances that this process is all drawing to a close, sooner rather than later.

    A.W.

  14. Mr. Armstrong,

    The “$50,000 State LWRP and $7,500 Greenway Grants from 2006” is taxpayer money, correct? It may not be direct from the Community of Cold Spring, but from all the residents of New York State.

    The list of accomplishments stemming from the Comp Board process is impressive – and I thank all the members of the boards for their volunteer time. I do find it interesting however, that all of those accomplishments are also ones that Mayor Seth Gallagher credited himself for during the last election cycle.

    I thank you for your candid disclosures here in this forum, and also for your assurances that this process is all drawing to a close, sooner rather than later.

    A.W.

  15. Yes, the $57,500 in grant money is from all the taxpayers of New York. The 2,013 residents of Cold Spring contributed, in total, not individually, just $5.88 to that $57,500. So I’d say this argument that it’s all tax dollars is a little academic — since it suggests that the village should have rejected the $57,500 in grant money in order to avoid a tax on each villager of well under a penny.

    As to the point about where the credit goes when good things happen, most people understand that good things happen when people work together to make them happen. Someone has an idea, someone else improves on it, a third person sees a better way, and others — seeing how it could benefit them and the whole community — suggest new ways of working. The improvements in recycling are a great example. Work on the Special Board suggested that direct delivery to the recycling firm (Hudson Baylor) could be beneficial (realizing the high demand for paper was crucial). Roger Chirico, in concert with councilwoman Betty Budney and Mayor Gallagher, worked out a deal with Hudson Baylor for direct delivery using single stream pickup. Ed Trimble and the highway department figured out how to make this all work in a new collection plan — one that helped free up his crew to do other work. Each played an essential role; giving credit to any of those involved does not take it from anyone else.