Scenic Hudson Wins Approval of Foundry Preserve Plans

Group objects to performance bond requirement

By Kevin E. Foley

Scenic Hudson’s proposed park, the West Point Foundry Preserve (WPFP), reached a milestone Tuesday, Nov. 15, when the Cold Spring Village Planning Board granted final approval of the land preservation group’s site plan for the 87-acre property on the southern end of the Vvillage. The board’s vote came after four years of periodic, sometimes very long, workshop meetings spent reviewing and changing hundreds of details, large and small, on the project’s plans. The Planning Board also held a public hearing on Aug. 9, 2011, at which several witnesses voiced enthusiastic support for the project without any negative comments presented. 

“I congratulate you,” Planning Board Chairman Joseph Barbaro quietly said after a 4-0 vote with member Joseph Immorlica abstaining and members,  Arne Saari, Richard Weissbrod and Placito Sgro joining the chairman in the affirmative.  The approval from the “lead agency” allows Scenic Hudson to begin planning the construction phase of the project. Scenic Hudson’s Director of Parks, Rita Shaheen, who has led her group’s efforts to obtain sign-off from the Planning Board and the Vvillage’s Historic District Review Board as well as state and federal agencies, said she believed construction could begin in spring or early summer 2012. She said a 9-12 month period is likely needed for completion during which the area, a favorite walking trek for many local residents, would be closed. “We are very pleased we received the site plan approval,” said Shaheen who was complimentary of the Planning Board members’ efforts to complete the review process. “It has been a careful review;, everyone will be proud of what it will become,” she said.

When the WPFP reopens it will still be a mostly protected natural area but will also contain “low impact” interpretative elements that will guide visitors toward an understanding of the history and culture of the 19th-century period when the foundry actually operated with over 1,000 workers who lived in and around Cold Spring. The foundry was most known for the production of weaponry for the U. S. Army during the Civil War.  Scenic Hudson plans include the construction of a sculptural water wheel to demonstrate power generation where armaments were manufactured, and a replica of a former lookout tower for testing the famous Parrott Gun artillery piece. Other amenities will include landscaped walking trails and roads, educational programs, picnic areas, as well as enhanced cultivation of the natural areas.

Performance bond a sticking point

One issue not yet resolved is the Planning Board’s requirement that Scenic Hudson post a performance bond for the project, in effect an insurance policy against losses the village might sustain if the organization fails to complete its work. Scenic Hudson objects to the requirement as an unnecessary and added expense for the project that it did not anticipate.  Shaheen said the nonprofit group would ask the Village Board of Trustees to waive the bond requirement, which it can do under Vvillage law.

According to Shaheen, prior to this project no municipality had asked Scenic Hudson for a performance bond on 50 completed projects up and down the Hudson Valley. She said her organization currently operates 16 parks and that Scenic Hudson intends to operate the WPFP after construction. “We have the money set aside for the project, including two state grants. We know we will finish it. We have a track record on creating and operating parks,” she said. Scenic Hudson has owned the foundry preserve land since 1996.

Using cost estimates provided by Scenic Hudson and affirmed by a consulting engineer, the Planning Board voted 4-1 (Richard Weissbrod dissented) to require a bond worth $717,276, roughly 25 percent of the estimated $3.2 million project cost. The figure is meant to address areas where the Planning Board has safety or other concerns that could impact the village financially if they were not completed. Insurance premiums can run a range of 1 percent to 5 percent of the bond amount depending on a number of underwriting factors, including construction track record, financial history and the jurisdiction in which the bond is issued. 


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