Town Board Considers Variety of Issues

Scuccimarra signs off after Nov. defeat 

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong 

As it wound down the calendar on a busy year, the Philipstown Town Board last Thursday (Dec. 1) took up issues of advertising at the town Recreation Center, dogs at Quarry Pond park and drivers on Winston Lane, and ongoing questions regarding Garrison Volunteer Fire Company (GVFC) money. The board and public also heard a farewell from Councilor Barbara Scuccimarra, the board’s sole Republican, defeated in November in her bid for re-election.

Representing the Friends of Philipstown Recreation (FOPR), an auxiliary group that supports the Recreation Department’s activities, Claudio Marzollo enquired of the possibility of selling wall space in the recreation center gym to local businesses, who could advertise on 3-foot by 5-foot signs. Uniform in design, the placards could be renewed annually, with a starting price of roughly $1,000 each, Marzollo explained. Proceeds would underwrite such projects as washrooms at the Philipstown Town Park in Garrison, irrigation of playing fields, and other capital improvements, selected by the town Recreation Commission in conjunction with the FOPR, he said.

Marzollo cited the importance of Town Board input on the idea. “At certain times it is better to ask forgiveness than permission,” he observed wryly. “I think this is a case where it should be the other way around.” The board referred the proposal to Edward Doyle, town attorney, for a legal review.

Quarry Pond dogs
On a park-related matter, the board began discussing problems created by dogs at the town’s other park at Quarry Pond, off Route 9 in the northern end of Philipstown. Councilor Betty Budney pointed out that dogs routinely run loose around the pond, charging at human park visitors. On various occasions, people “were frightened and now they won’t go back there and walk,” she said. The overall park incorporates a “dog park,” which may not be working out, Philipstown Supervisor Richard Shea said, expressing concern about a dog biting someone. But uncontrolled canines are only part of the problem, he said. In addition, lax humans “are not picking up after their animals. We’re getting a lot more complaints than it may be worth” to accommodate dogs at the park, he said. “We can still have the town park there; maybe we need to preclude dogs.” Councilor Nancy Montgomery advised park-users to report unleashed dogs to the town dog-controller officer, Robert Ferris, (845)265-4732. 

GVFC finances
As part of its yearly business, the Town Board ratified contracts with the Continental Village Fire Department and both the Philipstown and Garrison volunteer ambulance corps, but postponed a similar vote authorizing a contract with the GVFC. Just that evening, the fire company had sent a contract addendum, and the board needed time to study it, Shea said.

Garrison resident Joe Regele, who tries to closely follow GVFC finances, advised that the board build several mandates into the contract, such as requiring the GVFC to track its expenses and income month by month, give monthly projections on where it stands in regard to its annual budget, and adhere to basic limits on purchasing and spending. He recommended that the fire company utilize the same kind of monthly budget reporting as that employed by the town recreation department. So far in 2011, “we don’t actually know how much the fire department has spent,” Regele said. Tracking expenses, income, and other financial details monthly “would be a very useful tool not just for the town but for the fire company,” Regele said.

Shea and Councilor John Van Tassel, who worked with the GVFC on its fiscal 2012 budget, welcomed the suggestion. Shea added, though, that in the latest budget go-round, “there was definitely some heated discussion” but ultimately, “I felt like we did get cooperation” from the GVFC. Nonetheless, with a report tracking financial activity month by month, “you’d have something much more accurate at a much earlier date” for gauging where fire company finances stand, he said.

 Winston Lane-Route 9 bus stop
The board heard a plea from Melissa and William Rimm that the town and law enforcement officials address hazards at a new school-bus stop at Route 9 and Winston Lane. The two, who live on Winston lane, said that motorists speed and otherwise drive improperly on the road, heading up from Continental Village to access Route 9, and threaten children waiting for the school bus or getting off the bus in the afternoon. Because of storm-related road damage, the Rimms told the board, the bus stop was moved, putting it in a more dangerous spot at the intersection. On Dec. 1 a child and parent were nearly run over by a driver going too fast and erratically, they said, noting that they had notified the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department and New York State Police. The Rimms recommended installation of more signage and ongoing monitoring. Shea and Van Tassel pledged likewise to contact the sheriff and get other officials involved as well to remedy the situation.

Scuccimarra farewell
At the end of the meeting, Scuccimarra delivered a farewell, in light of her Dec. 31 departure from the board. “It has been an honor and a privilege to be your councilwoman,” she said to the public at large. “I believe in different perspectives and a two-party system, allowing us to work together to reduce the burden of government on its residents. Of all the board’s endeavors during her tenure, “I am most proud to have been a part of the finalization of the [new] zoning law,” which “will help preserve our community for future generations,” Scuccimarra said. She urged the board to continue to pursue three causes particularly dear to her – adding a historic preservation overlay to the zoning law, consolidating local justice courts, and continuing to upgrade the storm water management system.  Her colleagues on the board, all Democrats, thanked her for her four years of dedication and bipartisan spirit.  “I hope to solicit your wisdom in all things Philipstown in the future,” said Nancy Montgomery.  “I’m going to miss you; love you!” added Betty Budney.

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