Newly elected member, Philipstown Town Board
Dave Merandy served on the Haldane School Board for 10 years, including several terms as president. In November he successfully ran for a seat on the Philipstown Town Board. Just prior to the election Merandy was hurt in a construction accident and continues to recover from his injuries. Earlier this month he announced that he was stepping down as a school board trustee and on Dec. 30 was sworn into office along with the rest of the Town Board. Merandy, who owns his own construction business, was recently interviewed at his home outside of Cold Spring by Philipstown.info’s Michael Turton. Their conversation has been edited.
Philipstown.info: How are you feeling these days?
Merandy: Pretty stiff. And I don’t really know what to expect. The doctor said I’d have better range of motion within about three months of the accident – but it will be six months to a year for a full recovery. But I feel pretty good overall.
Philipstown.info: How did you get hurt?
Merandy: We were adding a second floor to a shed and I was upstairs putting down plywood. The last sheet shifted and fell down between the trusses – and I fell with it. When I landed I said, “This isn’t good.” My friend who was there had trained as an EMT and he braced my back with some plywood until the Philipstown ambulance got there.
Philipstown.info: What was the extent of your injuries?
Merandy: I had a cut on my forehead, which I thought was bad at first but it wasn’t. I broke a couple of fingers. And I fractured my first and second vertebrae. They fused the vertebrae – so I didn’t have to wear a halo, and I’m no longer wearing a neck brace.
Philipstown.info: What’s been the most difficult aspect of your recovery?
Merandy: I’m a pretty active person – and I have not been able to do anything. That and too much television.
Philipstown.info: What’s the last book you read for fun?
Merandy: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Philipstown.info: You attended your last School Board meeting on Dec. 20. Was it emotional for you to announce that you were stepping down?
Merandy: Totally emotional. But I wanted to get it out there so they could get the process going to replace me.
Philipstown.info: What are you most proud of from your years on the school board?
Merandy: Everything we did involved everyone on the board, but I think I provided good direction. The successful referendum to do the capital projects was key. And hiring Mark Villanti as Superintendent was important. He knows the ropes and he’s helped us accomplish what we wanted to do. We stabilized things.
Philipstown.info: There could be as many as three new trustees on the school board as of the May election. What do you think is the most important trait they need bring to the Board?
Merandy: They have to be able to balance community needs, taxes and education. You can’t have an education zealot with no concern for taxes – or someone who does not want spend funds on anything – that’s not good either.
Philipstown.info: What made you want to switch from the School Board to the Town Board?
Merandy: I just felt it was time to move on. I was on the School Board for 10 years and we accomplished what we set out to do. I wanted to get involved with the Town Board and there was an opportunity. I didn’t like the whole feeling of what was going on there.
Philipstown.info: Was the Town election what you expected? Did anything surprise you?
Merandy: Nothing surprised me. I think I learned a lot about myself. Speaking in public about what I think is right was new for me, and a challenge, but I loved it. As for the election process, the amount of money spent was distasteful to me. As a small community we could have spent that money more wisely.
Philipstown.info: What’s the best lesson you learned as a school board trustee that you’ll now keep in the back of your mind as a Town Board member?
Merandy: I think the importance of good communications. That’s what we worked really hard on at Haldane. It wasn’t that way at first. You have to get all the information out there to the public. We’re there to serve them. It’s important that they not see us as adversaries.
Philipstown.info: What area of Town business interests you most?
Merandy: I’m probably least informed about the situation between Putnam County and Philipstown regarding taxes. That’s something I want to look into. And I’ve worked on the sports field study at Haldane and would like to stay involved with that with the Town.
Philipstown.info: What do you do for recreation – to relax?
Merandy: I like hiking the trails around here – although right now I’m limited in what I can do. I also really like riding my motorcycle.
Philipstown.info: Everyone on the Town Board is a Democrat now. Do see that as positive, negative or neither?
Merandy: I don’t think it’s important at all. I actually don’t think the Town election should be run along party lines – it should be like the Village of Cold Spring. I think we’re all individuals. And I’m not about rubber stamping.
Philipstown.info: What would you list as three of the top issues that the Town faces in the next couple of years?
Merandy: The Town Hall – the condition of the structure; the fact that it’s not handicap accessible. Maybe we should think about other places to meet. Butterfield Hospital – I’m not sold on it. I don’t have the long-term numbers. Sometimes the numbers look good initially… That and the Town being able to get sales tax revenue back from Putnam County.
Philipstown.info: What’s your pick for the best movie of all time?
Merandy: The King of Hearts.
Philipstown.info: What’s your favorite pizza topping?