Developer Briefs Town Board about Butterfield Property

Developer Paul Guillaro shows the Town Board his plans for the Butterfield property.

Impact on ambulance services among issues raised 

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong 

With community interest in the proposed Butterfield redevelopment project growing, the Philipstown Town Board added its voices to the discussion Wednesday (Feb. 29), going over familiar ground but also raising new considerations, including the ramifications of an increased senior citizen population for ambulance services. Less than 24 hours after concluding a lengthy session of the Cold Spring Village and Planning boards, Paul Guillaro, of Butterfield LLC, the property owner, briefed Town Board members in a workshop at Town Hall. In a solo presentation (unlike the previous evening, when his attorney and other staff accompanied him), Guillaro also provided draft floor plans for the proposed municipal building, intended to contain village, town and Putnam County offices. The overall complex includes 50 units of affordable senior-citizen apartments, 36 upscale condominiums for 55-and-older residents, and commercial space, perhaps with room for a post office. To create room for the new structures, Guillaro also intends to demolish the old hospital, parts of which date from the 1920s.

His plans have drawn intense study by the Cold Spring village boards and Guillaro acknowledged that the designs he displayed may change, to some extent. “That’s a concept,” he said of the December 2011 design of the municipal building. “I don’t think it’s going to stay like that.” To the residential designs, too, “we’re going to have to make some modifications,” he said. Overall, he added, “the plan is still developing, but that’s basically what it’s going to look like.”

Proposed municipal building entryway plan

The issue of ambulance service rose when Councilor John Van Tassel, a firefighter and one of the Town Board members who looks into emergency service questions, predicted that the Butterfield development “will impact emergency services, without a doubt,” among them the Philipstown Volunteer Ambulance Corps. “I wouldn’t want to guess, but probably 50 percent of their calls are across street, to Chestnut Ridge,” an existing range of apartments for modest-income senior citizens, he said. “Now you’re doubling the elderly population, which is really going to impact Philipstown Ambulance. I don’t know if they’re prepared for that. I guess they’d have to address that.”

Councilor Nancy Montgomery, a professional in the hospitality-restaurant business, approached the question from another perspective. “I’m just wondering about the need for senior housing. Are you locked into that use?” she asked Guillaro. “I’m thinking, `what does the village need most?’ And what I see in my work is places for people to stay” when visiting the area for hiking or other purposes. She also asked about plans for a piece of the existing lawn, so far designated as retained open space. “Is that village green open to the public?” she wondered.

If it’s not, Supervisor Richard Shea put in, “I think there’s going to be a big uproar among the sleigh-riding community.” Families use the slopes on the site for sledding in winter, while children play on the currently expansive lawn in other seasons. Guillaro responded that the piece of lawn “was offered to the village. It’s up to them to decide.”

Proposed municipal building upper floor plan

The developer also tied the green space to questions posed about a possible excess of paving, cars, and parking on the site and its effect upon the village goal of promoting pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. “One of the big issues here that has to be taken into account is that we’re keeping the one acre open as this green,” he said. “If it wasn’t for that, I’m sure we could have a lot more green around the buildings and wherever else. If the [Cold Spring] board decides that, ‘you know what — we don’t need this green coming in here,’ that’s fine, too.”

As the meeting ended, Shea said he considered the project “an opportunity for things we need here,” especially a senior-citizen center and public meeting hall, something on his wish list for months. “I want to engage the public,” in the Butterfield debate, he said. “I’d like people to get involved, because when you look at this building,” the 1867 Town Hall, “you know something has to be done. So is it worth putting money into this building, or do we want to look at going into a fully functional, finished space?” The municipal building would also help the various government jurisdictions “really do some consolidation” of functions “and actually wind up potentially saving taxpayers money, and having better services,” he said. While he said he would like to see the construction get underway this year, Shea also noted the concerns about the historic nature of Cold Spring and well-being of its residents and expressed confidence in the village government’s ability to act wisely.  “I imagine their main concern is ‘what’s best for the village of Cold Spring?’ As it should be,” he said.
Photos by L.S.Armstrong

2 thoughts on “Developer Briefs Town Board about Butterfield Property

  1. Item: Several years ago, the Town purchased the vacant house behind Town Hall with the intention of using it for additional office space. As I recall, the plan was to construct a walkway between town hall and the renovated house. What ever became of that plan?

    Item: Has anyone examined the space savings and cost-effectiveness of digitizing Town Records and securely storing any and all legally necessary original hard copies off-site.

    Item: As I recall, the County had made available funds to the Town to help defray the cost of installing and (external?) elevator so that the courtroom could be wheelchair accessible. What ever became of that idea?

    Item: An appropriately designed external elevator located at the rear of the building would not compromise Town Hall’s architectural integrity.

    Item: A good deal of the additional traffic generated by the inappropriately large project currently being proposed would spill onto Pearl Street in Nelsonville.

    I believe that other, less destructive alternatives exist to the grossly inappropriate project that’s been proposed. I also believe that the offer of what I presume are concessional rental/leasing rates to Town, County and Village governments has swayed the minds of some elected officials. All three levels of government ought to reevaluate their respective space needs and perform unbiased needs, impact- and cost-effectiveness analyses.

    The construction currently being proposed is bad for Cold Spring and its necessity for Philipstown has not been proven. A county-funded senior center does seem appropriate as does a consolidated court space, but I doubt the need for locating additional county office space on this site.

    What’s been proposed would violate Cold Spring’s Comprehensive Plan (, GOAL NUMBER 1 of which is to “Preserve and enhance the small town, historic, neighborly, diverse and safe character of Village life.”

    What’s more, I viable alternatives exist for solving the Town Hall space issue.

  2. The answer seems easy. Lets just stick with existing Zoning. Why do we have to hire planners and task boards at taxpayer expense to review plans that do not meet existing zoning? The property was purchased under existing zoning and should follow that. The buyer knew that when he bought it. Why should we change the rules just to meet his desires. There seems to be more going on here than we all know about. What happened to the original covenants from Julia Butterfield that the property could only be used as a hospital or a YMCA. I guess that last will and testaments can be overuled. I still think that there is WAY too much being proposed for the site. If this is permitted It just opens the doors wider for more out of scale projects to be brought to the table. We live here and bought homes here because we like it here. We should stop yielding to special intrest groups,Non profits and all manner of moneyed people who are attempting to dictate and change our way of life in our village. When will we as a community draw the line and say NO to changes that do not reflect our values. How long will we stand buy and let this place be changed into a Westchester type place? Just take a ride to Parts of Westchester or Jersey an glimpse into the looking glass of our possible future.