Water and Fire on Village Board Agenda

Jaycox Pond could be long-lost reservoir 

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong  

Water – whether in the form of too much seeping into the sewer system, too little falling from the sky, or a pond serving as a long-forgotten reservoir — repeatedly bubbled up onto the Cold Spring Village Board agenda Tuesday night (April 10). At a formal monthly session that drew scant public attendance, only in passing (if at all) did the board mention such controversies as the nature of the Butterfield redevelopment or conversion of a garage to a Dunkin’ Donuts outlet. Rather, routine departmental reports pointed to other challenges, often involving water.

In a written report, Water and Sewer Superintendent Gregory Phillips updated the mayor and trustees on an ongoing investigation of inflow and infiltration of storm and groundwater into the sewer system. If the lack of rainfall continues, the study may need to be extended for additional weeks at greater cost in order to get an adequate gauge of flows, he stated. Mayor Seth Gallagher noted that the department has already determined that “there was a good bit of ground water coming into the system” near the underground stairs and tunnel beneath the railroad tracks on Main Street. Although an old, extraneous pipe is probably partly to blame, he suggested that a second culprit lurks hidden nearby: “The cold spring,” the early water source that gave the village its name and once splashed up from the ground near the current train tracks.

Phillips also noted that a glitch in control panel software created an emergency on Easter Sunday (April8) at the West Street pump station. He said the problem was resolved in about two hours and expressed his appreciation to the department’s Assistant Sewer Plant Operator-Trainee Scott Monroe and to Peter Giachinta, of Pidala Electric, “for attending to the emergency with me.”

Brush fires
While the sewer department mentioned efforts to deal with excess water, Cold Spring Fire Company No. 1 reported a different problem: Too little rain after a dry winter. In his written report, Chief Matthew Steltz reminded the public of an ongoing “red flag warning” against open burning. The chief stated that firefighters “have responded to five brush fires already this spring, three alone at Sandy Beach, including one that needed several hours to extinguish.” Sandy Beach is a popular wading and boat landing site at Little Stony Point, a short distance north of Cold Spring. On its website the CSFC elaborated, explaining that the fire began at about 11:40 Sunday night (April8) and occupied firefighters well into Monday morning, with the CSFC joined by members of the Dutchess Junction and the North Highlands fire departments, plus New York State Park Rangers. “Due to the extremely dry winter and worsened by the early spring winds, the fire spread quickly, burning brush and trees. Conditions are extremely hazardous and even the smallest fire may quickly spread via dry grass, brush, and trees, and may endanger structures,” the CSFC warned.

Lighting bollard mock-up

Dock railing and lights
Waterfront beautification entered the evening’s discussion as well when Andrew Chmar, executive director of the Hudson Highlands Land Trust, reported that “a significant milestone was reached last week” with the signing of a contract for construction of a new railing for the village’s Hudson River dock. “The goal is to have the railing up by the 4th of July,” he said. The railing is part of the overall “dark skies” dock improvement initiative. Underwritten by the Land Trust, the initiative replaces deteriorating tall lampposts on the dock with short, energy-efficient, unobtrusive bollard lights that provide sufficient illumination for reading after dark but minimize or eliminate light pollution and hence allow people to see the mountains, river, and stars. Chmar urged the Village Board to scrap plans to install four new tall lampposts and use bollards instead, observing that installation of lampposts is also more complicated and cumbersome than it is for bollards. With one tentative offer for the lampposts already received, money from the sale could go to other dock needs, Chmar proposed. Anticipating railing installation soon, “we’re optimistic that after four or five years this project will finally see completion and we’re excited about that,” he said.

An old entrance road to Jaycox Pond

Jaycox Pond as forgotten reservoir
Later in the meeting, the board turned to the potential for a newly rediscovered water supply to augment the tap-water system. The potential source is Jaycox Pond, a small lake or large pond off Jaycox Road, an old dirt lane slightly east of Nelsonville. Like the two uppermost lake-like reservoirs that provide water to Cold Spring and Nelsonville, the pond and its dam were once owned by the West Point Foundry Association, which operated the massive metal-working factory that now lies in ruins at the southern edge of Cold Spring. The foundry ran machinery using waterpower from Foundry Brook, which flows from the uppermost reservoirs but is also fed by a small creek running from Jaycox Pond.

An official 1922 village document refers to Jaycox Pond water rights.

A 1922 bond-issuance statement, hanging on the wall of the Village Hall meeting room alongside similar documents, refers to village acquisition of water-rights to Jaycox Pond. Ninety years later, the resurrected possibility of drawing Jaycox Pond water has prompted searches of historic records. Gallagher said that although “it’s not completely clear” who owns exactly what along the old property lines; the village government is confident that it can use Jaycox Pond as a reservoir. During a long dry spell in 2010, water levels in the other reservoirs fell so much that the village tapped into the New York City aqueduct, which passes through Nelsonville. The mayor said Cold Spring officials are pursuing further legal work to clarify boundaries, hoping to reach a new, definitive easement agreement for land access to the pond.  “We’re always looking for additional sources of water,” he said.

“You can never have enough,” concurred Trustee J. Ralph Falloon, a professional firefighter and former chief of the Cold Spring Fire Company.

The Hudson Highlands Land Trust is planning to obtain 50 acres of nearby land to link presently non-contiguous sections of New York State parks. However, “we can’t purchase it until this is clarified,” Chmar said of the murky Jaycox Pond property lines issue. “Hopefully, this [legal research] clarifies it and all three parties come away quite happy,” the village, the landowners, and the Land Trust alike, he said.

Building and police departments: complaints and speeding violations
Dealing with more routine business, the board heard Building Inspector William Bujarski report that much of his department’s recent activity has involved complaints – about fences, garbage, outbuildings, and similar neighbor-to-neighbor concerns. As an example, he cited numerous questions and sharp criticism in regard to a shed on Stone Street. “There are complaints about why we are allowing the construction to continue,” Bujarski said. “The answer is, there’s a valid building permit. And it won’t expire until September.” However, disenchanted fellow property-owners can formally express their views when it comes time to consider issuance of  a “certificate of occupancy ” – a village government sign-off on the project, he said.

Bujarski also announced that Kim DeSocio, assistant building inspector and fire inspector, has resigned, to take a full-time position elsewhere as a code enforcement officer.

In other law-enforcement matters, the Cold Spring Police Department’s report for March, prepared by Officer-in-Charge George Kane, pointed to the department’s continued attention to traffic safety. “Officers issued 69 moving-violations to motorists for various traffic infractions,” Kane informed the board. “The most notable were 32 for speeding on village roads and nine to motorists who failed to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, mostly along Route 9D [Chestnut Street-Morris Avenue].” He also reminded residents and shopkeepers “to adhere to parking rules in the village” because on a daily basis “officers will be strictly enforcing this.”
Photos by L.S.Armstrong


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2 thoughts on “Water and Fire on Village Board Agenda

  1. I’d like to pose a question regarding the Building Inspector’s assertion that “there’s a valid building permit” for the construction of the shed at 14 Stone Street.

    How can a permit be considered valid once the applicant has clearly violated the terms by which he/she was allowed to build without a variance and without public hearing? As was stated on the original building permit denial: “Also, be advised that if you demolish the existing structure completely, you must receive a variance from the zoning board of appeals. (Note – if you remove and replace the walls one at a time no variance would be required.”

    The original shed was completely demolished on February 23, 2012. The new, much bigger, improved walls went up the next day — overnight, you might say. To date, no variance has ever been received or applied for by the applicant, though the new construction has exceeded all dimensions of the original building. Why would a building inspector stipulate that the walls of an existing building come down and be replaced one at a time? It’s not rocket science. It’s a way of ensuring that the replacement building — in this case a replacement shed — is built to match the original building’s dimensions, even while it bypasses a public hearing before the Zoning Board of Appeals.

    It was my understanding that the laws and any building inspector who is in the position to enforce (not interpret) them, are there to protect the commonly agreed-upon individual and property rights of members of this community — all members of this community, not just the applicant. In this particular regard, I guess I am one of the “disenchanted fellow property-owners.”

  2. Posted 1:16 pm 4/18/2012

    Let me guess this is also a push for the removal of the over head lamps and a push for the bollards. It was headed down that road since there has been a gaping hole where the last one was to be?

    Has everyone lost their minds?

    This is not someones private backyard. This is a public venue. What about the safety concerns that many have expressed?

    “Dark sky compliance” is horse pucky…you want it dark, turn your own lights out.

    Again big brother, sister, cousin, uncle and aunt telling you what is KOSHER.

    If it smells like pork, odds are its not kosher, if it responds to “SUUEEEYYY”, then odds are its not KOSHER.

    More PIED PIPER DREAMS