Inter-board panel formed to thrash out details
By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong
Butterfield Hospital developer Paul Guillaro Tuesday night (July 31) unveiled a new concept for his on-and-off-again project, trading ideas with residents and the Cold Spring mayor and trustees at a Village Board workshop.
During an approximately 50-minute presentation, Guillaro of Butterfield Realty LLC, the site’s owner, and planner-illustrator Ray Curran outlined the resurrected, reconfigured project. It would consist of three single-family homes on Paulding Avenue, 55 condominiums for retirement-age buyers, an intergovernmental municipal building-cum-community/senior center with a post office, and an office-retail “square” along Route 9D.
Reflecting resident input made before Guillaro withdrew his previous plans in May, the new concept incorporates more park-like open space than the original version, offers more “walkability” or pedestrian-friendliness as opposed to catering to cars and parking lots, and locates parking behind the six new buildings (not counting the new homes) and existing Lahey Pavilion of medical offices. Curran said that the preserved lawn also could easily accommodate the Cold Spring Farmer’s Market, another idea often mentioned by residents in public forums.
Until this summer, the outdoor market used Butterfield. Altogether, the plan “has probably more public input than any I’ve done in my life,” Curran commented.
The new plan drops two previous components: apartments for modest-income senior citizens, a facility seen by some critics as a likely tax liability for the village, and a parking strip carved into the side yard of the circa-1853 Grove house. Moreover, the new plan is not a Planned Unit Development or PUD; establishing a PUD would have required a sweeping zoning change. However, the Village Board has drafted a revision to the property’s existing B-4 zoning itself to permit all levels of government (not merely village offices) at Butterfield and allow mixed-use buildings as well.
“When Butterfield Realty withdrew, they were looking for ways to sort of move forward, and we were looking for ways to move forward,” Mayor Seth Gallagher said in opening the evening’s discussion. “I think on both ends a re-envisioning of the project was helpful.”
Guillaro said that “at the mayor’s request, we designed our plan to take into account” all the feedback in the past several months from the Comprehensive Plan board, the Planning Board, and residents.
After the presentation, the Village Board members voted 5-0 to create a new inter-board committee to confer with Guillaro on aspects of the project going forward.
Although Guillaro, Curran and the Village Board took questions from the public, the mayor cautioned everyone not to get ahead of the game by focusing on specific architectural or layout details. “Otherwise you’ll never get started,” he said. “In some ways this is our starting point. This is not the end point. It’s going to be a process back and forth.”
The audience inquired about such elements as pedestrian access and hazards, tax implications of the project, and the building sizes.
Guillaro promised to supply a comprehensive tax-impact breakdown. However, he estimated that the complex would provide a tax income of $310,000, excluding the Lahey Pavilion, which kicks in another $60,000; the $370,000 local total does not include the Putnam County share.
Curran said that in character and scale the complex would fit in well in Cold Spring. For one thing, he said, “it’s going to look and feel a lot like a village street. It’s going to be very pedestrian friendly,” with a “Butterfield Loop” lane through the property and no access to Paulding Avenue. Likewise, Curran said, the three detached homes and garages will reinforce the character of Paulding Avenue, which contains historic homes.
One potential sticking point came with the announcement that the development still entails demolishing the old hospital building, an amalgamation of the colonial American-looking 1920s structure and a radically different 1960s modern suburban addition.
“It was pretty generally felt it created a lot more problems than it resolved” to try to save the structure, said Curran, recalling that the Planning Board and a majority of attendees at a public design workshop backed the demolition. Keeping the building would have made it difficult to also retain the Lahey Pavilion, he added.
Guillaro interjected that given the $750,000 expense in demolition, saving the building would be preferable, but that its conditions make that unfeasible. “The 1965 addition ruined the building,” he said. “We looked at it in a lot of different ways” in terms of restoration. “We just can’t make it work.” Consequently, he said, “I would not have anything to do with re-habbing [rehabilitating] that building. It’s a sick building.”
From the audience, Historic District Review Board members expressed doubts. Al Zgolinski, HDRB chairman, and HDRB member Kathleen Foley both mentioned the building’s links to historic personages important to Cold Spring and its cultural heritage. “That’s the issue we’re going to be looking at” when it comes before his board, Zgolinski said. “I think it’s a little unfair to make a decision about a building abandoned for 20 years. The historic aspects have to be taken into consideration.”
Tearing down the hospital “is not simply a matter of opinion,” HDRB member Carolyn Bachan said. “It’s a matter of documenting the facts” and reviewing the merits of demolition.
The mayor, born in the hospital in 1965, sounded skeptical about the skepticism and said the issue is whether re-use is truly possible. “If there’s a sentimental attachment to it, that’s different,” he said. “I think to some degree you have to be able to move past some of that stuff. Let’s focus on the things we really have to deal with. Let’s not focus on the barriers in the way.” In any case, he added, such questions will be looked at by the new inter-board committee.
He said the committee’s mission will be “to put all the pieces together … getting the specifics and making recommendations. It’ll cut down the duplication and unnecessary expenses,” too, he predicted. “Part of this is trying to get a resolution that is the best possible result for the village and do it in the most productive way, working with the applicant as well.” And “the group will meet in public.” Its first meeting is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 6.
Appointed by the Village Board Tuesday evening, the members of the new committee are Gallagher and Trustee Matt Francisco; Zgolinski and Bachan from the HDRB, with Marie Early as alternate; Planning Board Chairman Joe Barbaro, and Planning Board member Arne Saari, with James Zuehl as Planning Board alternate.