Retiring legislator sees new post as interim
By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong
Vincent “Vinny” Tamagna is plotting his next moves — and, literally, those of Putnam County residents, as he takes over as the new transportation manager in the administration of County Executive MaryEllen Odell.
Officially set to begin work on Jan. 22, 2013, Tamagna said Thursday (Dec. 27) that as he leaves the Putnam County Legislature (after about 18 years) he has already begun immersing himself on an unpaid volunteer basis in his new post. It entails figuring out all the elements of Putnam’s public transportation — mass transit services of various types — and putting together a comprehensive plan for utilizing them, something that Tamagna said has never been done.
“We need to do a complete assessment of our county transportation system,” to make it more useful as well as more efficient and cost-effective, and, likewise, must undertake an analysis of needs, he said. After that, he intends to devise a comprehensive plan, tying everything together. “There’s never been one,” he explained.
Tamagna, a Nelsonville resident and Republican, discussed his new role in a telephone interview with Philipstown.info. After 18 years, his tenure with the legislature ends on New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31), when his successor, Garrison resident Barbara Scuccimarra, will be sworn in. He referred to his $75,000-a-year transportation job as interim, not long-term. Once he gets a basic plan developed, a task he hopes to accomplish by June 30, funding for implementing it can be included in the 2014 Putnam County budget; then a permanent transportation manager can be hired, he said.
He described the development of an overall plan as paramount. Right now, Tamagna said, the county has three public bus routes using full-size buses, as well as small buses serving the Office of Aging. Buses and vans provided by private groups that assist the handicapped and numerous school buses from Putnam’s several school systems operate as well — to say nothing of such vehicles as the trolley that runs through Cold Spring, Nelsonville and part of Philipstown a few days a week, he added. “There’s a lot of buses” out there, he noted. However, “I have yet to find a map” showing all the routes.
Moreover, he said, the county needs to look at connections, such as connecting public transit to the various county parking lots scattered across the area and now used — presumably — by bicyclists as they embark on rides, commuters meeting up to carpool or get rides to Metro-North stations, and so on.
He said he wants to get Metro-North involved, too, to help determine ways to connect mass transit to the train system and perhaps link train stations on different train lines together — such as Cold Spring on the Hudson Line and Brewster on the Harlem Line. “Nobody’s ever taken all the pieces and mapped it out,” he said of Putnam’s mass transit components and possibilities. “We’ve never made any connections.”
Tamagna said he will work closely with an executive advisory panel of county officials and with a soon-to-be created taskforce of stakeholders, representing such groups as the aging, handicapped, those involved in tourism, school districts, and others with a potential place at the transport table. On the task force, “more important than anything … there’s a need to build consensus” and take advantage of the opportunities afforded by partnerships, he said.
He said he wants to make the Cold Spring trolley more effective, too. “We’re not using it to its full capacity” and should review its route, asking an essential question: “How do we connect to some of our destinations?”
The latter include such sites as Boscobel and hiking trails, along with the villages, he said. “I’ve been trying to get that thing redesigned for a long time,” he said of the trolley’s current path. He also suggested having volunteers ride the trolley and present visitors with tourism and historical information, to “tell the story” en route, following the practice of other historic towns.
In general, he summed up, “there’s a lot” to consider in terms of Putnam’s public transportation. “And I think we need to take a close look at all of it.”