Senior Citizens Schedule Own Meeting With Guillaro About Butterfield

Days before election, event bans ‘politicians’ and members of boards

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong

Obviously frustrated with the stalled status of the proposed Butterfield Hospital redevelopment project, which could include space for a long-awaited senior citizen/community center, members of Philipstown’s 55-and-over set have scheduled their own meeting with Butterfield owner-developer Paul Guillaro for this Saturday, March 16, in Cold Spring.

The event, slated for 1 p.m. at the Chestnut Ridge senior apartments, comes three days before the Cold Spring village elections. In announcing the event, its organizers pointedly state that “no politicians or standing board members of any kind are welcomed” and that “this is an age-55-plus event for seniors only.” The notice, appealing to “the Senior Majority,” emphasizes that “seniors need to be heard!” The session is billed as an “informational meeting on [the] Butterfield project with developer Paul Guillaro.”

One outspoken senior, Donna Anderson, who organized this meeting, is listed as a Bowman supporter on one of his advertisements.

Guillaro’s plans for the old hospital’s redevelopment included an intergovernmental “municipal” building, room for a senior citizen center/community assembly hall, and place for a new post office, as well as three single family residences, condominiums for retiree-age residents, and a small square of commercial or office quarters. However, Guillaro recently put his multi-use project on hold and threatened to instead create a subdivision of single-family homes, which, unlike the multi-use development, requires no zoning change. At a public hearing in January, strong opposition arose to the zoning change envisioned to allow construction of the multi-use complex, with its senior center space and other components. Nonetheless, at a similar public hearing in November residents and other stakeholders expressed overwhelming support for the zoning change so the project might move forward.

Currently, the Butterfield tract is zoned B4, a Designated Medical and Health Care Facility District, which can contain health facilities, single-family residences, churches, schools, libraries, village government offices, parks, home-based occupations (such as teaching music out of one’s home), and, by special permit, senior citizen housing. The present law does not permit construction of a multi-government building (intended for Town of Philipstown and Putnam County agencies as well as village government offices) or a post office, or the commercial-retail units Guillaro proposed. Nor does it allow “mixed-use” structures with a combination of those entities.

8 thoughts on “Senior Citizens Schedule Own Meeting With Guillaro About Butterfield

  1. Thank you Donna Anderson and the seniors. Unfortunately those that are not welcomed are those that are part of the legislative process to approve such projects. The current candidates and future Village Board would rather not see published meetings that have the line “not welcome” in it. The current and incoming candidates would love to meet with the seniors before and or after the election. The Village Board loves our Seniors! Help us, let us, and make us prove it. This also applies to any and all Village based organizations. Looking forward to working with the Seniors and Mr. G!

  2. It was a good meeting, and it is regrettable that it was not open to everyone. They are right that what concerns seniors really does concern all of us. The news of the meeting was that there was a report from a resident of the possibility that the current owners of Chestnut Ridge may not want to continue their affordability requirements. Losing 47 units of affordable housing is a much bigger issue than having a senior center. So the question is- what next? I would love to see the owners convinced to renew.

    It was proposed that Guillero consider affordable units again and I even suggested a way he might do it, but by the end of the meeting it became clear that he lacks that particular type of development experience, so pressuring the Chestnut Ridge owners may be the only viable path. Several speakers made it clear that the Senior Center depends on County support and that lobbying for it should be the focus of the Senior Majority. I do hope that the two local papers not report the meeting as anything other than what it was — concerned citizens sharing ideas.

  3. The only reason We did not invite the current candidates or seated board members is that this is our first meeting and we need to get our act together. We had standing room only today at our meeting and the support that they gave to Paul Guillaro was great. We know at some point have to meet with the boards but today wasn’t that day. Now maybe the seniors can get a group that can come out at night. I have a great list of names to pull from and hope the boards will finally get going on this project that is sorely needed. I know all the candidates want the senior center to happen but we also want to let you all know that the seniors aren’t selfish we would love to share our center with the youth. They need a place too!

  4. This was a great first meeting. There were of course people there trying to steer the meeting to their own viewpoints. I feel the bottom line is that more people should attend more of the board meetings. One of the things the village should strive to do is tape all meetings and make them available online. It’s hard for seniors and a lot of residents to make all these meetings.

    A while ago Mayor Gallagher and the board agreed to tape all these meetings. I have yet to see any tapes. There were some excuses made about not understanding what meetings were to be taped. But it remains that seniors need access to government. There were people at the meeting who tried to say this is a county issue. I cannot disagree more. It is at first a local issue, then a county issue. I feel the main question is who will represent us locally and will represent our seniors and all village residents. That choice should be clear. There is a element in our village that does not care about all the citizens’ interests. They only care about themselves and they will stop at nothing to further their agenda. Just remember that this is our town and we know what is best for us.

  5. I loved what Donna said about a space that could be shared with youth. There are a number of spaces for parents to go with small children, but I’m concerned about the teenagers, and I think they’d do well to have more exposure to the Senior Majority!

    I come from a place where the property taxes got so high that many people left town after their kids went to college. Nobody benefited from lack of an older presence. Everyone drove too fast and kids didn’t have level-headed grandparents to counter-balance their stressed-out parents. The illicit drug use was a problem amongst youth and adults. People got pretty neurotic.

    Cold Spring is different. My son has been coached by other kids’ grandparents, my daughter has been chased around Tot’s Park by friends’ grandparents, and we’ve been given invaluable advice from innumerable villagers about our garden (Tony Phillips is right: nothing grows next to the fire hydrant.). I have been told stories about Cold Spring at every stage of its history. I really appreciated that my son could take Tai Chi right here in town from an excellent teacher with decades of experience and a grandmother’s patience.

    The seniors in town deserve many things, including a well-equipped, beautiful center. I was one of the people who stood up at the January meeting to speak against the Butterfield zoning change, because I didn’t trust the vagueness of a large, undesignated “retail” space on the plan. I thought I was speaking protectively for the village, including the seniors. I’m pretty sure I’m seen as the “element” that is also known as The Obstructionists, but I am not. I believe many public servants in this village have been mislabeled as such. I was glad to see that Donna (who speaks for many) thinks that all of the village trustee candidates want to see a senior center happen. I second her opinion.

  6. Donna and Dar, you are so right about a community center for seniors and youth. The potential for sharing acquired wisdom can go both ways, and I am sure a little technical help with smart phones or Internet use would be welcomed by the older generation. I went to the Senior Majority meeting to learn more about the proposed senior center, specifically about the kitchen, because our lives revolve around food, for nourishment, for community, for some of us, our work. And I certainly heard a lot of varied concerns. Someone recently suggested a Saturday meeting for those who can’t come out for weeknights. This is a service provided in other towns, and could offer more accessibility to information for seniors, as well as more videotaping and posting of important meetings. Thank you, Donna, for starting this dialogue. Community involvement will surely help to move this project forward.

  7. Was on computer last night and was upset with the writings on one site that said that the Seniors needed a place to play BINGO. Not mentioning names but our Seniors do a lot of good things for the community. We support the local food pantry every month so many young and old families can go to bed with a full belly. We also support our veterans at Castle Point, from the young coming home from the war in Afghanistan to WWII vets. We don’t sit all day and play bingo. Many of our seniors don’t have families so we are their family. We’ve lost some of our members and support their spouses who are left with open arms. It just disgusts me that they think just because we are of that certain age that we don’t do anything. We are retired professionals and civic-minded people who have done much for this community and will keep on as long as we can.

  8. While I appreciate the recognition expressed by Dar, Donna and Mary Ellen that a gathering spot would be beneficial for both seniors and our teens, I believe it’s overly optimistic that either group would use the space concurrently. Frankly, seniors rarely show much tolerance for teens’ penchants for boisterousness, loud music, swearing and doing all those things we, as adults, tell them they shouldn’t do. Our teens probably would have little interest in sharing services and activities with our seniors unless there was some recognizable benefit (from THEIR perspective.) Obviously, one of the benefits could be the fulfillment of community service requirement for graduation, but even then, it would be an obligatory activity to get done, then run.
    This is just a reality of these two, very different age groups. I’m not passing judgement on either group’s perspective, just observing the reality shown by my current and former teen kids.