Village Board sets flooding workshop June 4, parking session to come
By Jeanne Tao
Butterfield developer Paul Guillaro and the Cold Spring Board of Trustees met at a Tuesday (May 7) workshop for the formal introduction of the proposed zoning change for the property and the board’s declaration of intent to be the lead agency for approval of the project.
Guillaro has proposed to build a complex with intergovernmental offices, a community/senior center, post office, three single-family homes, senior citizen housing, and an office-retail “square.” The current B4 zoning does not allow intergovernmental offices or retail, so the developer has asked the Village Board to change the zoning in the local law. After formal introduction, interested agencies have 30 days to review the proposed change to the local law and comment.
The text is the latest of a series to come before the board in the last several months.
When it came time to declare the board’s intent to be lead agency, there was some confusion resulting from the wording of the resolution, which stated that “the Mayor is hereby authorized to sign the EAF” (Environmental Assessment Form). Both Trustees Matt Francisco and Stephanie Hawkins, who Francisco self-described as “people who look at contracts all day,” questioned what it meant to sign the EAF, an updated version of which was submitted by the developer.
The page of the EAF requiring the mayor’s signature also contained checkboxes to indicate actions to be taken (negative or positive declaration of impact on the environment), leading Francisco and Hawkins to ask why it should be signed before making a decision on the EAF. The board therefore decided to call Village Attorney Stephen Gaba, who had written the resolution but was not at the meeting.
During the phone conversation with Mayor Ralph Falloon, Gaba said that the wording could be changed on the resolution to authorize the mayor to “accept” the EAF. After discussion of what it meant to accept the EAF, the board settled on changing the wording to “receive” rather than “accept” the EAF, so as not to appear to authorize the mayor to make a declaration on the EAF himself.
The notice of intent to be lead agency will be sent to interested agencies (such as the Planning Board, County Health Department, Department of Environmental Conservation, etc.) as required by the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). After 30 days, if no other agency expresses interest in becoming lead agency on the project, the Village Board will become the lead agency. In the meantime, the EAF could be sent to the board’s consultants to begin a review of the submitted EAF.
Trustee Chuck Hustis brought up the issue of parking in the village Tuesday, explaining that there is increased difficulty in finding street parking, especially on weekends, and that some areas allow parking for four hours and other for five. He suggested adopting a uniform system throughout the village.
Hawkins asked how a uniform system would address the problem of parking, but Hustis simply reiterated his desire for uniformity.
One resident of Main Street, Barry Sokol, said while working in retail in White Plains he has seen metered parking adversely affect business there, hearing customers complain how much they hate coming to White Plains and getting parking tickets for only being a few minutes over their allotted parking times. Sokol argued that meters in Cold Spring would make the village less “homey” and friendly to visitors.
Two Main Street merchants, Teri Barr of Hudson Valley Outfitters and Lynn Miller of Go-Go Pops, said they were supportive of metered parking as a source of revenue for the village, although Barr said she was not happy with the chalking of tires, alluding to the aggressive enforcement of parking restrictions. Miller added that some of her customers are surprised to learn that they can park for free.
Mike Armstrong, chair of the Special Board for the Comprehensive Plan, said from the audience that according to a study he did on parking, the village could get around $180,000 from a meter system.
Board members expressed interest in setting up a public workshop, possibly on a Saturday to allow more residents to attend, to gather input on what residents would like to see and whether a system of metered and/or permit parking is desired by a majority.
Putnam County officials, Transportation Manager Vinny Tamagna and Planning Commissioner Anthony Ruggiero, presented county plans to survey the community on county transportation and revamp their system to reach more residents. The county has surveys that can be completed online at their website, , or on paper copies available in both the Philipstown and Cold Spring government offices.
Tamagna and Ruggiero said they hope to change the 30-year-old system to be more useful to a larger population than is currently served (which includes seniors and early intervention for young children). They mentioned County Executive MaryEllen Odell’s desire for a route to connect the eastern and western parts of the county as well as their aims to eliminate redundancies (such as partnering with Westchester County so that they do not run overlapping routes).
In this area, Tamagna said they hope to utilize the trolley more effectively — providing transportation to hiking trails north of Cold Spring as well as late runs for the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival shows at Boscobel (instead of only shuttling theatergoers there and leaving them to find other ways of getting back to Cold Spring afterwards). Tamagna suggested housing the trolley(s) in Cold Spring to cut down on costs (such as overtime pay, gas for multiple trips to their garage in the eastern part of the county) as well as improve services locally.
During public comment, Sokol, who lives on lower Main Street and whose house was flooded during hurricanes Irene and Sandy, implored the board to do something to prevent flooding in lower Cold Spring. “Nothing’s being done,” he complained.
Hawkins and Falloon suggested holding a public workshop, as part of the Village Board workshop on June 4, inviting comment on flood preparedness.
Sokol had appeared at a previous Village Board meeting to comment on what he sees as the board’s inaction to prevent future floods, but he grew more impassioned Tuesday as he urged the village to take steps to help residents in lower Cold Spring, rather than “using” them as a tourist draw.
Hawkins asked what specific measures Sokol thought other communities were taking, to which he responded that some along the Jersey Shore are building sand bars and seawalls. Hawkins said they would not build sand bars.
“The seawall has to happen,” he shouted. “If you lived down there, if everybody in this room lived down there, you’d get it done!”
As Sokol became more agitated, Falloon adjourned the meeting.
Photos by J. Tao