Snake Hill Road to Close for Repairs

By Kevin E. Foley

The Putnam County Legislature gave its final approval Wednesday evening (June 5) to the long-awaited repair project for Snake Hill Road in Garrison. The $700,000-plus project will commence later this month and last until sometime in September. The county road, which has been a one-lane thoroughfare since sustaining damage from Hurricane Irene in late August 2011, will be closed during the reconstruction.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will fund the road repair. The road is an often-used link between Routes 9 and 9D. This project will be one of several road repair jobs taking place in the summer months, including work on the stone wall on 9D at St. Philips Church, upgrades to Route 9 and work on the Taconic Parkway.

“It’s been a long time coming, but now we can started,” said Philipstown’s Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra after the meeting. Scuccimarra sits on the Physical Services Committee that shepherded the approval to the full body.

In other business, the Legislature asked the county’s representatives in the state Legislature to obtain approval for the county to sponsor a sales tax holiday on certain clothing and other items related to the return to school. If approved, the two-week holiday would take place in August.

There was a brief debate as to whether the county’s Economic Development Agency (EDA), an independent nonprofit organization, should be housed in the same office with the county government. Scuccimarra chairs the Economic Development committee that made the recommendation. She said the “goal is to get economic stimuli going by working together.”

Scuccimarra also mentioned the new head of the EDA, Megan Taylor, had already visited Philipstown and that there were encouraging signs about new initiatives. Some legislators argued that independent agencies should maintain distance from the county government and that too much cooperation could lead to trouble in the form of inappropriate deal making. Nevertheless the measure passed. The county contributes $135,000 to the EDA budget.

4 thoughts on “Snake Hill Road to Close for Repairs

  1. The supposedly “independent” non-profits like the county EDA and a host of others are actually hybrid, quasi-governmental agencies that are almost entirely funded by taxpayer dollars. On the state and local level, the non-profit sector has become a shadow government that is often unaccountable to the elected officials who bestow money on them.

    I find it astounding that any of the legislators would claim that the so called “independent” agencies should maintain their distance from county government because of “inappropriate deal making.” Can anyone tell me just what that means?

    Mrs. Scuccimarra, maybe you can help us as I think an explanation is in order — this is our hard-earned money you’re talking about, not some poker game. The County budget is over $150 million. How about an accounting of all the money that’s being given to the non-profits for starters?

  2. This is oh so very “Putnam” – a new definition for irony with a twist of political good-`ol-girl fanny and palm slapping. How can the county’s Economic Development Agency maintain distance since the County hands over $135,000 to the EDA budget!? Yet this report states that “too much cooperation could lead to trouble in the form of inappropriate deal making.” What?

    • Your point is well taken. Very few people realize the amount of money the County budget consumes — over $150 million a year for what amounts to another duplicative layer of government that performs very few services that are not already taken care of by our towns and villages. The IDA, the Tourism Agency and the EDC are quasi-governmental agencies that operate in the shadows: non-profits that wouldn’t exist without a large infusion of taxpayer money, yet very little oversight by the politicians of the Legislature.

  3. Actually, the County appoints the Industrial Development Agency’s (IDA’s) board, which then serves at its pleasure. The IDA has the ability to provide project financing through the issuance of bonds; it can also offer exemptions from certain property and sales taxes. The IDA probably pays much, if not all, of its own way from fees charged to its borrowers.

    The EDC on the other hand is a completely private entity along the lines of a county-wide chamber of commerce. What I am wondering is why the County gives the EDC any money at all. Does the County give money to other chambers of commerce? I am not suggesting it should — just asking. I am wondering exactly what services or benefits the EDC offers to prospective new businesses beyond what is offered by the IDA. Does the EDC even have the ability to provide tangible incentives to new businesses?

    Based on EDC’s Form 990 for 2011, its activities seem to have consisted mostly of advertising and conferences. (EDC Form 990 for 2011) The EDC’s web page bears that out. If these are the EDC’s main activities, wouldn’t it be cheaper and more efficient to consolidate them in the IDA?

    I am also wondering if the County is charging rent to the EDC. Would the County allow the Carmel COC to use County office space rent free?