Village to hire special counsel to deal with Butterfield
By Michael Turton
Representatives of Rhinebeck Bank appeared before the Village Board at its July 25 meeting to discuss possible plans for 159 Main St., the three-story building owned by the Poughkeepsie-based bank and currently home to Powers & Haar Insurance and a number of upper floor apartments. Some members of the Cold Spring Planning Board, Historic District Review Board and Zoning Board of Appeals attended the meeting.
The boards had been invited by Mayor Ralph Falloon, as a way to informally familiarize them with a project they may need to review in the future. Architect Steven Tinkelman presented a rendering of the refurbished building – a dramatic contrast to the current shabby state of the building’s exterior.
Mike McDermott, Rhinebeck Bank’s Chief Financial Officer, said that they hope to establish a small bank branch in the building, underlining that Powers & Haar will remain there as well. “There will be some issues we have to address,” he said. “We need some kind of temporary parking (on Main Street), that’s one concession we will ask for.” He said that because the location cannot accommodate a drive-through, parking is that much more important. “Banking is such a convenience-oriented business,” he said.
He suggested that quick-stop parking spaces be permitted in front of the proposed bank, similar to fifteen-minute parking spots found elsewhere on Main Street. He also said that making the building handicapped-accessible by incorporating a ramp will be a challenge because it sits virtually on the Main Street property line. Establishing a new bank branch in Cold Spring would also require approval by state and federal banking agencies, although McDermott said they have never been turned down in the past. It’s parking that may be the the biggest hurdle and McDermott made it clear that if parking can’t be worked out, establishing a bank branch would be very unlikely.
McDermott said that Rhinebeck Bank does especially well with branches located in a community’s downtown. When a resident questioned whether Cold Spring could support a third bank he pointed out that in Kingston and Red Hook, communities that have six or seven banks, “We do quite well competitively. We have the biggest market share … and they (the competitors) are big banks.”
When the same resident persisted, asking, “But can the village afford it?” he responded, “No…the question is can I (Rhinebeck Bank) afford it!” He said that the amount of money that the bank will invest in the building hinges largely on whether or not a bank branch can be located in it, but that even if that does not happen, the exterior will be refurbished.
Guillaro addresses board – again
Developer Paul Guillaro once again voiced his displeasure at the slow pace of progress towards his proposed development of the Butterfield Hospital site. “It’s slower than ever,” he complained. He criticized the Village Board for not yet hiring a new village attorney to help deal with the project. Falloon said that the board had actually agreed on a new law firm but that the $240 hourly rate quoted was considerably more than the rate the village pays now, and that he felt it unfair to assume that Guillaro would automatically pay the higher rate.
As the developer, Guillaro will be responsible for legal fees incurred by the village as part of project planning. Guillaro and his lawyer Steven Barshov jumped on that, stating it was a reasonable fee. “I’m happy with $240 Guillaro said. With that, the board immediately passed a resolution to hire Anna Georgiou, a lawyer with the White Plains firm of Wormser, Kiely, Galef and Jacobs. She will serve as special counsel, dealing only with the Butterfield project.
Earlier in the week, Guillaro had submitted a letter to the village, indicating that he is “the applicant” for the Butterfield project, a required legal step. However, the letter did not explicitly state that he will be responsible for the village’s legal fees. When asked about it, Guillaro said that he had made it clear in a previous letter that he would pay those costs. Trustee Matt Francisco asked if village lawyer Stephen Gaba had cross-referenced the two letters, a question no one could answer. Gaba was not in attendance. Trustee Stephanie Hawkins told The Paper that Gaba subsequently advised that a new letter is required and that he and Barshov are working on appropriate language.
The Cold Spring Planning Board has circulated its notice of intent to act as lead agency for the SEQRA review of the Butterfield project to all required agencies. It will officially assume that role 30 days after giving that notice – assuming there are no objections – or sooner if all agencies sign off quickly.
In-kind services pledged
The Village of Cold Spring has agreed to contribute $14,080 in in-kind services to the Hudson River Fjord Trail project after approving a motion to do so, introduced by Hawkins. The Town of Philipstown has applied to the New York Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for funding to help develop the trail which will run along Route 9D from Cold Spring, past Breakneck Ridge, to Beacon. Cold Spring’s in-kind contribution will complete work on the portion of the trail located inside the village. That will include extending the sidewalk from the area of Riverview Restaurant along Fair Street north to Little Stony Point Park, and moving fencing at Mayor’s Park.
Boat Club building could still be demolished
The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will be invited to an Aug. 20, meeting to discuss their Record of Decision (ROD) regarding remediation of sub-surface deposits of coal tar under and near the Cold Spring Boat Club. The coal tar, a highly toxic material, was a by-product of a manufactured gas plant that operated on the site until the early 1900s. DEC initially planned to demolish the boathouse as part of the cleanup but, in February 2010, issued a ROD indicating the building would not be torn down. DEC officials have said they are willing to reconsider that decision, depending on local support. The village has a lot riding on the final outcome.
Once the DEC remediation is complete, the village, which owns the boat club land and building, is responsible for any future remediation there. “Once they (DEC) leave … it’s yours,” Falloon told the audience. In addition, if the building is removed in order to remove coal tar beneath it, the village is responsible for replacing it. At a meeting in April of this year, Falloon said he felt demolishing the building might make sense – that replacing it now may be less costly than doing it in the future. Alison Anthoine, who lives across from the boat club, called the idea of leaving the building intact while coal tar deposits still remain under it, “ridiculous.” Falloon suggested the August meeting be held at the Boat Club.
Photos by M. Turton