Concerns raised and solutions proposed
By Michael Turton
The Cold Spring Village Board at its July 31 meeting largely agreed with concerns over both the content and process involved in the placement of recent advertisements in The Paper and the Putnam County News & Recorder raised by Gordon Stewart, publisher of The Paper and philpstown.info. The ads, purchased by the Village of Cold Spring, thanked those who had contributed to the Fourth of July Independence Day celebrations on Cold Spring’s waterfront.
The PCNR was the largest contributor, having underwritten the riverfront fireworks at a cost of close to $10,000. The Paper was the next biggest sponsor, donating $5,000 to cover the cost of five bands that provided live music during the hours leading up to the fireworks. Included in that cost was a fee paid to local resident and musician Al Hemberger who coordinated the music program.
The PCNR cut out both The Paper for its sponsorship of the music and Al Hemberger who organized it, from the ad paid for by the village. The ad submitted to The Paper omitted the PCNR‘s sponsorship of the fireworks.
“Harm has been done. Trust has been violated,” said Stewart. The village did not consult Stewart about either ad. “I would never be party to excluding someone from being credited with what they should be credited with,” he said.
Stewart said that when Mayor Ralph Falloon and Trustee Bruce Campbell told him that they had accepted the PCNR offer to sponsor the fireworks they suggested that sponsorship of the music was available. He agreed to take that on.
But mindful of the PCNR’s refusal to share the Cold Spring Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year Award, he insisted that the village “get assurances from all parties involved that this holiday would be dealt with in an absolutely straight forward, even-handed manner with equal acknowledgement of all contributions and that Falloon and Campbell agreed to that. “As you know this did not occur,” Stewart said.
Questions how decisions are made
Stewart said that the issue of the ads goes to a larger question of how the village makes decisions. “Bigger projects than this are in the works. How will they be handled? Later in the meeting he added, “The village has to decide how it’s going to treat powerful individuals.”
Campbell said that when the list of those to be thanked was submitted to the PCNR, they insisted that The Paper not be included.
Stewart said to Campbell, “You acquiesced – after explicitly agreeing not to.”
“I understand your point. I apologize to you personally, Gordon,” Campbell said. Stewart accepted the personal apology but indicated that he felt a more formal correction would be appropriate.
Trustee Matt Francisco said that he had no knowledge of how the ads were placed but that who makes such decisions “is a pivotal question.” When Campbell said that he hoped those involved could “get along” in the future, Francisco, referring to the omissions in the ads said, “This kind of behavior accepting ultimatums does not help people get along,” later adding, “The people who read the PCNR now think that The Paper contributed nothing” to the Fourth of July events.
Cold Spring resident John Plummer was in the audience and commented, “Matt’s point is a good one. Accepting an ultimatum … encourages not getting along.”
Trustee Stephanie Hawkins asked, “Does the money cost too much? …We accepted money from the PCNR and in my view the money costs too much.”
Trustees agreed that the issues surrounding the ads would be discussed as a full board when Falloon returns from vacation. Francisco suggested that the village resubmit its original correct ad to both papers. Either could reject or accept it but should not dictate what the village can say in its own paid ad.
Stewart said that depending on how the board handles the situation, it can emerge as a stronger body. “That will serve you well going forward – to more troubled waters than this.”
Reduced speed limits ahead on 9D?
In other business, John Teagle, caretaker at Little Stony Point Park, addressed the Village Board regarding a proposal to request lowering of speed limits along Route 9D south from Beacon to Cold Spring. The request will be made of New York State Department of Transportation, which has jurisdiction over the highway. The Little Stony Point Association is one of several stakeholders supporting an application by the Town of Philipstown for funding to help establish the Hudson River Fjord Trail between Cold Spring and Beacon.
Currently, speed limits vary from 40 miles per hour to 55 miles per hour along that stretch of 9D. Breakneck Ridge has been called the most popular day hike in the U.S. and the area near it is often highly congested with parked cars, hikers and vehicular traffic – yet that section of road has a 55 mile per hour speed limit. Teagle’s presentation was for information only. The village will be asked to support the proposed speed limit reductions through a formal resolution at some point in the future.
Trustees confirm lawyer for Butterfield project
Trustees passed a resolution approving the hiring of Anna Georgiou, a lawyer with the White Plains firm of Wormser, Kiely, Galef and Jacobs, to serve as special counsel for the Butterfield Hospital redevelopment project. At a previous meeting, developer Paul Guillaro, who, as the applicant for the project will be responsible for legal fees incurred by the village as part of the project planning, had said he was happy with the $240 hourly rate to be charged for Georgiou’s services. It turns out that the rate will actually be $280 an hour. The lower rate quoted was for “special projects” while the higher rate is for “land use” projects, the category under which the Butterfield project falls.
Deputy Mayor Campbell chaired the meeting. Mayor Falloon is on vacation for two weeks and was not in attendance.