Village Trustees Express Regret Over July Fourth Ads

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 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 ad that appeared in the PCNR.

The ad that appeared in the PCNR.

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

The ad that appeared in The Paper.

The ad that appeared in The Paper.

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.

Next steps

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.”


Al Hemberger (file photo)

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.

9 thoughts on “Village Trustees Express Regret Over July Fourth Ads

  1. Bruce was the focal point of a backlash over the omission of both and Al Hemburger in the PCNR ad thanking the donors for the Fourth of July event. It’s not Bruce’s fault that there is a divide in this community as evident by both newspaper outlets. If it were me, the village board should hand off July 4th celebration to a village organization and call it a day. I was not impressed at what took place Wednesday night and my comments were not part of this article, which is no surprise to me, given the fact that I stand my ground and that bothers certain factions in this village.

    I may not agree with Bruce on issues, but I am standing behind him 100% and he deserves an apology for how he was treated, before Gordon Stewart gets his. Cold Spring residents don’t deserve this nonsense at all. We have better things to deal with than this. For those who don’t like how July 4th is run, get off your butts and run it yourselves.

    • The point is that one contributor specifically sought — and received — a commitment that all contributions would be treated equally in terms of acknowledgement. That commitment was broken by the same trustee who gave it. Such behavior obviously inspires frustration and a lack of confidence. Wimping out was not the only alternative available. An alternative might have been for the trustee to say, “Well, I am going to have to go back to the board on this.” I note that a local resident has recently offered to donate $500K for a senior citizens’ center; however, he has also stated that he does not want it held up in some lengthy planning process. What does that mean?

  2. Community Day originated with the Philipstown Jaycees in the late 60s. I was a charter member in the organization and was one of many who participated in the July 4th festivities. It was intended to be enjoyed by our community and for many years that was the case. It then got out of hand and on one particular day there were thousands of people attending and state police had to be called in to move the traffic and things finally got back to normal at around 2 a.m.

    This event should not be undertaken by elected officials. My purpose of bringing it back most recently was to involve all community organizations in a fun-filled day for all of us. It was only a matter of time for what is happening. It seems to me that some members of our community want to keep divisiveness alive in just about every issue that we face. Why?

  3. Ann, your point is taken. However, I strongly feel that the true division in our community lies with both news outlets. We don’t need this crap in our community. I’m so disgusted with how this village goes about progress that I can’t wait to leave this village for good. Beacon is the hot spot now. They do it right. But not Cold Spring, we are still in the stone age with regards to progress and I feel bad for the youth of today. The world is a crappy place and they have to deal with our stupidity. Some things will just never change.

  4. It makes me sad to read the comments of Trustee Hustis regarding Cold Spring; if anyone should know the Village it’s him as his people have been here for many years. As a relative newcomer to the Village, but having had lots of experience with the County and my own town of Putnam Valley, I would like to say that none of the problems facing Cold Spring are insurmountable. In fact, we have a lot going for us including a beautiful location, great geography and good transportation options. We have a strong commercial base that is the envy of the rest of Putnam and the residents and merchants are all very much involved and engaged.

    The problems we face can be summed up in one word: Politics. Whether it’s Washington D.C., Carmel, Philipstown, Put Valley or Cold Spring, we are up against a political class that has lost touch with the people who elected them. What has also happened is that there is now a fourth branch of government composed of unelected bureaucrats who serve in one capacity or another, and who have unheard of power over our day-to-day lives. These people get to make and enforce thousands of rules and regulations, such that at any given time, all of us are guilty of breaking one law or another. A perfect example is the new law that was just passed by the County that regulates thrift, vintage, antique and second-hand businesses who buy or sell precious or semi-precious jewelry, etc.

    But getting back to Cold Spring, the things that need to be done are obvious and have been written about ad nauseum, at least by this writer. For starters, how about fixing up the overhead wiring and putting up some decent street lights so it doesn’t seem so much like Bombay on the Hudson? I understand that Brewster just got some kind of grant to possibly bury their overhead lines. And speaking of grants, what the heck is happening with the grant money that’s been sitting in the coffers for I don’t know how many years? When is something actually going to be done with it?

    A simple thing like better street lights can do wonders and give us a whole new lease on life, especially during the winter months when the days end all too soon. The business owners have invested millions of their own dollars to try and make a go of it in Cold Spring. It would be nice if we could get some help from the people who were elected to manage and administer things. Maybe Mr. Hustis can explain just what or who is responsible for the log jam.

  5. Thank you Patty for your thoughts and your continued stance for sanity. I’m battling the constant restraint of progress against those who want their way, not the good of the village. For now and until the end of time, there will always be the divide between the liberal left and the conservative right. There will never be a happy medium for those who want to live life in peace and quiet. Congress is messed up, the state is messed up and it all comes down to Cold Spring, the local hub of the universe. Main Street needs revitalization and it can be done. All merchants come together and let’s create a plan for continued growth and give Cold Spring residents something good. Bring back festivals, weekend vendors, etc. Be proud of our river village and not fight constantly.

  6. As so often happens on news outlet’s comment columns, the feedback here has strayed far from the original issue. What I glean from this is that the PCNR chose to edit out, or requested the village remove from its advertisement, those people and organizations with whom the PCNR disagrees on various issues.

    As the news outlet of record for all official town and village notices, the PCNR is responsible for disseminating relevant and accurate governmental information to the public at large-from notices of public hearings, governmental job availability, formation of public entities and such. The PCNR enjoys the receipt of significant revenue from the town and village for such advertisements of public record. This revenue is paid for by the citizens of Cold Spring, Nelsonville and Philipstown through their tax dollars.

    This news organization can choose to publish or reject any advertisement, but what it cannot do is dictate to our elected governmental officers what those ads — paid for by the taxpayers — may include. The PCNR must respect the public trust that is endowed to them and report governmental information accurately and completely. By editing out those with whom they have personal issues, they betray that public trust and should relinquish the benefits they enjoy from such advertising revenue.

    I may not like or agree with the PCNR’s slant on local news. I may choose not to forward any of my hard-earned money their way. However, it would be delusional for me or anyone to deny their existence. This is just what the PCNR attempts to do regarding “The Paper”,, Mr. Stewart or Al Hemberger.

  7. I have a question….There is a sentence in this article that says: “The ad submitted to The Paper omitted the PCNR‘s sponsorship of the fireworks.”

    Did village officials leave out the PCNR in the ad? Was it omitted by accident by someone? Or is The Paper crying wolf when they did exactly the same thing as the PCNR but is covering it up by the wording of this article in a way as if they are not to blame?

    • The ad run was the one submitted by the Village. — Kevin Foley, Managing Editor