Clock Still Ticking on Coal Tar Removal

Draft law to prohibit ‘formula’ businesses sent back to lawyer

By Michael Turton

Correspondence from Village Attorney Stephen Gaba, received by the Cold Spring Village Board at its meeting Aug. 6, updated trustees on the status of the environmental easement on the site of the former manufactured gas plant, part of which is now occupied by the Cold Spring Boat Club. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) had previously issued a Record of Decision (ROD) for the removal of coal tar, a byproduct of the late 19th and early 20th century plant.

Toxic coal tar deposits from a 19th century manufactured gas plant are still present beneath the Cold Spring Boat Club.  Photo by M. Turton

Toxic coal tar deposits from a 19th century manufactured gas plant are still present beneath the Cold Spring Boat Club.
Photo by M. Turton

Deposits of the toxic substance remain beneath the boat club building and surrounding area. The ROD calls for removal of the coal tar – but excludes the pockets found directly under the Boat Club building, a decision that some local residents have challenged. The issue will be discussed at a Village Board meeting later in August but the clock is ticking.

Gaba said that in September, DEC will approve a remedial design for the removal of the coal tar and that notices have been sent to interested parties. He advised that unless the village contacts the DEC requesting an alternative design, “ … we anticipate the remedial design will follow the terms of the ROD.” Gaba also said that the village needs to obtain title insurance for the property. The Village of Cold Spring owns the Boat Club property.

Law prohibiting ‘formula businesses’ moving forward

Trustees briefly discussed the draft version of a local law to prohibit franchise or “formula” businesses, including restaurants, within the village limits. Trustees sent the draft back to attorney Warren Replansky to revise language used to define businesses that would come under the law. Replansky, hired as special counsel to draft the law, will attend a Village Board meeting in the near future to discuss its progress and final wording.

Plans to establish a Dunkin’ Donuts shop at 33 Chestnut St., currently a Citgo gas station and auto repair shop, will not be affected since that project was approved prior to the new law being drafted.

Legislators aim to reduce unfunded mandates

New York State Assemblywoman Sandy Galef and State Senator Terry Gipson submitted requests to the Village Board, asking its support for a number of bills they have introduced, aimed at reducing the financial burden of unfunded mandates imposed on school districts and municipalities. Trustees received the legislators’ correspondence and will consider it formally after Mayor Ralph Falloon returns from vacation.

PCNR publisher scolds Village Board

Douglas Cunningham, editor and associate publisher of the Putnam County News & Recorder, appeared before the Village Board and read a brief statement from that paper’s publisher, Elizabeth Ailes. The statement provided no context but may have been referring to the board’s July 31 meeting and remarks made at it by Gordon Stewart, publisher of The Paper.

Stewart was critical of Cold Spring Mayor Falloon and Deputy Mayor Bruce Campbell for their handling of ads paid for by the village and placed in the two papers to thank contributors to the Fourth of July celebration. Stewart claimed that Falloon and Campbell had promised that all contributors would be acknowledged equally; however the ad published in PCNR failed to include The Paper, sponsor of the live music, and Al Hemberger who organized the music program.

In addition, the ad published in The Paper didn’t list the PCNR, sponsor of the fireworks. Both newspapers and Hemberger were included on the original list of contributors drafted by the village.

“The list I originally submitted to the PCNR included and The Paper,” Deputy Mayor Campbell said when contacted by The Paper. Campbell said that at the PCNR he was told that ads are either accepted or rejected, and that the village ad would be rejected if it included and The Paper.

“I resubmitted the list without and The Paper. That was my mistake,” he said. “We (Falloon, Campbell and Stewart) had talked about it (acknowledgment of contributors) being fair and equal… and that’s why I apologized to Gordon.”

Explaining PCNR’s position, Ailes said, “I decide … matters of editorial and advertising policy for the PCNR, not the trustees and not the village.” Invoking freedom of the press and the First Amendment she added, “That freedom is not subject to the whims of Cold Spring’s trustees.”

Asked to comment on the Cunningham presentation the day after the meeting, Trustee Matt Francisco said: “The focus of the Village Board is not on editorial decisions the PCNR or did or did not make. The focus is on decisions made by members of the Village Board without the knowledge of the entire board. I support the right of the PCNR and to make their own editorial decisions. The question is, do we want to place a thank-you ad that is incomplete?”

Ailes also leveled criticism at the Village Board for “failing to prepare and disseminate a publicly available agenda.” The  July 31 meeting was posted on the village website and indicated that  the workshop would be held at the Butterfield Library. When website  visitors clicked on the meeting notice it indicated that the workshop  would deal with hiring of a new village attorney.

“You, or some of you, obviously planned to talk about far more things,” than interviews held later that evening, she said. She offered no explanation of the comment. Members of the public routinely attend village meetings and offer comments or ask questions without being listed on the agenda.

Stewart made his remarks after Campbell, chairing the meeting in Mayor Falloon’s absence, asked for public comments. Ironically, Cunningham’s appearance before the Village Board was not listed as an agenda item. He read Ailes’ statement after Campbell asked if there were any comments from the public.

At the same time, Ailes said that Campbell should be praised, “not savaged” for his dedication in organizing the Fourth of July events. Again, no explanation was given. There was no criticism of the Independence Day events or how Campbell organized them by anyone attending the July 31 meeting. Trustees listened to Ailes’ statement but offered no comment.

Town-wide garage sale announced

The Cold Spring Area Chamber of Commerce is planning a “Town-wide Garage Sale” to be held on Saturday, Oct. 5. “We hope to draw many visitors to our community,” said Chamber of Commerce President Debbi Milner, in a letter to the village. “All sales will be held at individual homes and businesses.” Milner said that she does not think the event will require special services or support from the village.

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