Constitution Island Education Center Proposed for Main Street

Concern over loss of tax revenue

By Michael Turton

The Cold Spring Village Board conducted a very brief workshop on Thursday, Aug. 14, before moving into executive session to continue interviews as part of a process to select a firm to handle village planning and engineering needs.

A resolution was passed to adopt a law changing the minimum time required for public notices of public hearings held by the Zoning Board of Appeals from 10 days to five days. Mayor Ralph Falloon said he supports the change, “If (the intent) is to move the process forward faster.” A public hearing on the proposed law will be held on Sept. 24, at 7:30 p.m. at the Village Hall.

A Constitution Island Education Center is proposed for 107-109 Main St., Cold Spring. Photo by M.Turton

A Constitution Island Education Center is proposed for 107-109 Main St., Cold Spring.
Photo by M.Turton

The board reviewed a memo submitted by Cold Spring Building Inspector Bill Bujarski regarding the Constitution Island Education Center proposed for 107-109 Main St. A public hearing on the project is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 19, at 10 a.m. in Carmel.

In addition to pointing out that the proposal will have to be reviewed by a number of village boards, Bujarski raised a number of concerns, potential parking and traffic problems among them. He also pointed to the loss of a Main Street commercial operation and with it the loss of tax revenue to the village due to the not-for-profit status of the Constitution Island Association, the organization that would run the education center. Bujarski also stated that the center would be “tourist based” and would “have only a seasonal impact or benefit to the village.”

A grant of up to $749,766 from Empire State Development will be used to purchase the building, complete renovations and design the education center. The ground floor of the building, located between The Living Room and Momminia Jewelry, is currently occupied by Chickadee Gallery.

Falloon expressed mixed feelings about the project. “I’m concerned that the hearing is in Carmel,” he said, adding that he planned to attend. He also questioned whether the location of the hearing could be challenged legally. “I think it’s a great project, I truly do … I believe in what they are doing.”

But he also underlined what he sees as a downside to the project. “It’s another hard pill to swallow in our little village,” he said, referring to the loss of tax revenue. Falloon also said that while Putnam County supports the project, “They’re the ones not sharing (sales) tax revenue with us.” He said he would discuss the project with the superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point which owns Constitution Island. The Constitution Island Association operates as a separate entity and there have been tensions between the organization and USMA.

Trustees Matt Francisco and Charles Hustis were absent from the meeting. Francisco is on vacation and Hustis had to respond to an emergency at work.

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