Mayor’s Planning Board Appointments Questioned

New village planner hired, new lawyer likely next week

By Michael Turton

Mayor Ralph Falloon ran into strong opposition over his intended appointments to the Village of Cold Spring Planning Board at a meeting of the Village Board on Wednesday (Aug. 21). Six residents had applied for two vacant positions.

Two were eliminated: Vivian Hagen because her application was received after the deadline and Jeff Phillips who withdrew of his own accord, leaving Judith Rose, Karen Dunn, Carolyn Bachan and James Pergamo as candidates. Falloon named as his choices Dunn, a former Village of Cold Spring trustee, and Pergamo, an electrician, which set off a long and at times testy discussion.

Trustees voted 3-2 to hire the firm of Barton & Loguidice as the new village planner. Photo by M. Turton

Trustees voted 3-2 to hire the firm of Barton & Loguidice as the new village planner. Photo by M. Turton

Trustee Stephanie Hawkins challenged the selections, stating that Rose has considerable experience in planning and development. In her application letter, Rose said that due to travel associated with her job, she would likely have difficulty attending all meetings. “With that many (applicants) I felt that she would not be the best candidate,” Falloon explained.

Later in the meeting, Trustee Matt Francisco suggested that teleconferencing, which he said is permitted under the law, might be considered as a remedy when members cannot be physically present at meetings. Regarding Bachan, Hawkins said, “Of all the letters we received, Carolyn is the most qualified.” Falloon responded that “with all her experience on the HDRB (Historic District Review Board) I was reluctant to move her” to the Planning Board. Bachan is currently a member of the HDRB.

When Hawkins asked, “Have you just eliminated Carolyn Bachan?” Falloon replied, “Yes … I want her on HDRB.” Hawkins suggested that Bachan could possibly serve on both boards. However Falloon responded, “I don’t think that’s good practice. Those two boards are very busy, very important.”

With no clear consensus as to whether or not Bachan could serve on both boards, Trustee Charles Hustis suggested pushing off the decision for a week in order to seek legal counsel. When Hawkins continued, asserting that it is up to Bachan whether or not she resigns from the HDRB, Falloon was clearly frustrated and, his voice raised, said: “It’s up to me to make the appointments! So I’m going to, at this time, appoint Karen Dunn and James Pergamo to the Planning Board. That’s what I’m going to do. Those are my picks.”

At that point Trustee Matt Francisco asked, “Can you at least speak to their qualifications?” Falloon very quickly reviewed the two application letters. Dunn listed having been a member of the Special Board for the Comprehensive Plan and LWRP as well as having served for two years as a village trustee. Pergamo’s letter focused on his extensive supervisory experience as an electrician at the Culinary Institute of America and with the New York City Department of Administrative Services.

During a lengthy back-and-forth among board members, Hustis suggested that further discussion was needed, and put forward a scenario in which Bachan would be appointed to the Planning Board with one of the mayor’s other picks being appointed to fill Bachan’s spot on the HDRB.

Francisco emphasized Bachan’s 35 years of planning experience in“things that are very essential to what’s going on at the Planning Board,” including her work with New York State, on SEQRA and with regard to senior housing. Deputy Mayor Bruce Campbell agreed, stating: “Carolyn is definitely qualified … I look at that list and Carolyn is probably the top person.”

He also acknowledged Rose for her involvement with the Special Board and Dunn as a past trustee. Referring to Pergamo he said: “I know him. He’s a dedicated individual who would serve well on the Planning Board.”

Falloon relented, at least partially. “I’ll tell you what,” he said. “As a compromise … I’ll think about it for a week … I will poll the Planning Board … each individual … I’ll get their opinion,” he said. “I’ll hold off one week and I’ll decide next week.”

Asked by The Paper to clarify whether the Planning Board vacancies are filled by mayoral appointment or by a vote of the Village Board, Falloon said that the appointments are his decision as mayor.

New planner named, decision on law firm expected next week

By a 3-2 vote, trustees named the firm of Barton & Loguidice (B&L) as planner for the village. Trustees Hawkins and Francisco questioned the fairness of the selection process which saw B&L appear before the Village Board three times, more than the other applicants. AKRF was the other firm in the running. Falloon, Hustis and Campbell voted in favor of B&L with Francisco and Hawkins voting “nay.” Falloon said that he had supported B&L from the start and that the firm remained his choice.

There was no friction in dealing with the naming of a new village attorney, a decision that will likely be finalized next week. Trustees have narrowed the search to two firms, Brewster-based Hogan and Rossi and the Poughkeepsie firm of Shaw, Perelson, May and Lambert, with the board strongly leaning towards the former. Trustees will submit any final questions to Village Clerk Mary Saari, who will ask for responses from Hogan and Rossi, paving the way for the final vote. Areas to be clarified deal mainly with the firm’s fee structure.

Christmas lights in jeopardy

Village officials met with Central Hudson earlier this week to discuss the annual installation of holiday lights along and above Main Street. The utility has told the village that it can no longer string lights across the street from pole to pole — at least not without spending funds to secure the poles. Falloon said that Central Hudson was very clear; stating that last year would be the last time lights could be strung in that manner.

He said that when he “begged and pleaded” for another year’s grace, Central Hudson officials actually chuckled. When the mayor asked why, they said it was because Cold Spring is the only community that has been allowed to install lights in that manner. The issue is the weight of snow that collects on the lights and greenery used as part of the decorations. Securing the poles would entail running guy wires from each pole down into the tree or flower boxes, as well as the use of bollards at the base of the guy wires, a solution Francisco described as “really ugly.”

The work would cost the village $12,000, monies that are not in the budget. “It’s a nightmare,” Falloon said. “It’s devastating. We don’t want to be the administration ” that fails to install Christmas lights. He said that another option is to hang lighted wreaths from stanchions at the top of each pole, however there was little enthusiasm for the idea. Falloon said he will speak to the Cold Spring Area Chamber of Commerce to discuss options for ensuring that Main Street is lighted at Christmas. “We have to have a plan in place by November,” he said.

Vandalism continues, surveillance discussed

Campbell reported that vandalism continues to be a problem at Mayor’s Park and in the pedestrian tunnel. At Mayor’s Park, locks on the storage room doors were recently broken and the building marred by graffiti. Campbell said that the tunnel under the Metro-North tracks continues to be vandalized with graffiti and that Scenic Hudson has also reported vandalism at its West Point Foundry project site.

Trustees discussed the possibility of installing improved lighting at the problem areas and are also considering using portable surveillance cameras. Campbell said that police patrols have been increased. Referring to the vandalism problem in the village, Falloon said, “It’s constant.”

Maintenance needed – at Butterfield and on Main Street

Francisco pointed out that the lawn at the Butterfield Hospital site is not being maintained and that residents have raised concerns about its appearance and the possible proliferation of deer ticks – the small insect that transmits Lyme disease. He said that one option is for the village to cut the grass, sending the bill to the property owner – developer Paul Guillaro. “There will be a lot of focus on whether or not we enforce our code,” he said. Falloon said that the code does address maintenance but not to a level of dictating to what length grass must be cut. The matter is being referred to Building Inspector Bill Bujarski.

Cold Spring resident Lillian Moser expressed concern over the state of tree boxes along Main Street. “They’re so overgrown it’s not funny,” she said. In some of the boxes weeds are approaching 7 feet in height. “This is something we have to address,” Falloon responded.

Nothing official on post office

Responding to an inquiry from a resident at the meeting, Falloon said that he has received no official correspondence from the U.S. Postal Service regarding the fate of Cold Spring’s post office. “I find that a little insulting,” he said. “Sometimes we get the least respect – it’s the way it is.” He said that Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney has jumped into the fray and that USPS “is fully aware of what’s going on … they have a ton of options.”

Falloon said that multiple property owners on Main Street have offered space to the post office. “In our defense … it was the owner (of the Foodtown building), Mr. Serroukas, who made that deal. He offered that space to Foodtown – not us. We’re doing our best but we can’t control the USPS.”

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