New cast may bring story line to a conclusion
By Kevin E. Foley
Just like a reality television series, Butterfield LLC is returning for yet another season with cast and script changes presumably intended to achieve if not better ratings, at least a plot resolution before it is taken off the broadcast schedule. Viewers of course will differ on what would constitute a satisfactory ending.
A few of the key story elements and cast will of course remain the same to maintain continuity and not alienate loyal audience members. Developer Paul Guillaro will again star and propose a mixed use of market–rate senior condominium housing and commercial building space for lease on the 4.6-acre former site of the Butterfield hospital. Supporting cast members Tim Miller and Matt Moran from Guillaro’s team began the process of introducing the project anew last Wednesday evening (Sept. 5) before the Cold Spring Planning Board.
Long-time viewers will be on the lookout for the point in the story when Guillaro decides he has had enough with all the questions, criticisms and general lack of appreciation for his plan and once again withdraws his application along with the overt threat to build only single family homes with the implicit threat they will be filled with children seeking tax-expensive educations in the Haldane school system.
Perhaps this time around Guillaro and his advisors will find a way to more patiently concentrate on providing the details and answering the questions important to residents and the various government agencies that have jurisdiction over aspects of the plan. In this week’s episode, which included Guillaro’s new lawyer, Steven Barshov (from a Park Avenue Manhattan firm), the tone was silken as to cooperation while insistent the plan reflects community input and serves the community’s interests.
Missing from the cast of course will be former Mayor Seth Gallagher who competed with Paul Guillaro for the most thin-skinned character. Together these two otherwise intelligent people outdid each other in reacting badly to questions raised by other officials and an increasingly skeptical public as they tried to push the project along.
The new characters this season begin with Barney Molloy, a one-time chair of the Peekskill Planning Board, and now the new chair of the Cold Spring Planning Board thanks to Mayor Ralph Falloon who has both a producer and actor role in the series. Molloy, a few viewers will recall, starred very briefly in his own show when he ran a 48-hour campaign for mayor of Cold Spring last year. When he abruptly withdrew from the race, the PCNR, not for the first time, put Molloy’s picture on the front page throwing his support to Falloon.
Molloy is savvy about planning issues and clearly intent on a swift, efficient and open process. He has pledged to make the voluminous documents used at meetings available to the public. Joining Molloy around the table are planning veterans: Comprehensive Planning Board Vice Chair Anne Impellizzeri and former Village Board and Comprehensive Planning Board member Karn Dunn as well as James Pergamo, new to this area of civic life but seen by Falloon as a helpful addition. Arne Saari is the only returning cast member. He will provide the institutional memory having sat through all the previous Planning Board episodes of Butterfield LLC.
Since the appointed Planning Board is now going to be the lead agency reviewing the Butterfield details, Molloy’s role will be a key one. In previous seasons the Planning Board was the lead agency under Joseph Barbaro. Then the scriptwriters decided to have the elected Village Board take the lead, which confused a lot of viewers because the characters did not seem to know exactly what they were doing.
Then the Planning Board demanded the lead role back claiming it had the expertise. But then some Planning Board members resigned. The Village Board could still take back all or part of the Planning Board’s role but given that the air of uncertainty and lack of progress may have contributed to a loss of viewers such a story change seems unlikely.
Lead agency by the way means this is the group that reassures all the other government agencies including state agencies, such as the Department of Environmental Conservation, that their concerns will be addressed – no small matter. Audience members eager to see the buildings go up often ignore the legal requirements of the process.
The Village Board, with Stephanie Hawkins the only new cast member, will have to yet again attempt to change the zoning for the Butterfield property from health/medical to mixed use to allow the project to go forward. A casting call for extras will no doubt be posted to fill out the crowd for a public hearing on this matter.
Last season’s Jan., 29, 2013, episode drew quite an audience of people skeptical of changing the zoning without knowing the full details of what was to come afterwards. How the Village Board will address this concern should provide a plot twist or two.
Another hoary story element already rolled out anew in a special summer episode is the county, town and village political leaders getting together to agree with themselves how great it would be if any number of governmental services, that would greatly benefit residents, especially senior citizens, could be centrally located at Butterfield. This was so similar to past story lines some viewers thought it was a repeat episode.
Look for additional cameo appearances by these officials: Barbara Scuccimarra, Richard Shea, MaryEllen Odell, and possibly others, urging approval of Guillaro’s project to save the post office, create a senior center, consolidate the courts and open a DMV office among other things. Guillaro himself, if true to his character, will deny any involvement in these promises because he has no deals to lease the space and therefore needs the freedom to lease to other entities once his buildings are up.
The government officials may come in for harder questioning this season as to why leasing such space is good use of tax dollars and if it is what prevents them from making real agreements as part of the overall project before it is approved. Fear of unfulfilled government promises and buildings filled with undesirable commercial enterprises will continue to be a source of plot tension.
On Wednesday night the Planning Board proceeded tentatively asking only preliminary questions mostly about traffic and parking studies. The real start of the show will be in two weeks on Sept. 18, after new Planning Board consultants, attorney Anna Georgiou and planning firm Barton & Loguidice have reviewed the Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) submitted by the Butterfield team and present their observations and questions.
Molloy exhorted his fellow board members and members of the viewing audience to also study the EAF carefully. He also scheduled a 6 p.m. walkabout of the Butterfield site on Chestnut Street (Route 9D) so board members (and audience members) could get a physical feel for how traffic and parking would operate according to the project proposal.
Photos by K.E. Foley