Mayor meets with West Point officials over Constitution Island
By Michael Turton
The Village of Cold Spring has a new lawyer. At a specially called meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 11, trustees approved hiring Mike Liguori of the Brewster-based law firm of Hogan & Rossi after a search that took several months. Trustee Matt Francisco was absent but submitted a letter in support of the hiring decision.
The firm had originally quoted a fee of $5,000 as its monthly retainer, however Trustee Stephanie Hawkins negotiated a reduction to $3,500 a month through the remainder of the fiscal year. Mayor Ralph Falloon said that Stephen Gaba, who has served as village counsel for several years, will stay on to complete any ongoing projects he is involved in. Liguori will start his duties immediately.
At its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, trustees plowed through a long agenda in workman-like fashion.
New power source, Christmas lights still an issue
The village will no longer be purchasing its electricity from Central Hudson, trustees voting instead to accept an offer from Viridian, a power company based in Stamford, Conn., and established in 2009. Village Accountant Ellen Mageean said that Viridian quoted a rate of 5.9 cents per kilowatt-hour compared to Central Hudson’s rate of 10 cents. The switch to Viridian will save the village three to four thousand dollars a year.
While the village will be buying cheaper electricity, it was pointed out that the change will not help solve the issue of decorating Main Street with Christmas lights this year because Central Hudson owns the infrastructure. The utility will not allow the village to hang the seasonal lights from pole to pole across the street, as it has in the past – without a substantial expenditure to support the poles.
Falloon said that he met recently with officials from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and toured Constitution Island with them. While he could not speak to the status of a grant of nearly $750,000 to the Constitution Island Association (CIA) to establish an education center on Main Street, Falloon said the new Superintendent at West Point, Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., wants “to get back to the original intent” of putting the welcome center on the island and to restore the Warner House located there.
When asked by Hawkins if that approach would be separate from the proposed CIA initiative, Falloon responded, “Yes,” adding that officials at West Point are willing to work with the CIA, dependent upon that organization’s leadership also being willing to work together. He also said that reports of “complete banishment” of the CIA from the island are not true.
Falloon said he hopes that West Point’s interest in establishing the welcome center will mean that the village will not lose a Main Street property from the tax rolls. As a non-profit, the CIA would not pay taxes on the 107-109 Main St. property it has proposed to purchase. In recent times there has been tension between the CIA and West Point over the status of Constitution Island.
Status quo for post office
Falloon also attended a recent meeting involving numerous local political leaders to discuss the status of the Cold Spring post office. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) did not attend the meeting. Falloon said that Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and Sen. Terry Gipson have weighed in, expressing their support for the post office staying in Cold Spring. It seems that for now, the word is “status quo.” As he did the week prior, Falloon said that no permits have been issued for construction either at Foodtown or the Garrison post office.
He also pointed out that the post office has been granted a three-month extension to remain in its current location. Falloon said that everyone at the meeting agrees that the post office needs to stay put and that he thought, “It was a successful meeting.” Putnam County Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra attended the Village Board meeting and said that she had spoken with a regional representative of the USPS and that the agency is still looking for retail space in Cold Spring.
When Hawkins pointed out that a post office is not included in developer Paul Guillaro’s concept plan for the former Butterfield Hospital site, a solution to the post office issue that almost everyone favors, Scuccimarra responded, “I believe that will be addressed.”
Leading drivers to Cold Spring
Patty Villanova, a Main Street shop keeper, appeared before the Village Board to ask trustees to support her written request to Putnam County officials to add signage near the intersection of Routes 301 and 9, in order to make drivers more aware of Cold Spring’s location.
“There are virtually no indications for drivers coming from the north, south or east, as to where exactly Cold Spring is and I have heard many complaints from my customers who had difficulty even finding Main Street,” her letter stated.
Falloon said the Village Board supports the new signage and Scuccimarra referred to the issue as a “no brainer,” indicating that she will take the board’s letter of support to Fred Pena, Commissioner of the Putnam County Highway Department. “We want the signage up quickly,” she said.
Water and sewer projects
Superintendent of Water and Sewers Greg Phillips reported that the recent water main project completed by the firm MSI came in at $998,830, approximately three percent over budget. Phillips said that the overage was due to the need to replace valves “on virtually all side streets” and the temporary provision of water to Haldane High School, a change from the original work order.
He also outlined a report from Fuss & O’Neill Consulting Engineers for aeration replacement and electrical upgrades at the sewage treatment plant, a project that will cost $104,500 through the design and bidding phases. The village has actually had a contract with Fuss & O’Neill for the design phase since early 2012. “We don’t want to incur more debt but it is a potential life-saving issue. There are so many dangerous situations there … and we knew this was coming,” Falloon said. “We do have money in the sewer fund balance.”
That fund balance stands at $331,247. Trustees agreed that the project should move forward and that the contract with Fuss & O’Neill should be amended appropriately.
Trustee Charles Hustis reported that the Cold Spring Fire Company is ready to meet with village officials to discuss the need for a new firehouse. That discussion will take place at the Village Board’s meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 22.