Merchants report mixed effects
By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong
As surveillance helicopters continued to chug over Cold Spring, the mountains and Hudson River, and law enforcement officers from several jurisdictions continued roadblocks, Main Street merchants reported mixed ramifications of the search for a murder suspect that ended up on their doorsteps Thursday (Sept. 26).
Some reported scant business, despite the glorious fall weather, but at least one other said tourists continued to wend their ways up and down Main Street and make purchases.
“I’ve had a little bit of business, but not much,” said Lynn Miller of Go-Go Pops, located just down the block from the Main Street intersection with Fair Street. Not far away, a New York State Police officer blocked Fair Street in front of Our Lady of Loretto Church and diverted traffic coming up on Cross Street back to Main Street, instead of allowing drivers to turn north.
Miller said that when she came down to her store as usual in the morning, “there was all kind of activity” on the street. “Everyone else was open and I figured I shouldn’t close. Now, though, it’s very quiet” in mid-afternoon.
An artist at a gallery doorway reported keeping the door locked but watching from a window perch inside “to see if anybody wants to come in.” The result: “Oh boy, is it quiet!”
Caryn Cannova of the Kismet said that she tried to leave her shop on a slow day and return to her home at the Springbrook Condominimums, along Fair Street. A Putnam County Sheriff’s Department officer stopped her. “He didn’t say, ‘You can’t go home.’ He said, ‘I wouldn’t go home.’ He wouldn’t tell me anything else.” So she went back to shop-keeping. “It’s crazy, scary,” she added. “There’s just so much hearsay going on, but you don’t know” anything for sure. About 45 minutes later, she said residents were being allowed back into Springbrook and she closed her store.
Betty and Lynn Hynes occupied a stoop on their Fair Street house, near the church and state police road block. “All we know is that the boys are on duty,” Betty Hynes said. “Thank God for them.”
“They’ll get him,” Lynn Hynes predicted, referring to the wanted man.
The door of the Cold Spring Village Hall remained locked, but Village Clerk Mary Saari opened it to an enquiring journalist. Outside of the excitement and anxiety outside, perhaps the most since a couple of guys with a Civil War cannonball disrupted Main Street in fall 2010, “it’s a normal day” for village government, she said. “We’re just doing our normal thing.”
Kathleen Nott, behind the counter at Country Touch, up the sidewalk from the village offices, made a sale to a couple of visitors. They took the situation in stride, with few comments beyond mentioning the officers clustered around Whistling Willie’s restaurant at the corner of Main Street and Morris Avenue.
“That was my first sale today,” Nott reported, after the customers left. “I’ve had a handful of people and no sales” until the visitors arrived at about 3 p.m. She drove from Newburgh to open the store around noon, using Route 9 to Fishkill and down Fishkill Road onto Route 301 – Main Street – in Nelsonville. “I had no trouble,” she said. “You just wonder why he chose Cold Spring,” she mused, referring to the suspect. “I hope they find him so things can go back to normal for the weekend. You don’t want this to be a hindrance for shopkeepers.”
Leonora Burton of The Country Goose expressed the view of many: “We have no information, right? We don’t know if he’s alive, dead, or captured. Madness, this whole day is madness and it’s so beautiful outdoors.” She said the afternoon had brought tourists as usual by train, including small groups from Russia and Scotland, and that she had sold several pounds of coffee.
Near the police command post at the Cold Spring municipal parking lot, Philipstown Supervisor Richard Shea noted the plethora of law enforcement officers, and observed, “I’ll tell you this: There’s no safer place in America than Philipstown tonight.” He said “they do think” the suspect was still nearby. “But who knows? There’s a big geographic area covered. If he is here I’m sure they’ll find him. There’s a lot of resources here right now. I think people can definitely feel secure and that there’s going to be a strong police presence until this is resolved.”
Shea also praised Putnam County Sheriff’ Don Smith who “has provided unlimited patrols and said: ‘call us with anything you want – we will address it.’ ”