Village Addresses Boat Club Issues

Fees for cruise boats may increase

By Michael Turton

Cold Spring Village Trustee Bruce Campbell reported that a meeting was recently held with members of the Cold Spring Boat Club, continuing discussions about the club’s future after the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) completes its cleanup of toxic coal tar found beneath the site. His comments were part of a very full agenda at the Village Board meeting on Nov. 5 (Tuesday).

Toxic coal tar deposits from a 19th century manufactured gas plant are still present beneath the Cold Spring Boat Club.  Photo by M. Turton

Toxic coal tar deposits from a 19th century manufactured gas plant are still present beneath the Cold Spring Boat Club.

The Village Board must respond to DEC by the end of January 2014, confirming that the boat club building will be removed as part of the cleanup. In the meantime, the board must consider a number of significant issues, including the club’s lease. The village owns the site and the club, established in 1955.

The two sides are not close to a new agreement but issues are beginning to take shape. One thing that seems certain is that the club’s future will not be a mirror of its past. In part, that is due to recommendations in Cold Spring’s Comprehensive Plan, which advocates making the club more accessible to the community. The plan also emphasizes the village’s need for new revenue sources.

The boat club is demonstrating a willingness to heed the recommendations. At Tuesday’s meeting, Mark Patinella, boat club commodore, said that public restrooms are being considered for the replacement building. The club is also considering charging a fee for guest dockage – which could become a new source of revenue for the village.

There are however, major sticking points to be resolved. The club has suggested a new, 50-year lease, a big shift from the current 20-year agreement. At Tuesday’s meeting Trustee Stephanie Hawkins pointed out that the boat club does not pay rent and also suggested it should be required to submit a business plan.

Public input will also likely become an issue. Trustee Matt Francisco said that in creating a new agreement, the Village Board will eventually have to face the question: “Do the residents agree?” With projects such as a new fire hall and the Butterfield development on the table, Francisco said that village resources are limited. “People will ask reasonable questions,” he said, suggesting one might be “Do we subsidize (the boat club)?”

“I think there is a sweet spot … and we’re going to find it,” Hawkins said, referring to the potential for creating an agreement that works for the boat club and village as a whole.

Trustee Bruce Campbell pointed out that all residents have the opportunity to join the boat club – either as full or associate members, and that is a place where residents can avoid the “saturation of tourists” that the village experiences when cruise boats dock at Cold Spring. “They swamp the restaurants, they swamp the waterfront,” he said, preventing residents from enjoying their own village. “I don’t think there’s anything better than (the boat club) in the whole world,” he concluded.

“We want to keep talking. We do want to maintain a partnership with the boat club,” Mayor Ralph Falloon said. Earlier in the meeting he questioned the logic of requiring the club to pay rent on a replacement building that it would build and own. The mayor will continue discussions with Village Attorney Mike Liguori regarding the lease.

Boats boost business but …

For the past several weekends the Cold Spring dock has been a hub of activity as the SeaStreak and its sister boats have brought hundreds of visitors to the village. The cruises originate in Manhattan and Highland N.J., arrive in Cold Spring by 12:30 and depart three hours later.

Rafting Boats

Cruise boats rafting at the Cold Spring dock - a practice prohibited by village insurance.

The cruises have been a boon to business but have raised issues. While the company was approved for one docking per day, three boats have arrived at a time, rafting up at the dock. Campbell said the company has been cooperative in paying the additional dockage fees. He has since learned that the village insurance policy prohibits rafting of vessels. Boats will now be required to “hover” off shore, taking turns at using the dock. Fees are also being reviewed. Currently the village charges two dollars per linear foot – or $280 for the 140-foot SeaStreak.

Trustee Stephanie Hawkins wondered if that is enough. The larger boats carry up to 400 passengers who pay $60 each for the day trip. Gross revenue for one boat can be as much as $24,000. In areas such as Lake George, boats pay a dockage fee as well as a per-passenger fee. Debbi Milner, President of the Cold Spring Area Chamber of Commerce, suggested that if fees are increased they should include the cost of the visitor maps which are currently provided free of charge by Hawkins said she isn’t asking for “extortion-level” fees. “We’re just interested in a little more revenue for the village.”

Christmas lights back on

Main Street won’t be dark over the holidays after all. Campbell said that Central Hudson has approved dual electrical outlets for poles along Main Street, enabling the village and the chamber of commerce to install alternative lighting. The utility had prohibited stringing lights from pole to pole – without a major village expenditure to reinforce them. The old lights will be repurposed without stringing them across the street. In addition, Milner said that the chamber has already raised $1,200 to light trees.

How many links in a chain?

Wording continues to be fine-tuned for a new law prohibiting “formula businesses” in the village. Hawkins said that special counsel Warren Replansky will address the board regarding the possibility of defining formula retail “chains” as having 10 or more stores. “It’s a valid point,” Trustee Matt Francisco commented. “I’ve never looked at it from the growth side. Do we want to discourage an ‘Old Souls’ from expanding?” into a franchise, he asked.

Accident damages mayor’s pickup

mayor trunk damage

Mayor Ralph Falloon’s truck was damaged in an accident just prior to the Village Board meeting.

An accident took place in front of the Village Hall just prior to the meeting. A man parking his car on Main Street stepped on the gas while in reverse. The vehicle grazed a car parked immediately behind it, and veered onto the sidewalk, engine racing. The car sideswiped Falloon’s pickup then slammed into a tree. No one was hurt in the incident.

Photos by M. Turton

3 thoughts on “Village Addresses Boat Club Issues

  1. Many thanks to Mike Turton for letting us know the true feelings of what I fear are many of Cold Spring’s residents, regarding the small businesses that line the Village’s Main Street. I’ve been here less than two years and I still can’t believe that there residents who would rather shut us down than have the vibrant economy and tax relief that our shops and restaurants provide. It seems that we merchants have to fight for what little we get in the way of services and ultimately, it turns out that something as basic as decent street lighting has to come from the private sector, even though the Village has been sitting on substantial grant money for years.

    What really bothers me is that this isn’t even benign neglect; it seems like certain board members want to discourage tourists and shoppers from coming here on the Sea Streak and other boats which, by the way, have been life savers for many of us who’ve been struggling.

    If you ‘Springers want to see what it’s like to live in a place that has no real downtown or business district, come over to Putnam Valley and see what taxes are like when all the costs of schools and local government are paid entirely by the homeowners.

    You might agree that an occasional inconvenience is worth more than the extra thousands you’d be paying if there were no businesses to share your burden.

  2. Go figure, something that finally works in Cold Spring for businesses and they’re already trying to push it out. Eh, let’s do the really intelligent thing and just shut down the entirety of Main Street again for a bicycle race. That will really keep tourism fresh. No wonder the sidewalks roll up at 9 p.m.

  3. Shaun, I don’t know where you are, but up at this end of Main Street, it’s pretty dead before 5 p.m. these days. Once it gets dark, people just up and leave. What gets me is that this village could be revitalized virtually overnight if proper light fixtures were placed on all the electric poles, including the 24 vacant ones that have no lights. I just don’t get it — I’ve been coming here for decades it keeps getting worse. Hasn’t anyone in charge ever heard the expression, “Let there be light?”