Specific plans uncertain
By Michael Turton
The standing-room-only crowd that gathered at the VFW hall for the Tuesday (Jan. 28) meeting of the Cold Spring Village Board anticipated a pivotal discussion on the future of the Cold Spring Boat Club but probably went home largely disappointed.
With Mayor Ralph Falloon absent due to illness, a lengthy discussion that often seemed to lack direction produced little progress regarding how the club will cope with the aftermath of coal cleanup on the site — a project that requires the club’s only building to be razed. Also undecided is whether or not a committee formed by the Special Board for the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan will help produce a concept plan for a new building.
Trustees met a Jan. 31 deadline by approving a letter required by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), indicating that the village will condemn the boathouse, enabling site remediation to begin. The letter requests that the coal tar be abated to “the highest level … possible” and that Best Management Practices be used including “tenting” the site to ensure that noxious fumes are contained as much as possible. It also asks DEC to work with the boat club in anticipation of a new building being constructed.
The property is owned by the Village of Cold Spring and is leased to the boat club with the current agreement running through 2024. The club pays no rent or taxes to the village. In contrast, the Hudson House pays a total of approximately $8,000 in annual rent and taxes for use of a parking lot on the property. The village Comprehensive Plan calls for finding ways to generate increased revenue for the village on site.
Views differ on new committee
Mike Armstrong chairs the Special Board that drafted the Comprehensive Plan and which continues to work toward completion of a Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan. The Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 2012 after a five-year process that began with a village-wide survey of residents in 2007. Armstrong said that the plan specifically supports continued existence of the boat club and calls for “rethinking” how the property is used once the building is removed.
He described the current situation as a “great opportunity” for both the club and community. Armstrong said that at a meeting last week the Special Board moved toward forming a group to examine potential uses of the boat club site. Former Cold Spring Mayor Anthony Phillips is among those interested in serving on the committee.
Armstrong said $6,000 is available to hire a consultant to assist in drafting a concept plan for the property. Public restrooms, meeting space, showers and a cafe were among amenities he said could potentially be included.
Some in attendance questioned the need for a new committee or consultant. Claudio Marzollo, a boat club member, said that a new committee would only “muddy the waters” and expressed doubt as to how much could be accomplished by a consultant given the relatively small amount of funding available.
He suggested that negotiations be limited to talks between the club and the Village Board. Boat Club Vice Commodore Brad Petrie agreed saying, “It doesn’t seem to be appropriate for the Special Board to insert itself” into the process. Deputy Mayor Bruce Campbell, who chaired Tuesday’s meeting, also questioned the value of establishing a new committee.
Process remains unclear
While there may be little support for a new committee to draft a plan for the boat club property, the process for determining the club’s future seems unclear. Boat Club Commodore Mark Patinella stressed the urgent need for an action plan, including fundraising, adding that after the cleanup the club will be left with a vacant lot.
“What are we coming back to? We can’t have a meeting or even plug in a saw,” he said. Petrie said that boat club leadership “…can’t go to our members until we know what’s acceptable to the village.” Trustee Matt Francisco responded saying, “I’d turn that back around” indicating in essence that the Village Board can’t respond to a plan that doesn’t exist yet.
Petrie said the club does have an “outline of a plan” that he anticipates club membership will support. Throughout the meeting Francisco repeated his view that, “We really have to be guided by the Comprehensive Plan.”
Conflict of interest?
Near the end of the meeting The Paper asked if having two Village Board members who are also members of the boat club constitutes a conflict of interest. Charles Hustis, an associate member of the club, said he doesn’t intend to renew his membership. He has also indicated he will not seek reelection in March.
Campbell, a full member of the club, responded that he does not feel he is in a conflict position. The Paper pointed out that in past meetings Campbell has spoken passionately about how important the club is to him personally and that twice while chairing during Tuesday’s meeting he spoke “as a club member.”
Earlier in the meeting Campbell said that some residents have told him he should recuse himself from discussions regarding the future of the boat club.
Docking fees, unpaid bills and a new grant
Trustees briefly discussed the need to determine fees and related policies for cruise boats docking at Cold Spring in 2014. No action was taken however the village will look to other river towns such as Kingston in reexamining current fees. Representatives from SeaStreak, the largest cruise line whose boats dock at the village, will likely attend a future meeting to discuss related issues.
Approval was given to the Historic District Review Board to submit a draft application for a Certified Local Government grant of approximately $17,000. Funds will be used to update the historic preservation section of the Village Code as well as design standards that apply to Cold Spring’s Historic District.
Trustees voted to allow four Nelsonville residents to take care of delinquent water bills totaling $13,945 using payment plans. A request by one of the residents to waive fees owed was denied. Nelsonville purchases its water from Cold Spring.
Photos by M. Turton