Running under Community Party banner
By Kevin E. Foley
One-term incumbent Matt Francisco has teamed up with long-serving Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) Chairman Donald MacDonald to run as a team under the Community Party banner for the two open seats on the Cold Spring Village Board of Trustees.
The village election will be held Tuesday, March 18.
In a statement announcing their team candidacy and in an interview with The Paper, as the main themes of their campaign Francisco and MacDonald stressed re-zoning, careful fiscal conservatism, the search for new revenue sources beyond property taxes, and careful review of development projects to achieve successful outcomes.
Francisco, 50, has served two years as a trustee. Asked why he was running again he said: “There is more work to be done. I think I can help put the village on a more solid foundation.” Francisco pointed to his record of helping cut costs, keeping taxes low and services high as a sound basis for his re-election to another two-year term. He points specifically to his work negotiating a new insurance contract and a retainer agreement with the new village attorney as concrete steps that have saved the village money.
A 14-year Cold Spring resident, Francisco hails originally from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. He graduated from Akron University with a psychology degree and obtained a masters degree in industrial and organizational psychology from Baruch College, City University of New York. His career has included work in financial management, overseeing construction projects and large-scale property management as well as work with information technology. Francisco is married to husband Joe Patrick. He especially enjoys hiking and biking as recreational pursuits.
On the priority of re-zoning Francisco sees the need to align the zoning code with the adopted Comprehensive Plan and life in a village of “small plots” in close proximity to each other. He believes MacDonald is especially qualified to work on this with him and the other trustees. “Donald knows where the pain is when people come before the ZBA,” said Francisco.
Underlining his business experience, Francisco described himself as pro-development but he wants to be sure “we know what we are really getting. We have to try and insure that there are no surprises.” He points out that the village only has 843 ratable properties to provide tax revenue so he insists that it is vital that new development, including the Butterfield senior housing and commercial space proposal, be shown to be tax positive, meaning the village gains revenue or amenities rather than increased expense as a result of the ongoing existence of the project.
“In this small village we deliver full municipal services, police, sewer, water. Financially we cannot afford missteps,” he said.
A professional architect with an office in the Skybaby building on Main Street, MacDonald, 63, is a 23-year resident of the village. He is originally from Bedford Village, N.Y. MacDonald went west for his education at the University of Denver for a political science degree and then to the University of Utah for his architectural degree. He lives with his “born and raised in Cold Spring son,” who attends New York University in Manhattan.
MacDonald shares Francisco’s enthusiasm for outdoor recreation, citing a passion for hiking and rock climbing.
He has served as volunteer chairman of the ZBA for 11 of his 12 years of membership. “I think that experience will be very helpful in serving as a trustee,” he said. “We ask tough questions but we try to say yes.”
Combined with a number of other significant volunteer engagements over 20 years, including work on the Haldane school building expansion, writing the Historic District Review Board design standards and the preservation of Tots Park, MacDonald said, “I have met and dealt with a lot of individuals in Cold Spring. I work quietly and respectfully; that’s how you get things done.”
Like Francisco, MacDonald believes that doing the hard work of rewriting the zoning code is a key component of future village progress and preservation. “The code is where the rubber meets the road,” said MacDonald referring to how it affects people’s lives. “It’s good to have a trustee who knows the code,” he said.
MacDonald proposed that in rewriting the zoning code “we get our measuring tape out and write a code actually based on us,” rather than imposing a model code from a handbook or other outside source. He spoke of detailing lot sizes, property setbacks and house sizes to account for all the possibilities in a small village where all actions affect one’s neighbors.
On the horizon MacDonald sees several likely significant and expensive village projects that will require careful examination, including Butterfield, a new firehouse, a new boat club building and the renovation of the village water treatment plant.
He and Francisco agree that having individuals with experience reading plans and evaluating details and costs will benefit all the citizens of the village.