Village docking fees likely to increase
By Michael Turton
Mayor Ralph Falloon has thrown a new twist into the long-running discussion regarding Main Street parking in Cold Spring. At Tuesday’s meeting (Feb. 4) of the Village Board he unveiled a concept drawing prepared by Clough Harbour & Associates (CHA), the Albany-based consulting firm that is developing plans for the $1 million Main Street project aimed at improving sidewalks, curbs, handicapped accessibility and other related infrastructure.
The drawing illustrates a new look for the north side of Main Street from the fire hall to Fair Street, a section that features some of the widest sidewalks in the village. The concept plan calls for giving up part of those sidewalks in order to create diagonal parking spaces. While diagonal parking is not unheard of, the twist is that this plan calls for the spaces to be aligned in a way that would require westbound vehicles to back into the new parking spaces.
Falloon said that approach makes it easier and safer for drivers to exit the parking spaces because they can simply go forward rather than backing out into traffic. He said this form of diagonal parking has been used elsewhere including in parts of New York City and in Lake George. The up side of the plan is that it would result in a net gain of 12 parking spots. One downside is that it would require removal of 10 trees.
Falloon emphasized that the drawing is only an idea at this stage and that he welcomes comments on the concept. He also acknowledged that others including the fire department would have to formally weigh in on the plan’s feasibility.
Cold Spring resident Kathleen Foley questioned if the proposed scheme would leave enough room for delivery trucks that service businesses along the proposed section of Main Street. She also brought up what she described as “vast football field size” parking spaces found on some parts of Main Street.
The exchange prompted Trustee Stephanie Hawkins to ask if the committee that prepared a detailed parking study as part of the 2012 Comprehensive Plan would be reconstituted. Falloon responded that a new parking committee would be formed. Malia Marzollo, who operates Skybaby Yoga, asked why two parking spaces on Rock Street had recently been eliminated.
Falloon said that a new “No Parking” sign had been placed in the wrong location and that the two spaces will be restored. Trustee Charles Hustis is arranging a workshop to deal with parking issues; however no date has been set yet.
Cold Spring dock ‘undervalued’
The “sweet spot” Falloon is seeking remained elusive as trustees again discussed docking fees, this time with two representatives of the Seastreak boat line. Falloon said that while he doesn’t want to discourage cruise boats from visiting Cold Spring due to “crazy fees,” the village does have to consider the cost of infrastructure, garbage pickup and other expenses.
Whatever that sweet spot ends up being it will almost certainly mean an increase in fees. Boats using the dock at the foot of Main Street currently pay a flat rate of $2 per foot based upon the size of the boat. Passengers pay $60 for the day trip for tickets purchased online or at the cruise line’s office. Tickets are also sold at a discounted rate of $40 through a company similar to “Groupon.”
In 2013 Seastreak took in between $150,000 and $160,000 in gross revenue from its trips to Cold Spring. Officials with the cruise line said that between mid-September and mid-November, a total of 24 vessels docked at Cold Spring, bringing 3,300 passengers to the village. Hawkins pointed out that the $6,768 paid by Seastreak last year amounted to only about 3 percent of the gross revenue derived from its Cold Spring excursions.
She also said that in speaking with officials from other communities such as Kingston, that also charge cruise boats for dockage, she was advised that use of the Cold Spring dock is currently undervalued.
No decision was reached on how much fees may increase or what form any new charges might take. Hawkins reported that some other ports use an annual licensing fee and also charge based on the number of passengers on each boat. Seastreak officials said that fees based on the size of the boat are advantageous to the village, pointing out that if an excursion has few passengers due to unfavorable weather, the village would still collect the full per-boat fee. The largest of Seastreak’s vessels is 141 feet in length and can accommodate up to 405 passengers.
“Rafting” of boats was also discussed. Last year village officials were surprised to see three boats rafted together at the dock when only one was expected. Seastreak officials explained that the additional boats had brought passengers to other nearby destinations such as West Point and that rather than cruising the Hudson, using additional fuel, the empty boats docked at Cold Spring.
Village officials had been under the impression that the two additional boats also brought passengers to Cold Spring. The summary of fees collected last year provided at Tuesday’s meeting indicates that docking fees were also paid for the empty boats.
Seastreak’s trips to Cold Spring originate in New York City and New Jersey. Boats leaving New York take about an hour and a half to reach the village while trips from New Jersey take an hour longer. Officials said that they have received positive feedback from passengers regarding the cruises to Cold Spring.
Visitors have about three hours to explore the village — and some have commented that they would like to have more time in Cold Spring. Seastreak is also considering options such as guided tours of the village as a way to ease the burden on restaurants that have been inundated with customers from the boats all at once. They also said that while fall is the best time to visit Cold Spring they are considering adding a Saturday cruise on summer weekends. Last year boats arrived on both weekend days throughout the fall season with Saturday cruises being considerably more popular.
Rec Commission, easements and grant applications
Cold Spring’s Recreation Commission has been operating with five members, two shy of the number required by the village code, an “oversight that was never corrected,” according to Falloon. Trustees opted to appoint two new members rather than amend the code. Falloon pointed out that docking issues now fall under the commission’s mandate.
Trustees approved an application by the Historic District Review Board for a Certified Local Government grant of $17,000 to update the historic preservation section of the Village Code along with design standards that apply within Cold Spring’s Historic District. A revised $75,000 grant application to New York State Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) will also be submitted. Those funds would be used to update the Village Code, bringing it into compliance with the 2012 Comprehensive Plan.
The draft application will be written to exclude 25 NYSERDA recommendations that Village Attorney Michael Liguori said prove prohibitively expensive. Trustees and Falloon have stated a number of times that if NYSERDA were to make the recommendations mandatory, the village would not accept the grant.
The board also approved easements with a number of Market Street property owners. The easements are required in order to complete repairs to the pumping station in that area. The facility has been subject to flood damage in recent storms.
Two trustees were absent from Tuesday’s meeting — Deputy Mayor Bruce Campbell due to illness and Hustis due to a schedule conflict.
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