County Legislature Approves Funds for Local Arts

Votes to terminate lease with Tilly Foster Farm management

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong

In a low-key meeting with a long agenda, the Putnam County Legislature Feb. 7 approved a total of $5,375 in Putnam Arts Council grants for cultural programs in Philipstown and agreed to terminate the lease with the management of the county’s historic Tilly Foster Farm park near Brewster.

Convening on a Friday night to make up for cancellation of its Wednesday Feb. 5 session, the legislature also signed off on a funds transfer involving insurance payments for damage to guardrails on county roads, including two in Philipstown, and use of the money for related road expenses.

During their discussions at the old courthouse in Carmel, the legislators likewise approved county acceptance of a $112,500 State of New York grant for hazard mitigation efforts. In other business, the legislators allocated $250,000 for repairs to the relatively new county courthouse following weather-related water damage.

Arts grants

The Depot Theatre, site of a previous one-act play program by Aery Theatre, recipient of an arts grant for 2014. Photo by L.S. Armstrong

The Depot Theatre, site of a previous one-act play program by Aery Theatre, recipient of an arts grant for 2014. Photo by L.S. Armstrong

The 2014 Putnam Arts Council grants certified by the legislature for Philipstown programs consisted of:

  • $2,000 to the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival for discounted family-night tickets with a pre-performance workshop for children and teenagers at Boscobel;
  • $500 to Collaborative Concepts for a two-month-long sculpture installation and weekend performances at Saunders Farm, Garrison;
  • $500 to the Garrison Art Center for an open house;
  • $500 to the Garrison Landing Association/Aery Theatre Co., for one-act productions;
  • $675 to the Doansburg Chamber Ensemble for six concerts in Cold Spring and Brewster;
  • $1,200 to the Chapel Restoration for its Sunday series of eight classical music concerts.

Tilly Foster Farm

The legislature voted 5-2-1 to ratify termination of the lease with the management of Tilly Foster Farm, after the managers had announced cessation of their role. Legislator Dini LoBue, whose District 8 covers Mahopac and a section of the Town of Carmel, and Sam Oliverio, of District 2 in Putnam Valley, voted against the termination — not from a desire to continue the status quo at the farm but because of concerns about sufficient public input and other reservations. “We need to remove ourselves from the morass surrounding this whole situation,” said Oliverio. “I’m just not comfortable terminating it [the lease] at this time.”

For several months in 2013, the legislature had complained about the financial stewardship of Tilly Foster.

District 1 Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra, who represents Philipstown and a small piece of Putnam Valley, voted with the majority to end the lease. “I think it’s time for the county and all of us to move on” and find a better way to operate the farm, she said.

Legislator Kevin Wright of District 9, covering the hamlet of Mahopac and part of the Town of Carmel, abstained from the vote because of a prior professional-business relationship with one of the managers. District 6 Legislator Roger Gross, representing Southeast, was absent.

Guardrail damage settlements

The total of $24,272.52 the county got from insurers to pay for drivers’ guardrail mishaps includes $9,989.46 for guardrail repairs on Fishkill Road and $1,538 for fixing a guardrail at Sprout Brook Road and Winston Lane.

Hazard mitigation and courthouse repairs

The $112,500 in state Office of Emergency Management grant funds will cover most of a projected cost of $150,000 for hazard mitigation work, with the county left to make up the $37,500 difference.

The $250,000 for renovations at the new courthouse will address water damage “caused by the extraordinary cold spell experienced” recently, as the resolution on the vote to assign the money explained.

2 thoughts on “County Legislature Approves Funds for Local Arts

  1. The “managers” who the reporter inexplicably failed to identify were George Whipple and the Society for the Preservation of PC Antiquities and Greenways. The session was noted for its lack of questioning either by the Legislature or the public of the termination of lease agreement stipulations — it had not been made available online — nor its completeness since the 2013 quarterly financial and management statements mandated by the lease to the Legislature and the annual reports to the CE apparently were not included. I questioned their availability. And of course, neither the Whipples nor the Board were in attendance to answer any questions including the outstanding $60,000 utilities bill. And so it goes, ladies and gentlemen, here in Putnam County.

    Further, I have submitted a FOIL request for the stipulations of the termination agreement and for the 2013 financial and management reports.

  2. According to an article in the Journal News, the county, Chairman Albano and the legislators, with the exception of Sam Oliverio and Dini LoBue, gave the Whipples a Valentine Day’s gift of $60,000, relieving them of the obligation to pay for three years of utility bills. Why? Albano accepted the Whipple claim that they had incurred expenses of $242,000 in capital improvements and, therefore, the utility bills should be forgiven. News to me and to my accountant who conservatively calculated that the majority of the capital improvements were on my dime.