Town Board Pursues Sale of VFW Hall

Also hears NYSERDA presentation

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong

Taking up a varied agenda June 5, the Philipstown Town Board received updates on the idea of selling the VFW building and the Cold Spring post office and took action on dam safety, solar energy, and an end to billboard blight. It also heard from NYSERDA representatives who presented information on state-assisted energy audits and enhancing household energy efficiency.

In still more business on an eventful night June 5, the board discussed storm-water concerns with residents. [See “Town Board Hears Storm-Water Concerns,” June 9]

VFW sale

The VFW building on Kemble Avenue (Photo by L.S. Armstrong)

The VFW building on Kemble Avenue (Photo by L.S. Armstrong)

Supervisor Richard Shea announced his intent to proceed, with the tenants’ approval, on the sale of the Philipstown-owned Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) building on Kemble Avenue, using the income for upgrading the 147-year-old Town Hall and similar infrastructure.

“I had a discussion with the veterans and they’ve agreed that if we want to sell the VFW building, they would go along with that,” Shea said. “I think it’s a good idea. We already have enough buildings and that one could be sold as surplus and we could put the money into this campus here” — Town Hall and the adjacent former-residential property, Dahlia House. The town would compensate the veterans for the remainder of the VFW lease, he added. “We will work out the details of that.”

Butterfield and post office

In her monthly report, District 1 Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra told the board that U.S. Postal Service officials “still have not found a location in Cold Spring for the retail” operations of a new post office. However, she continued, given the forward movement for the redevelopment planned by Paul Guillaro for the Butterfield Hospital site, the USPS “has reached out to him and they are negotiating.”

Likewise, she said, she and Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, Office of Senior Resources (formerly the Office for the Aging) Director Pat Sheehy, and Guillaro were to meet “to start planning the senior center,” a long-envisioned public facility at the Butterfield complex. “I’m excited about that,” Scuccimarra said.

Dam upgrade

Moving to a topic — local-government partnerships — increasingly popular in a time of budget constraints, the board unanimously authorized Shea to complete an inter-municipal agreement for repairs to a dam in Cortlandt Lake. Located in Continental Village, the lake straddles the border between Putnam and Westchester Counties. The inter-municipal agreement involves the Town of Cortlandt, Town of Putnam Valley, and Continental Village Park District (CVPD), with Cortlandt coordinating the improvements. The CVPD helped draft the restoration and protection scheme.

A New York State Department of Environmental Conservation inspection revealed “scouring” in the dam, in the Westchester end of the lake, prompting the effort. “I think it’s necessary,” Shea said. “We have complete faith that the right thing will get done,” he said.

Solar project

In passing along a proposed solar-energy project contract to Stephen Gaba, town attorney, the board took a step toward generation of alternative energy at the town’s Claudio Marzollo Community Center-Recreation Center, in Garrison. The densely written agreement, 38 pages of contract provisions and auxiliary materials, would allow the town government to join with Blueland LLC, based in New York City, in developing a photovoltaic system. Assuming all goes well, “I think it will be a total positive for the town,” Shea said.

Billboard battle

Board members also expressed determination to get rid of a lighted, blighted billboard on Route 9, not far south of the intersection with Route 301. Specifically, the board voted 5-0 to have Robert Cinque, a Brewster-based lawyer, to initiate further legal action to force the company that owns the defunct billboard to remove it. Shea said that for years, the corporate owners have ignored an existing court order to get rid of it. “It’s time for it to come out,” Shea said. “We’ve had no cooperation so far. You expect large companies to honor their agreements. We do have a judgment on our side. It will come out.”

The town won a court case on the billboard’s removal in 2002. Wednesday morning (June 11) in heavy rain, the billboard lights blazed away, illuminating the empty gray sign space above.

NYSERDA help

Also during the meeting, two representatives of RUPCO, (formally known as the Rural Ulster Preservation Co.), a non-profit firm working with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), gave a presentation on home energy audits and the benefits of making houses energy efficient.

Thanks to state assistance, residents can pay little or nothing for an energy audit, in which technicians run tests on a building to check for draftiness and similar drains on money and heat. An audit can help homeowners undertake efforts to “save on energy bills and make your home safer and more comfortable,” said Michael D’Arcy, one of the RUPCO representatives. The spin-offs can benefit not just the homeowner but the wider community, D’Arcy added. “I’d like to make contractors so busy they hire more and develop that work force,” crews skilled in energy-efficiency projects to revamp homes, boosting the job-base and economy as well, he said.

As well as providing grants and other programs, NYSERDA offers loans to make premises more energy efficient and keeps a list of qualified contractors. It provides further information on its website: nyserda.ny.gov.


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