Policing issues raised at Village Board meeting
By Michael Turton
After years of meetings, delays and at times heated debate, the redevelopment of the Butterfield Hospital site is about to move one important step closer to becoming a reality.
In a report to the Cold Spring Village Board at its Tuesday (Aug. 19) meeting, Planning Board Chairman Barney Molloy announced that the initial site plan for the project will be presented at the Planning Board’s Sept. 3 meeting. In the interim, Chuck Voss, a consultant working with the Planning Board on the Butterfield project, will conduct a detailed review of the plan.
“It seems straightforward,” Molloy said in describing the plan, which he had received just the day before. He estimated that the Planning Board’s review will take three to four months and that the board will likely meet bi-weekly in order to move the process along.
He also indicated that developer Paul Guillaro is “fairly confident” that by year-end he will be able to move on to the next two stages — demolition of the existing building and being granted a building permit. The existing demolition permit expires at year-end.
Vandalism continues to be a problem at Butterfield. Trustee Michael Bowman said that the situation has become so bad that “kids are now bringing furniture [from inside the hospital] outside,” adding that “the front door is wide open.” Building Inspector Bill Bujarski, who said that black mold is also a significant problem inside the abandoned hospital, supports fencing the property, a possibility that has been raised in the past.
Regarding fencing he said, “I fully agree… [we need] to do something about safety” at the site. There was a consensus that Guillaro should apply for a variance, allowing him to erect a temporary, 6-foot-high chain-link fence. “He is painfully aware of the situation,” Molloy said.
Helping residents wade through red tape
Molloy also reported that the Planning Board has created a draft document aimed at streamlining the process for village residents making application to the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, Historic District Review Board and the Building Department. Molloy said he hoped that by year-end the village will have “one generic form and a consistent process” for all applications.
The newly developed checklist, which he said borrowed ideas from other municipalities, will be forwarded to the Village Board, standing committees and the Building Department for their review.
Appointments made to Zoning Update Committee
The committee that will rewrite Cold Spring’s outdated zoning code is starting to take shape. At their July 24 meeting trustees had agreed that the new group would be comprised of seven members and indicated a preference to include one representative from each of the village’s standing committees. At Tuesday’s meeting they voted to fill five seats on the new committee — but only after some rather pointed debate.
Appointed to the Zoning Update Committee were Barney Molloy, chair of the Planning Board; Marie Early, chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals; Carolyn Bachan, member of the Historic District Review Board and Michael Armstrong who chaired the Special Board that drafted the 2012 Comprehensive Plan, the document which lays the foundation for the zoning update. Donald MacDonald, past chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals, was also named to the committee.
Prior to making the appointments the Village Board voted 3-2 in favor of not interviewing appointees from the standing committees. Trustee Stephanie Hawkins and Deputy Mayor Bruce Campbell argued in favor of interviewing all candidates before making the appointments, with Hawkins asserting that it came down to “treating all the applicants fairly.”
The argument against interviewing was led by Trustee Bowman, who said they were unnecessary, noting the candidates’ experience and the fact that they had been put forward by the standing committees. As an example he asked what good could come from interviewing a candidate such as Michael Armstrong, whom he said “… basically wrote the Comprehensive Plan.”
Before casting the deciding vote, Mayor Ralph Falloon pointed out that only one representative from each standing committee had expressed interest in serving on the new committee. “Considering all the time and energy they have put in [on the standing committees] I’m in favor of not interviewing.” Trustee Cathryn Fadde put it in even stronger terms saying that it “would be an insult to interview them.”
The two remaining seats will be filled from a pool of five residents who have expressed interest in serving on the Zoning Update Committee.
Policing the village
In his monthly written report, Officer-in-Charge George Kane commended Cold Spring Police Officers Greg Walz, Gary Marino and Ed Boulanger for their work in quickly putting an end to the recent outbreak of graffiti and for arresting three suspects. During a review of Village Accountant Ellen Mageean’s financial report, Trustee Bowman asked about a budget entry for removal of the graffiti. Mayor Ralph Falloon said that all village costs, including labor and materials, are being tallied and will be passed on to the Cold Spring Justice Court for consideration as part of possible restitution should the suspects be found guilty.
Falloon also praised the recent work of the Cold Spring Police Department, singling out the graffiti incident and stricter enforcement of parking rules — as evidenced by 101 parking tickets being issued for violations in the past month.
He voiced concern about complaints he has received from some residents that the CSPD is not doing its job. “That’s not true. They work hard … they do a fine job,” he said. “We are a very reactive village.” He also emphasized that only one officer patrols the village at most times. “No matter how you look at it we’re a one-cop town. It’s pretty hard for them to run radar and be checking the whole village at the same time.”
Kane has asked the Village Board to allow him to fill one vacancy on the CSPD. In recent weeks that shortage has resulted in at least one shift with no police coverage, accrued overtime and scheduling difficulties. Because it was deemed a public safety issue the scheduling difficulties and hiring of an additional officer were discussed in executive session after the completion of the regular meeting — along with the employment history of one CSPD officer.
The Grove, Fjord Trail and the Lois McLure
Trustees voted to remove two deed restrictions that would require Steve Marino to meet specific deadlines in making exterior improvements to The Grove. Marino is negotiating purchase of the historic house, owned by the village, for $5,000. A third restriction prohibiting him from demolishing the building will remain intact. The discussion again featured a clash between trustees Bowman and Hawkins, the latter casting the lone vote against lifting the restrictions.
Hawkins argued that they would motivate Marino to make improvements to the building in a timely manner. She termed the 4-1 vote to lift the restrictions as “bad business.” Bowman on the other hand said that Marino had indicated the deed restrictions were “non-starters” and thus could jeopardize the sale. Bowman said his “core concern” is that The Grove “is a liability [to the village] and we need to wash our hands of it.”
Mayor Falloon briefly reviewed recent modifications to the route that the proposed Fjord Trail will take in the area of Mayor’s Park. The Village Recreation Commission had expressed concern that a proposed realignment of the fence along Fair Street would encroach on the playing field. As a result, alignment of the sidewalk will be adjusted. The commission also questioned if hikers using the trail will monopolize parking spaces intended to serve Mayor’s Park.
Officials from the Lois McLure, the full-scale replica of an 1862-class sailing canal boat, said that their visit to Cold Spring Aug. 15 through Aug. 17 was a huge hit. Some 1,500 visitors toured the 88-foot schooner while it was docked at the foot of Main Street. The Lois McLure is a project of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes, Vermont.