Refuses to change start time or venue for Butterfield meeting
By Kevin E. Foley
Cold Spring Mayor Ralph Falloon’s request to have an upcoming meeting with county legislators start later and held in a larger public space than Village Hall, so more local citizens could attend, was refused by the chairman of the Putnam County Legislature’s Physical Services Committee, Carl Albano.
In a letter to Albano dated Sept. 10, Falloon wrote: “As there is significant community interest in the Butterfield project, we anticipate a large turnout and respectfully request consideration of an alternate venue. Space at Village Hall is limited to 43 people. We are willing to assist in locating a larger space and have determined availability at Haldane Central School. Further, the board requests consideration of starting this meeting at 7:30 p.m. which is customary for our Village Boards and allows commuters an opportunity to attend the meeting.”
Albano’s reply dated Sept. 12, states flatly: “I have received your correspondence dated Sept. 10, 2014. Please be advised at this time I have made the decision to hold the September 23 meeting at 6 p.m. at the Cold Spring Village Hall.”
Albano did offer a direct reason why he refused to comply with this simple request by the elected mayor to have the meeting 90 minutes later and in a larger nearby space. Later in his letter he refers to communication between the county legislature and village officials as “the focal point of this meeting,” suggesting it was unnecessary to accommodate a larger public presence although he acknowledged the meeting should be open to the public.
Albano’s letter references an earlier Aug. 20 legislative meeting when the subject of Butterfield and the location of county services in the proposed project were discussed. But his reference to only village officials misses the fact that it was Philipstown Town Board Member Dave Merandy who urged greater communication. Merandy was joined at that meeting by fellow Board Member Nancy Montgomery in pressing the point that the issue of county services and the impact of the Butterfield project on services require a broader dialogue with the Putnam Legislature. The pair was joined by Village Trustee Stephanie Hawkins, the sole trustee to attend the county meeting.
Hawkins in an email to Albano reminded him that the town officials expected to be part of the discussion and she also asked the chairman to at least reconsider the venue. “To deny people the ability to attend this meeting because the room is too small would be unfortunate and unnecessary given the larger venues available that evening,” she wrote.
Sam Oliverio, a county legislator from Putnam Valley and a candidate for county executive, has advised his colleague Albano to reconsider. “I really believe that the Legislature will be opening themselves up to a tsunami of push-back if we do not have this meeting in a larger venue with a later start time.” Oliverio said he had already received multiple calls from constituents over the issue.
In earlier correspondence on setting up the meeting Albano credited committee member Barbara Scuccimarra, Philipstown’s county legislator, with raising the issue about services and Butterfield as well as facilitating the upcoming meeting. However he did not include Scuccimarra as agreeing with the decision to refuse Falloon’s (and others’) request. As of this writing Scuccimarra’s exact position on the issue is not known.