Trustee Hawkins balks at vote

By Michael Turton

By a 4­–1 vote, the Cold Spring Village Board awarded the contract for updating the Village Zoning Code to the planning firm of Barton & Loguidice. The vote took place at the Tuesday (Oct. 4) meeting, with Stephanie Hawkins casting the lone “nay” vote.

Work will be undertaken through a $75,000 grant from the New York State Research and Energy Development Authority (NYSERDA) and will bring the badly outdated zoning code into compliance with the 2012 Comprehensive Plan. Greenplan, the firm that helped draft Cold Spring’s Comprehensive Plan and also wrote the successful NYSERDA grant application, had also bid on the contract along with RKF, the consulting firm that helped draft new zoning adopted by the Town of Philipstown in 2011. Trustees interviewed representatives from each of the three firms in a closed session prior to the public meeting.

“It was hard,” Mayor Ralph Falloon said of the vote, describing all three firms as well qualified to do the work. “Not one of them had a bad interview,” he said. But in the end, Falloon said Barton and Loguidice’s size as a company, especially “the number of consultants they have on staff” was “a big deal” in his mind. He was also impressed with the number of LEED-qualified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) staff at the firm. The mayor added that any concerns over estimated legal costs submitted as part of the firm’s proposal can be addressed by shifting funds as needed within the project budget.

Falloon said that Barton & Loguidice, which is also consultant to the Cold Spring Planning Board, can begin work as soon as the final contract is received from NYSERDA. On the other hand he said, the all-volunteer Zoning Update Committee can begin its work on the project right away.

“(We) should have waited to vote on hiring a planner until such an action was on the agenda,” Hawkins told The Paper in explaining her negative vote. She said that the public had been given no indication that a vote would be held as part of Tuesday’s meeting and described the action as “very opaque and not in service to open government.”

She commented further that “my colleagues appear to rush without regard for open and transparent deliberation.” Hawkins also said she feels that Barton & Loguidice is overpriced at $275 per hour and that its use of the firm of Wormser, Kiely as legal counsel is duplicative since the village already has the law firm of Hogan & Rossi on retainer.

Hawkins said she is still “unsettled” over advice given Cold Spring’s Planning Board by Barton & Loguidice last winter regarding the B4A Zoning Amendment for the Butterfield redevelopment project. Related to that, Falloon has scheduled a joint meeting of the Planning Board and Village Board for Oct. 21, to discuss concerns expressed by some Planning Board members regarding their ability to comment on the mass and scale of the Butterfield project.

Disputes ‘foolhardy’ depiction

On Wednesday, Falloon spoke to The Paper regarding a recent article in the PCNR which was highly critical of the moving of large rocks along the edge of the cemetery on Cedar Street. The article’s headline portrayed the action as “foolhardy” and having resulted in “desecration,” terms that Falloon said he disputes. The mayor explained that parking at Haldane close to the cemetery is very limited, something he witnesses a number of times each week when picking up his children. He said that he “saw an opportunity to increase parking by moving [three] rocks” and directed the Village Highway Department to do so.

Falloon said that when the work was undertaken a foot-stone in the cemetery was uncovered and pushed — but not damaged. The boulders have since been realigned. “I accept my mistakes,” Falloon said. “The rocks are in their proper place now. If anyone can prove me wrong, I’ll fix it.”

Child ID program planned

Cold Spring will host a Child ID Program on Nov. 8, sponsored by New York Life. Participating children will each receive an identification card that includes vital personal information. In its materials describing the program, New York Life points out that due to parental concerns over collecting and storing of personal data, information is only recorded on the card itself and not kept as part of a larger data bank.

The ID card information includes the child’s photo, fingerprints, contact information and other data that may be needed by police in an emergency situation. The program is free of charge and is held in conjunction with Fire Safety / Fire Prevention Week.

‘The shed’ continues

Trustees approved expenditure of funds to defend the Village of Cold Spring in a legal action brought by residents Sue Peehl and Andrew Hall over the construction of the controversial Stone Street shed and the variance that was subsequently approved by the village.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Turton, who has been a reporter for The Current since its founding in 2010, moved to Philipstown from his native Ontario in 1998. Location: Cold Spring. Languages: English. Area of expertise: Cold Spring government, features