Village Tree Ordinance Passes Quietly

Recreation Commission’s role may increase

By Michael Turton

Cold Spring now has a Public Tree Law. The Village Board approved the new tree ordinance at its Tuesday (Dec. 16) meeting by unanimous vote and to the applause of the small audience. The law establishes a Tree Advisory Board responsible for the “management, health and well being of the Village’s public trees.”

The law pertains only to trees located on village-owned lands and does not affect those on private property. As late as November, the proposed ordinance ran into resistance — at least in terms of what the group that would administer the new law would be called. What seemed an inordinately long debate at a number of meetings centered on whether the term “committee,” “commission” or “board” would prevail. In the end, possibly due to fatigue as much as reason, “board” won out.

Jennifer Zwarich headed the committee that drafted the law and Tree Management Plan. At Tuesday’s meeting she thanked the board for passing the ordinance, adding, “I can’t wait until we start doing something and not just talking about it.”

Prior to the law being approved, letters of support from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Cornell University Cooperative Extension, Hudson Highland Land Trust and utility forester Peter McFarland were read into the record.

Fire protection, election agreement approved

It was an especially busy week for members of the Village Board as they took the unusual step of meeting on both Monday (Dec. 15) and Tuesday. Monday’s meeting was devoted mainly to a presentation from the Cold Spring Fire Company (CSFC) regarding plans for a new firehouse.

On Tuesday, the board approved the annual contract with the Town of Philipstown through which the CSFC provides fire protection to a portion of the town. Under the new agreement, the Town of Philipstown will pay $48,232 directly to the CSFC with an additional $16,193 going to the Village of Cold Spring.

An agreement with the Putnam County Board of Elections was also approved, which will result in that body running the Village of Cold Spring Election in March 2015. The village clerk had previously been responsible for administering elections.

‘More skin in the game’

The Village Recreation Commission is being asked to review its role with respect to boats using Cold Spring’s public dock. “Docking belongs with Rec,” including such responsibilities as approving docking applications and policing vessels, Mayor Ralph Falloon said. Currently, the Village Board approves docking applications as well as permits for use of Mayor’s Park. “I don’t see why they (the Recreation Committee) can’t approve normal, generic applications,” Falloon said.

Deputy Mayor Bruce Campbell, who serves as liaison to the all-volunteer Recreation Commission, questioned whether it is reasonable to ask its members to be responsible for such tasks as policing vessels, which he said on busy summer weekends could require volunteers to be at the dock for long periods of time. He also cautioned that traffic at the dock will only increase, in particular large cruise boats, as word of its availability spreads.

Trustee Stephanie Hawkins responded saying, “We need to figure out what’s involved if we increase volunteers’ responsibilities. But I do think that things come to us that don’t need to.”

Trustee Cathryn Fadde agreed, commenting that the Recreation Commission should be empowered to take on more responsibility and that Campbell’s concerns should be dealt with when candidates are interviewed prior to being appointed to the commission.

Trustee Michael Bowman pointed to the absence of policy regarding recreational vessels as a “major omission,” commenting that while the current local law deals with large tour boats such as the Seastreak, it does not cover private yachts.

The law also makes no mention of nonprofit vessels such as the Clearwater and Mystic Whaler. The Village Board has typically waived docking fee for such vessels.

“I’d rather have them (the Recreation Commission) have more skin in the game,” Falloon said as the Village Board moved to send the docking section of the Village Code to the commission for its consideration.

Lighting Up Main Street

Trustee Fadde, who chairs the Lighting Committee, reported that local businesses contributed $17,500 to help relight Main Street for this year’s holiday season. Fourteen new wreaths featuring LED lights were added. Older lighting was repurposed for use on additional wreaths. She also reported that the Parking Committee will meet with New York State Assemblywoman Sandy Galef early in the new year as that committee works toward establishing a parking permit system for village residents.

The two Village Board meetings were likely the last of the year. The meeting scheduled for Dec. 23 was canceled and a meeting will be held on Dec. 30 only if business arises that must be dealt with by year-end.

3 thoughts on “Village Tree Ordinance Passes Quietly

  1. A small correction — the Village has established a Tree Advisory Board, not a Tree Advisory Committee. The Village Trustees agreed that a “board” would have more standing when applying for grants, and improve the odds the Village will win funding for tree-related projects.