Slow Start for Village Board

Interim attorney appointed

By Michael Turton

The Cold Spring Village Board was slow out of the gate on Tuesday (Jan. 6), its first meeting of 2015. The New Year may well produce marathon sessions and full agendas covering an array of issues that await consideration — from longstanding capital projects such as Main Street rehabilitation to yet-to-be-resolved issues including the removal of coal tar from the area of the Cold Spring Boat Club.

But on this night, with Mayor Ralph Falloon and Trustee Stephanie Hawkins absent, a number of discussions were set aside until next week in a meeting that lasted barely 30 minutes.

The meeting did however set up a number of questions that could produce interesting discussions in less than a week’s time. One item approved unanimously by the three trustees in attendance, Deputy Mayor Bruce Campbell, Cathryn Fadde and Michael Bowman, was the hiring of attorney William Florence to act as interim legal counsel to the board.

Florence will fill in while full-time counsel is appointed, replacing Michael Liguori, who resigned last year. All three trustees spoke highly of Florence, a local resident whose practice is based in Peekskill.

One of the first issues Florence will be asked to comment on is a letter from Greenplan, the Rhinebeck-based consulting firm that wrote a successful grant application to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) that resulted in the village receiving a $75,000 grant to revise the outdated zoning code, bringing it into compliance with the 2012 Comprehensive Plan.

The letter, dated Nov. 6, 2014, was discussed at a Village Board meeting later that month and requests payment of $7,603.75 for work the firm did in applying for the grant, even though its principals had initially indicated the work would be done at no cost to the village.

Greenplan’s Ted Fink states in the letter that the offer to do the grant application pro bono was made with the understanding that if the application proved successful, his firm would be awarded the contract to do the zoning code update. At a meeting on July 25, 2013, the Village Board agreed to do that via a unanimous resolution.

Awarding the contract to Greenplan without a Request for Proposals (RFP) was acceptable to NYSERDA, which considers the grant application process itself to be a competitive process since hundreds of communities vie for the grants. At the time, then Village Attorney Liguori also pointed out that services from consultants and other professionals could be acquired by the village without a bid process.

All that changed the following year at a meeting on July 6, when newly elected Trustees Bowman and Fadde urged the board to follow village procurement policy by issuing an RFP for the zoning work. Falloon and Campbell, who had previously supported awarding the work to Greenplan, voted with the new trustees and the RFP was issued. At a subsequent meeting, the zoning code update was awarded to the firm of Barton & Loguidice by a 4-1 vote, with Hawkins the lone dissenter.

Hawkins had worked with Greenplan, NYSERDA and the village attorney in shepherding the grant application process. When Fink’s letter was discussed at the board’s Nov. 18 meeting, the mayor said that he would contact Fink to discuss Greenplan’s request for payment, but he was not at Tuesday’s meeting to report on the matter.

On Tuesday, Bowman said that he still has concerns over how the NYSERDA grant was handled initially while acknowledging that Greenplan put time into completing the application, adding that it will make for “an interesting conversation with the [village] attorney.” The invoice accompanying Greenplan’s letter documents more than 62 hours spent on the project.

In a much less contentious issue also related to the zoning code update, trustees passed a resolution approving an application to the Hudson River Greenway for a $6,000 grant to assist with work related to the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan. Jack Goldstein, who chairs the Code Update Committee, attended the meeting, explaining that the grant had actually been received in 2013 but that the funds had not been drawn down due to delays in the NYSERDA grant process.

Because the original Memorandum of Understanding for the Greenway grant is about to expire, a new application is now being submitted and is expected to be approved.

From the Cold Spring Boat Club and Village residents, trustees received a number of questions in writing regarding the removal of toxic coal tar near the riverfront. The questions were tabled until next week but will be forwarded to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation after the full board discusses them. Also set aside were the possible appointment of a village historian and discussion regarding a sewer connection at west Bank Street, a private road in the village.

It may seem to be in the impossibly distant future, but warmer days are ahead. Trustees forwarded an application from the sloop Clearwater to the Recreation Commission for its consideration. The Pete Seeger–inspired boat plans to dock at Cold Spring from June 1 to 7.


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