Amendment to Boat Club Lease Discussed

Provision waiving Planning Board, HDRB review likely to be axed

By Michael Turton

As spring slowly inches closer so does the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) project to remove toxic coal tar from the area of the Cold Spring Boat Club. DEC has indicated that the design work for the project will be finished this month, a step required before contractors can bid on the job to excavate and remove the coal tar deposits buried beneath and near the club. If things go as scheduled, the actual work will get underway in the fall. A significant aspect of the project will be the removal of the Boat Club building, required in order to get at the coal tar found beneath it.

At the Tuesday (March 3) meeting of the Cold Spring Village Board, interim village attorney Bill Florence reviewed a draft amendment to the lease between the village, which owns the property, and the Boat Club. Florence had recommended an amendment as a means of dealing with a variety of issues stemming from the coal tar mitigation.

The essence of Tuesday’s discussion underlined that the amendment will solidify the Boat Club’s right to reoccupy the site and replace its building once the DEC project is complete. One provision that is almost certain to be excluded from the amendment is that put forward by the Boat Club that the replacement building be constructed “without regard to Planning Board and Historic District reviews, which the Village of Cold Spring hereby waives.” Florence told trustees, “You don’t have the authority to do that.”

Florence asked if the board also wanted to open a discussion of the lease itself, but at Trustee Michael Bowman’s suggestion the matter was deferred. The lease was last renewed in 2003. The decision to defer may have been influenced both by inclement winter weather and Mayor Ralph Falloon’s absence. Deputy Mayor Bruce Campbell chaired the meeting.

A member of the Boat Club, Campbell has resisted recusing himself from discussions regarding the club in past, expressing the view that he feels it does not constitute a conflict of interest and that he can remain objective in dealing with related issues.

Trustee Stephanie Hawkins commented that the existing lease with the Boat Club is poorly written and Florence agreed, stating that it could easily be broken. Bowman pointed out that the village has no intention of doing that. Florence raised a number of issues to be addressed as part of the agreement with the club ranging from the leasing of parking space to the Hudson House, provision of floating docks and public access to the site, to tax implications, insurance coverage and the term of the lease.

Three other items were referred to Florence for further consideration before trustees can move to approve related projects: the SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) negative declaration for the upcoming connection to the Catskill Aqueduct; an agreement with Putnam County regarding drainage improvements at the intersection of Craigside Drive and Morris Avenue; and a proposal from attorney William Hurst regarding his retainer for representing the village regarding revisions being made to the Historic District section of the Village Code.

Trustees approved the appointment of Toski and Company as village auditor. The firm submitted the lowest bid, which included no annual cost increase over the three-year period of the agreement. Their fee will be $10,900 per year.

Prior to the public portion of the meeting, village residents Susan Peehl and Frances Murphy were interviewed as candidates to serve on Ethics Committee. Murphy is also a candidate for trustee in the upcoming Cold Spring election.


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