Two candidates for trustee square off at PCNR debate
Monday’s election forum hosted by the Putnam County News and Recorder at the Cold Spring firehouse included two candidates vying for one open trustee seat on the Nelsonville Village Board: Danielle Pack McCarthy and Thomas Robertson. Their Q-and-A session took about 20 minutes with both candidates answering the same questions. Responses have been condensed and lightly edited.
What is the single most important issue facing Nelsonville?
Pack McCarthy: I think that is yet to be determined. We need to create a revised identity of ourselves that includes newcomers and people who have been here for many years. Creating that identity will create communication that will help us identify what the real needs are. People have complaints but there’s a gap in bringing them forward to the Village of Nelsonville. I want to see increased communications. There are issues regarding roads and sidewalks and as trustee I would address them. We need to come together as a village and bring people out to meetings to identify problems. My background in social work is important, (especially regarding) relationship building and problem identification.
Robertson: Survival. We’re the smallest municipality in Putnam County. We have 223 households. We operate with less than 10 percent of the Cold Spring budget — just $373,000. There’s nothing wrong with Nelsonville. Some people have gripes but we’re a wonderful little community. People like each other, help each other. We have long-serving volunteers (such as) on the Planning Board and Zoning Board. They’re marvelous.
Septic systems and cesspools are used in Nelsonville rather than a sewer system. What should be done about that?
Robertson: I’ve lived here for 46 years. The cost of sewers would be prohibitive.
Pack McCarthy: This is an issue that comes up from time to time. If we’re going to even look at sewers as an option it needs to be fully evaluated. I want to be in a position to help with that decision, researching and finding out what people actually want.
Don’t they pose some sort of environmental hazard?
Robertson: Of course. (But) Cold Spring has to come to us with an idea, a source of funding and everything else, (and we would need) help from Putnam County.
Pack McCarthy: We need a review of why it happened in the first place (i.e., no sewers). Nelsonville is different from Cold Spring. We have our own identity. It’s something that needs to be evaluated going forward, (regarding) what people want for this community.
Has enough been done on Main Street regarding safety, crosswalks and related signage?
Pack McCarthy: No. I live at Main Street and Pearl and have three young children. I’m constantly arguing with cars that don’t stop. I’ve written to the village about this issue, about what can be done to slow traffic. It is definitely something that needs to be addressed.
Robertson: I think it has (been addressed.) Enforcement is one thing, and we do have the Sheriff’s Department right there.
The proposed firehouse in Cold Spring will cost millions of dollars. What will the impact be on Nelsonville taxpayers?
Robertson: Why would there be an impact?
Wouldn’t Cold Spring want some more extra money?
Robertson: We’ll go somewhere else (for fire protection). We had our own fire department but we ran out of volunteers. It’s a serious situation for us. We pay $44,000 a year to the Cold Spring Fire Company. There has to be a lot of discussion (of this issue).
Pack McCarthy: As it stands right now, it’s more a Cold Spring issue. Sharing services with Cold Spring and the Town of Philipstown is what keeps our costs down. Cold Spring has its own highway department whereas Nelsonville contracts out, reducing costs. Nelsonville needs to be part of the discussion regarding a new firehouse.
What areas should be considered for possible merging of services between Nelsonville, Cold Spring and Town of Philipstown?
Pack McCarthy: Nelsonville is its own village, somewhere special to keep intact. Sharing services is a perfect compromise — the best of both worlds — keeping our identity but keeping costs low by sharing services with Cold Spring and Philipstown. The courts might be a good area (to merge) — there are three different courts along Main Street.
Robertson: If you take the court revenue away, our clerk gets $10,000 less. Have you read the budget?
Pack McCarthy: Yes I have.
Robertson: We need shared services — (but) we have separate contracts for services such as garbage collection and snow removal, resulting in cost savings.
Pack McCarthy: My first priority is keeping an identity for Nelsonville. I’ve been on the other side of the table. I want to be part of the decision-making process rather than sitting back and complaining. There is more to the issues than the money side of it. It’s about pulling our residents in and having them be part of the solutions. I have a lot of experience, with background in nonprofit management, leadership roles and budgets. I’ve been successful with grant proposals in the past, an important skill, finding sources of funds when issues arise. The bottom line should not be to raise taxes but to look outside the box in providing services.
Robertson: I worked in the insurance business for 50 years, the last 20 as a shareholder and principal in the company, (dealing with) hundred of millions of dollars in premiums. Do I know how to write a budget? Yes. Do I understand cash flow? Yes. I know the people of Nelsonville. They are wonderful. They don’t complain. They help each other. Nelsonville is a wonderful place. I’d like to help.
Photos by L.S. Armstrong