Campbell, Hawkins and Falloon on leaving office
By Michael Turton
Three members of the Cold Spring Village Board chose not to run for re-election on March 18. Philipstown.info asked each to reflect on their time in office.
For Mayor Ralph Falloon, it’s been all about nuts and bolts and making “our little village” run smoothly. “I’ve never really stopped to think about the number of projects we completed, or which ones I’m most proud of,” he said. When pressed, he gave answers that were not surprising, about infrastructure and making the village function well. “Working with Greg Phillips to complete the water main relining and getting projects in motion to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant, pumping stations, sewer lines and our dams were all important.”
But near the top of his list? “I was really happy with the purchase of the ‘Bobcat’ for the highway department,” Falloon said. “It saves money by not having to hire outside contractors for snow removal. It adds efficiency and it’s shared with the wastewater treatment plant, making it an even more affordable purchase.”
He also identified establishing the Tree Advisory Board and Zoning Update Committee as significant achievements along with successfully securing a number of outside grants.
Falloon had no trouble identifying the major challenges associated with the mayor’s office. “Red tape,” he said, “especially in getting projects approved by outside agencies.” There was no shortage of “in house” challenges as well. “Friction between boards, community members and groups we have negotiated with has been an issue,” he said, along with “attempting to get all parties to negotiate in good faith while treating each other fairly and civilly.”
The easygoing, lifelong village resident said that if anything surprised him about being mayor, it was seeing “some folks act in a less-than-mature way when things didn’t go their way.” While he said he would definitely miss working with village employees and working on behalf of residents, “I will not miss the nonsense that comes along with the position.”
Falloon’s brief advice to the newly constituted Village Board taking office on April 6 is not surprising. “Have perseverance and patience,” he said. “And be open-minded in negotiations on all issues.”
Deputy Mayor Bruce Campbell is also a true “Springer” whose family has lived in the village for generations. “I’ve spent most of the last 42 years involved in volunteer work in village,” he said, including 10 years as a trustee on the Village Board. He “leaned toward” the redevelopment of the Butterfield property as the most significant project the Village Board has dealt with during his tenure.
“That project will finally happen,” he said, adding that while he would have preferred it had remained a medical facility, he is happy that the new development will include a memorial section that deals with the site’s history. It is a history that is clearly nostalgic for Campbell, and he said that seeing Butterfield deteriorate over the past 22 years has been difficult. “My entire family was born there, and most died there,” he said. “I worked there while in high school, and many of my relatives were also employed there.” Many other longtime residents could say the same, he said.
In a small community like Cold Spring, Campbell said that working on the Village Board and molding a team that works together for what is best for residents has been a challenge. His advice to the new board reflects his appreciation of the past — and small town values. “Keep Cold Spring, Cold Spring,” he said. “New ideas and opinions are always welcome and encouraged, but do everything possible to keep politics at a minimum and work together. Good things can come out of that.”
If a single photograph could capture Campbell’s contributions to the community over the years, it would probably show him behind the wheel of his familiar red pickup, organizing an event for the enjoyment of residents. “What will I miss? The senior’s picnic, a parade or any of the many functions I’ve coordinated that made Cold Spring residents happy,” he said. “There’s not much I won’t miss.”
Stephanie Hawkins doesn’t have the same roots in the community as Falloon and Campbell, and the initiatives she is most proud of may reflect a difference in the lens lifetime and newer residents view the village.
“I’m most proud of the formula business and drive-through ban law as well as the public tree law,” Hawkins said. The latter law led to the formation of a Tree Advisory Board that will be responsible for the stewardship of the extensive inventory of trees found on village lands. Hawkins was also instrumental in helping to secure the $75,000 New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) grant, which is funding revisions to the outdated Village Zoning Code.
“The biggest challenge was being in the minority and being perceived as an obstructionist for pressing for information the Village Board needed to make the best decision it could,” she said. On numerous issues Hawkins was often, if not always, the most vocal trustee in asking detailed questions about the nature of proposed projects before voting “yes” or “no.”
Her advice to the new board? “Keep asking for information on all things, and by all means do not make your decisions based on emotion or what you think will get you re-elected … that’s not why you’re there,” she said. Like both Falloon and Campbell, Hawkins said she will miss working with the employees and professionals who support village initiatives. On the other hand, she added, “I wont miss going without dinner or eating at 10:30 on some Tuesdays.”
Any surprise she experienced as a trustee followed the same theme, “that asking questions and seeking information was labeled ‘obstructionist’ by people (outside the Village Board) who clearly understood very little of what was being researched,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins seems unfazed by any criticism she came under from some circles, and she sticks to her guns about how she approached the job. “I loved it all,” she said. “And I’ll always be proud of myself for sticking up for what I believed was best for the village.”