Cites disagreement with Cold Spring mayor
By Michael Turton
The chair of Cold Spring’s Code Update Committee, Jack Goldstein, resigned on May 29, stating in an email to Mayor Dave Merandy that he strongly disagrees with the mayor regarding how the update should be conducted. In October 2014, Goldstein had been named chair of the group of volunteers charged with bringing the village’s badly outdated zoning code into conformity with the 2012 Comprehensive Plan.
In the email, Goldstein stated: “Your decision to reopen the matter of the environmental consultants has made me realize that we differ too fundamentally on how to conduct the code update for me to continue on the committee.” Merandy had emailed Goldstein a day earlier, indicating that he planned to replace the consulting firm Barton & Loguidice (B&L) with Greenplan, a firm that had been involved with the project previously.
There is a complicated history to the B&L/Greenplan saga. Greenplan, a Rhinebeck-based consulting firm, wrote a successful grant application to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) resulting in the village receiving a $75,000 grant to update its zoning code. Greenplan had offered do the application at no cost to the village on the understanding that if it proved successful, the firm would be awarded the contract to help revise the zoning.
The grant was awarded in December 2013. In July 2014, newly elected Trustees Michael Bowman and Cathryn Fadde urged the board to follow village procurement policy by issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) before entering into a contract with a consultant to do the zoning work. Then-Mayor Ralph Falloon and Deputy Mayor Campbell, both of whom had previously supported awarding the work to Greenplan, voted with the new trustees and an RFP was issued.
At a subsequent meeting, the project was awarded to B&L by a 4-1 vote. Trustee Stephanie Hawkins, who had worked closely with Greenplan during the grant application process, was the lone dissenter. She has since married Merandy, who at the time was a member of the Philipstown Town Board. He was elected mayor of Cold Spring in March 2015. Hawkins did not seek re-election.
The decision to reverse direction and hire B&L did not sit well with Greenplan. A November 2014 letter from Ted Fink, a principal with Greenplan, requested payment of $7,603.75 for the work done on the grant application despite the prior offer to do the work pro bono. Fink expressed his dissatisfaction with the process, stating that NYSERDA had accepted the project being awarded to Greenplan without an RFP because the agency considered the application process itself to be competitive. Hundreds of communities vie for the state grants. Then Village Attorney Michael Liguori concurred, also pointing out that the village can hire consultants and other professionals without a bid process.
The issue of payment to Greenplan has yet to be resolved. In addition, a formal contract has not been signed with B&L. The contract with NYSERDA has also not yet been signed, although the Code Update Committee voted last week to recommend, with conditions, that the trustees authorize Merandy to sign the contract.
In an email to Philipstown.info on June 1, Goldstein reiterated his reason for stepping down. “The mayor’s decision to reopen the consultancy was my reason for resigning,” he wrote. “I feel it is a serious misstep detrimental to the code update process.” He said he plans to email members of the Code Update Committee and the Village Board to explain his decision in more detail.
Merandy responded in a telephone interview with Philipstown.info on the same day. “I think the village definitely has an obligation to Greenplan,” he said. Commenting on the switch to B&L, he added, “If you want to build trust that’s not the way to run the village.”
Merandy said that he sought legal counsel and was advised he is on solid legal ground in this bid to revert to Greenplan. He said he has spoken with Fink and is awaiting a cost breakdown from the consultant. “If the numbers are right, I’ll do all I can” to hire Greenplan, he said.