Flaherty Seeks Election to Town Board

Cites dedication, follow through, community roots

By Michael Turton

Bob Flaherty

Bob Flaherty

Bob Flaherty was appointed to the Philipstown Town Board this past spring, filling a vacancy created when Dave Merandy was elected mayor of Cold Spring. Flaherty is now seeking election for the first time, running for one of two contested seats.

The Paper met with the Democratic candidate to discuss his qualifications and town issues. The interview has been condensed and edited while staying true to Flaherty’s responses.

Why are you running for Town Board?

I’ve always volunteered a lot in the community, such as with the Knights of Columbus. I’ve been here for 55 years and this is a natural progression for me at this point in my career. About 10 years ago Bill Mazzuca asked me to run and I didn’t have the time to do it. I felt I needed to put in time and effort and at that particular time I had too many other things going on. I have a little more flexibility now. I think I can do a good job of serving the people.

What are your qualifications and skills?

I’m a very dedicated person, a loyal and honest person. I think my professional background as a senior project manager in information technology is also a plus. I’m responsible for a gross profit at the end of projects so I have a good understanding of budgets. The biggest thing though is I’ve been a member of this community forever. I love Cold Spring and Philipstown. When I was asked to serve on the board I gave it a lot of consideration — I just didn’t say yes right away. I asked [Philipstown Supervisor] Richard Shea a lot of tough questions about what needs to be done. I made a very thoughtful determination before I said yes.

What two priority issues facing the Town Board in the next year are you most eager to tackle?

One thing that’s been talked about for a long time is shared services between Cold Spring, Nelsonville and Philipstown. Our building inspector helping out Cold Spring with Butterfield is just the tip of the iceberg. We also had a meeting with Nelsonville to talk about what services we could help them with — the building department and the court system.

Another big project is that the Town Hall needs updating. Everyone’s aware the stairs are very steep. We’re looking to modernize the building to some extent, get an elevator in there and better stairs. The sale of the VFW building will hopefully allow us to do that now since we have a little excess money that we didn’t have in the past.

The idea of creating a Garrison Fire District is generating debate. What is the best outcome for Philipstown residents?

A fire district would be the best way to go. This gives the people of Garrison an opportunity to have a little more input, to say what they want to do. They’ll actually have a vote if they want to purchase any large apparatus or other big expenses. It gives people in Garrison more control over finances. At the first public hearing I asked if there could be a public referendum to see if the citizens of Garrison want to become a fire district or not, but you can’t do that. It’s regulated by the state.

There is a question about doing it this late in the year. Nothing is etched in stone. If we don’t make a decision [at our meeting] on Oct. 1st we’ll probably make that decision early next year. I believe everybody on the board is in favor. And at the last public hearing I think that people were coming around to it as well. I think the majority of people are very open now to the idea of Garrison becoming a district.

The proper handling of dirt roads remains an issue. Do you think the Town Board’s decision-making process has been fair? Has it allowed enough public input?

There’s definitely some things we can improve on. [Highway Superintendent] Roger Chirico has a five-year paving schedule. I think we need to look at that schedule. I’d like to make it public so everyone is aware of our plans. I don’t think we need to pave every road. Over the last four years I think we’ve paved less than a mile of roads. There’s a lot of maintenance on the dirt roads.

According to our superintendent of highways, there’s 80 percent maintenance cost on dirt roads versus 20 percent on paved roads. We look at areas where there are steep slopes — 10 to 15 percent grade that are constantly washing out — those are the areas we have to concentrate on. Unfortunately every time we do it, it does stir things up. A couple months ago a survey in the PCNR was 86 percent in favor of paving. I think we made the right decision.

What is the one overriding reason why Philipstown residents should vote for you?

I believe my dedication, honesty and being a member of this community all these years is a plus. When I get involved with something I follow through. At work, I have to make sure that when something is started it’s completed. And I think I represent the whole of Philipstown, not just a particular party.

Photo by M. Turton

3 thoughts on “Flaherty Seeks Election to Town Board

  1. It sure is funny how it costs more to maintain the dirt roads in Philipstown than it does anywhere else. In the town of Washington (Millbrook), where they maintain the dirt roads properly, they cost less than the paved roads. In Westchester, where they have generally paved everything possible, they cannot even afford to fill the potholes in the pavement. Just try driving the roads there. I have lived in Philipstown for more than 60 years. Never, have our roads been so poorly maintained.

    It sure would be prudent for anyone who wants to run for local office to read the “Roads Report” that the town paid for about a decade ago. You will note none of the recommendations for economical road maintenance have been followed by our Highway Department.

  2. There is a lot more to maintaining the roads now. Increased traffic on these roads is the main problem that we didn’t have long ago. While there are rolling hills in Millbrook, it just doesn’t have the elevation differences we have here. One of my friends works for the Highway Department in a neighboring town and illustrated to me what causes most of the problems: Moving water and variations to the roadbed created by traffic. One tire spin on a slope is enough to cause a domino effect, leading to washboard conditions in very little time. Overall, greater slopes, greater traffic, greater maintenance. I agree with Bob and believe this has been well considered for more than 20 years. The town is taking a pragmatic approach and it is high time we get a handle on the cost.

  3. Where’s Bob?

    The answer honestly is Bob Flaherty is everywhere.

    Talk about hitting the road running, Bob has as you read by the interview above not only personally motivated and skilled but is a quick study of the issues and most important he has proven in such a short time on the board his personal devotion to all the people of this town.

    Bob was not asked to serve by just one long-serving town supervisor but by two and only when he knew he could commit and devote the time he felt was needed to do a good quality job did he agree to serve. What does that say for a persons character and devotion to serve?

    I have become very impressed with Bob Flaherty, that dedicated qualified and committed person sitting right of me on the board and hope you will show him on Election Day that you too recognize and appreciate his talents and efforts for us all.