Deputy mayor adds topic to agenda
By Michael Turton
The Cold Spring Village Board is again discussing moving the village election from March to November after Deputy Mayor Marie Early added the topic to the agenda for the board’s Tuesday (Dec. 1) meeting.
Trustee Michael Bowman objected to the last-minute addition, commenting that the public should have been notified in advance. Early responded that ultimately voters would have to approve a change in the election date through a referendum.
A move to fall elections was discussed during Ralph Falloon’s tenure as mayor but the elections were held as usual in March this year. For the first time, the election was run by the Putnam County Board of Elections (PCBOE). The village had previously run its own elections.
Early listed a number of pros and cons of a date change. On the plus side, she said, a November election would give newly elected trustees “four full months to discuss the new budget.” Currently, trustees elected in March must approve the new budget a month later.
Early also pointed to the cost of having with PCBOE run the election in March. Village Clerk Mary Saari said the cost to the village was $6,579.65. When the village ran its own election in 2013 and 2014, the cost was $4,092 and $4,370, respectively. If Cold Spring switches to November elections, PCBOE would absorb the entire cost.
Early also suggested that a fall election would enable candidates to campaign in more favorable weather than in late winter.
On the negative side, Early said that in a November election, discussion of Cold Spring’s issues could “be lost within the discussion of the general election.” She also said that if the village election is conducted in tandem with the general election, “village politics would take on the appearance of [being associated with] national parties,” whereas candidates now run independently or as part of local coalitions.
Last March, Trustee Fran Murphy ran independently while Early and Mayor Dave Merandy ran as The People’s Party. A year earlier, trustees Bowman and Cathryn Fadde ran as BOFA. Early also wondered if the residents would suffer “voter fatigue” in a November election that would bombard voters with the national debate while detracting from local issues.
If March elections were abandoned, the first vote held in November would result in some members of the board serving terms longer than voters had originally endorsed. Merandy commented that the appearance that some trustees might benefit from extended terms is one of the worst aspects of the potential change.
The discussion will continue at the board’s Dec. 8 meeting.
In other business …
- Tectonic Engineering and Surveying Consultants briefed trustees on its proposal to assess and design repairs to the village dams on Lake Surprise. The firm has done work related to the dams since 2010, including inspections and assessments, maintenance plans and an emergency action plan. Tectonic estimates that their services would cost approximately $200,000. A second firm, O’Brien and Gere Engineering, had to postpone its presentation before the board. It will now appear in early January.
- Trustees voted to extend the comment period on a proposed amendment to the regulation of snow and ice removal from village sidewalks. Residents now have until Tuesday, Dec. 15, to comment on the draft law that includes a requirement that all sidewalks be cleared within 18 hours of the end of snowfall; businesses keep sidewalks clear at all times between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.; and a prohibition on use of rock salt and salt-based materials. The law calls for fines of $25 to $250.
- TriFilm Pictures has requested permission to film in Dockside Park on Saturday, Dec. 12. The proposal includes building a fire on the riverbank. The Cold Spring Fire Company will be asked to review the request.
- The board’s Nov. 24 meeting included a review of proposed lighting upgrades as part of the Main Street Project, scheduled to begin this spring. A week earlier, trustees Fran Murphy and Marie Early led an evening tour of Main Street to discuss lighting issues with several business owners. Brighter LED lighting will not be used to replace the existing incandescent lights mounted on Main Street poles but the traditional, softer lighting maintained as recommended in the Comprehensive Plan. A number of area lights such as those mounted lower on Main Street poles will be added in areas requiring additional lighting.
- The village Christmas tree will be lit at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 6, at the bandstand. Cookies and hot chocolate will be served, and Santa Claus is expected to make an appearance.
- The Cold Spring Planning Board and the Code Update Committee have swapped regular monthly meeting dates. The Planning Board now meets on the second and fourth Thursday of each month. The Code Update Committee now meets on the first and third Wednesday.
- Scenic Hudson has proposed a minor change to its plans for the 12.7-acre Campbell property located on The Boulevard. At the Planning Board’s Nov. 18 meeting, Glen Watson of Badey and Watson Surveying and Engineering outlined plans to use a “lot line adjustment,” rather than the original proposal to subdivide the property. Under the new approach, the land will still be divided into two tracts, with about eight acres being added to Scenic Hudson’s Foundry Preserve. The remaining portion, including the historic Campbell house, will be sold as a private residential lot. Planning Board Chair Matt Francisco told The Paper that Village Attorney John Furst confirmed that the new approach is permissible. The change addresses concerns raised by residents on Constitution Avenue who objected to having the additional Foundry Preserve lands abut their property. The lot line adjustment will mean that the private lot will now border homes on Constitution Avenue. Francisco said that Scenic Hudson has not yet formally withdrawn its original proposal.
- The Planning Board will hold a public gearing at Village Hall at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 10, to receive comments regarding Ella’s Bellas, a retail bakery and café proposed for 15 Main St.