Main Street shop owner
By Michael Turton
In 2009, then-Mayor Seth Gallagher appointed Lynn Miller to the Cold Spring Village Board to fill a vacant trustee seat. She ran to retain the seat in 2010 but was not elected. She is now one of three candidates (the others are Steve Voloto and Barney Molloy) for two seats that will be filled by voters on Tuesday, March 15. Along with her husband Greg, Miller owns and operates Go-Go Pops on Main Street, assisted by their son Jack. She also has a daughter Jessi and two grandchildren. Miller’s responses have been edited for brevity.
What is your primary motivation for running for the village board?
I got a taste of it six years ago and I found it enormously interesting. I was able to get a sense of how village infrastructure and operations fit together. I think the mayor and trustees [Marie] Early and [Fran] Murphy have made some wonderful progress with efforts such as the Main Street Project. I’d like to be a part of that.
What qualifications, skills and experience make you a strong candidate?
Number one is the year I spent on the village board. I don’t have to spend a lot of time on Cold Spring 101. I work collaboratively and am a firm believer in being able to talk to people you disagree with. I’m approachable and willing to listen. I have a lot of experience in cooperative management and have training in meeting facilitation and consensus building.
What are three important issues facing Cold Spring that the board must address?
A big one is how to manage revenues and the cost of running the village while staying within the tax cap — difficult to do in a small village. Congestion and trash during peak [tourist] periods are also big issues. Managing trash is a huge expense. The village receives a small amount of revenue from recycling and I’m committed to increasing that. We’ve tried a few things to improve the parking situation but we need more creative solutions – such as using the trolley more effectively to shuttle people to Main Street.
What is one skill that you feel you need to improve?
Village trustees read a lot of very, dry and technical text regarding regulatory law, cost/benefit analyses, land use, etc. I’m kind of a slow reader and it takes me time to glean the relevant information. I do, however, read every bit of the information I get and ask questions if there is something I don’t understand. An example is the EPA report on the VOC [Volatile Organic Compounds] plume at the Marathon Battery property. It was a tough read, but very interesting and it informs future decisions on the use of that parcel.
Has the Village Board become too politicized?
It’s not an issue in my mind. We just need to focus on what’s best for village residents. Again, you have to be able to talk to people you disagree with.
What is an area the board deals with that is of personal interest?
Protecting our water supply. We need to secure our dams. They need constant maintenance. Dealing with the water supply costs a lot of money and we have to always look for the most effective ways to do that.
Which of your personal traits make you a good candidate?
Tenacity. I’m not a quitter. Six years of running a business on Main Street has challenged us to be adaptable, to keep going. “Stick-to-it-iveness” is really valuable. My year on the village board confirmed that. The good work I did was behind the scenes — it’s not a showy job. It’s about getting your hands dirty and that’s something I’m willing to do.
Cold Spring faces a tax cap of 0.12 percent for the 2016-17 fiscal year. Are there aspects of village spending that could be trimmed, freeing up funds for priority items?
It has to be from the perspective of increasing revenue. We all work hard for our money in Cold Spring — it would be difficult to ask for more [through taxes]. A quality I have is creative adaptability. We have to think of ways to increase revenues other than taxes. I’d like to see Putnam County share sales tax revenue and I’m willing to work hard on that. Promotion of the village as a filming location is another idea. We need to be creative.
Streamlining local government has been discussed for years, yet little has happened. What are your thoughts?
Some people fear they will lose their jobs if Cold Spring, Nelsonville and Philipstown consolidate services. I don’t think that necessarily has to happen. It’s something I’d like to look into more. Combining building departments would seem to help everyone – it would speed up the process and provide better service to residents. The process involved in opening our business took forever. Even things like combined purchasing of supplies [among local municipalities] could save money.
Where do you stand on whether the Cold Spring election should be held March or moved to November?
When I ran for village board [in 2010], I realized how difficult it is to get a handle on the budget with March elections. There’s a lot to be gained by opening that window by moving to November elections. There are dollars to be saved by having the county run it. Participation in March elections always seemed a little low to me. If our election is held alongside the others I think participation would increase.
What do you do to relax? What is recreation for you?
We work 12 hours a day, six days a week, 12 months of the year. We take Mondays off. We’re big movie fans. When the weather is nice I like to garden — though I haven’t gardened since opening the business! I also love to just watch wildlife in our backyard, which backs onto Foundry Brook. There’s tons of wildlife there.
What’s the No. 1 reason Cold Spring residents should vote for you?
It’s my commitment to collaboration and cooperative efforts — and my belief that everyone has something to contribute. They should be listened to. And my being willing to change my mind if information warrants that.