Recreation Commission meets with Village Board
By Michael Turton
Cold Spring Mayor Dave Merandy has strongly criticized the Putnam County News and Recorder over a recent article that referred to “a new war” and a “blowup” between the village and Butterfield developer Paul Guillaro. Merandy’s comments came near the end of the village board’s Aug 2 workshop. The village is in the process of determining fees to be charged for the Butterfield redevelopment project’s connection to the village sewer and water systems.
In remarks lasting more than 10 minutes Merandy said, “There was no blowup and there is no war…. The only war being waged is between the PCNR and fact.”
The mayor also commented that the developer had made a number of changes to the approved site plan. “Greg Phillips and our engineer Bart Clark have to review those plans and that takes time,” he said. “If the project has been delayed it is because of changes made by the developer and not the village.” Later he added, “The intent is to act on behalf of our constituents and ensure that the project is built as approved.”
The July 27 article detailed little in the way of conflict other than to mention Guillaro’s frustration that a discussion with Cold Spring’s Superintendent of Water and Sewer Greg Phillips regarding Butterfield was removed from the July 26 village board agenda.
The article quotes the developer as saying, “It is a sad day for the village when it retaliates by pulling Butterfield from the Village Board Agenda,” but does not explain what the village was allegedly retaliating against. The piece also pointed out that Guillaro’s attorney had filed a Freedom of Information (FOIL) request with the village, requesting a number of documents.
Merandy acknowledged the FOIL request and said that the report by Phillips was tabled on the advice of village attorney John Furst pending further discussions between Phillips and Guillaro. “Mr. Guillaro was not on the agenda and was not to appear before the board,” he said.
The article also indicated that Guillaro feels the hookup fees were determined very recently and are not part of the village code, although he is not quoted nor does the reporter indicate how he came to that conclusion. The current village code does not address projects as large as Butterfield.
“This is the first large-scale project in the village,” Merandy said. “Greg Phillips is acting responsibly in representing the best interests of the village. At the same time we are trying to act fairly towards the developer” regarding fees.
Merandy challenged PCNR editor Doug Cunningham, who was covering the meeting, to explain PCNR’s method of reporting, referring to it as “really crazy” while adding that “stirring the crap” is the paper’s main interest.
“You just want to make it divisive,” Merandy said. The mayor asked Cunningham to comment a number of times but the editor declined. “You won’t comment now but your paper will be riddled with comments tomorrow,” Merandy said before adjourning the meeting.
There was no mention of Merandy’s comments in an article written by Cunningham in the online edition of the PCNR on Aug 3. However, the meeting was videotaped by the PCNR and has been posted on the paper’s website.
In other business …
- Five members of the seven-member Recreation Commission attended the workshop and discussed a wide range of issues that included fees charged for the use of Cold Spring dock and parks, maintenance, vandalism at public restrooms, utility costs, user application procedures and cooperation with the Haldane Central School District.
- Anne Impellizzeri outlined plans for the unique construction of the new home she is building at 15 High Street. The house arrived on Aug 3 in the form of four modules loaded on flat-bed trucks. Assembly using a large crane was to be completed by week’s end. Impellizzeri’s original home was destroyed by fire in July 2014.
- Deputy Mayor Marie Early detailed steps being taken to improve pedestrian safety near the Haldane campus, including a total of four crosswalks added or improved in the areas of Mountain Ave., Locust Ridge and Craigside Drive.
- Early also reported that gross revenues from the new municipal parking station on Fair St. have totaled $6,006 through its first two months of operation. She said that the average stay has been three hours.
- Trustees declined a resident’s request for the village to assist with cost of repairing a private water line on Parsonage St. Residents are responsible for maintaining water lines that run from the house to the village water main at the street. The Parsonage St. repair could cost as much as $9,500.
Four crosswalks added at Haldane? Where’s my crosswalk at Main and Fair (five years overdue)! The sidewalk curb ramps are in place and ready.
I am glad that Mayor Dave Merandy made mention of a headline with the word “war” in it. What is the PCN&R really doing it uses words like “war,” “desecration,” and “crisis” in its headlines? It is giving our community the impression that we are constantly in strife, an impression that has absolutely impacted our town. I travel for a living. I have encountered towns that are truly in struggle. We are better than this manufactured “war” (which, when you read the article, really looks like a very common practice known as due diligence, not war). We have so much work to do. Enough with the language that alarms and scares our vulnerable citizens. Enough with a publication that tells us we are divided every week.
An article in New York Magazine exposed the Ailes’ reign of terror within his own organization, culminating in a resignation of its editor who was replaced by PCNR editors and writers only too willing to use journalism to distort, divide and polarize a community against their public officials and dedicated residents.
Unless and until the PCNR starts to employ verifiable facts and traceable representations rather than innuendo and hysterical hand-waving, I am going to have to give the mayor the benefit of the doubt on these sorts of matters. And until then, articles of this nature are nothing more than distractions away from real issues impacting the entire community.
It should be evident by now to any reasonable person that this village faces numerous intractable challenges, shown only in part by the reporting in this article. Private demands on the public purse are on the increase, apparently. Just where the philosophy justifying these demands comes from, I cannot say. To some extent perhaps it’s a two-way road at the intersection of responsible government and responsible citizenship.
Nonetheless, the village’s financial condition is far from robust. All taxpayers and residents should be aware, if not concerned, of the state of the public finances.
As merely one example of a village management discussion not thus far properly pursued, regarding possible solutions to the problems at the public toilets, maintenance and other costs of which is billed to the village taxpayer: the system needs to be changed to pay-for-use, and/or the hours of availability reduced. At the last resort, the service should be discontinued.
It has always been a bafflement to me about the free public toilets. When I lived in England there was no such thing as a free public toilet. You had to put your coin in the slot in order to open the door to the toilet. The monies collected paid for the cleaning of the facilities.
Pay toilets were common in the U.S. until a few decades ago. There were some sorts of legal challenges and then pay toilets on public property were banned state-by-state (it was not a federal issue). As far as I know pay toilets are still illegal, at least on public property.
It would be great to be able to put a pay-for-use lock on the public restrooms. However, New York State has a statute outlawing this practice. There’s not a lot of evidence that pay-per-use locks actually cover the costs of maintenance, anyway. Often, patrons hold the door open for the next user if there is a line. Also, the devices are often tampered with so the lock doesn’t latch when the door closes.
The kind of damage and misuse we are seeing in our public restrooms is alarming. There has been significant, intentional damage to the fixtures within them as well. One would think some of our visitors were raised by wolves.
Who but the tabloid PCNR, in the gross style of yellow journalism, describes those revolted by the Ailes’ allegations as “Ailes haters” while portraying the Ailes as victims of the vast left-wing Democratic party conspiracy? The PCNR would have us believe the truism of the adage “no good turn goes unpunished,” but the good citizens of Cold Spring and Putnam County have seen through the Odell/Walker/Scuccimarra “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” deal.
Why not give the Cold Spring cops something to do and have them monitor the restrooms?
They are all but invisible on weekends when they are most needed. They don’t even give out parking tickets anymore. Why aren’t they out directing traffic or enforcing the noise ordinances when the bikers come storming down Main Street with their illegally noisy mufflers, destroying the ambiance of the Village? There is nothing charming about a bunch of modern-day storm troopers invading the town and I wonder why they are tolerated, if not celebrated, by some.
Is it too much to ask of a department that gets a quarter of the budget to actually do something productive besides harass the merchants?