County attorney says it first needs developer’s okay
By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong
Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell has signed a lease, pending in one form or another since November, for a senior center at the Butterfield redevelopment in Cold Spring, but the county continues to insist the document is not public information.
“The lease has been deliberated, disposed of, and the county executive has executed her portion,” Ginny Nacerino, who chairs the county legislature, said at its Oct. 4 meeting. The legislature approved the lease on Sept. 14, but Nacerino said it has not been “fully executed” because Butterfield developer Paul Guillaro has not signed it.
The county attorney has agreed that the lease can be kept private under a provision of the state Freedom of Information Law that says “an agency can deny access to records that if disclosed would impair present or imminent contract awards.”
Guillaro told The Current on Oct. 6 that he planned to share the lease with the Cold Spring Planning Board, although he was not sure when. He did not say when he expected to sign the lease. But his endorsement would presumably not occur before acceptance of the terms by the Planning Board, which has jurisdiction over the Butterfield project
According to the minutes of its July 28 meeting, before it issues permits the board wants to confirm the lease contains a provision that “100 percent” of seniors using the center will have busing available to bring them to the site.
Discussion of the lease on Oct. 4 occurred somewhat by happenstance. The lease did not appear on the agenda, but the agenda did include approval of the minutes of a special meeting Nacerino called on Sept. 14 to vote on the lease.
That provided an opening for Stephanie Hawkins, a former Cold Spring trustee, to offer public comment. “Many of us feel that this legislative body has been trying to stonewall” critics, she said. She cited concerns about the cost of the project but nonetheless assured the legislators, “I’m very much in support of a senior center and community center that serves the needs of our community.”
She also mentioned an email Nacerino sent to Lithgow Osborne, a Garrison resident and former legislative candidate, in case he planned to attend the meeting to offer comment on the lease; Nacerino cautioned that the legislature would not allow discussion of non-agenda items. “I didn’t want you to be disappointed, or travel, in anticipation of addressing this issue,” she wrote, according to a post by Osborne on Facebook.
“You were trying to persuade him not to come because you did not want to hear what people had to say,” Hawkins charged.
“That’s not — please don’t speculate,” Nacerino responded.
Although the agenda included approval of the minutes, the legislature took no action. “There’s no need to vote on minutes,” Nacerino said.