Notes from the Cold Spring Village Board

Meeting highlights from Oct. 11

By Michael Turton

Deputy Mayor Marie Early on Oct. 11 disputed a comment posted at highlandscurrent.com that asserted that increased docking fees were discouraging cruise-ship tourists from visiting Cold Spring.

In response to a report about the increase that appeared Oct. 7 in The Current, Main Street shopowner Patty Villanova posted: “Instead of welcoming the boats with open arms and doing everything possible to encourage more of this kind of activity, they go and raise the rates thus insuring that we will have fewer visitors…. Maybe [Mayor Dave] Merandy & Co. need to take some classes in business administration before they bankrupt the remaining merchants in the Village.”

At the Oct. 11 meeting, Merandy pointed out that Seastreak, the firm that offers fall cruises to Cold Spring and is the most frequent user of the village dock, agreed to the increased cost, which went to $6 per foot from $3. The 141-foot Seastreak now pays the village $846 per visit. Early noted  that the cruise company raised its ticket price to $85 from $65 before the village increased its docking fee.

Cold Spring Girl Scout Junior Troop No. 1405 attended the Oct. 11 village board meeting with leader Kathleen Foley. Henry Foley-Hedlund from Cub Scout Pack 137, Wolf Den 4 (left) also attended. (Photo by M. Turton)

Cold Spring Girl Scout Junior Troop No. 1405 attended the Oct. 11 village board meeting with leader Kathleen Foley. Henry Foley-Hedlund from Cub Scout Pack 137, Wolf Den 4 (left) also attended. (Photo by M. Turton)

“The village is in no way responsible for the increase in [passenger] fees,” Early said. “There was a little misinformation there.”

She added that research done by the Cold Spring Boat Club indicated that “we are not even charging what we should be…. We are a cheap place to dock.”

Seastreak’s boats carry up to 505 passengers. Ticket sales have been slow so far this year, which is not unusual before the fall colors reach their peak. The weather has also been less than perfect on a number of weekends. By contrast, there were brisk ticket sales last fall, with two boats sometimes needed to meet demand.

In other business …

  • Greg Phillips, superintendent of water and sewer, reported that a contractor will soon begin installing more than 800 new water cellular meters in Cold Spring and Nelsonville. He also reported that the filtration plant on Fishkill Road surpassed the 2 billion gallon mark in water treated since the facility opened in 1997. He recommended that, with that milestone, a committee be formed to consider long-term maintenance needs at both the water and wastewater plants. “We [also] need to ensure redundancy of licensed/qualified people to run the systems under different circumstances and changing needs,” he said. Trustees Steve Voloto and Fran Murphy volunteered to serve on the committee.
  • Trustees granted conditional approval for the sale of a strip of village-owned land at 178 Main St. at a previously agreed upon price of $4 per square foot plus legal fees. The approval will allow the owners to continue renovations to the building, which will become home to River Architects. The village attorney is reviewing the sale agreement.
  • The Cold Spring Fire Company is proposing signage along Church Street adjacent to the firehouse to indicate parking there is restricted to fire company members. The Village Board has agreed in principle. CSFC plans to mark the street with red paint and mount signs. Early cautioned that the proposed street markings and signage must meet New York State Department of Transportation requirements. The matter was referred to the parking committee.
  • Merandy reported that the village has received an engineering report detailing numerous problems with the condition of Main Street firehouse, a situation, he said, that “we’ll have to deal with in some way.” The poor condition of the building has long been an issue. In February 2015 the fire company presented plans for a 14,000-square-foot building to be constructed on the same site at a cost of $4.6 million.
  • Kathleen Foley, a member of the Historic District Review Board, suggested the building inspector consider instituting electronic tracking of applications to provide consistent, accurate information regarding the status of applications.
  • Discussion continued regarding the proposal by the shipping industry to the Coast Guard to increase the number of oil barges allowed to anchor overnight along the Hudson River, including between Newburgh and Beacon. Philipstown and Putnam County have both passed resolutions opposing the plan. Merandy and Voloto have spoken against the proposal but the board has not yet taken any official action.
  • Village accountant Michelle Ascolillo, who recently returned from maternity leave, will present an updated financial report at the November business meeting. Anne Dinio, business manager for the Haldane Central School District, filled in during her absence.
  • The Cold Spring Boat Club has submitted a request to install a gate for security purposes at its riverfront site.
  • Philipstown Town Board member Bob Flaherty reported on several matters. He noted the passage of a law to control parking on Indian Brook Road near the waterfall, a popular recreation area that has become congested. Upgrading the Washburn parking lot opposite Little Stony Point, part of the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail project, will begin soon and take about a six weeks to complete. During construction the lot will remain open on weekends whenever possible. Bids for the Fair Street sidewalk improvements, also part of the Fjord Trail, came in at about twice the estimated cost. Plans are complete for improvements to the Dahlia house, which is adjacent to the town hall and will serve as an annex. Construction is expected to begin within a few weeks.
  • Members of Cold Spring Girl Scout Junior Troop 1405 attended the meeting as part of their study of local government and political campaigns. They previously met with Village Clerk Mary Saari at her office.

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One thought on “Notes from the Cold Spring Village Board

  1. Many thanks to Mike Turton for his coverage of the Village Board and other great articles about our area. I just wanted to do a quick response to Trustee Early’s latest accusations and obfuscations about the Seastreak and our local business community.

    It should be noted that although the Seastreak raised the ticket price before the board “officially” raised the docking fees in September, this same board, by its own admission, has been trying to figure out ways to maximize the amount of money it can extract from the owners of the boats that are so important to the livelihood of the Main Street businesses.

    Well before the actual rate increase, they were seriously talking about charging a per capita fee for passengers who enter Cold Spring from the boats, in much the same way that Disney World charges admission to their amusement park. Imagine that — having to pay an extra fee for the privilege of entering our Village via the dock on the Hudson.

    Although I have tried to remind them that such a “toll” would probably be illegal, it wouldn’t surprise me if they are still considering it, such is their greed for more and more of our hard-earned profits.

    Not once have I ever heard these trustees come up with ways to promote our businesses or tourism. Not once have I seen them celebrate the opening of a new business on Main Street as is done in Peekskill and other neighboring towns. Not once have I seen them do anything that will directly help our shops or restaurants instead of constantly coming up with ways to tax and fine us or our customers.

    Ms. Early, Mayor Merandy and the rest of the board should be ashamed of themselves for the way they treat the entrepreneurs of this community who have invested their own money, blood, sweat and tears in their businesses. We are the people who keep your taxes affordable and if you doubt what I’m saying, then take a look at your neighbors in Putnam Valley who have zero commercial rateables.

    There is so much money out there that’s available for Cold Spring if they would just expend a little effort trying to get it from the government instead of the taxpayers.