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.
“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.