Highlights from meetings Oct. 25 and Nov. 1
By Michael Turton
Cold Spring Mayor Dave Merandy is concerned for the safety of first responders involved in hiker rescues along the Route 9D–Breakneck Ridge corridor, spurred in part by a recent incident in which a volunteer firefighter was struck by a vehicle.
“We need to put some pressure on” regarding parking in the area, he said. “I don’t think we should wait for the Fjord Trail to be completed. Parking is dangerous there and it’s a miracle nobody has been killed.”
Merandy said he favors closing the road to parking and limiting parking to designated areas only. “It would definitely help if the cars weren’t there along the side of the road,” he said. “I think everyone agrees something needs to be done.”
The mayor suggested that the village reach out to other municipalities involved in the Fjord Trail project as well as Scenic Hudson and New York State Parks. Part of the board’s discussion included a suggestion that there should be a fee for parking and that illegally parked vehicles should be heavily ticketed.
In other business …
- The board increased the number of parking areas available to residents when street parking is banned due to snowfall. Trustees approved winter parking on the south side of New Street adjacent to the Cold Spring Boat Club entrance and on the west side of Fair Street at Mayor’s Park. Winter parking is also available on Kemble Avenue south of The Boulevard, along the south side of The Boulevard and from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. without charge at the municipal lot on Fair Street.
- Laura Kaufman, who lives on Pine Street, submitted correspondence complaining that the street was “a mess” on the day after Halloween and that Cold Spring Police didn’t inform residents that the street would be closed during the late afternoon and evening. “I am asking the village to address how this once manageable tradition has become a destination for the region,” Kaufman wrote. “We need to help to keep this runaway pumpkin contained.” Mayor Merandy said he would speak to Officer-in-Charge George Kane about actions taken by the police and the need for better communication. Trustee Lynn Miller said she had spoken to the Kaufman and had invited her and others in that area to address the village board about their concerns. The letter concluded with a statement that Halloween is “sweet …until it stinks.”
- Residents continue to pursue purchasing the village-owned property on which front porches and stoops have been built over the years. The owner of 66 Main Street is the latest to request such a purchase from the village.
- Ethan Timm said he intends to resign from the Code Update Committee due to family and professional obligations. He said he will continue to serve until a replacement is found.
- An agreement was approved with Stephen Tilly, the Dobbs Ferry architect who will provide services in updating the Historic District Advisory Board’s Design Standards. That project and an update of the review board’s section of the Village Code are being funded through grants from the New York State Historic Preservation Office.
- The Rev. Thom Kiely informed the village that plans are underway to complete major improvements to the exterior of Our Lady of Loretto on Fair Street. Sullivan Engineering and Aramark Facilities Planning and Project Management will head the project.
- Village accountant Michelle Ascolillo provided a financial summary, her first since returning from maternity leave. She succeeded Ellen Mageean in that position in May.
It is excellent that the mayor is now speaking about the near chaos that develops commonly along the Route 9D corridor just north of the village. In my experience, one of the the most dangerous sections is between the area of the entrance to the Stony Point Preserve (the parking lot there is now undergoing improvement and expansion) and the point where Route 9D splits into Fair Street and Morris Avenue.
Technically all of this is outside of the village’s jurisdiction. However it is widely reported and is easy to see that our (woefully overtaxed and underfunded) Fire Company as well as our Police Department are regularly called to this area. Village taxpayers take note — this activity is paid for by the taxes and/or fees raised in the village.
From the article: “The mayor suggested that the village reach out to other municipalities involved in the Fjord Trail project as well as Scenic Hudson and New York State Parks. Part of the board’s discussion included a suggestion that there should be a fee for parking and that illegally parked vehicles should be heavily ticketed.”
Translate this as: the village has no jurisdiction, capability or funds to properly manage, police or to mandate solutions. Interested and concerned parties, not just limited to the village trustees themselves, should contact directly the Town of Philipstown, within whose jurisdiction much of the activity occurs, as well as the state of New York which has jurisdiction and control over the Route 9D as well as the management of the New York State Parks and Preserves. (The Town of Fishkill in Dutchess County has jurisdiction from roughly north of the Route 9D tunnel.)
What I have personally observed is automobiles have been allowed to indefinitely park along the shoulders of Route 9D (in some cases partially into the lanes of traffic), forcing pedestrians walking along the road to enter the lane of traffic to pass them. These automobiles should be ticketed and towed away. There is simply not enough space for this number of automobiles to safely park in this way along the road. Leadership has been lacking where it is needed and the buck has been passed far too long onto the village with its very limited resources (other jurisdictions and agencies in various ways have been overtaxed as well).
Please complete this NYS survey to address the concerns I think many of us share regarding Breakneck: http://surveys.parks.ny.gov/s/breakneck/
Unfortunately, the NYS Parks survey addresses concerns about hikers’ experiences, not those of area residents or of motorists passing through the area.
Safety issues are significant, whether it involves parking, roadside pedestrians or rescue missions. And, also significantly, responsibility now falls on local government and volunteer units. I drive through the 9D corridor regularly on weekends (at 30 mph to 40 mph because of potentially endangering folks who just want to have a nice outing — with which I have no beef) and I have yet to see a presence of NYS Parks, NYS DEC or NYC DEP, all of which have police forces and all of which have an interest in the area. I guess their attitude is “let the locals do it” (and “pay for it”).
Some years ago, when George Pataki was a NY State Senator, he secured payments-in-lieu-of-taxes for the state parklands in Philipstown and possibly other areas of Putnam and Dutchess. I don’t know whether that was a one-shot deal, but if it continues today, it should be increased to cover these newer costs and come directly to the Village to reimburse police and fire company expenses. Plus, State Parks Dept. and the others have to step up to the plate and be responsible with a physical presence.
What is “payments in lieu of taxes,” in the sense that you are referring to here? And how would, or could, this help?
All I see is taxes without services or responsibility, in this critical situation involving pedestrian and vehicular safety. The proverbial “accident waiting to happen” has already happened, at least once.
I actually had a discussion regarding PILOT payments with David McKay Wilson of the Journal News in another forum recently. The PILOT program was expanded in 2007 to make Putnam’s parkland taxable. The kicker is that they are valued extremely low, at around $4,500 per acre, so the property taxes the State pays are also extremely low. That in turn leads to pennies on the dollar that actually make it into Emergency Services budget lines. Add to that a State park system in the Hudson Highlands that has doubled in size, while it’s staffing and budget has stayed somewhat stagnant — and you have the reality of our trails today.