Questions of whether senior center will be available for other uses
By Holly Crocco
The Putnam County Legislature’s Physical Services Committee approved an amendment to the Butterfield project lease to ensure the Office for Senior Resources will continue to offer transportation services for a senior center being constructed there if the lease is renewed or extended.
Legislator Carl Albano (R-Carmel) said the change had been requested by the Cold Spring Planning Board.
The county plans to lease 6,000 square feet of space in the Lahey Pavilion at the former Butterfield Hospital site in Cold Spring from Butterfield Realty for 15 years at a total cost of about $4.5 million, including rent, taxes, common area charges and costs associated with renovating the location.
At the committee meeting, Garrison resident Lithgow Osborne, who challenged Barbara Scuccimarra (R-Philipstown) for her seat in 2015, asked if the county will need to ask permission of the landlord to use the center for purposes other than a senior center, such as a community center.
Albano said the site has been established as a senior center, but the landlord is “receptive” to expanding usage.
“The Planning Board didn’t want it used for anything else,” Scuccimarra said. “They were concerned about the parking.” But, she added, “we’ve already spoken to Paul Guillaro, and he is receptive” to expanded programming in the space.
Osborne expressed frustration with what he sees as a lack of clarity in discussions of the lease.
“We’ve gotten so many versions,” he said. “I don’t need a conceptual idea. I need real schematics.”
Albano said that before detailed plans are made, the county wants to make sure the lease is finalized.
“Right now we have a conceptive plan and a very good idea of where it’s going,” said Albano. “And then we’re going to fine-tune it.”
Let’s do the math for this project: $4.5 million divided by 15 years equals $300,000 per year or $25,000 per month for the lease.
Is there anyone else besides me who thinks that we could have rented a truly magnificent space for 25 grand a month that would be sufficient for the needs of the seniors?
I am certainly almost with you here.
What you have cited are monopoly rents. If one owns the only approved site for modern and compliant office space at the scale being mandated by advocates at the county, a certain category of person is inclined to take as much money as possible, specifically here from the taxpayer, up to the limits of the taxpayer’s ability to complain, organize and resist. The result even thus far is a bad precedent for our community, and the process has been plainly evident roughly from the very start of this affair.
The problem with the senior center is very simple: County government is calling the shots and they decide every penny that’s going into it. The only “monopoly” is an out-of-control legislature that has demonstrable contempt for the taxpayers who are paying the bills. The senior center did not set any precedent for Cold Spring. Our county rulers have always behaved in this fashion ever since we stopped being governed by a Board of Supervisors. Once power became centralized in the Legislature, the citizen/taxpayers were screwed.
The good news is that the senior center has brought out many outraged citizens who are questioning what the hell is going on. We need more of that.
$25,000 a month is an obscene amount of money – and the seniors complain that they and their children can’t afford to live here anymore….
Given the extravagant rental and cost of construction, several months ago, I asked at the Physical Services Committee whether the senior center was going to be a multi-use community center. At that time, I received an evasive answer from Legislator Scuccimarra. Evasion seems to be the tactic employed when forthright responses should be given to legitimate inquiries from the public. Therefore, I have very little faith in the current debate over whether public comment should occur before or after the legislative session.
I give you a lot of credit for your many years of hard work exposing the cesspool that is Putnam County government. As we both know, the current regime is not the first, nor will it be the last to ride roughshod over the citizens that they govern.
I keep telling people that if they think the Cold Spring Senior Center is bad and a waste of money, they should find out what’s been going on with Tilly Foster.
Getting back to Cold Spring, it was really good to see so many local residents making the trip to Carmel to speak to the legislators with truth to power. Our own Ms. Scuccimarra has been worse than useless — an unresponsive spendthrift who was one of the masterminds behind this “fabulous” deal that she got us: $25,000 a month rent for 15 years. I still can’t get my head around that one and I hope that her constituents remember when she comes up for re-election.
The only way that we can gain control is stop electing these people to office. We need to replace every one of these legislators who has shown that they do not represent our interests. Until we do that, Butterfield is the least of our problems.
This old-timer says: Scrap the senior center planned for the derelict Butterfield annex. We don’t need it — it’s a taxpayer subsidy/handout to a developer. But more than that, it is simply no fun!
Here’s a better way to spend the $25,000 per month that the county is going to pay in rent for this boondoggle:
All senior residents of Philipstown are automatically enrolled in this proposal. Thus we have 100 percent participation, not the minuscule one at present. All of their names are put in a large hat and on the first of each month, 25 names are randomly selected by cute kids from the community in front of the local news media. Each name selected is an immediate winner of $1,000 cash!
And this happens every month! Twenty-five new winners and 300 winners every year. Once everyone in the pool of seniors has won, the process repeats. I don’t know how many seniors participate in the myriad of activities provided by the county, but this plan assures 100 percent involvement.
Of course, it saves the county taxpayers tons of money because no overheated administration is required, no infrastructure, no busing, no personnel. The vacated space can be put back on the tax rolls and the developer can rent as he wishes. Philipstown taxpayers doubly benefit as all present senior programs can be scuttled.
And it’s fun! We are all winners! $1,000.
That is the best idea ever! It solves every single problem and gives something back to the people who have contributed to the county all these years. Plus, it’s FUN.
Let’s get a petition going and bring it to the Legislature.