While attending the Putnam County Legislature’s Physical Services Committee meeting, I was surprised to learn that Legislator Barbara Scuccimara and Deputy County Executive Bruce Walker gave a presentation on Nov. 15 on the proposed work that will be the Philipstown Senior Center without bothering to inform the general public or even their fellow legislators, a serious breach of legislative protocol.
This project is not Scuccimara’s, Walker’s or the county executive, but the legislature’s. They did, however, invite the Putnam County News & Recorder and a select group of seniors. This is an awkward, obvious attempt at damage control that falls outside the bounds of accepted behavior by a legislator and is extremely alarming because it follows a pattern of arrogance demonstrated by Scuccimara.
Scuccimara and the county executive have been playing fast and loose with budget information and the lease agreement while pandering to a group of seniors who seem only too eager to believe whatever nonsense they’re told. Shame on them.
When pressed, Scuccimara did agree to meet with me to go over the plans, but what we really need is a public presentation where everyone can review the plans and schematics and ask questions.
This senior center is being built in our town with taxpayer money. Most of this deal was done behind closed doors by a few disingenuous individuals with motivations that run contrary to any semblance of open government. It’s time for the legislature to put an end to this type of behavior and restore the people’s trust.
Lithgow Osborne, Garrison
Scuccimarra and her colleagues on the Physical Services Committee keep telling the public that questions should be addressed to the Committee and they will be answered. Alas, the meetings are scheduled at difficult times for most folks on this side of the county to attend. So, last week I sent Ms. Scuccimarra a polite email. I have received no acknowledgment. I share my comments and questions here, in hopes that others might be able to elicit a response from our representative.
On Nov. 15, Scuccimarra and Deputy County Executive Walker visited the American Legion Hall and shared plans for the senior center at Butterfield with those present. As we all know, the current senior center has low attendance because of space limitations.
Given the stated intention for the proposed Butterfield center to serve a greater number of Philipstown residents, I respectfully requested that Scuccimarra hold additional presentations and discussions at the other common gathering points for our seniors: the Chestnut Ridge Community Room, the Continental Village Clubhouse and the Philipstown Recreation Center. Including these locations in the roll-out of the project would likely draw a broader cross-section of views and input from obvious, critical project stakeholders who would use the facility.
Additionally, given taxpayer interest in the budgeting of this public project, it would be appreciated if the legislature were to hold a session, in Philipstown, at a reasonable evening hour and with reasonable notice, for the public to be given a report on its planning and budgeting, including:
- the demonstrated continued need for 6,000 square feet without provision of previously discussed county services that were to have occupied the space along with the senior center
- the specific ways that the project has been “scaled down” since July (as reported, without specifics, by the Physical Services Committee in October)
- a specific, categorized construction and finishing budget that relates to the current design
- clear demonstration that the current design and use plan relate to specific services that have been promised to our seniors, including but not limited to, exercise and computer classes
- the demonstrated need for a full-service commercial kitchen given
- the planned delivery of pre-prepared meals from another location (itself recently announced for upgrading)
- the planned budgeting for services to be delivered at the center, with the county and Town of Philipstown shares clearly indicated
- the timeline for the project
- a clear statement of whether the larger community will be able to use the facility once complete — minutes of the legislature’s Oct. 14 session indicate that public use beyond the senior center will be at the discretion of the developer.
Kathleen E. Foley, Cold Spring
Two great letters about the proposed senior center that bring up some very valid points. That being said, it doesn’t matter how many great suggestions anyone brings up when it comes to the Putnam legislators. The only way you might get them to respond is to file a FOIL request and even then you might have to sue them to get them to comply with the law. They count on the fact that most people are simply too busy to go through all these contortions to get some basic information.
The bottom line for the senior center, as per the other article in the Current, is that under the lease agreement that’s been negotiated, county taxpayers will be paying $25,000 per month rent for at least 15 years for this project. And that does not include any of the other items that were mentioned by Ms. Foley.
Think about it: $25,000 a month can rent probably the most magnificent space in Philipstown which would be more than adequate for the needs of the seniors who use it. This is what happens when arrogant politicians have free rein to spend “other people’s money.”
A good start to getting some kind of taxpayer justice for Philipstown, Cold Spring and the part of Putnam Valley that she represents, would be to remove Ms. Scuccimarra from office via the next election. Whether it’s the local Democrats, Conservatives or even those Republicans who are not owned by the Patakis, we have to figure out a way to replace her. We simply cannot afford another term in office for someone who cares so little for her constituents and the taxpayers.