As year came to close, local officials took action
By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong
As 2016 wound down, local and county governments tended to ongoing business and annual chores.
In its final monthly session on Dec. 19, the Nelsonville Village Board second-guessed itself and approved a $5,500 cut in the recreation fee charged builders for constructing homes.
The following evening, the Putnam County Legislature agreed to lease space in the American Legion in Cold Spring for $14,400 for another year for senior services.
Eight days later, the Philipstown Town Board ratified contracts for fire protection and ambulance services for 2017.
Recreation fee: Reversing a decision made July 18, Trustee Thomas Robertson and Mayor Tom Corless voted to reduce the recreation fund fee from $7,500 to $2,000. The third member of the board, Trustee Danielle Pack McCarthy, was absent.
A $7,500 charge “is absolutely ridiculous,” said Corless. He said the board must have “missed it somehow” when approving fees in July. “So we’re revamping it,” he said, to where it was before the hike.
He and Bill O’Neill, chairman of the Planning Board, noted that the reduction would benefit a new-home project now underway. Like Corless, O’Neill, objected to charging $7,500 and called it “extraordinarily high.” He also termed it “unfair” to make only newcomers pay into the recreation fund, which, he argued, should be maintained by all residents.
Pearl Street: Citing a safety hazard, the board banned parking on the east side of Pearl Street from Main Street to a point 60 feet southward.
The state standard is to forbid parking 20 feet from intersections, “but 20 feet is not enough” when cars line both sides of Pearl Street and a vehicle on Main Street attempts to turn into Pearl while another tries to exit from Pearl onto Main, Corless said.
Fjord Trail: Robertson urged that the village join in planning the Hudson River Fjord Trail, which would parallel the river between Cold Spring and Beacon and connect to existing paths. He cited increased hiking on Nelsonville trails, part of the Bull Hill-Breakneck Ridge system, as a reason for village involvement.
“As we know from what’s happening now on weekends in summertime, we’re inundated with cars,” he said. “It’s causing problems. Can we get in [on Fjord Trail planning] and control part of our destiny in this? We don’t want to be blindsided.”
With Corless’ backing, he offered to monitor Fjord Trail developments and attend inter-jurisdictional meetings.
At its pro forma Year-End Meeting, the Town Board authorized Supervisor Richard Shea to sign the annual contracts with the Cold Spring Fire Company (CSFC), Continental Village Fire Department (CVFD), Philipstown Volunteer Ambulance Corps (PVAC) and Garrison Volunteer Ambulance and First Aid Squad.
The CSFC supplies firefighting to parts of Philipstown near Cold Spring and Nelsonville; the CVFC serves Continental Village in southern Philipstown; and the ambulance corps split the coverage of Philipstown roughly north-south.
The town’s 2017 budget, adopted in November and effective as of Jan. 1, provides the funding in the contracts. In 2017, CSFC services will cost Philipstown $69,060. Of that total, $48,232 goes directly to the fire company and $20,828 to the Village of Cold Spring for $17,451 in firefighter pension and $3,377 in workers’ compensation charges.
CVFD will get $186,500 for firefighting, plus $61,000 for pensions and $15,000 for workers’ compensation costs, for a total of $262,500.
The Garrison ambulance squad will be paid $173,241 and the Philipstown corp will receive $262,775. However, the board warned that if the PVAC does not soon start carrying Narcan, the opiate-overdose antidote, payment of half of the money will be delayed.
With no discussion, the county Legislature on Dec. 20 unanimously authorized renewal of the lease on space in the American Legion in Cold Spring for its senior lunch program and related activities. The county intends to move those services into a new senior center in a remodeled Lahey Pavilion, part of the Butterfield redevelopment. For now, though, the Legislature approved annual rent of $14,400, or $1,200 per month.
According to the Butterfield lease signed by County Executive MaryEllen Odell on Oct. 27, in its first year the county will pay $77,700 in rent, plus estimated common area and related charges of $50,691, along with a first-year “extra fee to landlord” of $61,000. Under the lease base rent can increase yearly by 2 percent or the Consumer Price Index, whichever is higher; common area and related charges can rise by a maximum of 3.5 percent.
At its Dec. 19 meeting, its final one of 2016, the City Council adopted a Complete Streets resolution, which means that the city and its planning agencies will encourage, but not mandate, that “complete streets” principles are followed when considering future development or repairs of existing roads.
Complete streets is a design approach that recommends streets to be designed, operated, and maintained to enable access for people of all ages and abilities regardless of their mode of transportation, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, persons with disabilities, movers of commercial goods, users of public transportation, and operators of emergency vehicles.
The principle falls in line with the city’s comprehensive plan, which encourages the connection of walkable streets and neighborhoods, particularly along the Main Street business corridor. New York State also adopted a Complete Streets Act in 2011, which requires state, county and local agencies to consider the convenience and mobility of all users when developing transportation projects that receive state and federal funding.