A $50,000 Tree Trim

And other notes from the Cold Spring Village Board

By Michael Turton

Cold Spring’s Tree Advisory Board is pursuing a $50,000 grant to maintain village-owned trees, an undertaking described by one Village Board member as a matter of public safety.

At their Feb. 21 meeting, trustees authorized the advisory board’s application to the Urban and Community Forest Program of the state Department of Environmental Conservation. If the grant is awarded, the village will have to ante up $12,500 toward the project, an amount that can be reduced by in-kind contributions such as materials, equipment rental, volunteer labor and salaries as well as cash donations.

Citing a report from Advisory Board Chair Jennifer Zwarich, Mayor Dave Merandy indicated that of 233 village-owned trees requiring maintenance, 49 need immediate pruning or removal. “There are a lot of trees that definitely need attention,” he said, noting that in 2016 a car was crushed and a resident struck by falling trees and limbs.

Trustees agreed unanimously. Steve Voloto pointed out the work would otherwise cost the village much more than $12,500.

“I don’t see how we cannot do this,” commented Deputy Mayor Marie Early. “It’s a question of personal safety. We have to find the funds.”

After the Tree Advisory Board was given the go-ahead to apply for the grant, Merandy said the board would be going into executive session. Asked by The Current if a closed-door session was warranted for a discussion of the village benefit package, the agenda topic listed on the village website, the mayor responded that the listing was incorrect. He said the executive session was to “discuss the employment history of specific employees … and pending legal action.” The law allows executive sessions for those issues.

Feb. 14

At the board’s Feb. 14 meeting, Merandy addressed comments by Alison Anthoine, who is running against him for mayor, who was quoted in the Putnam County News & Recorder as saying she hoped to “address and come up with a way to manage the increasing number of tourists without putting our head in the sand” on issues such as the Fjord Trail.

Merandy said he took issue with that characterization. “We’re a stakeholder [in the Fjord Trail] and I’m the representative,” he said. “I’m at the table. I’ve been at the meetings.” He noted that the immediate problem is the number of hikers and tourists visiting Cold Spring, before the trail has been developed.

Merandy compared the Fjord Trail to the Walkway Over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie, which has attracted more visitors than anticipated. “If the Fjord Trail is publicized, it’s going to attract more people,” he said. “Can we handle more people?”

In other business …

  • A public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Feb. 28 at Village Hall on a proposal to join a Community Choice Aggregation Program, which seeks to offer residents reduced electrical rates.
  • Superintendent of Water and Sewer Greg Phillips reported that the cellular water meter project will be substantially complete by March 17. About 240 of the digital meters must still be installed in Cold Spring and Nelsonville. “It’s better to do it now when it’s free,” Phillips advised, noting that after project completion residents who did not participate will be required to pay the installation cost.
  • Trustees approved changes to the village code dealing with fees associated with installation of meters. A fee of 6 percent per quarter will now be assessed on unpaid water bills.
  • The board approved a $169,166 bid from New Jersey-based National Water Main Cleaning Company for sewer rehabilitation on Fair, Market and Fish streets and Northern Avenue. Phillips said the project’s total cost will be about $288,000. “We budgeted $296,000, so it appears we should be in good shape.”

    Highway Foreman Chris Hyatt (Photo by M. Turton)

  • Highway Department Foreman Chris Hyatt made his first presentation to the board, outlining the department’s work in January. Hyatt was hired last fall and previously had submitted only written reports.
  • U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney wrote the board to announce $455 million in federal grants for dam safety projects, which Merandy described as potentially “a very good thing” for the village, which is planning repairs to its dams. Phillips said the design for repairs to the upper reservoir dam should be complete by mid-April.
  • Officer-in-Charge George Kane reported that in January the Cold Spring Police Department responded to 74 calls and issued 42 traffic tickets and 77 parking tickets, including 29 for vehicles parked on village streets at night during snow emergencies. Another 46 tickets were written during snow emergencies through mid-February. Kane urged residents to call 845-747-SNOW any time bad weather is predicted to find out if overnight parking is prohibited.

One thought on “A $50,000 Tree Trim

  1. By his own words, Mayor Merandy reveals what the big problem is with his administration: He looks at tourists and other visitors as being a “problem.” The truth about the economic value of tourism in New York state is well-documented and only someone who is ignorant of the facts and reality would make such a statement.

    The most expensive, least cost-effective development for a municipality is single-family housing. As an example, suppose a family moves into Cold Spring that has one school-age child. The average cost to educate that child in the school district is roughly $22,000 per year in our area. And this is assuming there are no special needs or problems. Add to that the cost of municipal services for that family including water, sewer, police protection, road maintenance, etc. and you are coming close to $30,000/year per family. The homeowners will not be taxed the full amount; instead the money will be spread around to be paid by all.

    Compare that to the thousands of tourists who visit our beautiful village every year. They come here for a few hours, spend their money and leave. Other than some extra garbage and wear-and-tear on the public restrooms, the cost is minimal. Also, they are now paying for parking and adding even more money to the coffers. This is a win-win situation, it is not a problem.

    As long as Cold Spring has a mayor and an administration that does not understand this dynamic, there are going to be major problems for all of the stakeholders. Let’s hope that the voters figure it out. There’s a lot riding on this election.