Joins Philipstown, Beacon in attacking global warming

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong

Nelsonville’s mayor and trustees voted unanimously on Monday to make their village a Climate Smart Community, joining Philipstown and Beacon as Highlands municipalities seeking to reduce pollution and fight global warming and its effects.

The five-member Village Board acted Nov. 19 during its regular monthly meeting in the village hall annex.

In other business, Mayor Bill O’Neill announced the end of a lawsuit brought by several residents to force the village and neighboring Cold Spring to assume responsibility for a private sewer.

O’Neill also said that the village would launch an update of its comprehensive plan in January and encouraged residents to participate in the updating, already separately underway, of Philipstown’s 2006 comprehensive plan. He pointed to questions about parking in Nelsonville, Philipstown and Cold Spring as a topic comprehensive plans could tackle.

Before adjourning, the board scheduled the lighting of Nelsonville’s Christmas tree and Hanukkah menorah for Dec. 2 and the village holiday party for Dec. 21.

Climate Smart

To reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming by trapping heat in the atmosphere, New York State in 2009 launched the Climate Smart program, part of an international initiative. Communities that meet Climate Smart goals get a leg up on winning grants for local projects.

In its resolution, Nelsonville’s Village Board said that “climate change poses a real and increasing threat to our local and global environments,” endangering residents’ health, clean water supplies, natural resources and outdoor recreation, infrastructure and the local economy.

It resolved to take action to reduce greenhouse gases and other pollution by decreasing community energy use and increasing the use of renewable energy, inventorying sources of emissions, supporting a “green” economy and enhancing Nelsonville’s ability to withstand the impacts of climate change, such as severe flooding.

O’Neill said that village officials have already begun cutting energy demands by switching to LED lights in village offices. Board members also unanimously allocated $3,000 for building maintenance and projects, including $1,500 to replace the dirt floor in the office basement with concrete, another measure to improve energy efficiency by weatherizing and eliminating moisture seepage.

Sewer suit

Although he provided few details, O’Neill announced that the sewer litigation filed by six residents had been withdrawn. Ostensibly they could return to court to try again if they want, he said, “but I think that’s rather doubtful.” They had demanded that the villages of Cold Spring and Nelsonville take over — and pay for — maintaining a private sewer line on Pearl Street.

Cold Spring’s sewage treatment plant was designed decades ago to also accommodate Nelsonville, which relies mostly on individual septic systems and other backyard waste-disposal means. An exception, the 6-inch Pearl line runs down that street, turns onto Pine Street, and connects to the Cold Spring sewer system at Parsonage Street.

The litigious residents contended the villages “in concert, own, maintain, and control the Pearl Street sewer pipe” and should be considered its legal owners, since both “on occasion, maintain, repair and otherwise control” it, as demonstrated in 2015, when they fixed a sinkhole after the line broke.

Nelsonville counter-argued that the lawsuit was “entirely frivolous and without basis in fact or law.” Cold Spring similarly claimed that offering municipal aid to homeowners during a sewer crisis does not convert a private pipe into a public sewer line.

The suit was filed in Putnam County Supreme Court before the current mayor and trustees took office. They have begun exploring the possibility of installing sewers to serve the main part of the village, which dates from the 1800s, with homes and stores in close proximity to one another.


O’Neill broached the idea of turning a piece of village-owned land into a paid-parking lot for hikers and other visitors.

The board also learned of a complaint from a resident to the village clerk about illegal overnight parking on a village street during the Nov. 15 snowstorm. The mayor promised to check with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, which operates a substation in Nelsonville, about ticketing such vehicles. Furthermore, he proposed the board discuss overall parking issues in an upcoming meeting.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Armstrong was the founding news editor of The Current (then known as in 2010 and later a senior correspondent and contributing editor for the paper. She worked earlier in Washington as a White House correspondent and national affairs reporter and assistant news editor for daily international news services. Location: Cold Spring. Languages: English. Areas of expertise: Politics and government

One reply on “Nelsonville to Become Climate Smart Community”

  1. I applaud Nelsonville for taking the pledge to become a Climate Smart Community, especially after U.N. climate scientists tell us we have 12 years to move off fossil fuels and avoid catastrophic climate disaster, and shortly before the federal government warned of large-scale climate disasters if the U.S. continues down the track it’s headed.

    While it is incredibly important to act locally, it is well past time that our federal lawmakers act. We need a green New Deal that will create millions of jobs, move our country off fossil fuels, and protect working people of all backgrounds. Ask U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, whose district includes the Highlands, to support the Energy and Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act that has been proposed in Congress.

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