5 Questions: Fred Martin

Fred Martin on the back porch of the volunteer center (Photo by M. Turton)

By Michael Turton

Fred Martin is president of the Little Stony Point Citizens Association (LSPCA), which next spring will open a volunteer center at the park on Route 9D, just outside of Cold Spring.

How will the volunteer center be used?
It will anchor all LSPCA functions — our meetings, Maple Syrup Day, cleanups and The Hoot [music festival]. It will also be an assembly space for groups that align with our mission of environmental preservation, recreation and education, such as Haldane’s Environmental Interest Group, Scout packs, Daisy Girl Scouts and the Audubon Society. We want it to be a culturally vital place for the community, using volunteer expertise to bring people out to enjoy the park. It will also be great for exhibits on the environmental history of the area, including the quarry that used to be here. The back porch and steps, which look out over the Pete and Toshi Seeger Meadow, will be a rest stop for hikers.

Is it safe to call this is a “green” building?
Absolutely. At 704 square feet, it’s highly efficient. River Architects’ James Hartford, a specialist in passive houses, donated his design services. The walls, roof and floor feature 4-inch, 6-inch and 4-inch insulation, respectively, which will mean big savings. There are skylights, a wood-burning stove and an incinerating toilet that produces no waste. Rooftop solar panels will provide our electricity and for the state park visitor center next door. We’re also looking into battery storage for the electricity we generate.

What will the priorities be once the center opens?
First will be administering the new space, planning and scheduling its uses, and we’ve formed a committee to do that. Looking ahead to expanded use here and on the Fjord Trail, we’d like to eventually tie into the village water system. And we went from about 90 to 239 volunteers in just two years, mainly because of this project, so we can always use more help.

Is the project on schedule and within budget?
Construction was funded by $89,900 in grants from the New York State Park and Trail Partnership Program. LSPCA matched 54 percent of that — although we were only required to do 15 percent. We’ve contributed $40,700 in funds; $48,100 in donated services and $17,900 in donated materials. We’re planning a First Day Hike on Jan. 1 at 11 a.m. that will be co-hosted with the Friends of Fahnestock. It’s a soft opening and tour of the work completed to date. In a perfect world we’ll open officially as part of the state’s “I Love My Park Day,” on May 4.

At 30 acres, Little Stony Point is a tiny part of the 6,000-acre Hudson Highlands State Park. Is it that significant?
When a friend from Shanghai visited Little Stony Point and saw our work here, he said, “I don’t get it: what’s the point of all this volunteer work?” I took him up to the cliffs. He gasped at the sight and changed his mind. It has that effect. You feel your place in nature. You feel small, that you are part of something bigger.