Village Residents on Lockdown

Cold Spring reopened its riverfront parks. (Photo by Ross Corsair)

But many visitors to Cold Spring don’t seem to be

Cold Spring residents “packed” a meeting of the Village Board on May 21 as the mayor and trustees discussed measures to be taken in anticipation of the Mid-Hudson Region entering Phase 1 on Tuesday (May 26) of the state’s gradual reopening.

The meeting, held by video conference, drew an audience of at least 30 people. Village meetings seldom attract more than a handful.

Residents of apartments and houses on and near Main Street said they hesitate to go outside on weekends due to crowding and visitors who don’t wear masks or practice social distancing. They also complained that their stoops are being used as dining areas.

At the meeting, the board unanimously approved a resolution formalizing the decision by Mayor Dave Merandy earlier this month to close Mayor’s Park, Dockside Park and Riverfront Park on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Merandy said he made the move because of crowding and the failure by many people to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Benches as dining area

Main Street benches in Cold Spring have become dining areas on weekends. (Photo by M. Turton)

Trustees also voted unanimously to ban events in village parks until at least Aug. 31, effectively canceling or postponing Hops on the Hudson, which organizers said they hoped to move from June 27 to July or August, and the Putnam County Wine & Food Fest, which was scheduled for Aug. 8 and 9. Both were planned for Mayor’s Park. 

Before the vote, Merandy read from state guidelines, which state that “events that attract hundreds of people from outside a region [and] pose a significant public health danger should be postponed or canceled until threat of COVID-19 has subsided.” 

Merandy said on Wednesday (May 27) that the board will move forward with suggestions to make pedestrian traffic one-way on Main Street; post signs to encourage people to wear masks and keep their distance; and prohibit signs and merchandise on the sidewalks to maximize walking space. 

During the meeting, residents and board members also suggested:

  • Closing all or part of Main Street, allowing businesses to use the sidewalks and the street and making social distancing easier.
  • Asking Metro-North to make masks on its trains mandatory. (The railroad on May 27 announced that all passengers must wear face coverings.)
  • Placing 6-foot markers along Main Street sidewalks.
  • Eliminating parking on Main Street from the traffic light to Lunn Terrace.
  • Making Main Street one-way and one-lane from the traffic light to Fair Street, and Fair Street one-way to Route 9D. 
  • Using the Haldane school parking lots and shuttling people to Main Street.
  • Discouraging visitors from sitting and eating on stoops.
  • Removing or roping off Main Street benches to prevent them from being used as dining areas. 
  • Closing one lane of parking on Main Street. 
  • Encouraging shops to open only from Monday through Thursday.
  • “It’s going to be a complicated and difficult task,” Merandy said of the gradual reopening. “Everyone’s hurting and getting more tense. I can feel it. People are on edge.” 

Asking a community to slow or shut down for months “has put incredible stress on business owners, those who have lost their jobs and those who can’t work from home,” he said. “Thank you all for cooperating.” 

The mayor thanked members of the highway and police departments and other essential workers, all of whom he said are doing a great job. “Not all the stories are getting out there,” he said. 

Trustee Fran Murphy encouraged retailers to read the state regulations in preparation for Phase 2, when retail will be allowed to reopen with restrictions. (Under Phase 1, retailers are allowed to have curbside or in-store pickup.) “There are guidelines for all types of businesses,” she said.

Business owners are required to post the guidelines and must have a plan in place to keep the premises safe for employees and customers. Murphy urged owners to take those steps now to be ready. 

The board will meet again at 7 p.m. on Tuesday (June 2) by video conference to continue the discussion and hear suggestions. 

In other business …

■ Recycling placed in plastic bags will no longer be picked up by the Highway Department. Recycling must be placed in bins, garbage cans or paper bags.

■ Tax bills for 2020-21 will be mailed starting June 1. Through June 30, taxes may be paid without penalties by dropping in the mail slot at Village Hall or mailing to Village of Cold Spring, 85 Main St., Cold Spring NY 10516. Only checks or money orders are accepted. A receipt will be mailed. Village Hall will be open only for in-person payments on Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon. Masks must be worn and social distancing protocols observed. When paying with cash, only exact change will be accepted. All taxes unpaid as of July 1 will incur a 5 percent penalty for the first month and an additional 1 percent for each month or fraction thereof until paid. Village Hall remains closed to the public for all other matters.

5 thoughts on “Village Residents on Lockdown

  1. Well it looks like Merandy, the Village Board and their business-hating supporters have finally gotten what they wanted: the complete destruction of Main Street as a tourist attraction and commercial tax base.

    I live in neighboring Putnam Valley, which has no business district and no commerce, retail or otherwise. Our taxes are significantly higher because the entire burden is borne by the homeowners. There are places in town that are in the same school district as Cold Spring and their school taxes are half of mine.

    Cold Spring with its vibrant Main Street is (was) the envy of many of us and I was thrilled when I first opened my shop here about seven years ago. I have always loved this place for its beauty and its opportunities, even though there have been some changes in attitude in more recent times since the Merandy regime took over. The subtle dislike for the merchants and business owners became more overt and the lack of support for the greater business community has been troublesome.

    Now it seems that thanks to the COVID-19 crisis, which has apparently caused both the state and U.S. Constitution to be suspended, the mayor and his crew have finally gotten everything they always wanted. Our shops are going out of business, there will be no events, the beautiful riverfront is (illegally) closed on weekends behind armed barricades, and the wonderful tourists who love and support the village will be hassled beyond belief with senseless regulations that will cause them to stay away in droves and tank what’s left of our fragile economy.

    In all the years that I’ve been here, there has not been one mayor or Village Board that was proactively for business. Not one mayor or board that realized what a gold mine Main Street is and who was willing to work to support it. It’s always been the business owners vs. the local government, which both saddened and angered me to no end.

    But this is just the icing on the cake, the final nail in the coffin, whatever metaphor you want to use. Cold Spring can survive the virus but it cannot survive the excesses of a tyrannical state and local government that seems hellbent on its destruction. RIP Main Street. It was fun while it lasted.

    • It seems to me that during most uncertain times the Village Board is attempting to protect the residents. How does the current influx of visitors actually benefit our residents?

  2. Have Metro-North not stop in Cold Spring and limit parking in the village to every other spot. I’m on the other side of the river without the train, and it’s nuts on the weekends, with all the New York City people getting out of their cage to flood the area. I’m sure it’s the same up Route 9D into Cold Spring and Beacon. [via Facebook]

  3. I am agitated when day-trippers get sloppy about restrictions, and I am insulted that hiking trails and riverside parks are closed because “people are people.” When I’m out and about, many people brazenly ignore the recommendations about wearing masks and social distancing. [via Facebook]

  4. You will grow to regret your decision [to add restrictions in Cold Spring] as you see the focus on this “plandemic” disappear. Your beautiful town is a haven for those who need some peace, serenity and fresh air. Hopefully, before August, you will ease up on your restrictions. [via Instagram]