Notes from the Cold Spring Village Board

  • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cold Spring Village Board voted unanimously on Tuesday (July 14) to cancel large-scale events through the end of the year. They include the Putnam County Wine and Food Festival, the Hops on the Hudson beer fest, Community Day and picnics organized for seniors and volunteers. It also canceled visits by the Seastreak cruise line, which each fall bring hundreds of shoppers to the village. Last year Seastreak also paid $22,500 in docking fees. Mayor Dave Merandy said the village may need a more in-depth review of large events to “see if this is something we want to continue.” Trustee Fran Murphy suggested the village could hire an events coordinator, to be paid with event revenues. “That’s not a bad idea at all,” Merandy said.
  • Merandy said the Cold Spring Police Department was alerted about graffiti painted on the asphalt on Fair Street near Mayor’s Park that read “Death to Gays.” It was removed by the Highway Department.
  • The public restrooms near the Visitors’ Center on Main Street, which have been closed during the shutdown, could reopen on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. under a plan presented by the Cold Spring Chamber of Commerce. Volunteers at the information booth would clean the restrooms periodically and the Highway Department would clean them on Friday night and Sunday morning. “We want to open the information booth, but we can’t unless the restrooms are open” because volunteers would be inundated with unhappy visitors, said Jack Goldstein of the Chamber. Board members raised concerns about liability. 
  • Roberto Ruiz, who lives next to village-owned property on Benedict Avenue where the Highway Department dumps leaves, grass and tree branches picked up curbside from residents, said the volume is more than the site can handle. He said it also attracts illegal dumpers and animals, and it smells. The board agreed to his request that a gate be added but said the yard debris is a more difficult challenge because the alternative would be paying to have it hauled away. The board discussed a number of strategies, such as mulching, controlled burns or the use of an outdoor furnace at the highway garage.  
  • The Cold Spring Police Department responded to 59 calls for service in June, and officers issued 50 parking and eight traffic tickets. The Cold Spring Fire Co. answered 15 calls, including seven activated carbon monoxide or fire alarms; three assists to emergency medical services; two motor vehicle crashes; a rescue at Breakneck Ridge; and mutual aid to the Garrison Volunteer Fire Co. for a structure fire. 
  • Village Accountant Michelle Ascolillo reported that, as of July 8, the village had collected $1.65 million in property taxes, or 93 percent of the levy. Property owners have until Jan. 31 to pay before the bill is sent to the county as delinquent. 
  • The Historic District Review Board is reviewing an application for the first of three single-family homes to be built on Paulding Avenue as part of the Butterfield redevelopment project.  
  • The board deferred action on a request to purchase a 125-by-30-foot strip of village-owned property adjacent to 37 Fair St., the former Impellittiere Motors, now owned by a New York City-based artist, so that the parcel can be appraised.
  • Highway Crew Chief Robert Downey said repairs to the village garbage truck, which was damaged in an accident on an icy road last winter, could cost as much as $134,000. A new vehicle could cost up to $225,000. He said village crews collected 62 tons of trash and 21 tons of recyclables in June.

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11 thoughts on “Notes from the Cold Spring Village Board

  1. Merandy and company have been looking for a way to shut down our Main Street businesses for quite some time and now, thanks to the COVID-19 madness, they got what they wanted.

    I have had my shop in this liberal/Democratic/Socialist stronghold for over eight years years and during that time there has not been one public official in either Cold Spring or Philipstown who has stood up for the business owners who help keep the property taxes relatively low. By the way, that includes County Legislator Nancy Montgomery, who sang a different tune when she was running for the position.

    Not one official or even a bureaucrat who realized the financial benefits of having a robust Main Street business district in the town. Instead, it has been an uphill fight all the way, especially with this latest bunch on the Village Board who seem to have as their mission the complete destruction of retail commerce in Cold Spring.

    There is something almost inhuman about their lack of concern for their neighbors who have been struggling during this crisis, to keep body and soul together and keep their establishments open. These are people who invested their own blood, sweat, tears and money into setting up shop here, with no government safety net in case something went wrong.

    You would think that with all the concern they have for outside causes and movements, they would do something to try and help the people of their own community, but their hypocrisy knows no bounds.

    You can see how many have closed because of the pandemic, but they don’t realize how many will be gone before winter comes. My guess is that before next year more than half of those of us on Main Street will be gone. No doubt Merandy and company will be delighted at this unforeseen effect of the epidemic. Their joy will be short lived however, when they see their tax bills.

    • How do businesses in Cold Spring help to keep property taxes low when those businesses pay zero for any type of tax, tariff, fee or other remuneration to the village? And the sales tax they collect goes to New York State and a small percentage trickles down to the village. The store’s landlords pay the property tax and if it is a store or apartment it makes no difference.

      In fact, businesses add to the tax burden by their customers filling the garbage cans that the Highway Department has to empty on Sundays. The parking for residents is virtually nonexistent due to the throngs of visitors and the restrooms have to be cleaned and restocked at a much faster rate.

      I love seeing the businesses add to the special feel of Cold Spring but the village would not be broke without them.

  2. I hope that the graffiti incident is being investigated and documented by our village police and county sheriff’s department as a hate crime, and that The Current will follow up as it has done with other local hate crimes.

    • I would add that it feels hurtful to have given this incident such short shrift. A two-sentence mention suggests that violent homophobia in our community isn’t newsworthy, or worse, is to be expected. This could be an opportunity for people to publicly reject homophobia, to talk to their children about tolerance, and to make sure their LGBTQ neighbors feel safe and supported. Instead, it’s been relegated to a footnote.

      • Exactly. And when a representative of the Village Board was confronted about it, she became defensive and combative, and suggested we should be silent about it lest we give the vandals the attention they want. Literally the antithesis of the appropriate response to an act of hate like this.

        • I never suggested that anyone should be silent about the graffiti on Fair Street, only that it’s very likely it was done with the sole purpose of triggering a disproportionate and emotional response. Whomever painted the stupid message got exactly what they wanted. I only suggested that the justifiably outraged reaction be channeled into constructive action rather than frittering away its power and energy on online sniping.

          Mayor Dave Merandy addressed the issue of the hate-speech painted on Fair Street at Village Board meetings on July 14 and 21, describing all the particulars as to how it was addressed, documented, investigated and removed. He expressed the collective disgust the majority of Cold Spring residents feel when our lovely home is defaced by hateful speech. People kept demanding an official statement, being unaware that statements by the mayor made during board meetings are official statements documented for historical record in the meeting minutes. Some wanted more to be done but did not specify exactly what. Others demanded that official letters condemning the hate speech represented by this incident be sent to every resident in the village. I counter that such efforts would amount to a largely ineffective use of Cold Spring’s limited financial resources.

          If encouraging our residents to constructively participate in Village Board meetings via Zoom (or in person when we move back to that) rather than criticizing village governance on Facebook is defensive or combative, then yes, I’m defending the structure of representative democracy and how it works on the local level. Our system of government is designed to be flexible yet subject to state and federal legal standards. If you want it changed, it’s up to citizens to do the work to make that happen. Informing oneself about how government is structured and operates, and attending Village Board meetings is an appropriate first step.

          Most people will agree that sniping from the sidelines amounts to little more than impotent noise with little constructive effect. Rather than enlisting allies and collaborating in the struggle to promote social equity for marginalized groups, such disproportional and misdirected outrage only undermines such efforts.

      • It’s a tricky balancing act. We could publish a prominent news story each time some doofus spray-paints a hateful message but that agitation may well be the desired reaction and also amplifies a message that otherwise quickly disappeared. On the other hand, we can’t not report on it because it might leave the impression that hate doesn’t exist in our community. So, the middle ground was to report what we knew, which amounted in this case to two sentences. ~Chip Rowe, Editor

  3. Canceling visits by the Seastreak seems so unfair to the Main Street shops that are trying desperately to stay open. [via Facebook]

  4. The Seastreak owners themselves are questioning the wisdom and safety of packing 300 to 400 people on a boat for two hours and depositing them in the village while COVID-19 cases are rapidly rising in 80 percent of the nation. New Yorkers have done an exemplary job of addressing this public health crisis and we are beginning to emerge from it. Relaxing our vigilance would be disastrous.

    Data shows that all the pop-up COVID-19 clusters in New York are directly tied to large gatherings where social-distancing protocols are impossible or ignored. With 30 percent of our residents being seniors, allowing such gatherings would put their lives and everyone else’s at risk. Large gatherings also endanger our five-member highway crew, which we rely on for so much. Some have already fallen ill. This beast is not tamed yet. [via Facebook]

    Miller is a member of the Village Board.

  5. Your response omits the impact that protests and riots throughout the nation, in New York City and even those in Putnam County, have had on the incidence of the virus. Indeed the data for the county is ever upward. Did the virus recognize a potentially destructive antibody and purposely bypass them for hours and weeks on end?