Questions for Candidates: Cold Spring Village Board

Three candidates — Cathryn Fadde, Jeff Phillips and Eliza Starbuck — are competing for two seats with 2-year terms. The candidates are presented in alphabetical order.

Why are you seeking a seat on the board? What qualifications do you bring?
Cathryn Fadde

Fadde

Cathryn Fadde: I bring two years of previous experience as a village trustee. I also sat on the Special Board for the Comprehensive Plan, served as president and treasurer of the Chamber of Commerce and have run a successful restaurant on Main Street for almost 25 years. I understand the issues facing us and I can find solutions creatively and civilly.

Jeff Phillips: As a lifelong resident of the village, I feel the need to step up to do my part to improve our community. We once had a strong dedication to maintain and repair our infrastructure (e.g., road drainage, curbs, sidewalks and streets); we need to get back to doing this effectively. Our taxpayers deserve to be provided with these basic community needs. After receiving my associate degree in construction engineering technologies, I entered the field of construction. For more than 34 years, I have been involved in all phases, from excavation to the finished product. The knowledge and experience I gained in my field qualify me for this position, as I have mobilized teams, managed manpower and materials, met tight deadlines and maintained budgets.

Eliza Starbuck: I’ve been going to the Village Board meetings for years because of my interests as the president of the Cold Spring Chamber of Commerce and as a resident and business owner in the village. I have followed the issues, done my own research and submitted comments. While I appreciated the hard work and good intentions of the mayor and trustees, I felt that the board’s majority too often disrespected other stakeholders and discouraged or ignored public input. I kept going to the meetings because I cared. Eventually, I realized that I could help establish more effective and inclusive decision-making on the board. For almost five years I have been in my bustling retail shop on Main Street serving customers. To prosper in such a business, you must be able to cooperate with all types of people, respecting them, determining and addressing their needs, and informing them. Similarly, as chamber president I became adept at balancing diverse interests, launching and accomplishing new projects, and communicating. These are qualifications that I will carry over to public service as a trustee. I knew it was time to run for office when residents started coming to the shop to ask me questions and find solutions for their community issues instead of going to Village Hall.

What do you see as the two most important challenges facing Cold Spring in the next two years?

Fadde: Managing tourism and upgrading our infrastructure. Some of the challenges they represent are solved with money; some are not. Tourism is not going away; we must find ways to relieve its effects on residents. Parking and short-term rental regulations are directly related to tourism and how we manage one will affect the other. Our infrastructure issues — the dam, in particular — will require millions of dollars to repair. We must find outside funding sources for this project.

Jeff Phillips

Phillips

Phillips: The village has some challenges ahead. One is the condition of our sidewalks, roads and curbs. We also need to make more areas accessible for our elderly population. Many areas around the village fail to comply with legal specifications. Additionally, with some of the village’s lead workers having retired, and others who have moved on to other endeavors, we need to keep our departments staffed with qualified and innovative personnel who will have the best interests of Cold Spring at heart. Without this, we would be looking at contracting much of these tasks out, which can be a huge expense. Even after 34 years in my field, I still train to improve. Therefore, training current and future hires to be proactive in addressing the needs of our village is essential.

Starbuck: Prudently managing village resources (including tax and other revenue and public property) and preserving the residential quality of life. Our resources and quality of life are precious and must not be compromised by forces like uncontrolled tourism or development. Every decision by the trustees must safeguard these assets for our children and grandchildren.

In August, the Village Board adopted regulations for short-term rentals. The regulations limit the number of STRs allowed in the village through a permit system and also impose other restrictions. Where do you stand on the issue? Are the regulations too lax or too strict? Is making 7 percent of housing eligible to host STRs the right amount?

Fadde: Short-term rentals are good for tourism. They are good for the host and good for the economic vitality of Main Street and beyond. I raised the issue of regulating STRs when I was a trustee — it was not a pressing issue at the time, but now it is. Then we had possibly less than a dozen, now we have at least five times that. I am not in favor of overly regulating, which can be as bad as too little. Regulations should protect all parties. If you have a part of your property that you would like to offer as a STR, registering it as such and making sure it is safe are necessary. If you are coming to Cold Spring to buy up existing housing stock to have several STRs, that is a problem and requires preventative regulations. I am also in favor of a hospitality tax that could be used to slow down the traffic on Route 9D and increase walkability by keeping our streetscape safe and attractive. It is important to listen to STR hosts and work with them to balance the economic benefits with protecting our housing stock and ensuring peace and quiet for our neighbors.

Phillips: While short-term rentals are not essential to our village, they do have benefits for the property owner and can bring revenue to our community and small shop owners. I have personally used short-term rentals while on getaways. I feel the current board addressed this appropriately and understands that there is a learning curve on this topic. The board will have to weigh the pros and cons as they arise.

Eliza Starbuck

Starbuck

Starbuck: As chamber president, I was deeply involved in developing a practical framework for STRs: I held public meetings on the issue, surveyed community members on their concerns and needs, and provided elected officials with reports and recommendations (here, here and here). I strongly believe that permits for home-based, short-term rentals are necessary. They will prevent invasive real-estate investors from reducing the housing stock in the village, preserve neighborhood character and reduce safety hazards. But the restrictions must be reasonable and practical. Parts of the adopted code succeed at these goals. However, as a whole, the STR law needs to be revised before it is enforced. As it stands, its requirements are too complicated, its terms are not adequately based on statistics or surveys about villagers’ STR usage, and the lottery system is unrealistic. In short, it would be a nightmare to administer and enforce. Most of the public comments on this law opposed it in its current state. Many people urged the formation of a committee, similar to the Parking Committee, to improve the law, which I support. There are more details about my position here.

Questions for Candidates: Cold Spring Village Board (2-year terms)
Questions for Candidates: Cold Spring Village Board (1-year term)
Questions for Candidates: Cold Spring Mayor
Questions for Candidates: Philipstown Town Board
Questions for Candidates: Putnam County Legislature (District 1)
Questions for Candidates: Putnam County Sheriff 

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