Planning Board appointment causes a squabble

The appointment of Yaslyn Daniels to the Planning Board created some friction at the Tuesday (Nov. 30) meeting of the Cold Spring Village Board, which was the last for Mayor Dave Merandy and Trustees Marie Early and Fran Murphy before a new administration takes over next week. 

Yaslyn Daniels
Yaslyn Daniels

The appointment was approved by a 4-0 vote, with Trustee Tweeps Phillips Woods, who defeated Daniels in the Nov. 2 election, abstaining. Woods had been appointed to the Village Board by Mayor Dave Merandy in May to fill a seat vacated by Heidi Bender. She defeated Daniels by a wide margin to be able to serve the second year of the 2-year term.

When Merandy asked Woods to explain her abstention, she replied, “I don’t think it looks very good to do this in your last meeting.” 

Merandy, Early and Murphy will leave office on Monday (Dec. 6), when Kathleen Foley becomes mayor and Cathryn Fadde and Eliza Starbuck join the five-member board as trustees. Foley has said she will appoint Joe Curto to fill the trustee seat she vacates to become mayor. A ceremonial swearing-in will be held on Tuesday. 

Merandy and Early dropped out of the race in June after Foley became a candidate for mayor; Murphy did not seek re-election. Although he had appointed Woods, Merandy endorsed Daniels for the 1-year trustee position.

Woods asked Merandy facetiously if he recalled the recent election campaign. “It’s just a little dicey for me,” she said of the proposal to appoint Daniels, adding that, depending on how she voted, “it looks like pity.” She wished Daniels luck with her appointment.

Merandy responded that “this is what I figured would happen” and said Daniels’ appointment reminded him of the outrage over President Barack Obama being blocked from appointing Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

When Woods said Garland was “actually pretty qualified for the position,” Merandy responded: “That means you don’t think Yaslyn is qualified?” 

Murphy intervened, commenting that it makes sense for the outgoing administration to pass on complete boards to the new administration. “I don’t like leaving holes in the boards,” she said. “I also think Yaslyn is qualified.”

Daniels, who has an MBA from Howard University, said during the campaign she had spent five years as a social service consultant developing policy for the Department of Defense and charitable foundations, and more than 20 years in strategy consulting.

Foley said she had no objection to Daniels’ appointment but also questioned Merandy’s timing, “just six days before you leave office,” pointing out that the vacancy on the Planning Board had existed since Dave Marion resigned in 2019.

Merandy said Daniels had been the only resident to express interest in serving.

The terse exchange ended with Merandy commenting, “I am so glad this is the last meeting; I cannot tell you how happy I am.”  

Foley responded: “You’re not kidding!”

As he did at the monthly business meeting, Merandy thanked several people he worked with during his time in office, singling out Early and Murphy as well as Village Clerk Jeff Vidakovich, accountant Michelle Ascolillo and Larry Burke, the officer-in-charge of the Cold Spring Police Department. 

He had special thanks for his wife, Stephanie Hawkins, family and close friends “for being with me during a tough time, when character assassination seemed to be running rampant” during the campaign.

Although Merandy ran an advertisement in The Current two weeks before the election disparaging Foley and accusing her of duplicity (which she denied) while endorsing her opponent, he said he wished her administration “all the luck in the world. Every election is a like a crossroad, it seems; there are a lot of hard workers and I’m sure that won’t end.”

In other business…

  • The board, by a vote of 4-0, approved the sale of 1,032 square feet of village-owned land northwest of Riverview to the restaurant’s owner, Jim Ely, for $4,128. Foley abstained, explaining that she didn’t object to the sale but that the board had not declared the property as surplus as stated in the resolution nor attached a description of it. 
  • The board unanimously approved a new contract with the Cold Spring Police Benevolent Association, the union that represents officers, that runs through May 31, 2024, and provides a 2 percent salary increase retroactive to May 31, 2020, and a 2.5 percent increase in the final year of the agreement. 
  • The village has asked to lease a sander and truck from Philipstown for the winter for about $1,400. Cold Spring has a truck on order but it will not arrive until the spring.

Behind The Story

Type: News

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

Turton, who has been a reporter for The Current since its founding in 2010, moved to Philipstown from his native Ontario in 1998. Location: Cold Spring. Languages: English. Area of expertise: Cold Spring government, features