Nelsonville Has Two More Candidates

Residents announce for mayor, trustee seats

The race for Nelsonville’s Village Board picked up this week when Rudolf van Dommele announced his candidacy for mayor and Tom Campanile launched a campaign for trustee.

Rudolf van Dommele

van Dommele

Earlier this month, Chris Winward, currently a trustee, declared her candidacy for mayor, hoping to succeed Mike Bowman, who chose not to run for a second term.

At stake in the election, scheduled for March 15, are two trustee positions held by Winward and Dave Moroney, and the mayor’s job. Candidates can submit nominating petitions, signed by at least 22 voters, from Tuesday (Feb. 1) until Feb. 8 at Village Hall. 

Van Dommele, who operates two Airbnb units on his property and ran unsuccessfully in 2018 for a trustee seat, has been an outspoken opponent of a newly enacted law regulating short-term rentals. In a statement on Tuesday (Jan. 25), he called for revisiting the law, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, to “properly identify the need for implementation and enforcement, based on facts.”

He faulted Winward for advocating the law, which, he asserted, is based on “unwarranted fear and hysteria” and said that, if elected, “my primary goal will be to restore trust in our village’s government, with a promise of transparency and accountability.”

His other positions include establishing committees to oversee ethics questions and study the public use of a 4-acre, village-owned parcel along Secor Street. 

Van Dommele claimed that a 2020 decision to include the Secor parcel in the Nelsonville Woods conservation easement overseen by the Open Space Institute made it “inaccessible to the public.” As an alternative, he suggested an athletic field. 

He also proposed that Nelsonville, the Cold Spring Fire Co., and American Legion confer over broader use of the surrounding site, which he termed “an ideal location for a new firehouse and public services campus.”

Campanile kicked off his candidacy on Tuesday with a statement citing his record of involvement in the community and region, including leading Philipstown’s Boy Scout Troop 437 and serving on the Greater Hudson Valley Scout Council’s executive board, the board of the Hudson Highlands Land Trust, a Haldane school committee and the Nelsonville Trails Committee.

He praised the Village Board for preserving Nelsonville’s “unique and special” small-town character while navigating some weighty issues. “Village meetings are welcoming to all and feel more like a discussion among neighbors than big government meetings,” he said. “This board has set a great tone and I would love to have the opportunity to add my voice.”

Campanile added that he is “not affiliated with any party or single-issue group and will approach any decisions or responsibilities with an independent perspective. I honestly don’t view this as a political endeavor. I’m approaching it as an ‘elected volunteer’ opportunity that I hope my neighbors will consider me for.”

3 thoughts on “Nelsonville Has Two More Candidates

  1. I would like to ask for a correction in your article announcing my candidacy for Nelsonville Mayor. I was asked by your reporter about some of the goals I would try to accomplish if elected. With regards to the 4.12 Acre Secor Street parcel I stated the following:

    “Establish a committee to study the feasibility of creating a usable public space on the village-owned 4.12 Acre Secor street parcel. Many residents have been critical of the conservation easement that was granted to OSI. In fact, many believe that this property was given away. These 4.12 acres of wilderness and wetlands are now inaccessible to the public. I have a vision of a recreational area, maybe a field where kids can kick a ball or fly a kite. This may also be part of a bigger discussion with the CSFD and the American Legion, whose property straddles the border between Cold Spring and Nelsonville, and what in my opinion would be an ideal location for a new firehouse and public services campus.”

    Contrary to how your editor interpreted my statement, I am NOT suggesting the construction of an athletics field in the woods. In fact, in 2004, together with some of our neighbors and other local residents we successfully sued Haldane Central school, preventing them from doing just that in the area around James Pond. This land was eventually sold, with two home sites added to the tax rolls and a third site, including James Pond, retained by the school and used as an outdoor classroom. The proceeds were used to upgrade the existing Haldane athletics field.

    The terms governing the conservation easement on the Secor Street parcel state that it may be used to the benefit of the community. What I was suggesting was to explore possibilities, and I envisaged more of a park like setting, including a small field to be used for recreational activities.

  2. I would just like to make a factual clarification, as I have fielded many calls on Mr. van Dommele’s statement over the weekend. The terms governing the conservation easement on Secor Street state:

    “The ability of Grantor to place structures on the Additional Acreage shall be governed by the process indicated in Section 3.3 of the Original Easement; nevertheless, Grantor and Grantee acknowledge that one non-commercial, community benefit structure (e.g. a youth center, public restroom, educational facility, playground, public drinking water well or similar improvement) shall be presumed to be compatible with the scenic and recreational values protected by the Original Easement and this Amendment, so long as such structure does not impair any wetlands regulated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and is located on the portion of the Additional Acreage shown as Tax Map Number 38.17-1-6 on Schedule B; notwithstanding the foregoing, non­commercial, community benefit structure shall not include a cellular communications tower or structure.”

    Contrary to what is written in his statement, I personally feel (and think many would agree) that the current parcel off of Secor Street does benefit the community, as it is used by dozens of residents daily and by dozens more on weekends to access the Mount Taurus trail system. It is now officially a part of the Nelsonville Woods park system, after having existed as a de facto part of it for the past quarter century. The allowed structures and any proposed additions to the land were purposely detailed in the drafting of the easement extension and would not allow for a “small field.” A small playground would be allowed, but again any proposal would have to be agreed upon by the Village Board (not just a mayor) and the Open Space Institute.

    Bowman is the mayor of Nelsonville.

  3. Even though I live in Philipstown and cannot vote in Nelsonville, I have to agree with Rudolf van Dommele’s views about the new short-term rental laws. The way I see it, paranoia, rather than facts, are driving them. The perception that these rentals cause a disruption to the community is simply unfounded. As Rudolf states in the article, “properly identify the need for implementation and enforcement, based on facts.”

    I know many people who have been renting units for years, hundreds of rentals over time, and none have ever had a renter “disrupt“ a community. Have they considered the fact that many of these owners are in financial difficulty and these rentals enable them to keep afloat economically? The laws simply do not warrant these measures nor will they prevent any of the perceived community disruption problems. The foundation of these laws are clearly driven by something other than their reality. If I were to vote, my vote would go to Rudolf.