Board also OKs shared service pact with Cold Spring
The Philipstown Town Board last week asked Metro-North to keep the Breakneck Ridge train stop closed until the first stretch of the Fjord Trail debuts and gives hikers an alternative to the sometimes treacherous mountain.
In a resolution unanimously adopted at an April 20 workshop at Town Hall, the board declared that postponing resumption of train service would “greatly alleviate” the burden borne by emergency responders called to aid injured or lost hikers.
The station closed in 2020 when the COVID-19 shutdown began. Metro-North said it should reopen in late May.
The completion of the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail, “at least partially,” the resolution says, should provide options to hikers beyond Breakneck. The Fjord Trail, a path for walking and bicycling along the Hudson River between Cold Spring and Beacon, recently received $20 million from New York State. Construction is expected to begin this fall.
“If you take the train and get off at Breakneck, there’s no place to go but up the mountain,” which “is overwhelmed already,” said Supervisor John Van Tassel. Like the mountain itself, rescuers feel the impact. “It just seems that the more access people have to Breakneck, the more rescues they’re going to have.” He noted the Fjord Trail will also bring public restrooms, information sites and other resources.
Van Tassel downplayed suggestions that keeping the station closed would divert crowds to Cold Spring. He said people wanting to visit the village will do so anyway, while others intent on reaching Breakneck will stay away, deterred by the mile-long walk between the village and trailhead.
On a related matter, the board passed a resolution to back the New York-New Jersey Watershed Protection Act, a bill in the U.S. House that would allocate $50 million to restore watersheds, including the Hudson River’s, that contribute to the New York-New Jersey ocean harbor.
The board also voted 4-0 (one member missed the meeting) to share the town’s full-time building and code enforcement department with Cold Spring, whose part-time building inspector recently left to take a full-time job with the City of Newburgh.
Under the agreement, the village will pay the town $1,600 monthly ($19,200 annually) to review building applications and plans; inspect construction; issue permits, notices of violations, stop-work orders and other documents; appear in court as required; enforce the village zoning code and related laws, state code and flood plain regulations, and report regularly to village officials. Village Hall would continue to maintain records pertinent to activity in Cold Spring.
From June 2018 until August 2020, the municipalities shared the town’s Building Department, until Cold Spring opted to go its own way. Now, according to the Philipstown resolution, the two have decided that a reinstated merger makes sense in order to reduce expenses for both, offer the most efficient service and promote “the best interests of the public.”
“It works well for the village, because it’s eight hours a day, five days a week” of coverage, Van Tassel said. “And it works well for us because it brings in income.”
At the same time, the board renewed agreements with Croton, Buchanan, Peekskill and Cortlandt to share trucks and other equipment.
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