Crowds Cause Chaos

Cold Spring bombarded on Saturday

“We had an unusually busy weekend; the village was very, very full,” particularly this past Saturday, Mayor Kathleen Foley noted at the Wednesday (Oct. 26) meeting of the Cold Spring Village Board.

She described the weekend as “a confluence of events” that included a Seastreak docking, Family Weekend at West Point, a Haldane home football game, near peak-color fall foliage, hikers, buses, motorcycles, cars — and a lot of trash.

Garbage bins overflowed. Restaurants ran out of food. Vehicle and pedestrian traffic was intense.

“Cold Spring has been discovered on social media; there is no putting that genie back in the bottle,” Foley said, adding that a recent online video promoting the village as a day trip had 400,000 views and 48,000 “likes.”

“The village itself has become a destination; it’s not just the trails,” she said.

Cold Spring is working with Royal Carting to add more trash bins along Main Street, she said. Tour companies are being made aware of the difficulties created by buses attempting to drop passengers off on Main Street. And she is discussing with Larry Burke, the officer-in-charge of the Cold Spring Police Department, adding more weekend policing to assist with traffic control.

As for long-term solutions, Foley said the village will look to the state Department of Transportation and New York Conference of Mayors “to see what our options are for limiting bus and truck traffic.”

Foley said she was not optimistic about help from Putnam County.

“The county budget cycle is just ending with no provision to help local governments cope with the tourism it promotes,” Foley said. The presumptive incoming county executive does not support such assistance, she said.

“We’re hoping to convince him that if he is not sending money back for the tax dollars we send over, that he will send services; we need them desperately,” Foley said.

Putnam does not share sales tax revenue collected in municipalities.

The weekend was “way beyond what we’ve seen before,” resident Dan Valentine said during the public comment period. “All these people coming in, leaving garbage for us to clean up, and  we’re not seeing any benefits to the village.”

Valentine, who served on Cold Spring’s Parking Committee, urged the board to implement Main Street metered parking and the residential parking program the committee developed last year.

“And at least this time of year it may be beneficial to bring back a Highway Department worker or seasonal employee to help bag up garbage on weekends,” Valentine said.

Foley said the previous administration didn’t take into account spacing near crosswalks required by the state for pedestrian safety.

“That changes the calculation of the number of metered parking spaces,” Foley said, an issue Trustee Eliza Starbuck is working to correct.

She said increased parking revenue is essential, especially since Seastreak cruises haven’t visited Cold Spring as often as planned this year, which will reduce the docking fees paid to the village.

She added that once in place, the occupancy tax being added to short-term rentals in the village will improve tourism revenue.

The mayor said she hopes progress can be made on the Parking Committee’s recommendations by springtime.

Lloyd DesBrisay, a resident of the lower village, said trash is a problem most of the year there and advocated more bins.

Foley said underused cans at the far end of the dock have clustered at the most problematic area, next to the bandstand.  A compacting trash bin is being donated but she said it will not be in place until next season.

Foley said the owner of Moo Moo’s ice-cream shop has not responded about having the shop assist with emptying trash bins, a practice that has been adopted by some Main Street shopkeepers. Moo Moo’s produces large amounts of trash but has only one small bin on the premises, she said.

Backup water

After decades of delays, the Village Board at its Wednesday meeting authorized Foley to enter into an agreement with the New York City Water Board that will allow the village to re-establish a backup connection to the Catskill Aqueduct.

“I’m so pleased to bring this to the board at long last,” Foley said, explaining that a connection made in the early 1990s was disconnected when New York City began making improvements to the aqueduct. The connection had been leaking badly.

Catskill Aqueduct

The Catskill Aqueduct where it passes through Nelsonville. (Photo by M. Turton)

The agreement provides a five-year window, plus options for two, 1-year renewals, for the village to develop engineering plans for repairs to its reservoir dams “and/or alternative solutions for our water supply issues,” Foley said.

In 2021, Chazen Engineering estimated the cost of repairs to the village dams at $6 million to $8 million and suggested that alternatives, such as drilling wells in the Clove Creek aquifer, could be more cost effective.

Foley said the village will consider whether dam repair is the best strategy or whether another secondary water supply could make the aqueduct a tertiary source.

“It’s important that every option is on the table,” she said. “Our engineers are looking at every option because it’s going to be expensive.”

Trustee Laura Bozzi said the agreement with the Water Board specifies limits on per-person amounts of water the village can take from the aqueduct during an emergency, such as for dam repairs.

“We will need to enforce that” Bozzi said, adding the agreement requires the village to develop a conservation plan to be implemented when water is drawn from the aqueduct.

Foley said the village also has agreements with Nelsonville and Philipstown for water use “that should have been in place a long time ago.”

The 92-mile-long Catskill Aqueduct, completed in 1916, originates at the Ashokan Reservoir in Ulster County and supplies water to New York City. It transects Philipstown at Route 301 just outside Nelsonville.

In other business…

■ Cold Spring is joining a lawsuit against Columbia Utilities, the independent energy company that had supplied “green” electricity at lower rates to residents and small businesses in  Cold Spring, Philipstown, Beacon and other Hudson Valley municipalities that are part of the Community Choice Aggregation. The suit, brought by Joule Assets Inc., which administered the CCA, alleges that Columbia breached its agreement in April by terminating services and transferring participants back to Central Hudson. Foley said there will be no cost to the village; Joule is paying all legal fees. She said she hopes the suit will recover any losses suffered by village consumers.

■ Foley will sign an agreement  enabling the Town of Philipstown to use a New York State Energy Research and Development Authority grant to install a dual electric-vehicle charging station at the Mayor’s Park parking area. Bozzi said the village and town will share the first-year, $865 after-grant costs. She estimated subsequent annual costs will be $270 and that the village will use part of a $5,000 state clean air grant to cover the expense. Once operational, annual revenue from the station is expected to exceed costs.

■ Residents can again purchase winter parking permits for the municipal lot on Fair Street. Up to 24 permits, at $40 each, will be issued, valid from Dec. 1 through April 15. Applications are available at Village Hall.

■ Foley will soon meet with Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail officials to discuss a listing HHFT provided, outlining opportunities for village input into planning. A public input session on HHFT’s Shuttle and Parking Study is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 6.

3 thoughts on “Crowds Cause Chaos

  1. If you think the village is getting ruined by crowding now, just wait. If the Hudson Valley Fraud Trail goes in, it will bury us completely with more visitors. Maybe it’s time to review our policies on public use. I recently brought a overseas visitor to the dock to show off my beloved village and our great views, only to be confronted with a crowd scene of garbage in the street and hundreds of people walking around as if they were at a county fair, not to mention a gigantic boat blocking the view. Then it was off to the old Dockside Park, only to see people going to the bathroom at the woods line. So that ended our village tour. Now is the time to rethink this situation to save our once nice village from total obliteration.

  2. I don’t think residents should have to pay for permits to park in a lot. They pay enough in taxes. Limiting tour buses and the Seastreak would help. The Village Board should start paying attention to the people who live in the village — they are the voters — and less time catering to the tourists.

  3. When I read this article, I was sure the reporter had made a mistake, but I verified the exchange by watching the Oct. 26 Village Board meeting on YouTube: In response to Dan Valentine, a member of the Cold Spring Parking Committee, who urged the Village Board to implement its recommendations, including residential permits, Mayor Kathleen Foley said: “A choice was made by the previous administration not to take into account the required distances from crosswalks” which “changes the calculation of the number of metered parking spaces.” She said Trustee Eliza Starbuck was working to “correct” this.

    Having spent hours mapping every street in the village for the Code Update, this came as a surprise, especially since both Mayor Foley and Deputy Mayor Tweeps Woods were trustees during the long discussions on Chapter 126 Vehicles and Traffic. During those discussions, then-Deputy Mayor Marie Early stressed multiple times that New York State requires a 20-foot setback from all crosswalks and that this would result in the loss of parking spaces. Foley and Woods were not only part of the discussion but voted on Nov. 4, 2021, to approve the amendments to Chapter 126.

    It is important to point out that Chapter 126 clearly states that there is no parking from the crosswalk for 20 feet on specific streets in Section 126-35. It is also surprising and alarming that Mayor Foley believes that the previous administration, of which I was part, made miscalculations which are preventing her administration from taking action. I emailed Foley and Woods, who were then both trustees, on Dec. 4, 2021, saying, in part, that based on the changes made to Chapter 126 “there is the need for new signage and new street paintings throughout the village streets” and attached a list Marie and I compiled of 24 areas where yellow crosshatch needed to be painted as guidance for the board and the Highway Department.

    Mayor Foley replied: “This is super, Fran. Thank you for handing this project off with detailed information.”

    The fact is, the previous administration did account for the 20-foot setbacks. Trustee Starbuck’s time would be better spent in implementing the recently updated and approved codes and not wasting energy on what is already completed.

    Murphy, a former trustee, is campaigning as a write-in candidate for the Village Board.