Committee still waiting on the numbers
The Cold Spring Village Board on Wednesday (Nov. 8) received its first update from the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail Data Committee.
James Labate and Henry Feldman, who addressed the board, were appointed in August as the village’s representatives on the eight-member committee, along with residents of Philipstown, Nelsonville and Fishkill.
The committee’s role is to “review and assess the work of HHFT’s visitation management and environmental review consultants to ensure that traffic count and pedestrian visitation pattern data is adequate to determine potential impacts of the Fjord Trail on local communities.”
An independent consultant to assist the committee, funded by HHFT, will be named soon.
“That will give us eyes on the numbers when they come through,” Labate said, as well as methodologies and modeling used in HHFT’s vehicle and pedestrian traffic studies.
The committee recently met with ORCA Consulting, which is advising HHFT on pedestrian circulation, and AKRF, another consultant which is doing the vehicular traffic study and drafting the Environmental Impact Statement.
Labate said he saw a “red flag” when AKRF indicated pedestrian studies are not typically included in environmental impact statements, although he said crowded sidewalks in Cold Spring impact quality of life and village character.
Including pedestrian data “just seemed to be an afterthought or a nuisance,” he said. While he thinks it will likely now be added to the Environmental Impact Statement, pedestrian data gathered since Memorial Day has not yet been made available to the committee.
“I got an extensive review of how they captured the data but they’re not ready to hand it over yet,” he said.
Labate also expressed concern that while traffic data includes standard volumes and flow directions, he received no direct response regarding whether data on driver behavior such as illegal U-turns and failure to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, which compound traffic problems, are being gathered.
Labate said HHFT’s consultants want to compile the data before presenting it based on their modeling.
“But I don’t want to just take that at face value,” he said. “I want our consultant to be able to recreate the numbers they’re handing us; that’s the whole point of this committee.”
The committee also met with HHFT’s consultants regarding five potential trail routes through the village to Little Stony Point. The “preferred route,” based on SLT Engineering’s assessment of a matrix of 10 criteria, would begin at Dockside Park.
Labate said he asked SLT how it weighted its criteria and its reasoning but has received no response. “To be brutally honest, there’s only one route from Cold Spring to Little Stony Point that works for the Fjord Trail people and that’s Dockside,” Feldman said, adding that HHFT wants a 12-foot-wide, multi-purpose path that meets Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.
Feldman, who appeared by Zoom, said HHFT does not favor the Fair Street route because it can’t accommodate a 12-foot path, which would put pedestrians on the sidewalk and bicyclists on the street.
A path along Route 9D wouldn’t work either, he said, because the slope exceeds the maximum 5 percent grade for the ADA and also wouldn’t allow a 12-foot-wide trail.
Feldman said he asked HHFT if the sidewalks could be upgraded on Fair Street if the community preferred that route. “They said no,” he said. “They’d probably add a sidewalk at the north end of Fair Street; the Fjord Trail would start at Little Stony Point.”
Mayor Kathleen Foley said the Environmental Impact Statement process requires that alternative routes be considered, and that HHFT cannot simply choose the path. “Options do have to be weighed,” she said. “You should have the baseline information you need.”
Labate said that, overall, HHFT’s consultants are listening to the Data Committee’s concerns. “But there still seems to be a separation as far as letting us completely into their confidence,” he said, but noted “there’s still something like eight meetings to go.”
In other business …
■ The board adopted amendments to Village Code Chapters 126 (Vehicles and Traffic) and 127 (Residential Parking Program). In preparation for implementing the updated laws, road crews have begun installing signs. In addition to residential permits, metered parking on Main Street will be added.
■ The Cold Spring Police Department answered 64 calls for service in October. Officers issued seven traffic and 116 parking tickets. There were no arrests. Officer-in-Charge Larry Burke commended Officer Matt Jackson, who recently saved the life of a resident who had suffered a drug overdose by administering two doses of Narcan. Philipstown Volunteer Ambulance Corps administered a third dose before transporting the victim to hospital.
■ The village has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority for electric vehicle charging stations.
■ The village reservoirs have been lowered to about 75 percent capacity to enable for an inspection before repairs.
■ The Recreation Commission approved establishing a butterfly garden at McConville Park next spring.