Planning organization will share expertise

Over the next few months, Cold Spring will receive professional help in dealing with its pressing transportation, traffic and pedestrian safety issues, at a cost even a municipality with a tight budget can afford: It will be free.

The details were shared at the Feb. 21 meeting of the Village Board. The Community Planning Workshop Program is provided in counties that are members of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC), in conjunction with the Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University.

Miriam Salerno, the senior research manager at Voorhees who has been meeting with Mayor Kathleen Foley for several months, said the program will help the village find “ways to reduce traffic and allow more free movement by pedestrians,” taking into account the influx of visitors during peak seasons.

Salerno said the program will recommend improvements in four parts of the village that pose traffic and pedestrian safety problems: (1) The intersection of Routes 9D and 301; (2) Main Street at the Visitor Center; (3) Lunn Terrace at Market Street; and (4) Fair Street.

The initiative will also examine the trolley service operated by Putnam County, which for years has underperformed in terms of ridership.

The process, which Salerno expects to be completed by late summer, will include four components: (1) Development of a “story map,” a website illustrating the program and related data; (2) a survey of residents and businesses; (3) facilitated workshops for residents; and (4) a summary report with detailed recommendations.

David Drits, program manager for the NYMTC, said the report will be similar to preliminary engineering being done for projects recommended in the final report. It won’t provide design or construction details.

Foley said, “This is a huge capacity expansion for the village,” which does not have its own planning staff. She said the report “will help Cold Spring be a competitor for state and federal infrastructure money that we’ve been unable to unlock in the past.”

At the meeting, Trustee Aaron Freimark noted that the Village Board is planning a survey of residents about the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail and asked about coordination with the NYMTC program.

The HHFT is also surveying residents in the lower village and on Fair Street, areas that could be affected by the trail’s potential routes.

Foley said she hopes the NYMTC survey can go out by late April.

Trustee Tweeps Phillips Woods observed that the village has struggled to address the issues that will be examined. “These are questions we have to ask and have answers to,” she said, regardless of whether the process coordinates with HHFT initiatives.

In an email, the mayor said Cold Spring is under tremendous pressure from tourism and the proposed Fjord Trail. “We need all the tools we can fit into our kit to make solid decisions,” she said. “We don’t have an option to sit back, let decisions be made around us and hope they serve our best interests. We have to be proactive in our planning.”

NYMTC, established in 1982, is the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization for New York City, Long Island and Rockland, Westchester and Putnam counties. Federal law requires that all metropolitan areas with populations greater than 50,000 have an MPO to address regional transportation planning.

Foley said the village was unaware of the program until last summer, when John Tully, then the county planning commissioner, told her about it at a meeting regarding the Cold Spring Trolley, a session also attended by county Transportation Director Vincent Tamagna.

She said she decided to pursue having Cold Spring participate when she learned that the Village of Mahopac had benefited from it. It requires neither a formal agreement with NYMTC nor a resolution by the Village Board.

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

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2 Comments

  1. It is refreshing to see the village move forward in a bipartisan fashion, using cost-conscious grants and initiatives to address the village’s infrastructure needs, including mitigating the village’s impact on the environment, and continuing to grapple with the village’s vehicular and pedestrian traffic challenges. It is also encouraging that various organizations are providing surveys for residents to express their thoughts on various topics, one of which is the Fjord Trail. Unfortunately, to date, these surveys have been perceived by some as partisan and limited in scope.

    In this week’s print version of the Current, there is an independent, nonpartisan and inclusive survey which is designed to capture village and area community feelings about the HHFT. The survey is wide-ranging; it provides everyone, regardless of their position on the issue, a platform to voice their opinion. The survey is anonymous; you do not have to disclose who you are and are free to express your position (but no nasty comments are allowed).

    The survey is confidential; your name and contact information will not be disclosed. The survey is transparent; results will be published in an upcoming edition of The Current. To ensure the most useful results, we need participation. The survey takes about five minutes to complete. I encourage everyone to take the time to complete the survey, as its results may provide valuable, objective data for local officials and decision makers. If you would like a copy of the survey form emailed to you, please email [email protected] and we’ll email one to you.

  2. It’s preemptive to develop a program that includes the enormously unpopular and dubious Fjord Trail, as the plan is not fully developed, and the Dockside concrete ramp hypothetical. No control plan can accommodate the prospective tourist loads assured by landing the tourist bridge trailhead from Dockside to the old dumpsite: the village can barely accommodate present loads. The motivation for that walkway is that HHFT merely wants to exploit or annex the infrastructural assets (parking, sidewalks, restaurants, and toilets) of Cold Spring so as to crown its jewel achievement of their traffic and tourist theme park with a village, without due professional consideration, i.e., flying by the seat of their pants. If the plan goes ahead, the village should insist on compensation from HHFT to the village of no less than $450,000 annually to cover our increased infrastructure loads, and to provide some benefit to residents, as the plan in its current form presents nonesuch.

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