Guillaro Makes Second Push on Butterfield
Developer Paul Guillaro made yet another appearance before Tuesday night’s meeting of the Cold Spring Village Board, and the Village Hall courtroom was packed with citizens eager to know what will happen next with the long-debated Butterfield Hospital property.
In the end, the Butterfield project—thought to be dead after Guillaro withdrew his first proposal in May—has been revived. It is slightly smaller in scale, it seems to match Cold Spring’s look and feel, and it is generally a bit more modest. But the revival also comes as the Village Board has taken a prime role in the proposal’s review, and as Guillaro is clearly ready to simply build housing if he can’t get swift approval for the multi-faceted project that area municipalities and many citizens want.
First came the “boilerplate” business: a May 31 report from Village Accountant Ellen Mageean and a routine budget amendment resolution. The “elevator version” of the budget story is that at the fiscal year end of May 31, 2012, the Village was in very good financial shape. More detail will follow on pcnr.com later this week.
Then it was Guillaro’s turn.
He presented a new rendering of proposed development at the site that he said reflects all recommendations made by the various bodies that have reviewed the proposed project to date. Guillaro even went so far as to hire urban designer Ray Curran, a major participant in the community charrette that occurred in Cold Spring earlier this year. It was Curran who presented the new “concept plan” (somewhat less detailed than an actual “site plan”).
The plan, as shown in the accompanying rendering, includes a 15,000-square-foot municipal building—with 3,500 square feet set aside for a post office, 2,500 for a community center, and two remaining levels for both municipal and county offices; a 17,500-square-foot retail/office building; a building with 34 units of senior condos—whether market rate or subsidized remains to be determined; three smaller buildings with a total of 21 units of senior condos; and three single-family homes—“typical Village” style, with garages—along Paulding Ave. The Lahey Pavilion, open space sledding area, and the historic copper beech tree would all remain intact.
There is room in one of the central parking areas to accommodate the Cold Spring Farmers’ Market, sidewalks are contemplated along the main roadways, and a bus stop if also being proposed along Route 9D.
Curran opened his presentation by noting that every attempt was made not to make parking “the dominant feature in this plan.” In addition to spaces in conventional lots and along a “Butterfield Loop Road” that snakes through the property, 34 condo units have underground parking, and the 3 additional units have separate garages behind them. Still, the concept plan is short some of the 210 parking spaces that would be required by current code. If 31 to 39 spaces can be achieved alongside Route 9D, that number would be met; if not, there are other options, including the adoption of “SmartCode” parking, that would require only 162 spaces.
Curran described his plan for the area called “Butterfield Square” as a “nice urban treatment,” with benches—a place “where people will easily and comfortably gather….I think it will be very, very sweet.”
The full audience of about 27 included interested parties from a number of boards and committees, as well as concerned residents. Among those who asked questions were Historic District Review Board chair Al Zgolinski and members Carolyn Bachan, Marie Early, and Kathleen Foley; Special Board Chair and Co-Chair Michael Armstrong and Anne Impellizzeri; former Philipstown Councilwoman Barbara Scuccimarra; and Paulding Avenue residents Art Lopatin and John Cronin.
In a conversation with the PCN&R, Guillaro said “I’m cautiously optimistic” about the new plan’s chances of approval. With regard to the Planning Board, he said, “We don’t know what their reaction is going to be, but it is the last rezoning effort we are going to take before we will go into an ‘as of right’ submission, where it will be either senior housing with a special permit, or R1 zoning, which is single-family homes.”
Notably, one reason Guillaro needed to go through the extensive reviews and zoning discussions for his first proposal was that he sought to accommodate municipal desires for government and post office space, as well as to preserve open space and to provide community meeting space for seniors. If Guillaro seeks only to build housing, it may have less community benefit, but be far easier for him to accomplish.
In response to questions raised by Historic Review members about the existing Butterfield Hospital building and its significance to the community as what Kathleen Foley called a “local cultural heritage,” Gallagher noted, “this [plan] is a starting point...not the end point.”
Guillaro, who remained relatively quiet during the presentation, said the project, minus the existing Lahey Pavilion, represents a net tax income of about $310,000, not including any county revenue. Gallagher added that no new highway or police personnel would be required. Market-rate housing was not discussed Tuesday evening, though Guillaro said earlier in the day it remained important to making the project work.
Following Guillaro’s presentation the Mayor introduced a resolution “Establishing a Butterfield Project Committee,” which will work to facilitate discussion and liaise with the Village, Planning, and Historic Review boards. The unanimously approved resolution named Mayor Gallagher, Trustee Matt Francisco, HDRB Chair Al Zgolinski, member Carolyn Bachan (with Marie Early as an alternate) Planning Board Chair Joe Barbaro, and member Arne Saari (with Jimmy Zuehl as an alternate). Building Inspector Bill Bujarski and Village Attorney Stephen Gaba will assist, as needed.
The newly formed committee will have its first meeting on Monday, August 6.
Guillaro, ahead of the meeting, was upbeat: “We have a great plan here; it’s being driven by all the recommendations that were presented by all the Boards. We are putting our best foot forward trying to meet the community’s needs.”
Hustis Lobs Verbal Grenade
Trustee Chuck Hustis dropped a bombshell of sorts when he sent the Mayor a lengthy statement that essentially called for 1) unfettered public comment in Village Board meetings: “I believe that when a quorum of the board is present, we have an obligation to the people of this village to conduct village business, as well as to hear from those in attendance of these village workshops;” and 2) the formation of an Ethics Board to review recent allegations made regarding Mayor Gallagher’s and other trustees’ behavior and bring closure to what has become an ongoing discussion: “I believe that in the end, an ethics board gives the people a mechanism to keep elected officials in check, as well as appointed board members.”
Discussion of Hustis’s memo was pithy, but one-sided; Hustis opened by saying he had no intention of reading it, adding, “It’s a lost cause.”
Gallagher chose to continue the discussion, because he found so much of what Hustis said— particularly some comments in a series of follow-up emails that Gallagher shared with the PCN&R—to be objectionable.
Hustis told Gallagher, “My sole purpose is to dissolve the village government and merge with the Town. We don’t need another taxing level of government here. The revolution has started in the village and will continue until the village is dissolved.” When Gallagher replied, “Chuck, are you serious?” Hustis added that “There is no independence in Cold Spring, only a dictatorship.”
At the meeting, Gallagher continued, “I don’t know what you are trying to achieve and how you can say your sole purpose is to dissolve the Village…what about your other responsibilities as trustee?”
Gallagher: How can there be a water system, a sewer system, a police department? I don’t know what you are hoping to achieve with this.”
Gallagher: Is it still your policy to dissolve village government?
Earlier in the meeting there was a brief discussion of the field at Mayor’s Park, which was inadvertently mowed too short by a Pop Warner worker, and is now in need of a time out for either rain or irrigation, as well as time to regrow the grass.
Continued review of the Local Waterfront Revitalization Strategy occupied additional minutes—with the mayor reading and commenting on sections of the document pertaining to Dockside—but it was agreed that other sections would be held until the next meeting.
The full text of Hustis’s memo available here. Tim Greco contributed to this report.