Highlands Current Audio Stories

Highlands Current

The Highlands Current is a nonprofit weekly newspaper and daily website that covers Beacon, Cold Spring, Garrison, Nelsonville and Philipstown, New York, in the Hudson Highlands. This podcast includes select stories read aloud. read less
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Max's on Main to Close
2d ago
Max's on Main to Close
Beacon building sold; last day is April 21 Richie Kaplan, the proprietor of Max's on Main, has sold the building that hosts what he contends is "Beacon's oldest bar." Kaplan plans to close Max's, at 246 Main St., on April 21. The well-worn establishment's future is unclear; a former restaurant and bar owner from Brooklyn identified as the buyer did not immediately respond to an email or text asking about plans for the 1870 building. Regardless, Kaplan, 71, said it's time for a change. Day and night, he scrambles with a stooped gait to bus tables and tend to customers. Soon, he will take down the whimsical wall decorations and babysit his grandchildren. "I hear Foreigner needs a drummer," he said, with a laugh. A wooden phone booth sits in the lobby for the upstairs apartments. The tenants must leave by mid-June, according to one resident. Only six people occupy the 20 rooms, she said, adding that some pay $500 a month. Setting up the gear for a gig at Max's, Steve Mittelstadt said he was disappointed to hear the building has been sold. "It's a great place to come in, watch football and see people you know, but gentrification is unavoidable," he said. "This is one of the last remaining community-based, family run gathering spots, and it's going to be hard to replace," he said. "A lot of people will sorely miss it, but we can only hope that whoever comes in keeps it the same." During some downtime just before midnight on April 6, Kaplan and Shirley Hot, the owner of Pandorica restaurant, another mainstay on Main Street, reminisced about Joe's Irish Pub (now Momo Valley) and the crime that once plagued the city. "We stayed open until 4 a.m. - we were crazy," said Kaplan, referring to his brother and partner, Harvey, who died last year. Max's, named for their father, opened in 2006. "There was an army of drug dealers; we escorted people to their cars at night." Hot, who blames her hearing loss on the bands at Joe's Irish Pub, remembers when "no one wanted Beacon. It was a depressed city and now, 25 years later, we can't afford to stay. There's been so many changes and so much turnover on Main Street, it's incredible." Max's on Main, at 246 Main St., is open through April 21 from noon to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, noon to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. on Sunday. See maxsonmain.com or call 845-838-6297.
Beacon Gets Second Cannabis License
2d ago
Beacon Gets Second Cannabis License
Restaurateur approved to open dispensary Beacon restaurateur Kamel Jamal has won the city's second license to sell recreational marijuana, whose sales are increasing as more retailers open. Jamal, who owns the Beacon Bread Company and Ziatun, was one of 101 applicants approved by the state's Cannabis Control Board on Thursday (April 11) to grow, process and distribute marijuana, and to sell buds and cannabis products at retail locations. He applied as 463 Station Inc. a reference to the former police station he owns at 463 Main St. Last fall, he hosted a state-approved "showcase" there, a program that gave farmers and processors places to sell buds and edibles while awaiting the opening of more dispensaries. Jamal declined to discuss his plans, saying he wants to "focus on our buildout and process." In September, when asked about his application for a license, he said it was essential to have legalized dispensaries selling products from state-approved growers. "If money can be counterfeited, they can also counterfeit cannabis packaging," he said. The Cannabis Control Board awarded Beacon's first cannabis license in February to Aaron Sanders and Skyla Schreter, who own LotusWorks at 261 Main St. Their microbusiness permit allows the couple to grow cannabis, process the trimmings into distillates and rosins, and sell buds, extracts and edibles. LotusWorks plans to plant its first crop in the spring of 2025. In the meantime, the couple said it will source buds, rosins and distillates, as well as joints and edibles such as gummies, from other farms and processors. They will launch the business at The Yard in Beacon on April 20, an annual, unofficial holiday in cannabis culture. The event, from 2 to 9 p.m., will include complimentary joints, artwork, live music and yoga. Grant McCabe, who owns The Leaf, a Main Street shop that sells cannabidiol and hemp products, has also applied for a license. Another company, Pleasant View Harvest in Brewster, has applied for a microbusiness license to sell products from 137 Main St. in Cold Spring. Overall, the Cannabis Control Board on Thursday approved licenses for 35 dispensaries, 25 growers, 22 microbusinesses, 11 distributors and eight processors. High Moon LLC, a company based in Carmel, was among the recipients of a microbusiness license. That typically allows an applicant to grow, process and sell cannabis products at retail, but High Moon's license does not include a retail component. The board also approved a provisional retail dispensary license for Serenity Greens LLC, based in Newburgh. Sales from the state's 103 operating retail dispensaries have totaled $102 million since Jan. 1, said John Kagla, director of policy for the Office of Cannabis Management. Weekly sales exceeded $9 million for the first time in March and are on pace to exceed $10 million this month, he said. Total sales should exceed last year's $160 million by June.
Out There: Cloudy, With a Chance of Awe
2d ago
Out There: Cloudy, With a Chance of Awe
To observe a total eclipse in the American West in 1878, a group of female astronomers from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie made a cross-country journey to the outskirts of the fledgling city of Denver and stationed themselves atop a hill next to a Catholic hospital. Steadfast in their pleated dresses behind a cluster of telescopes, and in full view of a contingent of stunned reporters and nuns, they showed that women were just as capable of contributing to the grand march of science. My journey from the Hudson Valley to the totality in 2024 was considerably less perilous, with the exception of some backups on the Thruway. My wife, son and I drove north to Rochester, under clear skies with the roadside willows blooming gold. We had chosen Rochester for two scientific reasons: First, it was smack in the middle of the Path of Totality, the 100-mile-wide belt stretching from Mexico to Newfoundland (the Highlands only reached about 93 percent). Second, my wife is from Rochester, meaning we had free places to stay instead of spending $699 for a motel room that is usually $69. We put the eclipse on our calendar two years ago. We checked in with everyone we knew in Rochester until we had secured a place to stay, a backup place to stay and a second backup. A million people descended on the Flower City, and we joined what seemed like all of them for a festival at the planetarium. Since I had pulled my son out of school, I felt he could not return without learning something. So we learned that the last total eclipse in Rochester a century ago was hidden by clouds - which I should have recognized as foreshadowing. We learned how fast you would have to fly from Mexico to Canada to keep up with the totality (the speed of sound). And we learned how remarkable it is that our sun and moon are exactly the precise sizes and distances from the Earth to line up occasionally. On other planets, the moons are too small or too big. On Monday, we assembled in my uncle-in-law's backyard/field. We had telescopes and cameras and a tray of novelty cookies decorated to look like the moon covering the sun. We had everything we needed except an enormous fan to blow the clouds away. I was disappointed, but then things started to get weird. About 20 minutes before the totality, the clouds looked less like clouds and more like William Blake's exaggerated drawings of clouds. The shadows became darker, and the clouds pulled toward us, as if the flat sky was becoming topographical. Ten minutes later it was noticeably colder. Swarms of mosquitoes, the first of the year, appeared from nowhere. The spring peepers went from a whisper to a roar. The sky changed to a bruised mixture of black and blue that I had never seen. The streetlights came on. I tried to take photos but the camera in my phone kept trying to "fix" the image. A thin band of sunset persisted at the bottom of the sky, in a 360-degree ring. And then, from west to east, a wave of brightness washed across the universe. It was over. The lights flickered off and the peepers faded. We hoped that the mosquitoes would also go away, but no luck with that. Had you told me beforehand that clouds would block the totality, we might not have made the drive. But I'm glad we did. We remained stunned for several minutes. And the telescopes didn't go to waste: After the sun went down the skies became crystal clear and we were treated to dazzling views of the Pleiades, the Orion Nebula and Jupiter and its moons. The next total eclipse over the continental U.S. won't be for 20 years, but there will be one over Sydney, Australia, four years from now on my birthday: July 22. We've marked our calendar.
Fjord Trail: Access Would Be Limited if Overrun
2d ago
Fjord Trail: Access Would Be Limited if Overrun
'Heart' of trail to lie north of Breakneck Officials from the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail on April 3 expressed a willingness to limit access to its planned Cold Spring-to-Beacon connector if visitors overwhelm it and threaten the environment or local communities. In a two-hour program, staff and consultants for HHFT, a subsidiary of the Poughkeepsie-based environmental group Scenic Hudson, outlined potential ways to reduce the impacts of the planned 7.5-mile linear park paralleling the Hudson River, Metro-North train tracks and Route 9D, a state highway. They said the path's "heart" and focus would lie between Breakneck Ridge and Dutchess Manor, at the southern tip of the Town of Fishkill, although plans call for a trail to begin in Cold Spring. The discussion, held at Dutchess Manor, centered on "visitation management," which John Moss, a consultant from ORCA (Operation Research Consulting Associates), said entails "balancing supply and demand. We don't want attendance to ever outpace the ability of the park or trail to support it." He added that "we recognize that it may be necessary, in a worst-case environment, to control entries into your trailhead, into your parking lot, to manage demand." Moss said he came to Cold Spring for firsthand research on busy weekends in 2023 and saw the crowds exiting Metro-North trains, the overflowing sidewalk trash cans, the long lines at the public restrooms on Main Street near the train tracks, and the traffic. "I completely understand what we've been up against," he said. Along with the other HHFT representatives, Moss suggested strategies to alleviate problems, such as signs to guide visitors; bathrooms at Dockside Park, Little Stony Point and the Breakneck and Notch trailheads; a visitor center at Dutchess Manor; 600 parking spots (including 235 new spaces); and a trailhead shuttle. "No Fjord Trail parking is intended in Cold Spring" and more parking between Cold Spring and Beacon will ensure that "it's not one big, aggregate mall parking lot in the middle of the trail corridor," Moss said. He said HHFT will manage and maintain the restrooms, shuttle operations, parking lots and other trail facilities. Al Shacklett, also with ORCA, said that, even without the Fjord Trail, heavy tourism is expected to continue and "conditions you see today are going to get worse" outside the Cold Spring restrooms. At present, about a third of village visitors are hikers, Shacklett said. He said that, in recent years, interest in Breakneck Ridge has appeared to drop while increasing at the Washburn trail, opposite Little Stony Point, just outside the village limit. With the Fjord Trail, he said, hikers will be steered toward picking up the trail at Breakneck, where the train stop is being upgraded. With those changes in place, Shacklett estimated that 50 percent of the hikers who now take the train to Cold Spring will instead continue to Breakneck. In that case, "we still have a surge, but the surge is much mitigated by the shift" from one station to another, he said. Shortly after the meeting, members of a Visitation Data Committee established to help HHFT with analysis issued a statement that outlined its concerns with recent Fjord Trail materials, including a claim that visitation to Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve had increased by 7.6 percent between 2016 and 2023, although, the committee members said, the state parks department reported a 10.7 percent increase. The five committee members, who include Nelsonville Mayor Chris Winward, argued that HHFT and its consultants had inadequately considered the effects of social media and marketing on visitation and the Highlands' proximity to population centers. "We hope that HHFT will revise their research" so that future reports can be "more reliable," the committee said. Responding on Monday (April 8), Amy Kacala, HHFT's executive director, called the committee's reaction "premature" because its "discussion and review of the visitation projection ...
Haldane, Garrison at Odds Over Tuition
2d ago
Haldane, Garrison at Odds Over Tuition
Cold Spring district says no to set rate Will Haldane always be an option for Garrison graduates? That's the big question underlying a dispute over the terms of the tuition agreement between the school districts. Garrison educates students through the eighth grade, after which they enroll at Haldane, O'Neill in Highland Falls, Putnam Valley or a private high school. Garrison pays about $17,000 in tuition for each student who attends a public school and has reached five-year agreements with O'Neill, Putnam Valley and Haldane. But Haldane reserved the right to negotiate the tuition for incoming ninth graders each year. "We're looking for budget consistency and long-term planning," said Kent Schacht, the Garrison board member who pleaded the district's case at Haldane's board meeting on Tuesday (April 9). Haldane has balked at agreeing to the price for ninth graders because it wants to "keep open the option of negotiating the tuition rate should something unforeseen occur," said Peggy Clements, president of the Haldane board. Speaking at the Garrison school board meeting on Wednesday, Schacht proposed asking for a deal that sets the price for ninth graders but allows Haldane to renegotiate with two years' notice. The uncertainty of an annual tuition negotiation raises the question of whether Haldane High School will remain an option for eighth graders, said Carl Albano, Garrison's interim superintendent. "We can't guarantee them Haldane because we don't have a negotiated rate." He noted that Garrison seventh graders don't yet have Haldane as an option because the districts haven't agreed on a rate for the ninth graders enrolling at Haldane in 2025. That uncertainty isn't an issue for O'Neill or Putnam Valley because each agreed to a five-year schedule for all students that raises the rate annually at 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. O'Neill and Haldane reached their agreements in 2022 and Putnam Valley in 2023. According to Joseph Jimick, the Garrison business administrator, the district paid tuition for 84 students for the current school year, including 47 at Haldane, 33 at O'Neill and four at Putnam Valley. Next year, it expects to pay for 95 high school students, including 51 at Haldane, 27 at O'Neill and 17 at Putnam Valley. For 2023-24, the district paid $16,825 per student at all three high schools. The dispute dates to the spring of 2022, when Haldane wanted to charge Garrison $21,500 per student based on the "Seneca Falls formula," named for the district involved in a lawsuit that established the formula in 1949. Haldane had been charging Garrison about $14,000 a year. Garrison, facing a deficit that would require a 6.6 percent tax increase, said it couldn't afford that rate, and Haldane agreed to charge $16,500 for 2022-23 as negotiations continued. "Haldane has worked to find a compromise that recognizes the challenges that Garrison is experiencing," said Clements, the Haldane board president. But, she added, "We think an education at Haldane is worth the non-resident tuition rate, which the state has calculated for Haldane as $18,982." Haldane board members say the district is committed to accepting Garrison students, as it has for decades. "There is a long history and a relationship," said Clements, who noted that districts are intertwined in many ways, such as with shared middle school sports teams and classes for students with disabilities. The Garrison board on Wednesday adopted a proposed $13.3 million budget for 2024-25 with a 4.44 percent tax increase that matches the state cap calculated for the district. The budget will be on the ballot on May 21.
High School Seniors in Limbo Over College Aid
2d ago
High School Seniors in Limbo Over College Aid
Problems plague new federal form Alison Chi's daughter has answered one big question: where she will attend college after she graduates in June from Beacon High School. The other big question - how much it will cost - is taking longer. "She's decided where she wants to go," said Chi. "But until we know what the whole financial package looks like, she can't commit." Families in the Highlands with students planning for college in the fall have been in limbo for months following the U.S. Department of Education's debut of a revised Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which determines eligibility for grants, loans and work-study jobs. The agency reduced the maximum number of questions from 108 to 46 to make the online process less challenging. However, technical problems have left colleges waiting to receive the information they need to calculate how much aid they can offer, which is a vital factor for many students when selecting a school from among those that accept them. Students already in college are also waiting; families must complete the FAFSA each year. Before Congress approved legislation in 2020 mandating the simpler FAFSA form, students could begin applying on Oct. 1. Within five days, the Education Department would send colleges the needed data. This year, students and their parents had to wait until Dec. 31 to begin completing the FAFSA form and faced outages and glitches. The Education Department said that, once an application was submitted, it could not be corrected (such as by adding a missing signature) until late January, which was pushed back to mid-March and then to April. Colleges began receiving data for some students on March 11, according to the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, but the process had to be stopped because the Education Department used the wrong formula to calculate financial need. The Education Department said on Tuesday (April 9) that it has sent information for 7 million applicants to schools, states and scholarship organizations and is now processing applications within three days of submission. Chi's daughter applied to 18 schools; some have reported receiving her FAFSA data but others are still waiting. At a recent program for students accepted to Emerson College in Boston, one of her daughter's choices, "you could hear the frustration in the voices of the people from the financial aid department," said Chi. In February, the State University of New York (SUNY) pushed back its deadline for enrollment deposits by two weeks, to May 15, for state residents. Other colleges also have extended deadlines, said Amanda Cotchen, a guidance counselor at Haldane High School. "A lot of admissions offices have fortunately recognized that this is putting pressure on families," she said.
Looking Back in Philipstown
2d ago
Looking Back in Philipstown
150 Years Ago (April 1874) The Cold Spring Recorder reported that an intoxicated driver had checked his horse so suddenly at Main and Furnace streets that the passenger was thrown backward onto the floor of the wagon. The driver "laid all the blame on the horse, as is usual with men in his condition." At 3 a.m. on a Saturday morning, Thomas McAndrew, the watchman at the lower switches, found a bundle of dry goods beside a track. After taking it to his shanty, he spotted a tall man and a short man looking for it. When he confronted them, the men dropped a bundle they were carrying and ran. Authorities believe four bundles were thrown from a train by accomplices who had broken into a freight car. The Recorder editor worried that a drunk man passed out on the porch of a Main Street grocery did not elicit any pedestrian response, even from children, that the younger generations were destined for "innate coarseness of taste, if not hardened hearts." When a stone boat used to move a secondhand iron safe down Main Street became stuck on the tracks, red flags were sent to trains in each direction while the "unsafe safe" was yanked free. In an illustrated lecture at the Baptist Church, Prof. James Chandler of Waterbury, Connecticut, shared lifelike scenes of astronomy and spectrum analysis, views from the Holy Land and the burning of Chicago. The Recorder pondered why a young man would take a job as a clerk for 16 to 18 hours a day for less than a third of what he could earn working 10 hours a day in a factory. A Thursday night birthday party at a Main Street home devolved into a "disgraceful scene," according to The Recorder, when young men wearing masks began pushing and screaming, insulting the girls and throwing dirt and stones. The bandits dispersed upon the arrival of Officer McCaffrey. A longtime railroad worker was fired after temporarily leaving the switches in the hands of a young man whose inattention caused a derailment. The Library Association received 24 bound volumes of its papers and magazines from 1873, including Harper's, The Atlantic and Scientific American. Henry Baxter accepted a position on a South American steamer. The Recorder said it would not publish any further criticism of sermons. The local furnace discharged its workers because of the low price of iron. The Cold Spring Village Board proposed a budget of $3,743.50 [about $102,500 today], but voters only approved spending $1,656 [$45,000]. The Plate Glass Insurance Co. replaced the display window at Pelham's after it was broken by a stone thrown at a dog. Four inches of snow fell in the village on April 29. The National Amateur Base Ball Association invited the Kellogg Club of Cold Spring to send delegates to its annual convention at the Astor House in New York City. The association had 29 members in six states. 125 Years Ago (April 1899) Dr. G.W. Murdock, who was considering an office on Main Street in addition to the one in his home on Morris Avenue, received approval from the Cold Spring Village Board to erect a telephone pole on Church Street. The Recorder noted that, with warmer weather, "the baby carriage parade will soon commence." John Hesson, who the previous winter fell from his boarding house window and broke his leg, then ended up living at the county poorhouse, returned home. He was promptly arrested for public intoxication and sent to the county jail for 30 days. The telephone that had long been at the Forson Brothers store on Garrison's Landing was moved to the Reading Room. The brothers said "it interfered too much with their business." When asked by the village president to take the position of assessor, Trustee Farrell declined, saying: "No use being assessor if people won't pay taxes." Trustee Ferris said the Village Board should have a lawyer. J. Bennett Southard was nominated and appointed. The village president said he had received an anonymous complaint about two saloons operating on Sundays. The board's newly appointed lawyer said ...
Beacon Council Backs Arts-Based Rehab
Apr 5 2024
Beacon Council Backs Arts-Based Rehab
City will submit application for state funding The Beacon City Council unanimously agreed on Monday (April 1) to support an application for state grant funding for GarageWORKS, an artists' studio and gallery that will be constructed at 3-5 Henry St., formerly an auto repair shop. Beacon artist Michael Braden purchased the one-story building, which was constructed in the early 1940s, in February 2023 for $825,000. He plans to convert the one-time Studebaker showroom into a carbon-neutral, solar-powered studio for himself and three other artists. It will also function as a gallery for exhibits and a venue for public events, including for students, he said. Braden has received a $2 million grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and will now ask the state for $1.5 million through its Restore New York program, which in its latest round of funding will invest $60 million in municipalities' efforts to rehabilitate and restore blighted structures. The asbestos-filled roof on the building will be replaced with a photovoltaic energy system; hot water will be supplied by solar power; and contaminants left over from decades of automotive uses will be remediated, Braden said. The deteriorated sidewalks surrounding the building will be repaired, with street trees and landscaping added. Once restored, the property will remain on the city's tax roll. Although the Restore New York grant is for privately owned buildings, the application must be submitted by a municipality, which is why Braden approached the City Council last month. Braden said he envisions the project as a way to engage Beacon's art community while educating the public on environmental sustainability. "It's meant to be a model of how to do a building," he told the council during its March 11 workshop. The new funding would help "balance the books" for the $7.3 million project, which Braden said he is financing through "a huge amount of my own personal resources." Braden and Sophie Henderson, a consultant who previously worked on two successful Restore New York applications in Hudson, prepared the submission. City Administrator Chris White said he "saw this as an opportunity that didn't use any of our financial resources and very little of our time. I wanted to get the experience under our belt and then we could assess where we go next year" if there are similar proposals. Empire State Development, which administers the program, is expected to announce the grant winners in the fall. Before voting on Monday to back the application, the council held a public hearing on the project. Noting its "primary, premium location" on the corner of South Chestnut and Henry streets, in Beacon's off-Main Street "Transitional" zone, resident Clark Gebman said he felt the site could provide up to 30 affordable housing units. "You're being asked to endorse this one person's vision," he said. While the artistic community is important in Beacon, "is it really more important than providing affordable housing?" In 2021, a developer proposed replacing the structure with a three-story, 16-apartment building with retail space but the project did not progress. Braden said during the March workshop that he had considered housing at the site but felt previous proposals had been poorly received and that there is "a real shortage of high-quality spaces for professional artists." Three other speakers on Monday supported the project, including Kathleen Griffin, who said she moved to the region for its creative energy. "I'm part of a very large cohort of people who made their life in New York City as an artistic professional and came to the Hudson Valley for opportunities like the one being proposed," she said. "It's impossible to quantify what having the arts brings to people, particularly at-risk children. As a teenager, it was exactly opportunities like the ones being created [at GarageWORKS] that took me out of one situation and opened the doors to something tota...
Butterfly Group Takes Flight
Apr 5 2024
Butterfly Group Takes Flight
Westchester-Putnam chapter holds first meeting Charlie Roberto says he lost track of his age after he turned 60; he's counting again, but now it's butterflies. Roberto, who grew up in Mahopac and lives in Croton-on-Hudson, is a true conservationist. He advises the Putnam Highlands Audubon Society and has participated in its annual Christmas bird count since the 1980s. He also advises the Saw Mill River chapter of the National Audubon Society, Fahnestock State Park and Croton Point Park, and serves on the board of Teatown Lake Reservation in Ossining. He is now the driving force behind a new Westchester-Putnam chapter of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA). He had tried to start the chapter in 2020 but was sidetracked by the pandemic. Butterflies are important, he says, because their health "relates directly to the health of our overall environment. They're like the canary in the coal mine." Along with birds, honeybees, bats and other animals, butterflies help pollinate everything from apples and strawberries to peaches and coffee. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 75 percent of flowering plants and about 35 percent of global food crops rely on animals to pollinate them. But butterfly populations are declining worldwide as a result of habitat loss, especially due to changes in land use, along with the use of pesticides and insecticides, and climate change, including increases in severe weather. Invasive plant species are also contributing to the decline. "Japanese stiltgrass, for example, has been here since the 1980s and entered Fahnestock within the last 10 years," Roberto says. "It crowds out and eliminates many plants that host butterflies." At the same time, milkweed, which monarch butterflies rely upon as a host plant, is declining, putting further stress on that species. Signs of Trouble Studies indicate that populations of 17 butterfly species declined by almost 50 percent across the European Union between 1990 and 2011. In 2021, Science reported that, over the four previous decades, the populations of more than 450 species of butterflies in the western U.S. declined by an average of 2 percent per year. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that the number of eastern monarch butterflies that migrated south to winter in Mexico in 2023-24 decreased by 59 percent from the previous year. In an article in American Butterflies, NABA President Jeffrey Glassberg recalled the annual butterfly counts that began in Westchester County in 1984. "There were butterflies everywhere; it was thrilling," he wrote. "Some years, the absolute numbers were amazing." But the species began to disappear from northern Westchester County by the 1970s, and at least six species were extirpated by 2013. The more than 8,000 butterflies tallied in a one-day count in 1989 decreased by half. In counts near the Teatown Lake Reservation, spotters have documented as many as 60 types of butterflies, including giant swallowtail, monarch, tiger swallowtail and great spangled fritillary. The diversity has held steady, Roberto says, but the total number of butterflies has been dropping, even as the number of people counting them has increased. Roberto notes an unusual behavior called "hill-topping" that butterflies adopt as their numbers fall. "They fly up to the highest point of land and circle, waiting for the opposite sex," he said. The Westchester-Putnam chapter plans to conduct its first count in July, Roberto said, adding that counts have been moved earlier in the month to account for species whose movements have shifted due to climate change. The chapter's inaugural meeting on March 21 drew 22 participants. The group plans to meet about eight times yearly, with summer field trips to local habitats such as Pound Ridge in Westchester and Shenandoah Mountain along the Appalachian Trail in East Fishkill. Over the past four years, the Philipstown Garden Club, in partnership with 11 other environmental organizations, has been teaching ...
Should This Be a Law?
Apr 5 2024
Should This Be a Law?
Bills focus on senior buses, college aid, housing Gov. Kathy Hochul has already signed two bills introduced this legislative session by Jonathan Jacobson, a Democrat whose Assembly district includes Beacon. One prohibits Central Hudson and other utility companies from charging customers for electric and gas services older than three billing periods. The other clarifies that requirements for supplemental uninsured and underinsured auto insurance apply to police vehicles "principally garaged and used" in New York state and do not apply to self-insurance policies. Those bills are among the proposals introduced during this year's session of the state Legislature by Jacobson and two other local lawmakers: state Sen. Rob Rolison, a Republican whose district includes the Highlands, and Assembly Member Dana Levenberg, a Democrat whose district includes Philipstown. During the current two-year term, which began on Jan. 4, 2023, Rolison has introduced 52 bills; Levenberg, 40 and Jacobson, 71. Here are some of the lawmakers' newer bills, which may or may not be passed before the Legislature ends its session on June 6. Rolison S8460: Creates a grant program in the Office for the Aging to allow municipalities to apply for up to $100,000 to purchase Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible buses to transport seniors. Status: Assigned to Finance Committee S8387: Requires the Comptroller's Office to study the feasibility of automatically returning unclaimed funds, as some states do. New York holds $18.4 billion in funds deposited with the state after the person, estate or business could not be located. To retrieve the funds, people must search online at osc.ny.gov/unclaimed-funds and file a claim. Status: Assigned to Finance Committee S8181: Allows prosecutors to charge someone with promoting a suicide attempt and second-degree manslaughter if their conduct "significantly contributes" to a decision by "an incompetent or physically disabled person or a vulnerable elderly person" to take their own life or try killing themselves. Rolison said the legislation was inspired by the case of an autistic Poughkeepsie resident, Bailey Bates, who killed himself in 2017 at age 19 after a woman and an accomplice conned him into exchanging his disability insurance money for a phony check. Former Sen. Sue Serino, now the Dutchess County executive, introduced the legislation in 2018 as Bailey's Law. 9 Status: Assigned to Codes Committee State Legislators Sen. Rob Rolison (R) District 39, including Highlands rolison@nysenate.gov | 845-229-0106 3 Nepture Road, Suite N22, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601 Assembly Member Dana Levenberg (D) District 95, including Philipstown levenbergd@nyassembly.gov | 914-941-1111 8 Revolutionary Road, Ossining, NY 10562 Assembly Member Jonathan Jacobson (D) District 104, including Beacon jacobsonj@nyassembly.gov | 845-562-0888 47 Grand St., Newburgh, NY 12550 Jacobson A8953: Requires that each high school senior complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), an application for the state's Tuition Assistance Program or a waiver if not attending college. Jacobson cites studies showing that low-income students and their parents are more likely to overestimate the cost of college and have less knowledge of available aid and that first-generation and low-income students are likelier to apply for aid without their parents' involvement, increasing the likelihood of errors. Status: Assigned to Education Committee A8460: Requires that firearms and rifles bought by police agencies at gun buybacks be disassembled and destroyed, with the destruction recorded on video and listed in a log filed with the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. Jacobson cited a New York Times story published in December that detailed how some guns acquired through buybacks in other states are turned over to companies that remove the parts with serial numbers and sell the rest in kits to private buyers. Status: Assigned to Codes Committee A9210: ...
Mental Health Ribbons Meet Resistance
Mar 29 2024
Mental Health Ribbons Meet Resistance
Beacon council to consider alternatives, plus meeting decorum A group of mental health advocates will be unable to tie ribbons on lampposts along Beacon's Main Street to recognize May as Mental Health Awareness Month. Doing so violates the city code, which prohibits posting flyers, stickers or other items on city buildings, trees or lampposts and utility poles unless authorized. That was news to the Mid-Hudson chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which hung the white ribbons in Beacon from 2014 to 2022. Representatives from the organization asked the City Council during its March 18 meeting for permission to tie ribbons and place lawn signs as part of its promotion this year. Doing so reminds passersby of the importance of mental health and helps reduce the stigma around asking for help, said George Czornyj, executive director of the Mid-Hudson chapter. The nonprofit said volunteers would remove the items by the end of May. Following NAMI's presentation, City Administrator Chris White objected, saying the city has undertaken a multi-year campaign to clean up its lampposts. There was no further discussion that night, but during the March 25 workshop several council members said they hoped the city could compromise with NAMI. White said on March 25 that, since his hire in 2021, cleaning up visual clutter on Main Street has become one of his signature issues. "We have removed - and this is no exaggeration - thousands of flyers, lawn signs, stickers and other things," he said. The city has already repainted half of the decorative lampposts on Main Street and is about to paint the other half, White said. Sixty traffic signs have been replaced because stickers made them illegible. At the city's request, Royal Carting also empties Main Street trash cans six days a week instead of four. Three years ago, when he permitted NAMI to hang ribbons, White said he was less familiar with the city code, plus "there was no reason to stop it because the poles were full of everything." Council Member Jeff Domanski said he appreciates the efforts to clean up Main Street, "but with a public health issue like this one, drawing as much physical attention as you can to it is essential." Domanski, Dan Aymar-Blair and Paloma Wake said they would contact NAMI to see if the group would consider an alternative method of getting its message out. "It's important to elevate this, to normalize talking about it," Aymar-Blair said. White noted that Beacon spends $80,000 each year to have a behavioral health specialist work with its police department and in 2022 gave NAMI a $3,400 grant for its peer-to-peer counseling program. "I'm glad to do real action that supports mental health," he said. "Thirty years ago, you had no other way to get the word out. We have so many ways to communicate now that don't involve putting visual litter all over Main Street." White also said he would have to allow other groups to post their materials if he permits NAMI, "so I've just said 'no,' and your [city] code supports that." Domanski argued that there's a distinction between mental health and other issues. But "the moment you start making distinctions, you've already violated the law," said Mayor Lee Kyriacou. Czornyj said Wednesday (March 27) that he is open to working with the city on an alternative. "We want this to be a win-win for all," he said. Meeting decorum The City Council hasn't changed its rules on decorum at meetings, but said it may enforce the rules more strictly. The council was flooded with public comments in recent weeks as it considered a resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza. The March 4 meeting began with a 3-hour public comment session that grew heated at times, including when a woman from Wallkill began shouting at the council after she went over the three minutes allowed for each speaker and White unplugged the microphone. Council Member Pam Wetherbee acknowledged on March 25 that many people came from outside Beacon for the ...
Putnam to Drain Sylvan Pond
Mar 29 2024
Putnam to Drain Sylvan Pond
State demanding costly dam repair In 1987, when Marie-Louise Best and her family first toured the house they would buy on Aqueduct Road in Continental Village, they noted the view of Sylvan Pond from the windows. Eight years later, neighbors and a crew from the Philipstown Highway Department worked together to pull mattresses, hardened bags of cement, a cash register and other debris from the water. In a paean Best wrote for the Putnam Reporter Dispatch after the cleanup, she quoted Henry David Thoreau, who described a lake as "a landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature." "It is such a pretty view," Best said on Wednesday (March 27). "In the fall it's beautiful, with the leaves reflecting off the pond." The view could be gone by as early as summer 2025 because Putnam County plans to drain Sylvan Pond and eliminate what has been a spot for contemplation and recreation for residents on Aqueduct, Ridge Road and Lake Court. While information on the history of Sylvan Pond and how Putnam came to own it is scant, Neal Tomann, a Philipstown resident who is interim manager of the county's Soil & Water Conservation District, said the state Department of Environmental Conservation has issued an ultimatum: fortify the earthen dam or drain the water. The agency's concern, Tomann told the Town Board on March 20, is that a storm could fill the shallow pond and send floodwaters toward downstream properties along Sprout Brook Road. He described the dam, which has a channel that drains pond water to an unknown destination, as "highly improvised" and designated by the DEC as Class B, meaning there is the potential for severe damage to nearby properties if it fails. Rebuilding the dam to reduce that risk would cost an estimated $750,000 - an amount Tomann said is more than the county's annual budget for dams. Putnam owns nine dams, Tomann said, acquiring many of them through tax liens. He does not know how Sylvan Pond became one of them; online property records do not list a previous owner. A history of Continental Village published in 1972 and written by Carlton Scofield, a former Peekskill historian, includes a map identifying Sylvan Pond. Best and another resident, Kendra Parker, recalled it as a spot for fishing, ice-skating, swimming and other activities. Parker and several other Continental Village residents who attended the Town Board meeting asked Tomann about alternatives. She worries about losing habitat for ducks, snapping turtles and other wildlife. "We don't want to live around a swamp," she said. Tomann said that even if residents bought the property, they would still have to repair the dam or drain the pond. In her 1995 column for the Putnam Reporter Dispatch, Best described how her young daughter and son fed ducks and skipped rocks in warm weather and skated with their father when the pond iced over in the winter. A neighbor named Justine Bruno, armed with a wheelbarrow, launched the 1995 cleanup effort when she began clearing overgrowth around Sylvan Pond because her daughters had returned with rashes after feeding the ducks, said Best. Other neighbors joined in and soon after, the Philipstown Highway Department brought a backhoe, wood chipper, dump truck and "elbow grease" to their aid, she said. Now, a faded green sign inscribed, "Please Keep Pond Clean, By Troop 2280" juts from the ground a short walk from a part of the shore where two rocks protrude into the water. "I can't tell you how many times I've seen a kid sitting on those rocks thinking, and young families taking their kids down there," said Best. "It's really nice."
A Hidden Gem - For Now
Mar 29 2024
A Hidden Gem - For Now
Magazzino café offers a taste of Italy Fast to flash a quicksilver smile, chef Luca Galli is a born schmoozer who enjoys lingering over a well-prepared meal or cup of espresso. But when duty calls in the kitchen, he is serious as a surgeon. Galli is developing the menu at Café Silvia, a restaurant and beverage oasis in the new Robert Olnick Pavilion at Magazzino Italian Art in Philipstown. It is named for Olnick's wife, Silvia, mother of Nancy, who founded the museum along with her husband, Giorgio Spanu. Over the last six months, in-the-know locals consider it to be a best-kept secret - and one open on Mondays. "It's a divine hidden gem that has resonated in the community," says Melissa Meyers, a Garrison resident and neighbor of Spanu and Olnick. "I had heard about this project and never expected it to be this wonderful. You look out and it feels like Tuscany." She refers to the picture window that offers a view of the donkey corral, 20 garden beds for growing ingredients and a ridge in the background. The café doubles as the museum gift shop and the concrete confines are surprisingly cozy. An interior window peeks in on one of the pavilion's galleries. Spanu and Olnick met Galli 20 years ago in Italy. They make him feel at home by providing a culinary playground with two critical Italian imports. Standing in the near-pristine kitchen, Galli beams with pride over his Unox oven and Irinox blast chiller, which execute myriad food preparation techniques at the press of a digital button. Galli, who lives in Garrison, goes for simple, subtle and delicate. "If the waiter has to explain the dish, the flavors are going to be difficult to identify," he says. He started easy, with panini and a frittata of the day made with eggs from Spanu and Olnick's farm. He recently introduced lasagna Bolognese, chickpea and scallop soup and ravioli with spinach and ricotta cheese and a light dusting of Parmesan cheese. Fish and vegetable dishes are in the works. Also a sommelier, Galli will expand the wine list from the current selections of red, white and prosecco. By late spring, when the patio opens, the plan is to transform it into a trattoria apertivo with small plates and boards filled with meat and cheese. "I have a lot of ideas, but I'm not going to rush anything," he says. Galli, who was born near Milan, worked in restaurant kitchens in Italy, London and New York City. He also spent 15 years cooking on yachts that sailed the Mediterranean Sea and beyond. The attention to detail at Café Silvia can be remarkable. Serving trays are lined with sticky rubber, and Galli worked with his coffee consultant in Italy to test the water's pH level to determine the ideal beans to use in the espresso (a blend of Arabica and Robusto to add acidity). He even calibrates the coffee grinder. Only observant visitors will notice the fresh-made jams, soups and sauces packed in sealable jars tucked onto shelves below the main counter. A chest-high window opens into the kitchen, where the chef and his assistants, Jack Cimino and Robert Betterbid, improvise dance moves like the twist or shoulder shimmy to avoid colliding. With 40 indoor seats and 20 more outside, the place can get busy in a hurry. Galli spoke about building bonds with his staff, which is pivotal to delivering on the vision. "My expectations are high, even for myself," he says. Enjoying a dish during downtime, Cimino turns introspective. "When I started here, I was unmotivated, depressed and had no lust for life," he says. "I was this close to firing him," says Galli, almost pinching together his thumb and index finger. "He pushed me in a way that drew me out of my shell and instilled a strong work ethic," says Cimino, who lives in Cold Spring. "I thank him for bringing new value to my life." Then, a group of diners arrived just before closing time. Like athletes called into the game, the men clicked into performance mode. Café Silvia, located at 2700 Route 9 in Philipstown, is open Friday to Mo...
The Artist Next Door: Skatchface
Mar 29 2024
The Artist Next Door: Skatchface
For someone with an artistic tempest inside his head, Mike "Skatchface" Long is a mellow dude. Art is not what he does - it's how he lives. Long grew up skating with the older kids in Poughkeepsie, developed his style and became low-key but well-known, especially among the tight-knit street art crowd. The latest issue of Newburgh-based hardcore punk 'zine Outsider devoted a spread to his work. A storefront he painted in Miami was included in Mana Public Arts: Murals by Leading Street Artists from Around the World, published in December. Last summer he moved to Beacon and calibrated his living circumstances well. He works at a modest home studio, his sons attend school nearby and one of his gigs is across the street. He just landed a job in New Windsor painting sets for Broadway shows, which he prefers to commuting to New York City. "Here, artists are taken seriously," he says of Beacon. "You can be creative and make a living; it's not a pipe dream." At 43, he is at a turning point. He still bombs around on a skateboard but sometimes his back flares up. His oldest son is in high school and his youngest is 9. So far, he has managed to pay the bills making art. He earned a degree in graphic design and got his nickname from an Austrian classmate who often asked to see his "skatchbook," meaning sketchbook. The face in Skatchface refers to his specialty. Some have grotesque, distorted expressions. Some scowl, others look frightened, and nearly all are painted in the wild. "The art establishment has no awareness of what the graffiti artists do," says Beacon pop artist Ron English, for whom Long has apprenticed over the last four years. "They're anti-capitalist, for one thing. One part of their social life is creating art on freight trains that will travel around the country. Highbrow artists try to sell what they create. But it's like jazz: When you do a deep dive, you understand and appreciate it more." With a family to support, Long took white-collar design jobs that he says slowly crushed his spirit. "It wasn't helping the creative process when the sun would come up and go down while I sat at my desk," he says. But he kept other outlets alive. "My passion is finding that cool spot at an abandoned place, being outdoors and creating." Around 100 of his intricate pieces stretch from Miami to Boston, and Long is starting to add his mark to the expansive brick and concrete canvases at the abandoned industrial sites that dot the Highlands. Taggers gotta tag, so his scrawled signature is also seen on the back of street signs, in bar bathrooms and on traffic light-control boxes. He affixes stickers to accommodating surfaces. Through Long's work with English and English's wife, Tarssa Yazdani, he has become part of the family. Part of his job is to complete practical tasks with computers and cameras to help conceptualize projects, but the trio also dreams up weird ideas and often films them. One brainstorm evolved into a sardonic book-burning event during Beacon Bonfire. Participants chanted slogans, contorted their faces like maniacs and toasted marshmallows. Long's sons took part. He supports their creative expressions but is laissez-faire. Clearly, he is proud that his eldest plays guitar in an alt-punk band, his youngest doodles and they both skate to a degree. To stretch his skill set, he plans to delve into sculpting and enjoys playing with an air compressor-powered spray paint gun for the first time. "They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks," he says, wearing cutoff shorts splattered with blotches of paint. "So if you keep learning new tricks, you're not an old dog."
State Budget Negotiations Begin
Mar 22 2024
State Budget Negotiations Begin
Cuts to schools, other programs at stake The state Senate and Assembly last week approved their versions of a budget for 2024-25, launching negotiations with Gov. Kathy Hochul over appropriations for school districts and municipal governments, roads and bridges and other local needs. Both chambers countered Hochul's $233 billion proposal by approving on March 14 plans for $246 billion in spending. The Senate passed its plan, 41-20, with Rob Rolison, a Republican whose district includes Beacon and Philipstown, among the senators who voted no. The Assembly passed its plan, 101-48, with support from Jonathan Jacobson, who represents Beacon, and Dana Levenberg, who represents Philipstown. Both are Democrats. While the Senate and Assembly budgets differ, they each reject Hochul's proposal to eliminate a provision that ensured school districts receive at least the same amount of Foundation Aid as they had the year before. Under Hochul's proposal, the Beacon district would lose more than $1.2 million, or 6 percent, of its Foundation Aid, which is the main source of state funding for school districts, and the Garrison district would lose $234,000. Funding from Foundation Aid and other state sources last year accounted for 38 percent of Beacon's $81.4 million budget and 9 percent of Garrison's $12.6 million spending plan. If the governor's proposal sticks, the Beacon district said it would have to consider cuts to mental health support, its pre-K program and extracurricular clubs. "The proposed cuts, followed by weeks of political negotiation, leave districts like ours scrambling to plan around worst cases, with many assurances - but no guarantees - that funding will be restored," the Beacon school board wrote in a letter to Hochul. By contrast, the Senate and Assembly budgets would increase Foundation Aid by at least 3 percent; boost spending for universal pre-K (in the Senate budget, by $150 million; in the Assembly, by $125 million), fund free school meals for all students and appropriate $1 million to study the formula used to distribute Foundation Aid. As negotiators for Hochul, the Senate and Assembly try to agree on a final budget before the start of the fiscal year on April 1, they also will wrangle over funding for bridge, road and water infrastructure projects; tuition assistance; proposals to expand child tax credits; and other changes to the governor's plan. Among their differences: Clean water: The Senate and Assembly proposals restore $250 million in cuts to the Clean Water Infrastructure Act, increasing funding to $500 million. Child care support: Both chambers provide $220 million to supplement the wages of child care provider employees, bringing funding to $500 million. Child tax credits: The Assembly expands eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit for residents with children who earn from $49,084 to $56,067 annually for single filers and $66,819 to $78,976 for joint filers with three or more children. The Senate includes language replacing the Empire State Tax Credit with a Working Families Tax Credit of $550 per child to single filers earning under $75,000 annually and married joint filers under $130,000. The credit would decline by $20 for each $1,000 of income over those levels. Local aid: The Senate adds $210 million and the Assembly $100 million in funding for Aid and Incentives to Municipalities, which is unrestricted funding for cities, towns and villages. Hochul proposed $715 million. Tuition: Both chambers expand eligibility for the Tuition Assistance Program by raising the maximum annual income cap from $80,000 to $125,000, and raising the minimum award from $500 to $1,000. The changes amount to $138 million in the Senate budget and $118.3 million in the Assembly. Roads and bridges: The Senate and Assembly plans reverse a $60 million cut to the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program, which funds local road and bridge projects. The Senate goes further, adding $100 million, and the Assembly increases...
Beacon Church Asks Judge to End Dispute With City
Mar 22 2024
Beacon Church Asks Judge to End Dispute With City
Fire station sparked conflict over parking lot St. Andrew & St. Luke Episcopal Church in Beacon has asked a Dutchess County judge to issue a summary judgment, which would decide the dispute over a parking lot between the church and the city without a trial or hearing from witnesses. Beacon city attorneys have until April 8 to respond. The request, made Feb. 17, is the latest development since the church filed suit against the city nine months ago for fencing off a city-owned lot adjacent to the centralized Beacon fire station, which is under construction. At the heart of the issue is a 1987 agreement establishing shared access to the gravel lot for the church and the volunteer Lewis Tompkins Hose Co., which was in the process of acquiring the property from the city then. Three decades later, in 2020, the city purchased the lot from the fire company and opened it for public parking, drawing the ire of the church. While the parties disagreed about access, they coexisted until last summer, when the city fenced off the lot to store construction equipment and building materials as demolition began on the fire station. St. Andrew & St. Luke filed a lawsuit June 26, saying its parishioners had been parking in the lot for more than 30 years. The suit asked Judge Thomas Davis to force the city to remove the fence and restore the lot to its "original and intended condition." The city countered, saying the 1987 agreement was invalid and that it could not halt construction on the $14.7 million fire station, which is expected to be completed this fall. Instead, the city leased adjacent land to create a temporary, 22-space lot for churchgoers, along with on-street spaces on South Avenue and in the City Hall lot. Signs indicate that both are reserved on Sunday mornings. In July, Davis ordered St. Andrew & St. Luke to accept the temporary accommodations. In a memorandum church attorneys filed in support of the request for summary judgment, they argued that the 1987 agreement "speaks of a parking lot shared by two private entities - the church and an independent, volunteer firefighter company," and declares that both "shall have equal rights" to use the lot. The church says that the agreement never mentions a "public use" parking lot, and when the city purchased the lot from the fire company, "it did so with all of the title's duly recorded encumbrances, including the 1987 agreement." In his request, attorney David Chen asked Davis to issue a judgment affirming the parties' respective rights to the lot, "and permanently enjoin the city from interfering with the church's rights." Referring to a 2006 lawsuit in which the church sued the Tompkins Hose Co. over access to the same lot, and another disagreement in 2017, Chen wrote that "this is the third time the church has been prevented from using the parking lot in violation of the agreement, and it must be the last." In previous filings, Beacon city attorneys have disputed St. Andrew & St. Luke's rights under the 1987 agreement. Last year, city attorney Robert Zitt wrote that the church's demand to restore the lot to its original condition while construction is ongoing was "made against all equitable conscience" and, if granted, "would prove disastrous for the City of Beacon." Zitt also wrote that the 1987 agreement "is just that, an agreement to agree." He said that in 1987, the church and fire company were both represented by lawyers and "could have provided for an easement" delineating both parties' rights. Zitt has argued that the church's allegation of "irreparable harm" caused by the city is "absolutely preposterous." Because the city has provided alternative parking and other concessions, the church has made "conclusory allegations" without evidence, he wrote. If the city opposes the church's request, St. Andrew & St. Luke can submit a reply. From there, Davis would make a decision. If he grants the church's request, he will decide the case. If he does not, the sides would complete dis...
Cold Spring Eyes 3% Tax Increase
Mar 22 2024
Cold Spring Eyes 3% Tax Increase
Hearing on 2024-25 budget set for April 10 At its Wednesday (March 20) meeting, the Cold Spring Village Board continued discussing the 2024-25 budget, which includes anticipated general fund spending of $3 million and may require a property-tax increase of just under 3 percent. Most services, including police, fire and road maintenance, are paid for from the general fund. The 2023-24 budget, in which projected spending was about 10 percent higher, at $3.3 million, included a tax increase of 2 percent. The revenue anticipated for fiscal 2024-25, which begins June 1, includes $1.9 million in property taxes and $302,000 from weekend parking meters and residential permits that go into effect April 1. The budget also anticipates $31,000 from a hotel room tax that includes short-term rentals and $41,000 from permits such as dock fees charged to Seastreak. The levy raised through property taxes is projected to increase by 3.93 percent, providing $72,500 in additional revenue. The property tax rate would increase by 2.99 percent per $1,000 in assessed value. The board has scheduled a public hearing for April 10 and is expected to adopt the budget on April 24. In other business…. Village crews have installed lighting on the Cold Spring dock to replace fixtures destroyed by vandals. The annual Cold Spring in Bloom will be held on Main Street on April 21, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce. The annual Kids Fishing Day hosted by the Nelsonville Fish and Fur Club will be held at the village reservoir on Fishkill Road on May 5. The Cold Spring Film Society will feature four movies this summer at Dockside Park on the Saturday evenings of June 29, July 13, July 27 and Aug. 10. Rain dates are the following day. The Sloop Clearwater will hold an education camp at Dockside Park on Aug. 2 and 16. The Village Board accepted the results of the audit of village financial practices by EFPR Group for the fiscal year 2022-23; the audit found no significant issues.
A New Route for Fjord Trail?
Mar 19 2024
A New Route for Fjord Trail?
Alternative path out of Cold Spring to be considered Work is underway on the Breakneck Connector section of the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail, but the rest of the 7.5-mile route, especially between Cold Spring and Breakneck, remains uncertain. The HHFT says its preferred route begins at Dockside Park, which is owned by the state and maintained by the village, and largely follows the shoreline north toward Beacon. But there are also at least five "what-if" paths that were considered as part of an ongoing state environmental review and were presented by HHFT March 11 at Dutchess Manor. Plus, there's now an alternative alternative path that came up for discussion and will be investigated by HHFT, New York State and Metro-North, among others. This route, briefly mentioned on March 11, would skip Dockside. Instead, it would hug the western side of the tracks from the train station to the village line. It should not be confused with two proposed routes running along the east side of the tracks that were discarded but revived by village officials and two Philipstown members of HHFT's data committee. They suggested the routes could be viable if Metro-North is flexible on its rule that the trail must be at least 25 feet from the center of the tracks. During a March 14 tour of the alternative routes, Amy Kacala, the executive director of HHFT, said the organization tried to get Metro-North to discuss the setback and failed. "But maybe now that it's municipal officials requesting it, they'll look at it differently," she said. Even if Metro-North reconsidered its 25-foot setback, there are obstacles to mapping the trail on the east side of the tracks, she said. For one, it would probably displace the Depot Restaurant's outdoor patio and involve blasting through a rocky outcrop that could damage the houses located there. "Not good," Kacala said. If the trail ran along the west side, it would pass through less private property and heavy rock blasting wouldn't be needed, she said. It would serve as an extension of the path from the train station, which could be repaired and the fencing replaced. HHFT believes those prospective improvements might make Metro-North more amenable to waiving the setback requirements in certain spots, she said. It's not clear why the alternative route on the east side of the tracks, which was suggested by a Cold Spring resident, wasn't part of the initial analysis done by SLR Consulting, although Kacala said private property close to the tracks may have been a deterrent. Regardless, the route is now undergoing the same analysis that the others went through. "These things don't move very quickly, but we've started the ball rolling," Kacala said. At the March 11 meeting, SLR's Michael Doherty explained how alternative routes are judged, such as maintaining a minimum 10-foot width (although 12 to 14 feet is preferred) and accounting for projected sea-level rise because of global warming. He said each route was scored in 10 categories such as traffic and safety, congestion management, environmental stewardship, regional support and diversity of users. The route through Dockside had the highest score, with 44 of 50 points. Fjord Trail in Beacon When Chris White, Beacon's city administrator, heard that the Fjord Trail was considering a maintenance facility at the University Settlement Camp - which would involve cutting down trees - he suggested another possibility: the city transfer station, which would save trees and allow HHFT to drive mowers and other equipment directly onto the trail, which would pass nearby. White said that survey work is underway and he hopes to bring a proposal to the City Council this year. Amy Kacala, executive director of HHFT, said locating a maintenance facility at the transfer station could provide an opportunity to improve the entrance to Dennings Point. "People are already using that spot as the backdoor entrance, but it's not the most attractive backdoor," she said. "Maybe we could hel...
No Snow? It's Slow.
Mar 15 2024
No Snow? It's Slow.
Not everyone loves warmer winters It's hard times in the Highlands for pond hockey players, ice sailors, snowplow operators, ice fishers, cross-country skiers and winter sports retailers. Outdoors enthusiasts and business owners who rely on snowfall and cold weather report that the lack of it in recent years has cut into their fun and revenues. "It's been a dramatic change," said Steve Ives of Garrison, who is one of the three dozen hockey players who converge on local ponds when conditions allow. As recently as 10 years ago, the most dedicated skaters could play 30 or more times a year on solid ice, he said. Now, to play even 20 times, "we've had to seek out ponds in higher elevations and schedule games at 8 a.m., before the sun starts to warm the ice up." Even then, the ice isn't always great, he said. "There are games where we play with water on all sides." Ice sailors were "skunked" this year, said John Sperr of Rhinebeck, the "unofficial meteorologist" of the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club. He said that there was no sailable ice this winter on Orange Lake, Tivoli Bay or the Hudson River. From 1980 to 1995, he said, the club typically enjoyed six to eight weeks of sailing. "Global warming has killed that," he said. The rising winter temperatures are well-documented. Since 1901, temperatures in New York have risen 2.6 degrees and are expected to increase by as much as 11 degrees by the end of the century, according to a study by the state Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Myron Tice of Cold Spring has seen the effect of rising temperatures on ice fishing. Growing up in Buchanan 50 years ago, he would fish in local ponds, including Lake Meahagh. "The ice was thicker," he recalled. "You'd have 2 feet of ice." He still fishes locally but must drive to Lake Champlain, Lake Ontario, Lake George or Saratoga to find reliable ice. "It's also now later in the year when you find it," he said. Canopus Lake in Fahnestock State Park on Route 301 has long been a popular site for fishing but hasn't been open for winter sports for two years because it needs 6 inches of ice to be safe, said Declan Hennelly, the park manager. He added that the park's cross-country ski center was only open five days this year and four days last winter. The center was open for 46 days in 2014 and 39 days in 2020 but has been trending downward, he said. For winter sports, "you need consistently cold weather and a moderate amount of snow throughout the winter," he said. Ski areas such as Victor Constant at West Point typically have snowmaking machines; it didn't close for the season until Monday (March 11). Businesses that rely on snow also suffer without it. When Nick Lisikatos started plowing in Philipstown in the 1980s, the first snow usually arrived in late November. Now, he said, "plowable" storms usually don't hit before Christmas. He said on-demand plowing is still vital in Philipstown because of the hilly and dirt roads and the growing number of delivery trucks that must navigate them. Katy Behney, who owns Mountain Tops Outfitters in Beacon, said she has stopped stocking snow pants and while the store still offers snowshoes and boots, "when we get a winter like this, those things don't move." She plans to stock fewer heavy winter clothes next year in favor of lighter wraps. "Thank God I didn't go heavy on parkas this year," she said.
Carvana Eyes Fishkill Avenue
Mar 15 2024
Carvana Eyes Fishkill Avenue
Auto dealer would lease former Healey lot While a committee appointed by Beacon's mayor studies the potential rezoning of a 1-mile stretch of Fishkill Avenue, a national used car dealer hopes to soon occupy one of the four parcels in the corridor recently vacated by Healey Brothers. Carvana, an online retailer, has submitted plans to the Planning Board to establish a facility at 410 Fishkill Ave. If approved, the company would operate out of the 17,000-square-foot building there. Healey Hyundai formerly occupied the space. In January, Mayor Lee Kyriacou named 10 residents to the Fishkill Avenue Concepts Committee to develop ideas and advise the City Council on access, zoning, streetscapes and viewsheds along the corridor. The committee is expected to report to the council by fall. While Healey had 60 employees at its dealership, Carvana, which would lease the property, would have about 15, project engineer Dan Koehler told the Planning Board on Tuesday (March 12). The Healey dealership displayed cars on the lot for customers to browse while filling as many as 55 daily service appointments, but the Carvana model differs because consumers browse vehicles online and, after purchase, have their car delivered or pick it up at a facility such as the one proposed for Fishkill Avenue, he said. Carvana would detail and conduct state inspections on vehicles at the site, said Jenn Roldan, a company representative. It would not use the lot to store inventory but would expect 10 to 20 pick-ups daily, she said. The city's Conservation Advisory Committee sent the Planning Board a memo earlier this month asking that it require secure garbage enclosures at the site and not allow Carvana to plow snow downhill on the east side of the property, toward Fishkill Creek. When Healey Brothers pushed snow toward the creek, it was often embedded with garbage, or garbage blown from open containers ended up in the creek, the CAC said. The committee also asked the board to ensure lighting at the site adheres to city codes. The CAC said that current lighting can be seen across the creek on Liberty Street when foliage is down. 248 Tioronda Ave. The Planning Board scheduled a public hearing for next month on amendments requested by the owner of the 248 Tioronda development, which has been approved for 64 apartments and a 25,400-square-foot commercial building. The most significant proposed change would be to move the Fishkill Creek Greenway and Heritage Trail away from flood-prone areas and eliminate a staircase, a project official said. The developer also granted the greenway access to a small island in the creek and agreed to dedicate four parking spaces for greenway users. 409 Fishkill Ave. The Planning Board on Tuesday held a public hearing on a proposal by Soka Gakkai International (SGI) to lease and repurpose 409 Fishkill Ave., another former Healey lot, as a Buddhist worship center. SGI said it is not planning any new construction, only a new facade on the 5,500-square-foot one-story building. A representative said Tuesday that the group plans to host gatherings of about 100 people on the first Sunday morning of each month, along with more frequent weeknight gatherings of about 30 people. The site, which consists of six parcels that would be combined through a subdivision, has 50 parking spaces. A handful of residents who spoke during the hearing asked about fencing around the property and noise and traffic at the site early in the morning and late at night. A 6-foot stockade fence would be erected to replace dilapidated fencing behind the building, SGI said, and there will be no outdoor speakers. The rear door, which is the entrance closest to neighbors on Mead Avenue, will be used only for emergencies and trash, said Dan Koehler, the project engineer. The Planning Board closed the public hearing and authorized its attorney to draft a resolution to approve the project to be considered next month. Mirbeau Spa and Hotel The Planning Board scheduled a...