News from County Executive Mary Ellen Odell’s Office on a recent meeting on the former Butterfield Hospital site in Cold Spring:
There was a positive sense of progress in the air following a July 17 meeting where all players essential to the approval process for the old Butterfield Hospital site on Paulding Avenue in Cold Spring gathered. Present for the meeting were County Executive MaryEllen Odell, developer Paul Guillaro (Butterfield Realty LLC), Cold Spring Mayor Ralph Falloon, Philipstown Supervisor Richard Shea and Philipstown Trustee Nancy Montgomery.
At the meeting, Odell laid out what she envisioned the County would like to do.
“The County is looking to lease approximately 5,000 square feet which it would use for a senior center and branch offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles, the County Clerk’s Office, the Personnel Department, Putnam Tourism and the Economic Development Corporation as well as a post office,” she said.
She said having extensions of these offices in Cold Spring will create revenue opportunities. She noted residents on the western side of Putnam renew their vehicles and passports in Westchester or Dutchess County offices which are closer than taking a 45-mile round trip to Carmel.
“Money for these things are leaving the County following the north/south transportation corridor. So we want to capture those dollars,” Odell said.
Deputy County Clerk Michael Bartolotti, who was not at the meeting, said according to 2011 records at his office, only 12 percent of the population on the western side of the county uses Putnam’s DMV office as opposed to 56.5 percent of those on the eastern side who use it. Putnam County collects 12.7 percent of every DMV transaction.
As for the Personnel Dept., Odell said Personnel “will assist in employment and testing and there is revenue in that.”
Consolidation is also uppermost in Odell’s plan. She envisions a cooperative effort with Philipstown, Nelsonville and Cold Spring for an updated, modern senior center as well as town courts. She sees the possibility of consolidating law enforcement and moving Sheriff’s Office personnel out of the garage they are working out of now.
“We’re also in discussion with the Women’s Resource Center,” said Odell.
The WRC is a not-for-profit working with victims of domestic violence and needing space beyond its Mahopac offices.
Mayor Falloon felt the meeting eased the concerns that his volunteer boards have with the project. He defended his boards’ caution.
“In defending my board and the other boards, everybody is very, very scared of development. So for me, this was a major, positive reinforcement that there will be a partnership. We will do this together and we can be confident that the changes we make are the right changes,” he said. “The Village of Cold Spring is very small so when you’re talking about a parcel this big (5.7 acres), it is one of the largest modern day changes that we have had and people are very, very cautious about it,” he said.
The Planning Board has yet to approve Guillaro’s request for a zoning change to a B4-A district which would allow medical offices, permitted senior housing, retail stores, business and professional offices, and banks as well as privately owned facilities leased to a municipal government entity.
Falloon said the meeting of all principals created the sense of partnership where he hadn’t felt there was one previously.
“It was a meeting where we were all seriously believing in a partnership and we really, truly wanted to help each other any way we could. It was very positive for me and I am assuming that that positive-ness will trickle down into the rest of my Village Board and the rest of the volunteer boards who have to make the decisions,” he said.
Montgomery said she, too, felt the meeting was quite positive.
“It was a great meeting. It’s always positive when all the stakeholders that are involved with getting things done over here are present. So that was pretty positive,” she said. “I know there was some concern about where the different stakeholders stand as far as their support for Butterfield but it was clear in the meeting that we were all in favor of something happening at Butterfield. As far as what would happen, that still is not clear.”
Montgomery said she would like to see a Letter of Intent, a non-binding agreement between the County and Butterfield Realty concerning the lease of space for government offices. Odell explained that she was unable at this time to grant Montgomery’s wish for the Letter of Intent, that it is not within her authority to do so at this point.
“A Letter of Intent comes by way of a Resolution and the Legislature is never going to pass a Resolution without a project,” Odell said. “And there is no project until the Planning Board gives its approval. Then, when you have a project, you have numbers and that’s when a Resolution gets passed.”
Barbara Scuccimarra, chairperson of the County Legislature’s Economic Development & Energy Committee, represents the Philipstown, Nelsonville and Cold Spring area.
“So it was very exciting that all of these people were in the room together because that hasn’t happened,” she said. “It is imperative that we bring services to the other side of the county, to my constituents; not only the senior center, but the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Sheriff. There’s a whole list of things that the County wants to bring over that are very good. This project is a must.”