Meet the Trustee Candidates

Three residents vie for two seats on Cold Spring board

Michael Turton interviewed each of the three candidates who will appear on the ballot for two seats on the Cold Spring Village Board: incumbents Marie Early and Fran Murphy and challenger Peggy Schatzle. Their responses have been paraphrased and edited for space. Click here for their candidate statements. All three will appear at a forum hosted by The Current and scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Monday, March 13, in the Haldane School music room. Frank Haggerty also announced that he will campaign as a write-in candidate. See his letter to the editor here.

Marie Early

Q: Why are you running for a second term?
A: There are still a lot more items to be addressed. I have the time and feel I should give back to the community. My family has a history of service to the village and being a trustee continues the work I have done on other village boards.

Q: What projects would you list as successes?
A: The Main Street Project and metering the municipal parking lot. Also updating a number of agreements that had expired, including fire protection for Philipstown and Nelsonville.

Marie Early (photo by M. Turton)

Q: Nelsonville declined to pay the full amount it was invoiced by the village for fire protection. The Cold Spring Fire Company has also expressed concerns over funding issues. Can you comment on both situations?
A: The mayor of Nelsonville said they couldn’t afford full payment. I understand that. He left open the possibility of addressing it in the next budget cycle. He’s not running again but I hope the new mayor will address the issue. We will continue to fund the CSFC based on their budget. They have provided a new budget and like every department it has to be examined. We’ve also asked for their actuals. The Village Board has agreed to spend money on the firehouse roof and to evaluate the cost of new air conditioning.

Q: There seems to be less discord on the board than in some past administrations, but isn’t disagreement among trustees a healthy thing?
A: It’s healthy to have levels of disagreement. It becomes unhealthy when trustees dig in their heels and refuse to discuss issues with an open mind. The current board is pretty much on the same page. We have not yet had a significant disagreement about a topic.

Q: What are the top issues facing the village?
A: No. 1 is repairing the dams, which has a myriad of implications. Another is the roof at the firehouse — that has to be done. We also need to begin addressing infrastructure beyond Main Street, including sidewalks, and take a hard look at the budget and address areas that are growing beyond our control. We addressed revenue increases for fiscal year 2016-17. Now we have to take a look at where we spend our money — all of our expenditures.

Q: Which of those initiatives is most vital and the toughest to address?
A: They can all be addressed. The issue is finding the money. The biggest bill will be for the dams.

Q: Is there an initiative where you failed to make as much progress as you hoped?
A: I’d like to have completed the Main Street Project. It is “substantially complete,” but the contractor was unable to plant the trees last fall. And we are still waiting to hear from Central Hudson regarding a study it has completed on new LED lighting.

Q: What will be your top priority if re-elected?
A: Trying to find ways to decrease village costs. There has to be a budget for snow removal; you have to have a clerk and an accountant. But if there are opportunities for merging municipal services I’m in favor.

Q: Is there an aspect of being a trustee in which you feel you need more knowledge or skill?
A: I’m not as knowledgeable about water and sewer issues as I’d like to be. I have every confidence in Greg Phillips and his team but I don’t feel qualified to ask the right, challenging questions.

Q: What is most difficult about being a trustee?
A: The volume of material that I’m required to understand; today it was a Bond Anticipation Note. Keeping up with the information flow is difficult. Doing a responsible job as trustee involves a lot more than two-hour meetings three times a month.

Fran Murphy

Q: Why are you running for a second term?
A: We’re not finished. We’re in the middle of important projects that I’d like to move further along. I’d like to accomplish a few more things.

Q: What do you see as the top issues facing the village?
A: Repairing the dam and reaching agreement on the future of the firehouse. We also need to rewrite the employee handbook and make it less complicated. And we have to negotiate with the Boat Club. There’s eight years left on their lease and they want at least another 20. They need to finance a new building and we need revenue from that property.

Fran Murphy (photo by M. Turton)

Q: Which is most vital initiative and the toughest to address?
A: Absolutely the dam. We are moving it along but there’s still the issue of connecting to the New York City aqueduct. Every time we think we’re getting ahead they come back with “Yes, but…”

Q: What projects would you list as successes?
A: Definitely the Main Street Project. Previous administrations did a lot of legwork but if we hadn’t got it done we would have lost part of the grant. Our new Facebook page keeps residents informed. I helped with grant requests that resulted in low-interest financing of capital projects. And I’ve been working in the village office regularly to support the village clerk.

Q: There seems to be less discord on the board than in some past administrations. Why is that?
A: We know what each trustee is working on. We email each other and provide input. By the time we get to a meeting we know what’s coming up. We’re not wasting the village’s time and our time. We’re pretty much on the same page.

Q: What is most difficult about being a trustee?
A: The volume of work. And the amount of time. It takes a lot of time to get things done right. It’s not an easy “one, two three” especially with something like the Main Street Project. I retired to not have to work — and now I find I have to be in the office Tuesdays and Thursdays to help with what needs to get done.

Q: If re-elected, what will be on your personal priority list?
A: Our buildings are in desperate need of repair, Village Hall in addition to the firehouse. And I’d like to see some green energy at both. We also need to determine where we’re going with trees on Main Street. The contractor was supposed to have trees ready to plant last fall but couldn’t.

Q: Is there an aspect of being a trustee in which you feel you need more knowledge or skill?
A: I’d like to get a better handle on grants. It’s not just the applications; if you get a grant there is a lot of reporting to do. I’d also like to do a better job on getting our refunds. There is Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program money available to us, for example, but I need to get all the paperwork done.

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the administration’s efforts at communicating with residents?
A: We’re at about a 7. We can do better on Facebook. I posted something recently that got about 200 hits — not bad in a small village. We’ve done more video of meetings. The clerk does email blasts to announce public hearings and the like. And the press covers our meetings. The onus runs both ways though. We’re not going to knock on peoples’ doors. If you want to know, there are ways to find out.

Peggy Schatzle

Q: What motivated you to run for a trustee position?
A: I’ve always felt I would run because I feel I can make a difference. I’m a good listener and I’m a person who does not take “no” for an answer. My family is from Cold Spring and we’ve seen more negative change than positive change. There’s been a loss of community. And there are issues that have been pending for years.

Q: How have you been involved in village life?
A: I’ve been president of the American Legion Women’s Auxiliary for seven years, organizing the Memorial Day parade, sending packages to the troops and helping my father with the Voice of Democracy essay program at Haldane. I also helped with his work at the senior center. Recently I also contributed to resolving the parking issue at Locust Ridge near Haldane.

Peggy Schatzle (photo by M. Turton)

Q: How does your professional background qualify you for public office?
A: As an educator in the Chappaqua School District I’ve written grants, including budgets. I work with parents constantly. You have to be level-headed and willing to listen to everyone’s opinions — to work as a team and resolve issues together.

Q: What do you feel are the major issues facing the village?
A: The dam: I don’t know why they let it go so long. We have engineers who live here who could have provided advice. The firehouse: they’ve been asking for help for at least seven years. The Village Board acknowledges it needs repair now, before the election, but that to me is all talk. They have not done anything to help. And definitely the budget. We are in serious trouble with pending lawsuits.

Q: Which personal traits will help you be an effective trustee?
A: I am trustworthy, have integrity and I persevere. I network and help people. I have positive connections in the community because people know that I care.

Q: Where has the current board come up short in your view?
A: The Boat Club: The village needs to honor the lease, with stipulations covering residents’ concerns, such as noise levels. The building needs to be put back up. Historically it has been there for a long time. The club is something positive for hard-working people, a way to enjoy the village where they pay taxes. The Fjord Trail: there is no plan for managing all the people who are going to come here. We can’t even manage the weekends now. I’m also concerned about residents who have lived here for generations but can no longer afford to. Things have to get resolved. Issues cannot be outstanding anymore. We need to have public meetings to hear people’s concerns.

Q: What might be done to unify the community more?
A: I’ve heard of a divide and it breaks my heart. We are all hard-working people. We’re all in this together. If we’re going to think about division then it’s going to get worse. Having more meetings, and having more balance, more residents on committees would help. Also being out there more, going to the seniors to see how they are doing, looking at projects frequently, going up to the dams.

Q: What would be your priorities if elected?
A: First, settle the lawsuits. Get our budget under our belt. Start helping our firemen. Get our parking resolved. Fix the dam. And be out there with the people —accountable and available.

Q: What knowledge or skill would you need to be an effective trustee?
A: I wish I knew how to build a dam! I’m quick to learn. I research. I read. I’d give up my time to learn and get the job done. I’m here to get things done.