New Police, Highway Chiefs

Familiar faces promoted in Cold Spring

By Michael Turton

The Cold Spring Village Board’s annual reorganizational meeting on April 18 produced more than the usual litany of reappointments to boards and committees. By the end of the evening, the police department had a new officer-in-charge and the highway department had a new crew chief.

Officer Larry Burke will begin his duties on May 1, succeeding George Kane, who has been with department since 2006. Mayor Dave Merandy told The Current he informed Kane of the change earlier in the week. It is unclear whether Kane will remain with the department. Merandy said he had been unsuccessful in a similar attempt to change the department’s leadership two years ago, early in his first term.

“Larry is better suited to the job,” Merandy said, adding that Burke, a retired New York Police Department officer, lives in the community and is known for his foot patrols when he stops to talk to residents. “The bottom line is that I have a better rapport with Larry,” he said. Burke joined the Cold Spring Police Department in 2013.

The mayor said enforcement is an issue that Burke will need to address, as well as possible reduction in night-shift coverage as a cost-cutting measure. “Larry would definitely be included in that discussion, along with the sheriff and state police,” Merandy said.

Merandy also announced at the meeting that Chris Hyatt, a Philipstown resident hired seven months ago for $28 an hour to lead the Highway Department, had been dismissed the day before. The trustees immediately approved promoting Charles Norton, a department employee since 2005, to succeed Hyatt. He will serve a one-year probationary period.

“Chris had certain skills, including mechanical abilities, and he was very energetic,” Merandy said. “But he turned out not to be a good fit.” He declined to elaborate.

Norton didn’t apply for the position when it was advertised last summer following the retirement of Ed Trimble, but Merandy said he expressed interest when asked about the job recently. The change creates an opening that Merandy said would be considered once Norton settles into his new position.

When Trustee Steve Voloto asked if Norton has a Commercial Drivers’ License, which is required to operate heavy equipment, Merandy replied that it was not a requirement. “I’ve asked him to get one,” Merandy said, adding that had the position been advertised it would not have asked for a CDL “because it was so much fun the last time,” a reference to criticism directed at the mayor during the election for hiring Hyatt when he did not have a CDL.

In other business …

  • There were only a few exceptions to the long list of annual reappointments: former Trustee Bruce Campbell was named chair of the Recreation Committee, succeeding Jeff Phillips; the reappointment of Mary Saari as clerk, treasurer and registrar was tabled as she considers retirement; and the naming of an acting justice to assist at the Justice Court and members of the Independence Day Committee were both tabled.
  • Trustees accepted the resignation of Michael Mell, who had been video recording meetings and keeping minutes for various boards.
  • Merandy said he had distributed a survey to residents and business owners west of the Metro-North tracks and on Fair Street to get their thoughts on the increase in bicycle and foot traffic over the past three years, which he hoped to share with the Fjord Trail Steering Committee. He said he planned more surveys throughout the village in the months ahead.

April 11 meeting

  • There was no public comment during a hearing on the proposed 2017-18 budget, which includes spending of nearly $2.1 million, about $1.6 million of which will be raised through property taxes. Trustees will vote on the budget on April 25.
  • The village finished the year with a $453,000 balance, and the board approved spending $75,000 of it to repair the firehouse roof. The estimates for the job have ranged from $40,000 to $110,000.
  • Chief Steve Smith told the board he expected the Cold Spring Fire Department rescue boat should be in the water within a month. CSFC will hold an open house from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 30, as part of an annual drive to enlist volunteer firefighters.
  • CSFC President Matt Steltz told trustees that two air-conditioning units the department would like to install in the firehouse would cost $14,000 to $20,000. Trustee Fran Murphy suggested rental units be considered for the Junior Firefighter Academy in July.

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