Questions for Applicants: Cold Spring Village Council
Three candidates – Cathryn Fadde, Jeff Phillips and Eliza Starbuck – are vying for two seats with two-year terms. Candidates are presented in alphabetical order.
Why are you looking for a seat on the board of directors? What qualifications do you bring?
Catherine Fadde: I bring two years of previous experience as a village trustee. I also served on the Special Global Plan Board, served as President and Treasurer of the Chamber of Commerce, and ran a successful restaurant on Main Street for almost 25 years. I understand the issues we face and can find solutions in a creative and civil way.
Jeff Phillips: As a longtime resident of the village, I feel the need to step in and do my part to improve our community. We have already had a strong commitment to maintain and repair our infrastructure (eg drainage of roads, curbs, sidewalks and streets); we have to start doing it effectively again. Our resident taxpayers deserve to meet these basic community needs. After obtaining my associate degree in construction engineering technology, I entered the construction industry. For more than 34 years, I have been involved in all phases, from excavation to the finished product. The knowledge and experience I have gained in my field qualifies me for this role, as I have mobilized teams, managed manpower and equipment, met tight deadlines and maintained budgets.
Ãlisa Starbuck: I have been attending village board meetings for years due to my interests as president of the Cold Spring Chamber of Commerce and as a resident and business owner in the village. I followed the issues, did my own research and submitted comments. While I appreciated the hard work and good intentions of the mayor and trustees, I felt that the majority of council too often disrespected other stakeholders and discouraged or ignored public comment. I kept going to meetings because I cared. Eventually, I realized that I could help establish more effective and inclusive decision-making on the board. For almost five years, I have been in my bustling Main Street retail store serving customers. To thrive in such a business, you need to be able to cooperate with all types of people, respect them, identify and meet their needs, and educate them. Likewise, as a chamber president, I have become adept at balancing various interests, initiating and accomplishing new projects, and communicating. These are qualities that I will pass on to the public service as an administrator. I knew it was time to run for office when residents started coming to the store to ask questions and find solutions to their community issues instead of going to the village hall.
What do you think are the two most important challenges that Cold Spring will face in the next two years?
Fade: Manage tourism and modernize our infrastructure. Some of the challenges they represent are solved with money; some are not. Tourism is not going to go away; we need to find ways to mitigate its effects on residents. Parking and short-term rental regulations are directly related to tourism and the way we manage one will affect the other. Our infrastructure problems – the dam, in particular – will require millions of dollars to fix. We need to find external sources of funding for this project.
Phillips: The village has challenges to overcome. One is the condition of our sidewalks, roads and curbs. We also need to make more areas accessible to our elderly population. Many areas around the village do not meet legal specifications. In addition, as some of the main workers in the village have retired and others have moved on to other activities, we need to keep our departments staffed with qualified and innovative staff who will have the best interests of the community at heart. Cold Spring. Without it, we would consider outsourcing a lot of these tasks, which can be a huge expense. Even after 34 years in my field, I still train to improve. Therefore, training current and future hires to be proactive in meeting the needs of our village is essential.
Starbuck: Carefully manage village resources (including tax and other revenues and public goods) and preserve the quality of residential life. Our resources and quality of life are precious and must not be compromised by forces such as tourism or uncontrolled development. Every decision of the Trustees must protect these assets for our children and grandchildren.
In August, the village council adopted regulations for short-term rentals. The regulations limit the number of STRs allowed in the village through a permit system and also impose other restrictions. Where are you on the issue? Are the regulations too lax or too strict? Is making 7% of housing eligible for STR the correct amount?
Fade: Short term rentals are good for tourism. They are good for the host and good for the economic vitality of Main Street and beyond. I raised the issue of STR regulation when I was a fiduciary – it wasn’t a pressing issue then, but now it is. Back then we had maybe less than a dozen, now we have at least five times as many. I am not in favor of over-regulation, which can be as bad as too little. Regulations should protect all parties. If you have a part of your property that you want to offer as an STR, it is necessary to register it as such and make sure it is secure. If you come to Cold Spring to buy an existing building stock in order to have multiple STRs, that’s a problem and requires preventative regulations. I’m also in favor of a hospitality tax that could be used to slow traffic on Route 9D and increase pedestrian potential by keeping our streetscape safe and attractive. It is important to listen to the hosts of STR and work with them to balance the economic benefits while protecting our housing stock and ensuring peace and quiet for our neighbors.
Phillips: While short term rentals are not essential for our village, they do have owner benefits and can bring income to our community and small store owners. I have personally used short term rentals on getaways. I think the current board has approached this issue appropriately and understands that there is a learning curve on this topic. The board will have to weigh the pros and cons as they arise.
Starbuck: As chamber president, I have been deeply involved in developing a practical framework for STRs: I organized public meetings on the issue, asked community members about their concerns and needs, and provided elected officials with reports and recommendations (here, here and here). I firmly believe that permits for short term home rentals are necessary. They will prevent invasive real estate investors from reducing the village’s housing stock, preserve the character of the neighborhood, and reduce security risks. But the restrictions must be reasonable and practical. Parts of the adopted code succeed in achieving these objectives. Overall, however, the DOS law needs to be revised before it is implemented. As it stands, its requirements are too complicated, its terms are not sufficiently based on statistics or surveys of villagers’ use of STRs, and the lottery system is unrealistic. In short, it would be a nightmare to administer and enforce. Most of the public commentary on this law opposed it as it stands. Many people have called for the formation of a committee, similar to the Parking Committee, to improve the law, which I support. There are more details about my position here.