December & Its DiscontentsFree Access

We’re still pretty excited about the holidays here, and the one-year anniversary of the new incarnation of the Courier, and that finally, we’ve had several hard frosts and can breathe easier.

In the past year, we’ve increased our color capacity, made our delivery time earlier by two whole days, improved our print quality, resized the newspaper (this one slightly and our sister paper in Cold Spring by a lot), and added content, including puzzles and more commentary. The changes have been well-received. But I sense that not everyone is quite as happy as I am at the moment, and indeed, these few examples give one pause:

** This school vote Monday in Carmel on two propositions, totaling $85.6 million, for a new bus garage, new roofs, and what are being called innovation wings for music and technology classes, as well as an 800- seat auditorium, could well be a squeaker. School taxes for years have seemed to be on a permanent ‘up’ escalator. This might be the proverbial straw. And no one has yet deigned to take up the huge out-year costs of pensions and health care, admittedly a statewide problem. Gov. Cuomo’s tax cap was and is a blunt instrument to get some control of school and municipal spending, but it’s imperfect at best.

** The incoming sheriff, I am told, in addition to naming a new undersheriff, has asked all five captains to retire by year-end, and advised that they will not be reappointed. Lots of moving parts in a department this big: The jail, the road patrol, the investigations, the geographic sprawl. I am thinking, can’t quite explain why, of the manual transmission on my first car, a Datsun 510. One needed to be careful the gears didn’t clash (one of the worst possible sins to my father’s ears, needless wear and tear on the transmission). I once had a manager, an editor some years ago, whose belief was that everyone gets to have their own team. True, that. But the need to keep the gears running smoothly is also true.

** The new senior center in Cold Spring – for which bidding came in at $1.8 million, against $1.2 million available – is turning into a slow-motion, unbuilt debacle. The contracts were already rejiggered once to make them suitable for a project labor agreement for the trade unions. That obviously hasn’t worked out. Now, we are many, many years past the conception of this project, and it’s still hanging fire. Remember, this is for interior space only. The building is already there, what’s known as the Lahey Pavilion at the former Butterfield Hospital. And the real sin is that the project will not include additional county services, as had at first been envisioned.

Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra had suggested that perhaps county workers could do the outfitting, as they did at the county golf course or at Tilly Foster. The reception at a recent committee meeting was lukewarm at best. It’s a long way to travel; logistically, it’s not as convenient as doing this work near the county seat, where tools and equipment are at the ready.

Fortunately, Scuccimarra reported Monday, the county is indeed now doing some work there, gutting the interior, and installing rough plumbing and duct work. And, the air conditioning is being re-specified or rescoped, which could be a savings of up to $200,000. Perhaps, perhaps, it can go back out to bid by Jan. 1, with completion next year.

But, it’s still a pretty small project. When first proposed, it was to be a western campus. Now, we’ll be lucky to see anything finished.

Until next week.

Douglas Cunningham is editor and publisher. Reach him at 845-265-2468, or by email at Letters to the editor, on this or other topics, are welcome, send to

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