Putnam County officials allocated $400,000 from the US Federal Relief and Recovery Act to complete repairs to the Putnam golf course while asking municipalities such as the Village of Brewster and the City of Southeast to give their opinion on the possibility of partnering with the county to use part of the $19 million the county was allocated last spring.
The golf course plan has drawn opposition from some residents and two of the county’s eight lawmakers, who said the golf course doesn’t need the money because it operates for profit and also has a special savings account.
After the vote, Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell issued a press release, saying county officials were compiling a list of projects to consider funding, “including requests from outside agencies, the Center for women’s resources, drug and addiction services, seniors, veterans, law enforcement, and sewer road and bridge infrastructure.”
The press release also quoted lawmaker Carl Albano, chairman of the Physical Services Committee, who is running for county executive.
“We have moved a shovel-ready project – the $400,000 Putnam County Golf Course Renovation Plan – to the frontline so that work can be completed in time to open the facility for the season and ensure the public safety,” he said. ‘There had been water damage and when investigating this we found that the asbestos needed to be removed.’
The county was notified of its ARPA allocation late last year and held preliminary internal discussions, Odell said. “In the tradition of not counting our chickens until they hatch, we have decided to wait for the release of the final rule from the US Treasury before formalizing our plan for spending these funds.
“The final rule will come into effect on April 1,” she said. “When the rule is finalized, I have no doubt that we will have a good list of various projects to pursue across the county.”
“We’re just at the beginning,” said lawmaker Ginny Nacerino at the Feb. 1 meeting, according to the news release. “We want money for mental illness, for education, for housing, for infrastructure. We haven’t got there yet. It’s just coming because time was running out.”
“Our auditors are an outside agency,” said lawmaker chairman Neal Sullivan. “We will have an independent review by an outside agency to ensure that where we spend the money meets ARPA grant guidelines.”
County officials in the press release said “The golf course is a gateway for tourism in Putnam County. It is a reinvestment in a proven business that generates money and which saw nearly 50,000 guests in 2021. This will increase jobs and revenue for the county for years to come.”
Another suggestion to promote tourism was not taken up at the February 1 meeting.
Legislator Nancy Montgomery has suggested that Putnam restore the financial aid it once provided to Cold Spring, the county’s tourism mecca. Not only do its shops and restaurants draw hundreds of people to the village each spring, summer and fall weekend, but its train station is a popular destination for New York City hikers heading to the park. neighboring state of Breakneck Ridge. The park has attracted over 3.1 million visitors over the past decade, an average of over 300,000 per year. In the spring of 2020, the state actually closed all trails and parking areas along the corridor, including Breakneck Ridge, Notch Trail, and Mount Beacon, because so many people were walking on Route 9D.
Lawmaker Paul Jonke said he doesn’t think it’s the job of the county tourism office to provide port-a-potties or remove trash in Cold Spring,