Elected Officials Forum Brings Honest Dialogue

Jennifer Maher | May 2018

This past April 15th was the annual Putnam County Chamber of Commerce Elected Officials Forum. Each year town/village, county, state and federal level officials are invited to discuss the overall business climate, economic development and our legislative priorities for the upcoming year.

Some very honest conversations took place. Cost of permitting and development in area towns were discussed, including an example of a Putnam Valley individual who will pay $9,000 for a building permit of one single-family home, in addition to other costly fees. In the town of Carmel site plan updates require payment of the entire fee again. Everyone at the table realized that we should be encouraging new homeowners and especially new commercial development to come to our county.

Regarding commercial development, Town of Kent Supervisor Maureen Fleming was asked about Patterson Crossing. Fleming responded that, while she was now supportive, many people are believed to not be in favor of the project. Historically, the Town of Kent so vehemently opposed the project that they will only get a parking lot as a rateable should it come to fruition. Kent Councilman Bill Huestis and Supervisor Fleming both spoke of a possible hotel and truck stop coming to the Route 52/311 corridor. It would be interesting to see if those against Patterson Crossing would accept this plan. A proposed water park got a positive reception. Patterson was represented by Supervisor Rich Williams, who is focused on pushing Patterson Crossing to the finish line. Lynne Eckhart and John Lord of Southeast spoke of projects being pushed through and then not performing and being left vacant.

Town of Carmel Supervisor Kenneth Schmitt discussed the Downtown Mahopac revitalization and parking project. The Village of Brewster was not represented at the session, but “Envision Brewster” was mentioned as a good example of county and local government working together scoring a $180,000 hotspot grant as well as the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce’s support role. Barbara Scuccimarra was the only representative from Philipstown. We hope to increase communication between east and west in coming years. Putnam Valley was well represented by Supervisor Sam Oliverio Jr., Legislator Bill Gouldman and Councilwoman Jacqueline Annabi and discussed the need for water and sewer and the huge progress on the town shuttle to take Putnam Valley residents to the train.

County Executive MaryEllen Odell reported on some positive work with the NYCDEP, and its effect on Envision Brewster, Tilly Foster, and the sewer projects in Carmel and Southeast. Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, Matt Slater of Terrance Murphy’s office and Senator Sue Serino’s office all discussed the difficult budgets and commitment to bringing money in for needed infrastructure and improved roads. Putnam County District Attorney Bob Tendy offered good insight from his past Supervisor role.

In this successful forum, the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce sought to allow participants from all levels of involvement to freely discuss the important issues from an economic development standpoint and consider options for working together to address them.

Jennifer Maher
Jennifer Maher is chairwoman of the Putnam County Business Council and currently serves as the vice president of the Hudson Valley Chapter of the New York State Commercial Association of Realtors.