If for nothing else, Croton’s village board meeting of June 4 was notable for the speed and alacrity with which the business at hand was dispatched. It was almost as though board members, unhappy with the mishugas of the previous meeting on May 21, had decided to get the business over quickly. (For readers who do not know the meaning of mishugas, it is a Yiddish word meaning craziness or nonsense, and admirably fits the previous meeting’s performance.)
But back to the highlights of the June 4 meeting: During so-called “citizen participation,” John Harbeson arose and paid tribute to village clerk Peggy Keesler, who is retiring after long years of dedicated service. Young Kevin Davis, as usual, spoke at great length, and insisted on again bringing up Mayo’s Landing, a topic of bitter memory, by bemoaning the defunding of the so-called “police boat” to patrol the Croton River in the vicinity of Mayo’s Landing. He was assured that adequate funding would always be available.
But the stellar performance was by Robert Wintermeier, who chided board members about the fast pace of the evening’s proceedings compared to earlier meetings. It had almost caused him to miss his chance to lecture the board. There followed a colloquy about Mayo’s Landing in which Mr. Wintermeier reported that he had inspected the site from a distance because of his fear that another pair of shoes—his—might irreparably damage the trail leading down to the river. He then brought up the subject of the financing for the police boat.
Mr. Wintermeier called attention to the fact that the town of Cortlandt had contributed either $10,000 or $20,000—he wasn’t sure—toward the police boat. He is one of those people who feel that the briefest acquaintance with someone puts him on a first-name basis with them. True to form, Mr. Wintermeier, who contributed all of $25 to State Senator Vincent Leibell’s reelection campaign, pointed out to the board and the audience that “Vinnie” Leibell had gotten the state to contribute another $10,000 toward the cost of operating the police boat. After some brief back-and-forth wrangling it was decided that the town had contributed $20,000 and the state, through Senator Leibell’s good offices, had contributed $10,000. Way to go, Vinnie!
If these contributions to the policing of Mayo’s Landing from the river side have indeed been made by the town and the state, Crotonblog has to wonder out loud how the village of Croton-on-Hudson can exclude residents of the town of Cortlandt or the state of New York from entering on and enjoying the village-owned facility known as Mayo’s Landing? Moreover, being a tidal waterway, this part of the lower Croton River comes under federal jurisdiction and raises the specter of comparison with several cases involving oceanfront tidal properties that have gone against restrictions barring entry of nonresidents.
Mr. Wintermeier next turned his attention to the legal propriety of Croton’s exclusionary limitation of entry to Mayo’s Landing to village residents with a park photo I.D. and holders of valid fishing licenses. Addressing the village attorney James Staudt chummily as “Jim,” he made an unusual demand, “I’d like to know from you the answer to this question. You reviewed our legal problems regarding Mayo’s Landing and some of the actions we are facing. We pay our lawyers a lot of good money to give us legal advice, I’d like to know whether we have legal exposure.” Mr. Wintermeier added that “Jim” had already reviewed the problem and had felt confident that the village was on solid ground.
Attorney Staudt demurred. “Before I answer that,” he noted, “I do not know everything that happens at Mayo’s Landing and every regulation that affects it.” He continued, adding pointedly, “If the board wants me to, I’ll look into that and render an opinion.” Sensing that Mr. Wintermeier’s peremptory demand sounded suspiciously like something that might set expensive legal wheels in motion and rack up additional invoicing for more of the village’s “good money,” Mayor Schmidt tried to pour oil on troubled waters by reminding everybody that “No matter what we do, we are always legally exposed. You can’t stop people from suing you. Anybody can sue for anything when new legislation is passed.” He expressed confidence that the village attorney “will continue to look at this.”
Trustee Tom Brennan summed up the Mayo’s Landing problem by pointing out that many people had participated in the discussions that led to the new regulations. Referring to the local legislation as “a living document,” he assured Mr. Wintermeier that everything had been reviewed by the village’s attorneys. Then, he coined a new metaphor by saying he was sure that “the actions we did take will ‘pass the mustard’ if anything comes up.” After that stunning Brennanism, the meeting raced to a speedy conclusion. In Crotonblog’s book, compared with many earlier and more memorable meetings, the June 4 village board meeting barely passed muster.