Thursday, March 26, 2009

Last Call for Tickets to Garrison Yacht Club Spring Dinner

Garrison Yacht Club will present The Eilen Jewell Band for its 2009 Spring Dinner. Details below:

When: Sunday, April 5
Time: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Dutchess Manor -- 263 Rte. 9D, Beacon, NY
Cost: $75 per person including full dinner and beverages and music. Checks should be made payable to Garrison Yacht Club and sent to P.O. Box 176, Garrison NY 10524

Tickets are available on first come, first serve basis until Sunday, March 29th. No tickets will be available at the door.

Contact info:

Sponsors: Polhemus Construction, Nick Roberti's Marine, Samalot Marine and Sea Tow Central Hudson.
Photo by Jennifer Lucey-Brzoza @

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Note About Guinan's, "Profitability," and the Future of # 7 Garrison's Landing

Two interesting pieces in this week's Putnam County News & Recorder neatly capture the tenor of the ongoing push to have a public gathering space in the old Guinan's building.

One, written by Michael Turton, does a nice job painting the scene of last week's lively Philipstown Planning Board meeting while a second by titled "A Brief History of the 'Little Chapel,'" describes the long, rich tenure of this particular gathering spot along the Hudson. (You need a subscription to view these pieces in full.)

Lindsley cites my book saying that Jim Guinan was determined to keep the place going even though the operation was losing money. It's true that at various points in time in its nearly 50-year history Guinan's struggled -- early on when Jim and his late wife Peg were launching the business, after Peg's death.

However, as my book also notes, according to the family the store also was profitable during its long history, including when it was under the leadership of Jim and Peg's daughter Christine and her husband Mike D'Onofrio; they say the store's business had tripled after their second year. And when Jim and Peg's other daughter Margaret finally shut the doors of Guinan's in 2008 after years of running it with her brother John and later help from her niece Kelly Guinan Preusser, she says the store was profitable.

Some board members of Garrison Station Plaza have suggested that a public enterprise like Guinan's on Garrison's Landing cannot succeed financially. Certainly there will always be struggles as the economy ebbs and flows for just about any business, large or small. Over nearly five decades, the Guinans weathered rough patches that will sound familiar to many entrepreneurs -- the death of a business partner, rising heating fuel prices, vendors who requested stricter payment terms, the loss of business from fuel tanks being removed at the Garrison's Landing boaters' dock. They had good years and bad years. But there was never an absence of foot traffic at the store, which rests at a critical entry and exit point for the hamlet. Demand was there.

Judging by the outpouring of support for a new gathering spot, it appears there are still a lot of people willing to spend their dollars again down at #7 Garrison's Landing in the right venue. Hopefully, they'll have a chance.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Possible Compromise for Old Guinan's Building?

At last night's Philipstown Planning Board meeting, a public hearing was held, which included discussion on the new site plan approval for the old Guinan's building at #7 Garrison's Landing.

The architect for the Garrison Station Plaza, which owns the building, presented his drawings and elaborated a bit more on last month's proposal, adding that the GSP was considering investing in an energy efficient geothermal heating and cooling system for the property. (This technology uses heat generated from the earth versus fossil fuels.) Currently the plans are to convert the space into residences and an office.

However, there was a robust appeal from the public at the meeting to include some sort of a public space (ie, cafe) in the new plans. The question also was raised about whether the Guinan's building qualifies as a "historic property," which could affect rules around its change of use and structural alterations.

There was also discussion about whether the GSP's current plans are in keeping with the Philipstown Comprehensive Plan. Two members of the community, Christine Ashburn and Barbara Feldt, presented the board with results of a petition with 1086 signatures asking the GSP to please retain some portion of the building to serve the residents, commuters, Garrison Arts Center patrons, West Point cadets and tourists who pass through at this critical juncture by the train stop. And two residents, Shelley Boris of Fresh Company catering and Mary Ellen Yannitelli expressed interest in exploring business opportunities to serve the community at the space. Hank Osborn, a member of the Garrison Station Plaza board, reiterated his dissent with the organization's current plans while emphasizing how much he valued his ability to serve the on the GSP board.

After listening, the Philipstown Planning Board decided to solicit more public comment. A couple of members said they couldn't support the building's "change of use" as currently outlined and encouraged the GSP to reevaluate and see if some sort of compromise might be reached to include a public meeting space.

Hopefully, with some thoughtful dialogue, the end result can be a win-win for everyone, including our neighbors on the Garrison Station Plaza board. The goal is fostering community and preservation of what makes this town so unique -- and that indeed was the original goal of Garrison Station Plaza and its majority owner, the not-for-profit Garrison Landing Association, as outlined by its founders in the late 1960s.

Photo by Gwendolyn Bounds. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

New Cafe (& Martini Bar?) Coming at Old Garrison Market Site

Updated: Tonight I ran into Michael at Angelina's. He's leaving that business in the hands of his partner to run this new project at the old Garrison Market full-time. The atmosphere was a little sad in the restaurant, but Michael was upbeat about his new project and the food was outstanding at Angelina's, so maybe Philipstown will have the best of both worlds.

Michael says he plans to unroll his vision for the new business in two stages. The first will be a market and cafe until 7 p.m. He says he is aiming to have tables, wireless access and serve wine and beer. But it won't be a full-fledged restaurant. He's planning to build a deck, and is debating whether to open at 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. Says he's a nighttime guy and the new routine will take some adjusting to for him. He'll be testing different brands of coffee next Mon. and Tues. in the store and wants folks to stop in.

His Stage 2 involves taking the apartment area next door and converting it into a late-night Martini Bar. Yes, a Martini Bar in Garrison. Maybe music, maybe open from 8 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Sounds like he's still feeling his way and figuring things out.

Whether or not he opens on April 6th, as the sign currently posted says, remains to be seen.


Word is that Michael Pizzolongo from Angelina's in Cold Spring (next to Foodtown), just closed a deal take over the spot of the old Garrison Market next to the Garrison Post Office. People familiar with his plans say he'll operate a restaurant and invest in renovations, including adding a deck on the south side of the building.

I haven't seen it yet, but hear there's a sign on the door that reportedly says: Opening April 6th, 5am-7pm M-F, Sat & Sun 7am-7pm.

More details soon...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy High Holy Day

This photo of the "high priest" himself, Jim Guinan, was taken on Guinan's Day 2005. We're lucky to have Jim back in the Hudson Valley for the High Holy Day 2009. He heads back home to his daughter Christine and son-in-law Mike's in Florida soon after a good long visit with his daughter Margaret.

Jim will be out and about in town tonight with some of the parishioners and his granddaughter Kelly...maybe even singing Danny Boy. (Hint: somewhere on Main Street in Cold Spring) So shhhh.....

All rights reserved on photo.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Thanks to the Mystery Snow Plower

I loved this random letter to the editor this week in the Putnam County News and Recorder. Solange Muller of Cold Spring wrote in thanks of a mystery snow plower who plowed Muller's driveway -- twice -- this winter unasked, unpaid.

Wrote Muller: "Your gift of plowing my driveway this winter has been like a ray of sunshine making it's way through a dark cloud, bringing light and hope into my life and strengthening my believe that we are surrounded by goodness."

It's remarkable how far a small gesture of unexpected kindness can reach.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Excerpts from Two Letters Regarding Fate of Old Guinan's Store

Two letters in support of preserving a portion of the old Guinan's store building as a public gathering spot, such as a cafe, appeared in our local paper the Putnam County News and Recorder this week.

One letter from resident Mary Ellen Yannitelli, who made her own bid to open a cafe in the space, included the following: "Garrison Station Plaza Inc. has decided the ultimate use for the building at #7 Garrison's Landing, and it appears that they have disregarded the Town of Philipstown's goals in the Comprehensive Plan, and were uninfluenced by public pressure (we submitted a petition in support of a store with over 1,000 signatures.)

Over 75% of the GSP corporate stock is owned by their not-for-profit sister company, the Garrison Landing Association. As a 501c3 company they receive public funds from both individuals and State and foundation grants. It is possible that if their decision about the use of the building at #7 Garrison's Landing favors what the majority of the public wants to see there, the public would be more generous in supporting their charitable organizations."

Full letter can be read here with paid subscription and for free four weeks after publication.

Another, from resident Tim Donovan of Garrison, says that "Covenants are written in Philipstown to preserve rights or the environment. As a gathering spot for generations the Store has a covenant that is no less bound.... That a community noted for resisting mediocre change would permit the silencing of this store so central to our "aesthetic," "historic" and "community" interests is profoundly short-sighted. Replacing the store with an apartment and a couple of office cannot satisfy your covenant....

Formed as a not-for-profit, the GLA memorialized its 'Purpose' in corporate filings and therefore the reason for its legal existence. The 'Purpose' includes: the "aesthetics," "history" and "community" of the Landing; the GLA's goal was to protect it."

Full letter can be read here.

Local Artist and Curator Featured on Mother Nature Network

Chuck Leavell, keyboardist for the Rolling Stones and a founder of the new environmental Web site Mother Nature Network, talks to local art curator Amy Lipton and artist Simon Draper in the Carl Van Brunt Gallery in Beacon N.Y. Amy and Simon discuss their two projects -- ecoartspace and Habitat For Artists -- with Chuck.

Cool projects with national reach; check them out.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Guinan Family Community Service Award--How to Contribute

Readers have asked how they can make a contribution in memory and thanks of Guinan's now that the store has closed.

Through the Garrison Union Free School District, I established the Guinan Family Community Service Award in 2006 to honor the GUFS student who most strongly exhibits leadership by giving back to their community during the school year.

The annual award, typically given out in June, is designed to encourage students to think the importance of service and community much in the same spirit as Jim & Peg Guinan and their children and grandchildren did while running Guinan's Pub & Country store for nearly 50 years. Each student selected receives $100 as thanks and acknowledgment for their contributions. A member of the Guinan family has been present each year to help present the award.

While the award is funded in perpetuity, additional donations would help expand the gift to more than one deserving student. If interested, checks can be made out to GUFS with an accompanying letter indicating funds are earmarked for the Guinan Community Service fund and a note indicating the same in the memo line of the check.

Please mail to the attention of:
Susan Huetter
Business Manager
Garrison Union Free School, 1100 Route 9D , Garrison, NY 10524
For more information please contact Sue Huetter @ 845-424-3689.

Public Hearing on Change of Use for Former Guinan's building

Host: Town of Philipstown
Date: Thursday, March 19, 2009
Time: 7:30pm - 10:30pm
Location: VFW Hall
Street: Kemble Ave.
City/Town: Cold Spring, NY
Facebook Event Link

The Garrison Station Plaza Inc.(building owners) submitted plans to the town to change the use of #7 Garrison's Landing from a store and residence to offices and a residence. Is this a good use for this historic property? Should/could the building accomodate a small gathering spot for the public as well as offices and a residence?

This event is a public hearing where you can share your thoughts.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ned Sullivan of Scenic Hudson on the Mother Nature Network

The Hudson Valley's own Ned Sullivan of Scenic Hudson talks with Chuck Leavell of the Mother Nature Network (and Rolling Stones keyboardist) about smart growth, brownfields and conservation easements in the Hudson River Valley.