Beloved Cold Spring resident and long time Zoning Board of Appeals member passes away this week
Dick Turner was one of those people that you automatically like and would not easily forget. With his sweet and jovial nature, he personified the saying, “A true original.” To all who knew him Dick was always a pleasure to be around. Every Wednesday morning after working the night shift in NYC, Dick would walk into the PCN&R’s office with a smile and announce, “I’m here to pick up my bulldog,” (that’s what he would call our paper as it was fresh off the press).
The entire staff is shocked and saddened to hear the news. On behalf of our Publisher Elizabeth Ailes, Editor Doug Cunningham and the entire PCN&R staff, we wish to extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends.
Perhaps the two people who knew him best at the PCN&R were our Director of Advertising Lynn Duffy and Business Manager Carol Balducci, who work in the front area of our office. Lynn reflected and said, “He was a happy, kind man who always had a kind word.” Carol observed, “He was such a nice man.”
I would always come and greet him, hoping perhaps for a tip or even some insight over a story I was covering. Without fail Dick would always make me laugh as he shared various village tales.
I was actually sitting at my desk writing him a get well card when the call came in to me that he has passed on. Dick was truly a man of honor; he will be greatly missed by all.
Here is the story I wrote when I had the honor of interviewing Dick. The story originally ran on the front page on the PCN&R 11/28/2012:
Cold Spring resident Dick Turner is one of those people who can be called a true original. Born in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn, Turner and his wife were looking to move out of the city when they perused the paper and noticed that there was an open house in Cold Spring. It brought back memories of his stint in the National Guard, when he would come to Camp Smith and go to the old German restaurant the Bavarian Inn, which is now the Stadium Restaurant.
When they looked at the house in Cold Spring, Turner recalled, “I fell in love with the view. I thought I died and went to heaven.”
That was back in 1983 and his love for Cold Spring has never ceased.
Dick is the night manager at the prestigious River Club in Manhattan. He’s even received a letter of commendation from Nobel Peace Prize recipient and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger when a fire broke out in his apartment building at 2 a.m. in the morning, and Dick made the necessary accommodations for Kissinger and his family.
You may not know it, but Turner was at one time studying to be a Catholic priest with the Paulist Fathers as a young man. When asked what happened, Turner smiled and said simply, “Girls.”
Turner then attended Pace University to study accounting, later becoming a certified public accountant.
Turner was asked to join the Zoning Board of Appeals in 1990. “Back in those days nobody volunteered.” Turner admits that when he first started on the board, he really did not know that much about the Zoning Board and what his responsibilities were going to be, “I quickly did on the job training.”
Turner did everything he could do to educate himself and became familiar with the zoning laws; he also served for a period of time as the ZBA Chair, but felt that it would be best if an architect do the job. Turner has become one of the most astute people on the ZBA. “I realize that I am kind of a long termer on the board,” Turner observed. Meeting people and trying to help them when they come before the board are the things he likes best about his job.
Turner believes that most people would be surprised over the amount of investigative work that is involved at the ZBA. He credits Chair Donald MacDonald for doing an excellent job in leading the panel.
Turner is definitely a man who is not shy to share his opinions. On the demolition of Butterfield Hospital, he has mixed emotions. He believes that the Historic Board “has the best interest of the village at heart, but by the same token I can understand (developer Paul) Guillaro; he is a very responsible builder.”
Turner also expressed concern about the asbestos remaining in the building. He said he thought Guillaro was being more than fair by offering to keep the 1920s building, the original one.
Turner has been a staunch supporter of Kenny Elmes’ right to open a Dunkin Donuts in Cold Spring from the beginning. Turner observed that the law clearly allows Elmes to open a Dunkin’ Donuts at his current filling station and that he is zoned for food service and so should be allowed to open a donut shop.
“You can’t turn around and say there is something illegal here, it is zoned for that business.” He also refuted the claim of some that the Comprehensive Plan says the village shouldn’t have chain restaurants: “If this was a Starbucks everybody would be offering incense and bowing at it, but since it’s only a poor man’s Dunkin’ Donuts, it’s taboo.”
What about the lengthy process Kenny Elmes has gone through to seek approval, a matter now before the Planning Board? Turner said the process can become too much for applicants, and has gone too far in Elmes’ case. “It’s unfair, I was shocked that they would go through this extreme…he has to keep coughing up more money...”
Turner also has been struck by some of the vehement opposition to Elmes and his plan. “I could not believe all the vitriol coming from the neighbors … I could not believe that they could be that callous.”
In the end, Turner thinks it likely that Elmes will ultimately be approved for a Dunkin’ Donuts. But in his last Christmas card to Elmes, Turner enclosed a couple of lottery tickets – figuring his friend’s luck had to change soon.