Last Friday, at the Historic Preservation Commission meeting, Rick Scalera, perennial mayor of Hudson turned county supervisor and special adviser to the Galvan Initiatives Foundation, said that the Galvan proposal for State and Seventh streets would be presented to the Human Services Committee of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors on July 18, and it happened just as predicted, although Scalera himself, appropriately, was not present at the meeting.
The proposal, the amount of money the proposed plan is expected to save the county, the number of homeless people who can be sheltered there, the services that will be provided, and the musings about what would happen if the program actually works and the number of homeless people in Columbia County is dramatically reduced have been reported by Nathan Mayberg in today's Register-Star: "Shelter plan clears major hurdle." Gossips will take up the question of how Hudson came to make the "gracious gesture" and agree to "provide for the homeless throughout the county."
At some point during yesterday's Human Services Committee meeting, Supervisor Art Bassin (Ancram) posed this question to DSS Commissioner Paul Mossman: "Have you been in conversation with the City of Hudson?" Hudson supervisor Bill Hughes (Fourth Ward), a member of the committee, took it upon himself to answer the question. He said that he "sat down personally with several members of the Council, Don Moore, and the mayor," and although he "can't say that everyone is 100 percent behind the plan," he indicated that there is adequate support for it on the Common Council. He mentioned specifically Second Ward aldermen Wanda Pertilla and Abdus Miah and Fourth Ward aldermen Sheila Ramsey and Ohrine Stewart, noting that these two wards have the greatest homelessness problem in Hudson, and Fifth Ward aldermen Robert Donahue and Cappy Pierro, noting that the proposed facility will be located in the Fifth Ward. There was no mention of any conversations with aldermen from the First or Third wards.
Hudson mayor William Hallenbeck and Common Council president Don Moore were both present at the meeting, and both made statements in support of the proposal. Hallenbeck, as he did on @Issue earlier in the day, talked about Hudson being "leaders in providing transitional housing" but said he "worries about services the city provides," intimating that the City of Hudson needs to be compensated in some way for the impact of having this facility located in Hudson on such municipal services as police and public works. Moore agreed with the mayor, spoke of a "service component that is rich and well thought out," and reiterated the mayor's point that "some sort of 'impact consideration' is needed."
Hudson supervisor Ellen Thurston (Third Ward), also a member of the committee, appeared to be the only person in the room with standing to speak who had misgivings about the proposal. She asked if there was to be a public hearing. She asked if the residents of the neighborhood surrounding the facility were aware of what was being planned. She shared the concerns of her constituents that "Hudson already has a large amount of subsidized housing, and this is yet another facility that will be taking in people that are not necessarily from Hudson." She also expressed the opinion that it was premature to enter into a five-year lease agreement with Galvan because the plan still needs to go before the Planning Commission, the Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Historic Preservation Commission. She was assured by county attorney Robert Fitzsimmons that the lease was contingent upon the project getting all the necessary approvals.
When it came time to vote on approving the resolution, Hughes made the motion. Thurston was the only member of the committee to vote against it. [Hudson supervisor Ed Cross (Second Ward) is also a member of the committee.] The resolution still needs approval from the Finance Committee, which meets on August 7, before it goes to the full Board of Supervisors for a vote--a vote from which Rick Scalera, Fifth Ward supervisor and special adviser for the Galvan Initiatives Foundation, says he will not recuse himself, although many consider it a conflict of interest.
Some questions still require answers: How did it come about that Hudson is "taking the lead" in providing for all the homeless in Columbia County? Who offered Hudson for this purpose? What caused Hughes, who has expressed strong objections in the past to Hudson taking on the burden of homelessness for the whole county, to change his tune and now embrace and advocate for this plan?
It's important to remember that the facility proposed for State and Seventh street is meant to provide Tier 1 and Tier 2 services in a scheme that involves three tiers. At Tuesday's Common Council meeting, after some present had expressed support for the facility proposed for Seventh and State streets but reservations about the facility proposed for Fourth and Columbia streets, Linda Mussmann made the point that "Tier 3 is integral to this project. That's what the Fourth and Columbia building is."