The informal meeting of the Common Council last night was over in a record 19 minutes, but in that time much was learned. Gossips will recount the items that were most interesting.
Mayoral Veto Among the communications was a veto message from Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton. She vetoed the Council's approval of paying the annual $250 membership fee to the New York State Planning Federation. The mayor determined that this was an unnecessary expense because the Planning Board does not take advantage of the benefits of membership. According to recently appointed Planning Board chair Tom DePietro, "while membership allows for discounts on publications and conference/event registration fees, most resources are provided online free of charge. Further, there are other organizations such as NYCOM, of which the City is already a paying member, that provide similar training and resources." Better than saving $250 would be some assurance that the people who serve on the Planning Board are actually required to get some training.
Parking Meters There were letters from Pamela Kungle--one to the mayor and one to the Common Council president--arguing against installing parking meters in the 200 block of Warren Street. In November, when the Council met to adopt the budget for 2016, Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) had suggested that the $25,000 allocated for the installation of parking meters in the 200 block be removed from the budget. His attempt to have this item removed was not successful.
Zoning Amendment The mayor proposed an amendment to the Section 325-13 of the city code, which would "designate 'hotel' as a conditionally permitted use in the R-S-C Zone." The impetus for this amendment, of course, is proposal by Redburn Development to convert the former Stageworks, former Kaz manufacturing building at 41 Cross Street into a hotel. The project is currently being required to seek a use variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals and is expected to go before the ZBA on February 24. The proposed amendment to the code would eliminate the need for a variance.
Praise for the Friends A resolution was introduced, which originated with the Historic Preservation Commission, acknowledging and thanking the Friends of the First Presbyterian Church "for restoring the church's principal stained glass window on Warren Street" and "for their ongoing and exemplary work in protecting this major and iconic structure on Hudson's main street."
Raising Age of Criminal Responsibility A resolution, initiated by Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward), was introduced "in support of raising the age of criminal responsibility" and "urging all decision-makers within the criminal justice system to immediately take steps to reduce the instances in which young people under the age of eighteen are given harsh adult sentences in adult prisons." Related to this resolution is Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan to separate 16- and 17-year-old offenders from the adult prison population and transfer them to the Hudson Correction Facility starting in August 2016.
Police & Court Building City Attorney Ken Dow reported that letters have gone out to the low bidders for the adaptive reuse of 701 Union Street requesting qualifications. A performance bond is also required of the low bidders before contracts can be entered into.
The Ramp Garriga asked Dow to prepare a resolution to move forward with the ramp at Promenade Hill, indicating that the ramp proposed in June 2014 by DPW superintendent Rob Perry is the one that would be built.
Displaying, presumably for dramatic effect, a much folded and disintegrating piece of paper that he said was a 2010 letter to the mayor requesting the ramp at Promenade Hill, Alderman Abdus Miah (Second Ward) wondered aloud why building a ramp was taking so long. He also apparently suggested that people should donate money so that there would be more than the $20,000 allocated in the 2016 budget available for building the ramp.
Alderman Rick Rector (First Ward) said he agreed with Miah and went on to say that he wanted to revisit the design and the cost "to see if we can't do better." Responding to the notion of revisiting the design, Garriga told Rector, "That's not what he said." Exactly what Miah had said was never clarified.
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