Monday, May 8, 2017

News About the Senior Center

Sher Stevens, who directs programming for the City at the Hudson Senior Center, presented a report to the Common Council Youth & Aging Committee this past Wednesday. Her report touched on a couple of problems that need working out.

According to Stevens, the yoga and aerobics classes are going strong--as they were back before the Senior Center moved to its new space. Aerobics is regularly attracting about 20 people, and yoga is also doing well. But both classes are losing people because the room where the classes are held is too small. It will be remembered that these classes were relegated to the smaller of the two rooms at the Senior Center because the larger room was needed for the "Food & Friendship Center" administered by the Columbia County Office for the Aging. Stevens reported that this program, which goes on for four hours every day, Monday through Friday, providing seniors lunch for $3 and the opportunity to "engage in their own activities such as playing cards and games, completing jigsaw puzzling, socializing and other similar activities," regularly attracts between 6 and 12 people, with 18 being the greatest number to attend on special occasions.

Stevens told the committee that the contract for the Food & Friendship Center is up on July 1, and the Office for the Aging will soon be reassessing whether Hudson qualifies to be a meal site.

Food (but not necessarily friendship) is at the heart of another problem at the Senior Center. During a recent cooking class at the Senior Center, there was an accident. Someone spilled milk, which caught fire, and someone else tried to put out the fire with water, which caused smoke to stain a kitchen cabinet. Stevens told the committee that Jason O'Toole, property manager for the Galvan Foundation, "got upset because they got smoke on the cabinets," alleged that the cooking being done in the cooking class was "commercial cooking," which presumably was in violation of the City's lease agreement, and decreed that no cooking could be done in the kitchen, hence limiting cooking classes at the Senior Center to food preparation that did not involve actual cooking.

With tinge of irony in his voice, Alderman Michael O'Hara (First Ward), who serves on the Youth & Aging Committee, suggested, "We need to have a chat with the landlord about cooking in the kitchen." O'Hara didn't mention that the lease authorized by the Common Council in October 2013 makes no mention of prohibition on cooking, commercial or otherwise; that, since $100,000 was exacted from the City to "fit out" the Senior Center, the smoke damaged cabinet may rightfully be the property of the City; or that, according to the terms of the lease, the City is responsible for both insurance and maintenance of the premises.

The course of action agreed upon by the committee was that Alderman Abdus Miah (Second Ward), who chairs the Young & Aging Committee, would have the "chat with the landlord" suggested by O'Hara.


  1. Thank you for the great reporting, Carol. Was there no resolution concerning aerobics and yoga moving to the large room? Both classes would expand to serve more people if the big room was used.

    1. As I understand the situation, Pewtetra, putting aerobics and yoga in the larger room isn't something that can be accomplished with a Common Council resolution. The Columbia County Office for the Aging apparently insisted that they needed the larger room for its Food & Friendship progam. The need to renew the contract with OFA may be an opportunity to renegotiate that, but since that program doesn't seem to be enjoying great success in Hudson, OFA may decide to discontinue it.

  2. That Galvan's mouthpiece would utter something as preposterous as you report should come as no surprise to those who've kept up with that company's practice of emptying out affordable apartments so they can sit empty for years thereby driving up the cost of rentals in the city by limiting supply is "the creation of affordable housing."

    Truth and logic play no part in the actions or words Galvan has employed in its dealings with the City regarding the armory. Telling the seniors they can't cook in a kitchen is laughable and actionable. If it's true that the City has done nothing to rectify this situation I find it both bizarre and troubling.

    (As an aside, the kitchen cabinets likely belong to Galvan -- they are fixtures regardless of who paid for them and likely become part of the leasehold unless the lease (is there a lease?) specifies otherwise.)