Wednesday, May 5, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today--on Facebook as well as on its own website. Since yesterday, there have been ten new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is eight more than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that since yesterday two more county residents are considered to be recovering from the virus. There is one more county resident in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday, but no one is hospitalized with the virus. There has not been another death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since yesterday.  

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 3.9 percent and a seven-day average of 1.5 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 2.0 percent and the seven-day average is 1.5 percent.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 34 new cases of COVID-19. The majority of the new cases were residents and staff of The Grand at Barnwell. The total number of cases was 260, and the number of active cases was 153. There were 180 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 9 were hospitalized, and 3 were in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 16.

Speaking Truth to Lawyers

The special meeting of the Planning Board last night went on for more than three hours, as the members of Planning Board reviewed and corrected Colarusso's responses to Part 1 for the Full Environmental Assessment Form (FEAF). But before that review began, Planning Board member Stephen Steim asked permission to speak about letters received from John Privitera, attorney for A. Colarusso and Sons. 

Steim said Privitera's tactic in his letters was to imply that the SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) process being followed by the Planning Board was mismanaged. He alleged that Privitera "wants to create a false record" and "attempts to frame our review in a dishonest way." He made specific reference to a lengthy letter from Privitera sent to the board on February 8, 2021, which makes these arguments:
  1. Since the dock is an ongoing operation, the impact of which is known and fully mitigated by the Code requirements with which we comply, the scope of review of the Dock Application is limited to the impact of the Bulkhead Repair on the recreating public;
  2. the scope of the review of the Haul Road Application is limited to the impact of the proposed improvements;
  3. SEQRA review on the Dock Application should be limited to the impact of the Bulkhead Repair and the additional conditions imposed by the Planning Board pursuant to the City Code; and
  4. no further SEQRA review by the Planning Board on the Haul Road Application is required or permitted.
Steim also cited a letter from Ken Dow, former city attorney, received on February 18, in response to Privitera's letter. He read aloud a portion of the letter in which Dow calls Privitera's letter "ten pages of shockingly dishonest misrepresentations of matters that have been addressed over and over, and which are the subject of final and definitive Court rulings that are the exact opposite of what Mr. Privitera claims. These points have been definitively settled." Steim further quoted Dow's letter: 
a) As of 2011, commercial dock operations could continue as a nonconforming use; b) the right to operate as a non-conforming use terminated when they did the "triggering" act of working on the bulkhead; c) now that the right to operate as a nonconforming use has been terminated by the triggering act, they need to get a special use permit for the entire operation in order to continue to operate; d) the Court said that "SEQRA review for continued commercial dock operations is necessary." 
Steim's comments take up a little more than five minutes at the beginning of the meeting, which can be viewed in its entirety here.

A bit later in the meeting Privitera told the board, "We are here to conform to the order to remedy. We are not here for the entire revisitation of the entire dock operation." Victoria Polidoro, counsel to the Planning Board, corrected him saying, "The permit is for the continued use of the dock. It's the whole enchilada."
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We Love a Parade!

Hudson loves parades. As evidence, there are two happening in Hudson this Saturday, May 8.

In the early afternoon on Saturday, the Mad Hatters' Parade, which made its debut in 2019, returns to Hudson. 

Photo: Paul Abitabile|Hudson Area Library
The parade of local folk, marvelously masked and dressed in wearable art, steps off at 2 p.m. from in front of the Hudson Area Library at 51 North Fifth Street. From there the parade proceeds to Warren Street and then continues to Third Street, where it turns right and heads for Columbia Street. It proceeds west on Columbia Street to Front Street and follows Front Street all the way to Basilica Hudson, where it ends with a Grand Riverside Sashay.

There is still time to be part of the fun. Bring your "mad hats, puppets, and homemade instruments and assemblages in any form" to the library gates to line up by 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, or join the parade at any point along the way. For more information, go to www.madhattersparade.org

In the late afternoon, there is a parade of more serious intent: the John Lewis Voting Rights Motorcade.

A local motorcade supporting voting rights drives through Hudson on Saturday afternoon. As part of a national event, the John Lewis Voting Rights "Votercade" brings Columbia County residents together to bring attention to the  efforts to curb the right to vote and to call for passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The announcement for the event explains:
The Brennan Center for Justice reports that 361 bills and provisions to make it harder to vote, five of which have already become law, have been introduced in 47 states since the end of the 2020 election. . . . The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step in combating the sweeping voter suppression laws being proposed and passed across the country that disproportionally prevent minorities, the elderly and the youth from voting.
The votercade will assemble in the parking lot at 325 Columbia Street (Columbia County Department of Health) at 3:30 p.m. Participants are encouraged to decorate their cars, bring signs in support of voting rights and ending voter suppression. The votercade will kick off at 4:00 p.m., traveling west on Columbia Street to Front Street, then south on Front Street to Warren Street, and then up Warren Street to Seventh Street Park. For more information and to register to be part of the votercade, click here.

For more information about the National John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Action Day, visit johnlewisdayofaction.org. To learn more about voter suppression efforts, visit votingrightsalliance.org.

Where to Find Those COVID Numbers

Thanks to Columbia County Morning News, the question of reporting COVID numbers by the Columbia County Department of Health has been answered. The CCDOH is no longer posting its numbers on Facebook, but they are still being reported on weekdays on the CCDOH's own website. On Monday, May 3, the CCDOH reported sixteen new cases since the previous Friday; on Tuesday, May 4, eleven new cases were reported. Yesterday, the CCDOH also reported another death from COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths in the county from the virus to 94. The total number of active cases reported yesterday was 48.

As Gossips noted yesterday, it isn't over until it's over.
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Tuesday, May 4, 2021

COVID-19 Update

Is the pandemic over? The Columbia County Department of Health appears to have stopped reporting the number of new cases of COVID-19, the number county residents in mandatory quarantine, hospitalized, or in the ICU, and the number of deaths from COVID-19. The New York State Department of Health COVID-19 Tracker, however, is reporting that on Saturday, May 1, there were 9 new cases of COVID-19, for a positivity rate of 4.8 percent; on Sunday, May 2, there were 4 new cases, for a positivity rate of 1 percent; and on Monday, May 3, there were 6 new cases, for a positivity rate of 1.8 percent. 

It isn't over until it's over.

Update: A press release just received from Matt Murell, chair of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors, shares this information:
As of midday Tuesday, the Columbia County Department of Health had recorded nine new positive cases of COVID-19. There were two new cases on Saturday, and 14 cases combined between Sunday and Monday. County DOH Director Jack Mabb said the infection rate in the county remains “very constant.” 
One death attributed to COVID-19 on Monday brings to 94 the number of virus deaths in the county since the pandemic’s beginning. There are currently no county residents hospitalized as a result of the virus.

News from the IDA Meeting

At today's meeting of the Hudson IDA (Industrial Development Agency), Dan Kent, vice president of initiatives for the Galvan Foundation, announced a change to the building proposed for 708 State Street. Originally described market rate apartments, the building is now being called "workforce housing," affordable to households with moderate and middle incomes. The changes, Kent explained, were made as a result of conversations with Tiffany Garriga and Rebecca Wolff, majority leader and minority leader respectively of the Common Council, both members of the IDA.

Kent told the IDA that 20 percent of the apartments at 708 State Street would now be affordable to households earning 80 percent of AMI (area median income) and rents would be capped at 130 percent of AMI for the rest of the apartments. He also outlined the beginning rents for the building: 
Moderate Income (20 percent of AMI)
    • One bedroom  $1,120
    • Two bedroom  $1,360
    • Three bedroom  $1,560
Middle Income (not more than 130 percent of AMI)
    • One bedroom  $1,350
    • Two bedroom  $1,525
    • Three bedroom  $1,725
Kent also assured the IDA that when leasing the apartments preference would be given to people for whom the apartment would be their sole residence not a pied-à-terre in Hudson. Leasing support, he indicated later in the meeting, would be provided by Galvan Asset Management.
  
When asked about the rents in the the building across the street--75 North Seventh Street--which has always been described as affordable housing, Dan Hubbell, attorney for Galvan, shared the following chart:






Kent told the IDA that the NYS Homes and Community Renewal funding application was expected to be released sometime this month, with a six to eight week deadline for submitting applications, and a PILOT agreement was needed to meet the threshold requirements. The next opportunity to apply for HCR funding would be in January 2022. It is not clear if, with the changes to the plan for 708 State Street, the financing for that building, as well as 75 North Seventh Street, would involve HCR funding.

Mike Tucker reported that a financial consultant who is the former executive director of the New York City IDA will be engaged to review the projects. Chris Chale, legal counsel to the IDA, suggested that a public hearing take place sometime in June. The IDA agreed to have a special meeting on Tuesday, May 18, at which time Galvan is expected to present its application with all the modifications that have been made since the application was initially submitted, and a public hearing on the project will be scheduled.
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Monday, May 3, 2021

Meetings of Interest in the Week Ahead

Tra la! It's May! And here's what's happening in the first week of this lusty month.
  • On Monday, May 3, the Tourism Board meets at 7:00 p.m. The link here to join the Zoom meeting.
  • On Tuesday, May 4, the Hudson Industrial Development Agency (IDA) meets at 1:00 p.m. On the agenda, along with other things, are the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) requests for 75 North Seventh and 708 State Street, the two apartment buildings being proposed by the Galvan Foundation for the area of the city they are calling the "Depot District." Click here to join the Zoom meeting.
  • At 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 4, the Planning Board holds a special meeting to continue its consideration of Colarusso's applications for special use permits. The board is expected to review its responses on Part 2 of the Full Environmental Assessment Form (FEAF) and begin its consideration of Part 3: Evaluation of the Magnitude and Importance of Project Impacts and Determination of Significance. Click here to join the Zoom meeting.
  • On Wednesday, May 5, the subcommittee of the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissions meets at 6:00 p.m. At the last meeting of the committee, which can be viewed here, Quintin Cross reported on a survey of HHA tenants being conducted by Hudson/Catskill Housing Coalition. At this week's meeting, more information about the survey results may be presented, as well as a draft RFQ (request for qualifications) for new development of HHA property. To join the Zoom meeting, click here.
  • Also at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 5, the Common Council ad hoc committee taking up the topic of inclusionary zoning holds its second public meeting. 
  • On Thursday, May 6, Mayor Kamal Johnson holds a public hearing at 4:00 p.m. on the proposed law creating the position of a Fair Housing Officer for Hudson. To review the law, which was passed by the Common Council on April 20, click here. To join the public hearing on Zoom, click here.
  • Also on Thursday, May 6, the Conservation Advisory Council holds its monthly meeting at 6:00 p.m. Click here to join the Zoom meeting.
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About the Fund Balance

On Friday, Mayor Kamal Johnson issued a press release announcing that the City had $2.5 million in its unassigned fund balance. This amount was $1.6 million more than previously believed, and the discrepancy was the consequence of certain allocated funds being counted twice. The error was caught and promptly reported by the City Treasurer Heather Campbell. Michael Hofmann, who is challenging Campbell for the office of treasurer, issued his own press release a few hours after the mayor's, claiming, "An inaccuracy of this scale is a massive breach in public trust." This morning Campbell issued her own statement:

The Hudson City Treasurer’s Office deals with tens of millions of dollars in complex accounting and forecasting of revenues and expenses. Like municipalities and organizations across the country, that accounting was made more difficult by the many uncertainties surrounding COVID and my office felt it would be irresponsible to not plan for the most difficult fiscal outcome. As all finance professionals do, we also have a mechanism for checking, finding and quickly disclosing any errors in our estimates and reporting. I am very pleased that our worst fears did not materialize and that we are closer to reaching our minimum balance in unassigned funds, required by statute the last several years. I strongly encourage the Common Council to reinstate the fund balance policy to ensure we can weather any future emergency.

The fund balance policy, which the City imposed on itself several years ago, requires that the unassigned fund balance can never be less than 25 percent of the total city budget. The 2021 city budget is $11,854,839; 25 percent of that is almost $3 million--$2,963,709.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Redefining an Ad Hoc Committee

There is still no movement on selling the building that seems to be at the top of the Common Council's list of properties to divest: 429 Warren Street. The stumbling block remains relocating the Code Enforcement Office, which currently is the only occupant of the building. 


At Wednesday's meeting of the ad hoc committee tasked with selling City-owned properties, Alderman Jane Trombley (First Ward) suggested setting goals: relocating Code Enforcement by July; selling the building in August. Alderman Rebecca Wolff (First Ward) raised an objection, saying, "This assumes we are selling the building on Warren Street because it is valuable and will bring a good price." She called that "a dangerous assumption," asserting that they needed to "plan what they are going to do with the property." Wolff went on to say, "We have this committee because Tom was panicking about the fund balance," making reference to Council president Tom DePietro and betraying prior knowledge of what was made public in a press release from Mayor Kamal Johnson on Friday.

Trombley suggested that they "consider our objective and reformulate the committee," adding, "I am not comfortable with segueing from one construct to another." DePietro said, "I've been calling it the 'Property Committee.'" A bit later in the meeting, he suggested they rethink the committee and call it a "Property Committee" or a "Real Estate Committee," saying, "We're going to look at the larger issue of real estate." 
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Saturday, May 1, 2021

Nine Not to Ignore Revisited

Two years ago, at this time of year, Gossips did a series called Nine Not to Ignore, in admiring but blatant imitation of the New York State Preservation League's Seven to Save, to bring attention to some of the most at-risk buildings in Hudson. The series was inspired by the loss of two historic buildings in Hudson--211 Warren Street and 620 State Street. Two years later, it's time to revisit those nine buildings to see if anything has changed. Each of the heads below is a hyperlink to the 2019 Nine Not to Ignore post about the building. The first picture is the picture used in 2019.


Not much has changed for this house, considered to be the oldest surviving house in Hudson--certainly nothing has changed for the good. A few weeks ago, a hole in the north wall of the house, first discovered in June 2015, became so large that a window fell out of the wall. 

Photo: Colleen Hamm

Soon after it was discovered, the hole in the brick wall of the house was filled in with cement blocks, but the house remains vacant and neglected, as it has been for close to twenty years. 



After standing vacant for five years, this significant historic house, believed to be associated with the architect Alexander Jackson Davis, is now being restored. The project has come before the Historic Preservation Commission and was the subject of the
public hearing by the HPC in March. The house is now getting a new slate roof.


Six months after the Nine Not to Ignore post about this abandoned train station, built in 1871, the Galvan Foundation, which owns the building, presented its plans to restore the building for use as a craft brewery to the Historic Preservation Commission. Since then, the building has become the centerpiece of Galvan's proposed "Depot District." The restoration of the building, which has been meticulous and impressive, is now nearing completion.


In April 2019, Gossips reported the word on the street was the building was being sold. It was sold, eventually, but the closing didn't take place until the end of November 2020. Earlier that month, the new owners of the building, Preservation Lane, based in New Jersey, came before the Historic Preservation Commission for a certificate of appropriateness for their plans for the building, which involve re-creating the retail storefront; adding a fourth floor to the building, set back so it will not be visible from the street; and creating seven apartments in the building. 

The new owners posted about their acquisition and their plans for it on Instagram and provoked a firestorm of criticism. Michael Hofmann, now a candidate for city treasurer, wrote a letter to the Common Council with the subject line: "This is gentrification. What are we doing about it?" 

Some interior restoration may have begun on the building, but so far there has been no change to the exterior.


Last Saturday, Gossips reported these buildings have been sold to the Galvan Foundation. On Thursday, Galvan announced its plans to develop the buildings as a hotel, to be called The Hudson Public.



In October 2020, a proposal to complete the exterior restoration of the building came before Historic Preservation Commission. The proposal involved replacing the temporary replacement windows now in place with permanent replacement windows, removing the fire escape on the South Fifth Street side of the building, adding shutters to the Union Street side of the building, and re-creating a storefront at the southwest corner of the building. Replacing the windows was presented as a necessary preliminary step to beginning the interior renovation, which the HPC was told involved creating one bedroom and studio apartments.


The HPC granted a certificate of appropriateness to everything in the proposal except for the storefront. It was the opinion of the HPC that the square windows proposed for that space were inappropriate. So far, Gossips has seen no evidence that work has begun on this building.


The current status of this building is unknown. Two years ago, it was being advertised for sale on LoopNet.com for slightly more than $7.6 million. Today, if you follow the link Gossips provided two years ago, you find the message: "This Industrial Property is no longer advertised on LoopNet.com."


This building, one of the last surviving 19th-century industrial buildings on our waterfront, is owned by the City of Hudson. It will be remembered that the City received a $500,000 Restore NY grant for the building in January 2017, and $1 million in DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) funds have been earmarked for the Dunn building. A contingency for the DRI funding is that the City have a development partner. 

Since the Nine Not to Ignore post, a temporary repair was done to a portion of the roof of the building. This work was done a year ago, in April 2020. 

In March 2020, the DRI Committee issued an REI (request for expression of interest) for developing the Dunn building. The only response came from Bonacio Construction in Saratoga Springs. On May 13, 2020, several members of the DRI Committee had a conference call with two representatives of Bonacio. During that call Bonacio expressed interest in the three City-owned parcels north of the Dunn warehouse. In a follow-up call, Bonacio "explained that the additional parcels would be needed to round out the Dunn redevelopment site and make a potential investment viable." In June 2020, the Common Council passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to issue "an expanded request for expression of interest" for the Dunn warehouse and the three parcels north of the site--everything east of Water Street, from Broad Street to Ferry Street. There was even talk of adding the Kaz site, owned by Hudson Development Corporation, into the package. 

The current status of things for the Dunn warehouse is difficult to discern since DRI Committee meetings are no longer open to the public, and, according to Council president Tom DePietro, who is a member of the committee, the committee is no longer holding regular meetings. The last information relevant to the Dunn warehouse came from DePietro at a meeting earlier this week of the Common Council ad hoc committee originally tasked with selling City-owned property. He said the City was awaiting a decision on whether or not the three parcels north of the Dunn warehouse were considered waterfront property. If they were waterfront property, the City would be prohibited from selling the parcels. If they weren't, they could be sold. It is not known if a new REI was ever issued for the Dunn warehouse.


Photo: Jonathan Simons
In February 2020, the Preservation League of New York State named the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse one of its Seven to Save for 2020-2021. There's more to report about what's happened with the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse in the past two years, but that will be the subject of another post.
COPYRIGHT 2021 CAROLE OSTERINK

Friday, April 30, 2021

The City Has More Money Than We Thought

Earlier today, Mayor Kamal Johnson issued this press release:

The City of Hudson Announces 
$1.6 million-dollar additional funds
The City of Hudson has a $2.5 million-dollar unassigned fund balance, according to April report from the City Treasurer. That's $1.6 million more than $900,000 estimate the Treasurer gave in the prior month.
SAVING THROUGH SPENDING DECREASE
Significant savings were realized through spending decreases. Actual expenses were $1.0 million lower than budget, and significantly below forecast. In August of 2020 the Mayor asked all departments to create a spending reduction plan and issued an executive order that all expenditures $1000 or over had to be approved by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment (BEA). This led to savings beyond what the Treasurer's office anticipated.
SALES TAX
Furthermore, the City's sales tax revenue was greater than the April 12 report anticipated. By approximately $150 thousand. Studies have shown that cash assistance to people with low and moderate incomes stimulates the economy because people spend the money locally and immediately on essential services or use it to start small businesses. State and federal programs like increased unemployment assistance and stimulus checks added more money to the economy. Furthermore, the city started a universal basic income pilot program.
"Fourth quarter sales tax was the second highest on record, and is a good indicator of overall economic health," says City Treasurer Heather Campbell.
The city also participated and led several programs to support businesses. This included the Shared Streets program, The Berkshire Continuity Fund, the Galvan MWBE [Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises] Fund, and Tourism Board grants.
Prioritizing public health is also a key to a functioning economy. The city took consistent measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus and reduce its impacts on our community. This includes the Hudson Safe campaign and the distribution of essential supplies.
LODGING TAX
While the pandemic has reduced tourism and hospitality economy, Hudson received more funds in lodging tax than previously anticipated. Ending the year strong with over $220 thousand in lodging tax revenue. "It was extremely encouraging to see lodging tax rebound, since it also bodes well for local businesses," says Campbell.
FORECASTING
In addition, the previous report had a miscalculation where some allocations were counted twice, so that it appeared that less money was available than there really was.
ESSENTIAL SERVICES
Throughout the pandemic, the city sought to reduce expenses but prioritized our employees.
"Our employees provide essential services that our residents, businesses, and visitors need,"  says Mayor Kamal Johnson. "Every department contributes to our city's safety and prosperity. During the pandemic, we needed our employees more than ever."
NO PROPERTY TAX INCREASE
Due to the financial burdens put on citizens in previous years the city did not raise property taxes.
"Given the fiscal difficulties residents struggled with this past year, we avoided adding to their financial burden," says Common Council President Tom DePietro.
FEDERAL AND STATE RELIEF
"The adjusted financials do not include any of our Federal or State Relief funds, the relief funds will make it possible to continue important projects and initiatives."
The city anticipates additional Federal relief from the American Rescue Act of $667 thousand, payable over the next two years.  
The news from the mayor's office prompted Michael Hofmann, who is challenging Heather Campbell to become city treasurer, to issue his own press release, which criticizes Campbell for double-counting assigned funds, an error she discovered while working on mandated reporting for New York State. The press release asserts, "An inaccuracy of this scale is a massive breach in public trust." Hofmann is quoted in the press release as saying, "Ms. Campbell has been quoting a wildly off-base number for our unassigned fund balance for months. That has real ramifications for our city. It has affected the way issues are considered and problems are solved." Hofmann also claims, "Ms. Campbell's original prediction was even weaponized among some circles as 'evidence' of mismanagement by other city officials and employees." The press release ends with an appeal from Hofmann, who seeks to be the city treasurer, "We need to use this chance to transform our treasury into an active participant in the health, equity, vibrancy, and long-term success of our community."

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been seven new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is one more than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that six more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. There is one more county resident in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday, but the number hospitalized and in the ICU remains the same. There has not been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County since Monday, April 19.  

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 1.6 percent and a seven-day average of 1.2 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 1.1 percent and the seven-day average is 1.5 percent.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 13 new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 188, and the number of active cases was 96. There were 138 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 14 were hospitalized, and 6 were in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 13.

Today Is Arbor Day

National Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April, and that's today. On this Arbor Day, Gossips shares a message from the Hudson Conservative Advisory Council on the subject of trees.

Trees are amazing.
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) tells us that one hundred mature, healthy trees remove 53 tons of carbon dioxide and 430 pounds of other air pollutants per year, while creating oxygen! And that those same one hundred mature trees catch about 139,000 gallons of rainwater per year. Plus, strategically placed trees can save up to 56 percent on annual air conditioning costs.
You can add to the arboreal work-force by planting a tree. To plant a tree in your yard, talk with a local nursery regarding appropriate native NY trees to select from. We of the Hudson Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) recommend taking a photo of the area you want to plant, note any power lines, know the kind of sunlight and from what direction the area gets, and know your goals, such as reducing air conditioning costs in the summer, blocking wind in the winter, year-round privacy, winter view revealing, beauty, color, and/or size. For an extra charge, some nurseries will offer planting the tree and with that a one- or two-year guarantee of health and vigor. Now is a fine time to plant a tree if you will be able to water it regularly throughout the summer. Whether you or a nursery will be planting the tree, before digging always remember to call Dig Safely NY. They will check your digging location with Hudson Department of Public Works and all utilities. Once they are sure that it is safe, they will grant approval. Allow about four days to one week to get the go-ahead. This service is free. The phone number is 811; the website is digsafelyNY.com.
If you wish to plant a Street Tree, please go to the CAC webpage on the City of Hudson website and download the Street Tree Application form and the Street Tree Guide. The list of street trees for Hudson is on a grid, noting name, growth rate, salt tolerance, drought tolerance, and if mature height is good for growing under power lines. The Street Tree Application will be reviewed by the Department of Public Works (DPW) and the CAC. The DPW will know if there are power or gas lines in the sidewalk hear the hoped-for planting site and the CAC will know what size hole needs to be cut in the sidewalk for the selected species of tree to have the best chance of survival. In the Autumn, the DPW will cut the sidewalk for the planting of the tree. Autumn is the best time of year for planting street trees. It is the rainy season, the the trees get well settled in before winter, then flourish in the Spring.
If you can't plant a tree, befriend one. Select a favorite tree in a park or on a street and keep an eye on it through the seasons. Please remove weeds that may grow in the tree pit and tidy up litter that may accumulate around it. If you become aware that it needs pruning, or has suffered storm damage, that it might be stressed due to disease or mistreatment, please contact a member of the CAC. If you see a tree that you feel presents eminent harm to pedestrians or property, please call the DPW.
Our hard-working tree canopy, street trees and park trees, is about to get much deserved attention by professional foresters. The Hudson Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) is very pleased that the City of Hudson was awarded a NYS DEC Urban Forestry grant. This Summer, a team if ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) certified foresters will inventory all of the street trees and most of the park trees and write a five-year Community Forestry Management Plan. The city will receive all of the inventory data with GIS mapping location, species, size, and health evaluation electronically so that data on each tree can be kept up to date. This information will be very important for understanding our current urban forest, for planning maintenance, and for creating a planting plan for more trees.
A healthy tree canopy is good for the health and well-being of all. Trees help clean the air, keep buildings cool, keep tempers down, have traffic calming effects, drink up storm water, increase property values, create beauty and promote a connection to nature and to each other. All residents deserve to breathe clean air and live in a healthful environment. The environment and all residents can benefit by reduced energy for cooling.
A single tree belongs to our whole community and the whole community forest belongs to each individual. Trees take their civic duty seriously. Let's return the honor.
Happy Arbor Day 2021! 

Thursday, April 29, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been eight new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is the same as yesterday, from which it can be inferred that eight more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. There are five fewer county residents in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday, but the number hospitalized and in the ICU remains the same. There has not been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County since Monday, April 19. 

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 0.1 percent and a seven-day average of 1.1 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 1.6 percent and the seven-day average is 1.6 percent.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 6 new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 175, and the number of active cases was 87. There were 141 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 14 were hospitalized, and 4 were in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 13.

Obsessed About Windows

Walter Chatham, the architect now representing the Galvan Foundation, seems to have persuaded the Historic Preservation Commission that windows configured as they appear in an early engraving of 400 State Street would make the building look "grim," "prisonlike," and "frighteningly institutional." Based on evidence provided by photographs of buildings in England, Ireland, and West Virginia, Chatham has argued that nine over nine windows not twelve over twelve, the configuration of the windows in the engraving, were what would originally have been in the building.

With a little help from a friend, Gossips has managed to put together some examples of buildings located in closer proximity to Hudson that have twelve over twelve windows, like those shown in the engraving of 400 State Street. The first example is Masschusetts Hall at Harvard in Cambridge (that's Massachusetts not England).




Photo: Wikipedia
Massachusetts Hall is the oldest surviving building at Harvard College and the second oldest academic building in the United States. It was constructed between 1718 and 1720 as a dormitory "containing 32 chambers and 64 small private studies for the 64 students it was designed to house."

Another example is the Old Town Hall in Salem, Massachusetts, which was built in 1816 to 1817, about the same time that the Hudson Almshouse was constructed (1818). 


The Old Town Hall is the oldest surviving municipal building in Salem.

A little research discovered several pictures to demonstrate that the twelve over twelve window configuration was neither "frighteningly institutional" nor exclusively institutional. To share a few of those examples, here is the Richard Derby House in Salem, now part of the Salem Maritime National Historic Site.

Photo: Wikipedia

There is also the Pierce-Hichborn House in Boston, which is immediately adjacent to the Paul Revere House and is now operated as a museum by the Paul Revere Memorial Association. 

Photo: Wikipedia

And this house on Elm Street in Marblehead, one of several examples found in that Massachusetts town.

Photo: Instagram|rickinmarblehead

It is believed that Robert Jenkins, son of Seth Jenkins, one of the original Proprietors, designed the Hudson Almshouse. Robert Jenkins was born in Nantucket and came to Hudson with his family in 1783, at the age of 11. How much more likely is it that Jenkins would have been influenced in his design for the almshouse by buildings in Massachusetts than by buildings in England, Ireland, or West Virginia?
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Incident on the North Side of Town

Gossips just received the following press release from the Hudson Police Department.

Daylight Shooting--Man Injured
On Thursday, April 29, 2021, at 11:32 a.m. HPD received a called from a citizen reporting several gunshots in the 200 block area of State Street.
Responding patrols from HPD as well as the New York State Police and Columbia County Sheriff’s Office arrived quickly to the area. A 20 year old Hudson man was located, suffering from a gunshot wound. He was transported to Albany Medical Center, his condition is unknown.
HPD patrols stopped a suspect vehicle and several young men are detained and are presently being interviewed.
HPD is being assisted at the scene by the NY State Police Forensic Investigation Unit and the Columbia County District Attorney’s Office.  Sheriff Bartlett has assigned some of his patrols to help with call coverage within the city.
“The situation is stabilized. At this time this event does not seem related to the 'shots fired' call from April 17.” Chief

Another Hotel for Hudson

Last Saturday, Gossips reported that the Galvan Foundation had acquired the buildings at Warren and Fourth streets that had been owned for close to twenty years by Richard Cohen. Today, this press release was received from the Galvan Foundation, announcing the acquisition and its plans for the buildings. The press release began with this head: "The Hudson Public: Hospitality, Artist's Residence, Minority Social Enterprise."
Galvan Foundation announces the acquisition of 10-12 North Fourth Street and 402-406 Warren Street. Galvan plans to develop the corner site into The Hudson Public, a 30 room hotel with ground floor commercial space fronting North Fourth and Warren Streets.
Galvan is developing the hotel in response to the growing need for centrally-located hospitality options, resulting from the City of Hudson's Short Term Rental Law. The Hudson Public will also function as an "artist's residence" for artists performing in Hudson.
The Hudson Public will be among the first minority developed, owned, and operated hospitality venues in the city of Hudson. The Hudson Public will prioritize diverse and local hiring as well as commercial leasing.
Galvan Partners, LLC will provide gratis planning and development services.

The press release was accompanied by this image.

On the Truck Route

An audience survey taken during the public meeting on the Truck Traffic Route Feasibility Study on Tuesday confirmed the results of the online survey, which had been released earlier that day: the people participating in the surveys decidedly prefer Option 12.


In his opening remarks, mayor's aide Michael Chameides explained, "We need to demonstrate that Hudson and other communities will benefit from an alternate route." He also noted that New York State will make the ultimate decision about the truck route. Residents of some of the communities that would be affected by rerouting trucks out of Hudson were heard from on Tuesday night, expressing concern about traffic at the Bells Ponds intersection, trucks "already barreling on 9H and 23B," and rerouting trucks through the hamlet of Claverack. 

The next steps in the process are these, as defined by MJ Engineering and Land Surveying, the consultants doing the truck route study:

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