Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"If You Build It, They Will Come"

Or, maybe not . . . if there's nothing to do when they get there.

The City of Hudson has a $400,000 Small Cities Block Grant to build a two-story senior center appended to the north side of the Youth Center at Third and Union streets, and, it was revealed last night at the Common Council Youth & Aging Committee meeting, the Hudson River Bank & Trust Foundation has kicked in another $150,000 for the project, but for 2011, as for 2010, only $5,000 has been budgeted for senior programs, compared with $281,791 for youth programs. 

Last night the proponents of senior yoga and senior aerobics showed up in force to ask for continued funding for the two programs. The programs, which together cost $12,500 a year and in the past have been funded by a grant from the Hudson River Bank & Trust Foundation, will terminate at the end of December if no new funding is found. Although time is running out, it seems that no progress was made in the past month in finding a way to pay for the programs.  

At Monday's meeting, Leland Midgette presented a petition to the committee urging the continuation of yoga and aerobics and citing the health benefits of the programs--relieving arthritis and osteoporosis, improving balance and flexibility, and combating depression. Carolyn La Fleur, an anesthesiologist at Columbia Memorial Hospital, told the committee that the hospital endorsed the yoga program and was willing to help the City look for funding to ensure that it can continue without interruption.

Third Ward Alderman Ellen Thurston, who is not on the Young & Aging Committee, asked from the audience if there were plans for spending the $5,000 budgeted for senior programs. She urged that the money be used to keep the programs going while money was sought from other sources, mentioning health insurance companies, the Columbia County Office for the Aging, and the Health Care Consortium as possible sources of funds or guidance in identifying other sources. She also suggested the possibility of charging participants a nominal fee to help defray the cost of the programs. Interesting information shared at the meeting is that the programs at the Catskill Senior Center, which is often held up as a model, are largely supported by fees paid by program participants. 

Dusty Simi, a participant in the yoga program, asked what the City's vision for a senior center was if there was no funding for senior programs. Common Council President Don Moore, who serves ex officio on the committee, explained that "bricks and mortar" funding was available, and the City had taken advantage of it. "If we had to establish a program before having a building, we would have neither."

Reacting to the information that in 2010 the $5,000 allocated to senior programs had been spent on "two bus trips, coffee, and snacks," audience member Leo Carlin recalled that a few years ago, when Nicole Vidor had been Commissioner for Aging, a group had been organized to discuss what was wanted in senior programming. "Nowhere did we discuss bus trips." Instead, he said, people were interested in things like art classes, language courses, and exercise classes--"things to activate minds and bodies." In contrast, Fourth Ward Alderman Sheila Ramsey, a member of the Youth & Aging Committee, said she was sorry there was no money for bus trips.    

Moore expressed concern that "we not get into a fight over a small pot of money" and suggested that a group get together "to help the City plan and budget senior programs." A meeting to begin this process has been scheduled for Thursday, December 9, at 12:15 p.m. at the Youth Center. In a conversation with Gossips today, Moore indicated that Mayor Scalera, who was not at the meeting on Monday night, would attend Thursday's meeting.

Moore also said that he recognized the benefits and importance of the yoga and aerobic exercise programs and was committed to finding the money to ensure that both programs could continue uninterrupted into the new year.    


  1. Good money after bad. I continue to be baffled by the short-sightedness of our City leaders. Why we yoke Youth and Aging together is the first problem. Why we continue to sink public money into a building in the middle of Hudson's expanding commercial zone (worth thousands in taxes if it were on the tax rolls) is beyond me. Why we put our Youth at risk on one of Hudson's busiest streets -- blocks from where they live -- is beyond me. To add another $550k of building to this already crowded spot is mind-numbingly ridiculous. Where's the vision?

  2. I attended the Youth and Aging Committee meeting also. I thought Fourth Ward Alderman Sheila Ramsey made a good point, that for seniors who don't drive, a bus trip even just to Albany is an excursion to look forward to. We seniors who can hop in the car and drive ourselves to Williamstown or Spencertown need to remember that, to think of bus trips as mild exercise that provides stimulus and helps to combat depression.

  3. Carole, is the meeting on Thursday open to the public?

  4. So far as I know, it is, but I think the idea is for seniors who will be served by the senior center to come together to share their ideas about the kind of programming they want the senior center to provide.

  5. Debby--I learned tonight that the next bus trip planned for the seniors is to Foxwoods.

  6. Oh, those seniors, they're incorrigible. Maybe when I'm 85 I'll want to go to Foxwoods, but it's hard to imagine. Debby