At Monday night's informal Common Council meeting, a resolution was introduced "directing the Mayor to oppose the relocation out of the City of Hudson of county agencies to Walmart." Attached to the resolution was a copy of John Mason's June 2, 2011, article from the Register-Star: "Scalera, Hughes take aim at plan for Walmart." The proposed resolution would authorize Mayor Scalera to "send a letter to the Board of Supervisors of the County of Columbia opposing the Walmart relocation plan, its cost to taxpayers, and its negative economic impact on the City of Hudson, and its potential for dislocation of our neediest citizens."
Fourth Ward Supervisor Bill Hughes, whom Common Council President Don Moore identified as "integrally involved in the resolution," was in the audience and asked to comment. He began by acknowledging that "early on we were optimistic" but said his and Mayor Scalera's opinions have changed "now that facts have come to light." He alleged that the county is "in a feverish rush and cutting corners" because "they didn't notify Concra that they wanted to extend the lease" on 25 Railroad Avenue and are now desperate to relocate the Department of Social Services as soon as possible.
Hughes made the point that the former Walmart building "has a fifteen-year life expectancy, and it's now seventeen years old." He also said that the $16 million it would cost to purchase the building and convert it into office space represents a 1.7 percent increase in the tax levy and observed that if Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposed 2 percent tax cap goes into effect, it would leave only an additional .3 percent to meet the county's rising costs.
First Ward Alderman Geeta Cheddie made the observation that the move to Walmart would "free up some pretty nice buildings in Hudson," possibly thinking of Club Helsinki and Etsy and seeing a silver lining for Hudson in the proposed move.
There was lots of talk about transportation, with Hughes pointing out that DSS clients are "sanctioned" and lose their benefits for a month if they are late for an appointment. Third Ward Alderman Ellen Thurston pointed that lack of adequate transportation was a weak argument against the move because "it can be corrected."
The discussion ended with Fifth Ward Alderman Robert "Doc" Donahue delivering one of his classic dismissive comments: "We're all going to vote yes, so why all this rhetoric?"
You can find out if Donahue was right on Tuesday, June 21, when the Council votes on the resolution at its regular meeting. The issue of the Walmart purchase comes before the Board of Supervisors on July 11.