Wednesday, April 17, 2013

City to Enter into MOU with Galvan for Senior Center

The Common Council passed a resolution last night that, in one fell swoop, abandoned the plan to construct a new building for the senior center next to the Youth Center on South Third Street and made a commitment to locate the City's senior program in the Armory, now being called the Galvan Community Learning Center.

The discussion of the resolution started with Alderman Wanda Pertilla (Second Ward), who chairs the Youth & Aging Committee, telling the Council that she had taken thirty seniors on a tour of the space last week and they had been "very impressed." "They saw the vision of the Galvan Foundation," said Pertilla. The floor plan for the space, distributed at the meeting by Daniel Kent, executive director for the Galvan Foundation, seemed, however, to show a vision for the space not shared by all of Hudson's seniors.

Although the fine print indicates that the larger room, identified as the "Meeting Room," will accommodate 10 people doing yoga or 21 people exercising, the floor plan shows four big round tables, seating 10 each, designated "Bingo/Lunch." The smaller room, identified as the "Classroom," has three tables, seating 6 each, for "Cards," and there are two tables for 4 in the southeast turret marked "Puzzle."

Several things about the MOU (memorandum of understanding) worried some of the aldermen. Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) noted that it made no mention of parking. Alderman David Marston (First Ward) stated that the new MOU was "tremendously different" from the one presented just last week and included, in the item about Project Financing, the expressed expectation that the City would turn over the money intended for a new building that the City would own to this project: "City shall make a good faith effort to facilitate the transfer of project development financing previously allocated for the purpose of developing a Senior Center, including the $400,000 grant from New York State Office of Community Renewal (OCR) and the $100,000 grant from Hudson Community Development Planning Agency (HCDPA)." Alderman Nick Haddad said of the new MOU, "It sounds like we're losing control of every aspect of planning," and expressed the opinion that "for $500,000, we should have more than just a cursory say."

Encouraged to speak by Pertilla, Doris Moore, the City's commissioner of aging, dismissed concerns about parking, saying of the seniors, "Most of us park on all the side streets, and we walk," and expressed impatience with the length of time the senior center has been under consideration, "We're tired of it, and we want it." Alderman Robert "Doc" Donahue (Fifth Ward), in his fashion, adjured the aldermen concerned about the terms of the MOU to "stop stonewalling."

The vote was taken, and all but Friedman, Haddad, Marston, and Alderman Chris Wagoner (Third Ward) voted in support of the resolution. Haddad voted no; Friedman and Marston abstained, with Friedman commenting before he voted, "The MOU changed in the week between the informal and the formal meetings. This is not the way we should be doing business"; Wagoner was absent from the meeting.

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